‘There is hope on the horizon’: Stanford president and provost express excitement for in-person return

Jan. 20, 2022, 9:36 p.m.

Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne and Provost Persis Drell expressed confidence in the University’s return to in-person instruction during Thursday’s installment of Campus Conversations.  

In addition to in-person classes resuming on Jan. 21, Stanford aims for staff to return to on-site work by Feb. 14, according to Tessier-Lavigne and Drell.

“We want to be intentional and thoughtful about providing flexibility for where, when and how people work,” Tessier-Lavigne said. “That will continue as employees return to work.” 

He encouraged staff members to reach out to their managers and Human Resources about their specific situations, such as if caregiving responsibilities inhibit their ability to return to on-site work.

Drell noted that almost all graduate students and nearly 95% of undergraduates are back on campus after winter break, and referenced declining case counts in the undergraduate student, graduate student and faculty, staff and postdoc populations.

Though the demand for on-campus isolation housing was exceeded due to soaring COVID-19 case counts in the first two weeks of winter quarter, Drell said there is now “plenty of isolation space available.”

“All of this illustrates that we are generally going in the right direction,” she said. 

Dean of the School of Medicine Lloyd Minor also shared that more health care workers tested positive for COVID-19 during the first two weeks of January than during the entire pandemic prior to January, but that the numbers are now subsiding. 

There are currently 103 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 at Stanford Hospital, with nine of the 103 currently in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), according to Minor. Of the nine patients in the ICU, all are either unvaccinated or have multiple serious medical conditions that make them severely immunocompromised, Minor added. He also emphasized that roughly 50% of the 94 patients that are in the acute care unit — those hospitalized but not in the ICU — tested positive for COVID-19 upon arrival, but were admitted to the hospital for reasons unrelated to the virus.

Minor cited high vaccination rates in the Santa Clara County area and University protocol as reasons for low cases of serious illness.

For Tessier-Lavigne, recent developments indicate hope for the future.

“Today, there is hope on the horizon that the current wave will abate soon,” Tessier-Lavigne said in his closing remarks. “I’m looking forward to being together in person again, and to the connection, the excitement and the creativity that our community brings to our workplaces and our classrooms.”

Kevi Johnson writes for The Daily's News section. Contact Kevi at news 'at' stanforddaily.com.

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