Stanford plans to house half of undergrads on campus per quarter next school year

June 3, 2020, 10:57 a.m.

Stanford plans to allow the equivalent of two classes of undergraduates to return to campus in each quarter of the 2020-21 academic year including summer 2021, President Marc Tessier-Lavigne and Provost Persis Drell announced on Wednesday in an email to faculty. They wrote that online teaching will remain “the default” option next year for undergraduates.  

Under the tentative plan, all undergraduates would be offered two quarters of campus housing, and would be expected to complete at least one additional quarter remotely. First-year students would reside on campus in fall, and seniors in spring, but no other decisions about which undergraduates would be on campus for each quarter have been made. In addition to each quarter’s designated students, those with special circumstances would be permitted to live on campus, as was allowed this quarter. 

“Our staff are having conversations with faculty and students about different options for bringing students back, whether by class year or by another rubric that aligns with the academic programs we offer,” Tessier-Lavigne and Drell wrote. 

They wrote that the plan is contingent on “the public health situation, and on any requirements that may be imposed by our state and county officials,” and that they “may not know those things definitively until late summer.” 

They added that the number of students may need to be reduced “if health conditions require it” but that they hope “health conditions will allow us instead to be able to expand access later in the year.”

Undergraduates that do reside on campus would live in private sleeping spaces, such as singles and two-room doubles. The University does not expect major residential changes to graduate student residences. 

Fall quarter classes will begin on Sept. 14 and end on Nov. 20, with final exams administered remotely between Nov. 30 and Dec. 4. Students on campus will be asked to leave after classes end, but those unable to depart may participate in a housing program to remain on campus over winter break. Previously, students were permitted to remain on campus over Thanksgiving break but were required to vacate their residences during winter break. 

The majority of undergraduate teaching will remain online for the next academic year, including all classes larger than 50 students, due to a limited amount of on-campus classrooms and the need to offer online learning to undergraduates away from campus, according to the email. Graduate and professional education is expected to move forward “at near-full capacity, albeit with some instruction and research conducted online,” Tessier-Lavigne and Drell wrote.

“We will need to view online as the default teaching option for 2020-21, to be supplemented by in-person instruction as much as is safe and feasible for students and faculty who are present on campus,” they added. 

Those that return to campus will be subject to physical distancing protocols in campus buildings and public spaces, as well as limitations on gatherings. Students will be asked not to leave the local area, and if they do, they will be required to self-isolate when they return. 

The letter added that “it’s likely” students on campus will need to wear face coverings regularly. 

First-year students will not be permitted to take a leave of absence for individual quarters, as was the policy prior to spring 2020. Those who wish to take a gap year must inform the admissions office by June 15. 

Tessier-Lavigne and Drell wrote that they will aim to send an update by the end of June, but that final plans will be contingent on requirements of state and local authorities.

A previous version of this post stated that Stanford plans to have two classes of undergraduates on campus each quarter. However, the University has not yet decided how it will determine who is on campus each quarter, “whether by class year or by another rubric that aligns with the academic programs we offer,” the president and provost wrote. The Daily regrets this error.

This post has been clarified to use the word “would” instead of “will” where the University’s tentative plan for next school year is described.

A previous version of this post also described the traditional three-quarter school year as being extended. This has been removed from the article to avoid confusion. Stanford holds four academic quarters each year, but very few undergraduates are on campus for summer quarter. In their message, the president and provost wrote that the “four-quarter year would allow all Stanford undergraduates to complete two quarters of instruction in residence on the Stanford campus in 2020-21,” lumping summer 2021 in with other quarters of residential instruction under the tentative plan. This is what was meant by extension. The Daily regrets this error.

Contact Erin Woo at erinkwoo ‘at’ and Julia Ingram at jmingram ‘at’

Erin Woo '21 is The Daily's Vol. 259 Editor-in-Chief. Born and raised in Atlanta, GA, she is studying communications and creative writing at Stanford. She has also reported for The Mercury News and WNYC. Contact her at eic 'at' Ingram ’21 was The Daily's Volume 256 editor-in-chief. She is a New York City native majoring in English literature and working toward a career in news reporting. Contact her at jingram ‘at’

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