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Stanford postpones nearly all finals ‘until further notice’

Announcement caused by county shelter-in-place order

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All remaining winter quarter final exams, papers and projects for both graduate and undergraduate students will be delayed “until further notice,” with the exception of some law school exams, the University announced on Monday afternoon. 

The announcement, an extension of previous instructions that made final exams optional for undergraduates only, came in response to an order from Santa Clara County and five other Bay Area counties telling residents to stay in their homes and avoid other people for the next three weeks. 

“While we continue to work through the implications of this order for Stanford, it is clear that it is immediately and profoundly disruptive to students and instructors alike, and that we must take prompt steps to alleviate some of their burdens where possible,” wrote Vice Provosts Sarah Church, Harry Elam and Stacey Bent. 

Church, Elam and Bent wrote that they plan to follow up “shortly” with more information on the length of the delay. 

In response to the six Bay Area counties’ “shelter-in-place” order, the University also told students conducting research not to go into the lab unless their work requires regular attention to maintain the lab’s viability, such as liquid nitrogen tank filling or animal support.

The decision to postpone all finals comes three days after University President Marc Tessier-Lavigne wrote that the “provost is asking” instructors to make final exams for undergraduates optional. Earlier that day, an email from Provost Persis Drell, Church and Elam to “winter quarter faculty and instructors” said it was “essential” that their final exams be made optional. 

Though Tessier-Lavigne’s message was already a reversal of Elam’s Thursday announcement that final exams would not be canceled or postponed, many students — over 2,000 of whom signed a petition requesting the cancellation of all end-of-quarter assessments — continued calling for final papers and projects to be canceled or made optional. 

Now, all exams “except some self-initiated exams in the Law school” are subject to the delay. Law school dean Jenny Martinez wrote in an email to students that the end of the exam period will be extended until 11:59 pm on March 29, although students “taking an exam right now and seeing this email” should “please do [their] best to finish the exam currently in progress.” 

“In light of the fact that some people have already taken exams over the last few days, some are in the middle of taking an exam today as this news is breaking, and others may now have weeks more to study, with substantially different disruptions in the next two weeks based on whether people are staying here on or off campus confined to their rooms or apartments, traveling to other parts of the country or globe in the next few days, etc., all exam classes for Winter Quarter will be graded on an MP basis,” Martinez wrote. 

This article has been updated to clarify that Monday’s announcement was an “extension,” not “reversal,” of previous instructions to make finals optional for undergraduates only.

Contact Erin Woo at erinkwoo ‘at’ stanford.edu.

Erin Woo '21 is a Managing Editor of News. A communications major and creative writing minor, she plans to pursue a career in journalism. She has also reported for The Mercury News and WNYC. Contact her at erinkwoo 'at' stanford.edu.