Faculty Senate Steering Committee to vote tomorrow on starting fall quarter 1 week early

June 1, 2020, 8:21 p.m.

The Faculty Senate Steering Committee will vote on Tuesday on whether to start fall quarter on Sept. 14, one week earlier than planned, and end classes before Thanksgiving break for students outside of the Graduate School of Business, the Law School, the School of Medicine M.D. program and the Graduate School of Education.

Under the proposed plan, “students in residence” would be expected to leave campus after classes end on Nov. 20, and they would take exams remotely from Nov. 30 through Dec. 4. 

The Daily has reached out to the University to ask which students would be allowed to return to campus. 

The legislation would allow the Graduate School of Business, Law School, School of Medicine M.D. program and Graduate School of Education to “adopt different calendars at their discretion in consultation with the Provost.”

If Stanford chooses to end its fall quarter before Thanksgiving break, it will join a growing list of universities across the country that are doing the same.

On May 26, the president of the University of Notre Dame announced the university’s plan to “bring students back two weeks early, forgo a fall break and finish the semester before Thanksgiving.” On May 28, Yale announced that it would not hold October break and that its undergraduate and graduate schools would transition to online classes and exams after Thanksgiving. 

According to The New York Times, The University of South Carolina, Notre Dame, Rice and Creighton have also announced plans to shorten the fall semester in an effort to avoid a second wave. Fears that COVID-19 will reemerge in the fall after a summer lull are likely to have motivated colleges’ decisions to implement “shorter semesters to avoid late-fall infections,” according to The New York Times.

For the majority of Stanford students whose permanent residence falls outside of California, returning to campus after Thanksgiving break could also entail air travel that heightens the risk of COVID-19 infection, as well as risk bringing the infection back to campus.

Stanford’s fall quarter calendar adopted before the coronavirus pandemic runs from Sept. 21 to Dec. 11. 

Tomorrow afternoon’s administrative session of the Faculty Senate is expected to “be a very, very brief meeting of 5 minutes or less,” according to Assistant Academic Secretary Adrienne Emory, who told The Daily that she expects the resolution will be approved.

“I think there are so many moving parts and variables right now, and various plans and back up plans being discussed — but of course everyone is eager to have some certainty,” Emory wrote. “Hopefully if this calendar is approved that is one small bit of certainty for fall.”

This article has been updated to include that the Graduate School of Education would not be affected by the proposed legislation, and that the School of Medicine would also be able to adopt a different calendar.

This article has been corrected to reflect that the School of Medicine M.D. program would be able to adopt a different calendar. A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the School of Medicine as a whole would be able to.

Michael Espinosa contributed to this report.

Contact Jackie O’Neil at jroneil ‘at’ stanford.edu.

Jackie O'Neil '21 is The Daily's Vol. 259 staff development director and the former executive editor for Vol. 258 and managing editor of The Grind for Vols. 255 and 256. She's a Richmond, Virginia native studying political science, psychology and ethics. Contact her at joneil 'at' stanforddaily.com.

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