News

Stanford plans to bring half of its undergraduates back to campus this fall, but they'll still mostly learn online

Stanford leaders: 'The safeguards we will need to implement will fundamentally change the student experience.'

Ethan Chua, a senior at Stanford University, leaves his on-campus dorm on April 22. In a June 29 announcement, the university released plans for welcoming students back on campus next school year. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

Starting this fall, Stanford University will alternate bringing half of its undergraduate students to campus during different quarters, with the majority of courses still happening online — even for students who are living there in person.

The university announced its plans for the next school year in a message to undergraduate students on Monday. Under the new schedule, which is subject to change given local health conditions, freshmen, sophomores and new transfer students will live on campus for the fall quarter and then learn remotely until the Summer 2021 quarter. Juniors and seniors can return to campus in person for winter and spring quarters next year.

A limited amount of housing will be available for undergraduate students who need to live on campus longer than their designated quarters due to special circumstances, including international students who may face travel or visa complications; students experiencing homelessness; students with home environments that prevent them from being able to participate in a remote learning environment or are unsafe; and student-athletes approved to prepare for and compete in their intercollegiate seasons, Stanford said.

No student will be required to return to Stanford for in-person instruction.

In the message to students, Vice Provost for Student Affairs Susie Brubaker-Cole and Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education Sarah Church cautioned that campus life won't look or feel the same when they return to Stanford.

What's local journalism worth to you?

Support Palo Alto Online for as little as $5/month.

Learn more

"While we very much look forward to welcoming undergraduates back to campus, we need to be clear about what you should expect: The safeguards we will need to implement will fundamentally change the student experience," they wrote. "We are working with a group of students this summer to start creating ways to help students get acquainted and spend time with friends; however, there will be significant restrictions on in-person classroom use, dorm life, social life, guests and travel."

Most if not all classes will still be offered online, even for students living on campus, the administrators wrote. It is "highly unlikely" that Stanford will allow campus events and parties next school year, they said, and even small gatherings could be limited. All undergraduates will live in single rooms or two-room doubles on campus. The university is encouraging students to bring to campus only "essential items, things they can carry on their own if the need arises," given the alternating housing schedule and "the uncertainty associated with the COVID-19 pandemic," Brubaker-Cole and Church wrote.

Students will have to wear masks whenever they leave their rooms, including in the common areas of dorms and anywhere on campus.

"COVID testing, contact tracing, and quarantine/isolation will become a regular part of student life," they wrote.

The Studio 2 building in Escondido Village will house any undergraduate and graduate students who are required to quarantine and residences on the Row will serve as isolation housing for students who have tested positive for COVID-19.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.

Sign up

Stanford is working to make the in-person experience special for freshmen and sophomores as well as offer "community building and support" while they're not at Stanford. The university is developing public service, internship and job shadowing opportunities that students will be able to participate in when they're not on campus.

The university said student, staff and faculty input helped to shape the plan, including most students' desire to to be on campus with students in their cohort year and seniors and many juniors have the least flexibility in course choices given they're closer to graduating. With commencement in the spring, it would also be "impractical" for seniors to live on campus in the summer.

Stanford's fall quarter will begin on Sept. 14. The university plans to announce soon the start and end dates for winter, spring and summer quarters.

For students who are eligible for financial aid, assistance will be available for three quarters of enrollment.

Stanford is still determining move-in dates for early September and how to bring students in while adhering to social distancing and other public health requirements.

Other "things we're still working on," Brubaker-Cole and Church wrote, include determining a grading policy for the academic year, creating processes for required testing, contact tracing and quarantine/isolation and figuring out how campus organizations like fraternities and sororities will operate.

Stanford will continue to update undergraduates and their parents about the 2020-21 academic year through a series of weekly newsletters.

"As with all planning for next academic year, this plan is dependent on our ability to safely reopen in alignment with county orders and with the guidance of public health officials," Brubaker-Cole and Church wrote. "We may change this plan if there is a surge in COVID cases, or if there is, for example, a vaccine that allows us to bring more students to campus safely."

Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.

Craving a new voice in Peninsula dining?

Sign up for the Peninsula Foodist newsletter.

Sign up now

Follow Palo Alto Online and the Palo Alto Weekly on Twitter @paloaltoweekly, Facebook and on Instagram @paloaltoonline for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Stanford plans to bring half of its undergraduates back to campus this fall, but they'll still mostly learn online

Stanford leaders: 'The safeguards we will need to implement will fundamentally change the student experience.'

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Mon, Jun 29, 2020, 5:14 pm

Starting this fall, Stanford University will alternate bringing half of its undergraduate students to campus during different quarters, with the majority of courses still happening online — even for students who are living there in person.

The university announced its plans for the next school year in a message to undergraduate students on Monday. Under the new schedule, which is subject to change given local health conditions, freshmen, sophomores and new transfer students will live on campus for the fall quarter and then learn remotely until the Summer 2021 quarter. Juniors and seniors can return to campus in person for winter and spring quarters next year.

A limited amount of housing will be available for undergraduate students who need to live on campus longer than their designated quarters due to special circumstances, including international students who may face travel or visa complications; students experiencing homelessness; students with home environments that prevent them from being able to participate in a remote learning environment or are unsafe; and student-athletes approved to prepare for and compete in their intercollegiate seasons, Stanford said.

No student will be required to return to Stanford for in-person instruction.

In the message to students, Vice Provost for Student Affairs Susie Brubaker-Cole and Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education Sarah Church cautioned that campus life won't look or feel the same when they return to Stanford.

"While we very much look forward to welcoming undergraduates back to campus, we need to be clear about what you should expect: The safeguards we will need to implement will fundamentally change the student experience," they wrote. "We are working with a group of students this summer to start creating ways to help students get acquainted and spend time with friends; however, there will be significant restrictions on in-person classroom use, dorm life, social life, guests and travel."

Most if not all classes will still be offered online, even for students living on campus, the administrators wrote. It is "highly unlikely" that Stanford will allow campus events and parties next school year, they said, and even small gatherings could be limited. All undergraduates will live in single rooms or two-room doubles on campus. The university is encouraging students to bring to campus only "essential items, things they can carry on their own if the need arises," given the alternating housing schedule and "the uncertainty associated with the COVID-19 pandemic," Brubaker-Cole and Church wrote.

Students will have to wear masks whenever they leave their rooms, including in the common areas of dorms and anywhere on campus.

"COVID testing, contact tracing, and quarantine/isolation will become a regular part of student life," they wrote.

The Studio 2 building in Escondido Village will house any undergraduate and graduate students who are required to quarantine and residences on the Row will serve as isolation housing for students who have tested positive for COVID-19.

Stanford is working to make the in-person experience special for freshmen and sophomores as well as offer "community building and support" while they're not at Stanford. The university is developing public service, internship and job shadowing opportunities that students will be able to participate in when they're not on campus.

The university said student, staff and faculty input helped to shape the plan, including most students' desire to to be on campus with students in their cohort year and seniors and many juniors have the least flexibility in course choices given they're closer to graduating. With commencement in the spring, it would also be "impractical" for seniors to live on campus in the summer.

Stanford's fall quarter will begin on Sept. 14. The university plans to announce soon the start and end dates for winter, spring and summer quarters.

For students who are eligible for financial aid, assistance will be available for three quarters of enrollment.

Stanford is still determining move-in dates for early September and how to bring students in while adhering to social distancing and other public health requirements.

Other "things we're still working on," Brubaker-Cole and Church wrote, include determining a grading policy for the academic year, creating processes for required testing, contact tracing and quarantine/isolation and figuring out how campus organizations like fraternities and sororities will operate.

Stanford will continue to update undergraduates and their parents about the 2020-21 academic year through a series of weekly newsletters.

"As with all planning for next academic year, this plan is dependent on our ability to safely reopen in alignment with county orders and with the guidance of public health officials," Brubaker-Cole and Church wrote. "We may change this plan if there is a surge in COVID cases, or if there is, for example, a vaccine that allows us to bring more students to campus safely."

Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.

Comments

Anonymous
Charleston Gardens
on Jun 29, 2020 at 11:48 pm
Anonymous, Charleston Gardens
on Jun 29, 2020 at 11:48 pm
8 people like this

How much will the tuition reduction be, to account for a diminished student experience? Stanford tuition ain't cheap.


chris
University South
on Jun 30, 2020 at 12:58 am
chris, University South
on Jun 30, 2020 at 12:58 am
5 people like this

Anonymous,

Full tuition is far less than full cost of the education, so students are already getting a discount on cost. Then most students don't pay full tuition and many pay little or no tuition. so those students effectively get an even bigger discount.

Students have the option to live at home if they don't want to pay to live on campus because the campus atmosphere will be relatively sterile. Do they prefer to spend the term with their parents or spend time at a place where they can have some limited in-person interaction with their peers?


Resident
Old Palo Alto
on Jun 30, 2020 at 1:45 am
Resident, Old Palo Alto
on Jun 30, 2020 at 1:45 am
12 people like this

It seems like this kind of schedule would increase the spread since there would be more air travel trips.


Chris
University South
on Jun 30, 2020 at 7:55 am
Chris, University South
on Jun 30, 2020 at 7:55 am
6 people like this

Students that return in the fall will leave in November and not come back until June. There is no back and forth during that time. So very limited travel.


Nancy
another community
on Jun 30, 2020 at 8:44 am
Nancy, another community
on Jun 30, 2020 at 8:44 am
6 people like this

It sounds like the students will be in solitary confinement. The adverse mental health issues for students will likely be much greater than Covid-related ones. Many other universities are welcoming all students back and having a mix of live and remote instruction. Stanford could do much more for the students. What happened to Stanford's statement that class in tents was a possibility? Stanford has the space and the resources to make it happen.


LosAltosDoc
Los Altos
on Jun 30, 2020 at 11:09 am
LosAltosDoc, Los Altos
on Jun 30, 2020 at 11:09 am
3 people like this

I'd take a year off for self-directed reading and online education with MIT Open Access and other equivalent providers. Then, I'd return to campus in Fall 2021 PROVIDED there is a highly protective Covid vaccine with minimal side effects. Staying on campus is not an option IMHO. Shared hallways, shared air conditioning, shared restrooms (including showers and basins!!!), the list goes on an on.


JR
Palo Verde
on Jun 30, 2020 at 11:22 am
JR, Palo Verde
on Jun 30, 2020 at 11:22 am
3 people like this

Stanford with its $26 billon endowment could easily take steps to socially distance its students by renting now-vacant hotels and other unused property. If I were a Stanford student, I would demand half tuition discount for half-year learning.


Anonymous
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 30, 2020 at 2:05 pm
Anonymous, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 30, 2020 at 2:05 pm
2 people like this

When they stroll or bike into downtown, can Stanford students please wear masks? Many of us are, let’s just say, older than Stanford students and their circulating in our community may increase our risk as many would likely be asymptomatic.
Please don’t take all our local test capacity, either. We local residents need to have this. Only recently were we able to get a test at PA City Hall - Thank you! - this was VERY helpful to the 2,130 or so of us northern Santa Clara County residents who finally got tested.
Knowing Stanford’s power and financial muscle, I fear they will take all tests, PPE, medical capacity and whatever else may b3come crucial.


Resident
Old Palo Alto
on Jun 30, 2020 at 2:30 pm
Resident, Old Palo Alto
on Jun 30, 2020 at 2:30 pm
1 person likes this

@anonymous. Good suggestions. I suggest posting your comments on reddit in the r/stanford community/subreddit. Many students read it - especially international students.


chris
University South
on Jun 30, 2020 at 5:01 pm
chris, University South
on Jun 30, 2020 at 5:01 pm
Like this comment

JR,

Students will be attending classes for 3 quarters, same as usual. They can spend 2 of the 3 quarters on campus, if they wish, but they are not required to do so. Students can transfer another school if they don’t like the Stanford program, but which school do you KNOW will be doing a better job?


chris
University South
on Jun 30, 2020 at 5:07 pm
chris, University South
on Jun 30, 2020 at 5:07 pm
Like this comment

Renting hotel rooms would require mingling between the campus and community, which would be risky for both groups. Absolutely NO undergraduates will be allowed to live off-campus.

The university has canceled all reunions, and I suspect that if football games are played nobody living off-campus will be allowed to attend.

Students will be sent home before a Thanksgiving and almost all of that group will not return until June. I would also guess students could be sent home if they flagrantly violate the limited group restrictions.


Colleges should put work into helping students access to voting this year
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 30, 2020 at 6:46 pm
Colleges should put work into helping students access to voting this year, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 30, 2020 at 6:46 pm
4 people like this

Universities are some of the most impacted organizations because of our administration's mismanagement of the pandemic (starting with 125,000 Americans dead as opposed to just 9,000 in Germany with 1/4 our population, or areas in parts of Southeast Asia with the same population having only 2,000 deaths.)

I would hope that now that Stanford and other universities have a plan, that they would all decide to put real effort into ensuring their distanced students can figure out easily where their voting residency is and how to register to vote/vote absentee. Young people have historically found it difficult to vote when they are in college, this fall there will be more uncertainty than ever. The colleges should take it as their civic duty to ensure that all students can vote.


Peter Davis
Old Palo Alto
on Jul 1, 2020 at 7:45 pm
Peter Davis , Old Palo Alto
on Jul 1, 2020 at 7:45 pm
Like this comment

If student athletes are required to be on campus for the entire school year because of their training and competition demands there could be only 2 student athletes from each class year per sport required on campus while the rest of their classmates who are not athletes are either there for 2 quarters or not at all. I would suspect that student athletes might prefer to take a gap year .


student
Stanford
on Jul 6, 2020 at 2:18 pm
student, Stanford
on Jul 6, 2020 at 2:18 pm
12 people like this

The Trump administration says they will deport foreign students if their universities are not offering in-person classes during the pandemic. CNN News report: Web Link


Resident
Old Palo Alto
on Jul 7, 2020 at 4:27 am
Resident, Old Palo Alto
on Jul 7, 2020 at 4:27 am
1 person likes this

I don't understand how universities can allow students to return to campus to live and eat in dormitories, sit in enclosed rooms for instruction, or work in labs.
The situation is getting worse in the US, and also in countries like New Zealand and Australia who are having trouble dealing with their returning citizens.
It is unbelievable how Stanford is discussing housing assignments with their international students at this time. Just tell these students to stay in their homelands for now.
It is for their protection, and the protection of our community - regardless of what the government says. It is common sense. Stanford should not allow themselves to be blinded by the loss of foreign money during a global crisis.
They should start focusing on downsizing themselves like other corporations if they want to survive this.


student
Stanford
on Jul 7, 2020 at 11:03 am
student, Stanford
on Jul 7, 2020 at 11:03 am
2 people like this

Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos says schools must fully reopen this year. Online classes and part-time classes are a scam to discredit the Republicans. AP News report: Web Link


student
Stanford
on Jul 7, 2020 at 2:03 pm
student, Stanford
on Jul 7, 2020 at 2:03 pm
4 people like this

CNN News report: "Trump administration's planned purge of international students serves a cruel purpose"
Web Link


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 7, 2020 at 2:38 pm
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 7, 2020 at 2:38 pm
Like this comment

Posted by student, a resident of Stanford:

>> The Trump administration says they will deport foreign students if their universities are not offering in-person classes during the pandemic.

If every student who is on-campus has at least one in-person class, would that satisfy "the administration"? A lot of lectures with 500+ students might as well be online anyway, but, it would be nice to have at least one 10-person seminar per quarter/semester anyway, with classes held outdoors. Has the administration actually published regulations? If they have, where are the regulations online?



TA
College Terrace
on Jul 7, 2020 at 9:38 pm
TA, College Terrace
on Jul 7, 2020 at 9:38 pm
2 people like this

FYI my department (like I'm sure many others) is really trying to offer in-person classes each quarter to provide the opportunity for international students to legally remain on campus.


Mom of college student
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 7, 2020 at 11:08 pm
Mom of college student, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 7, 2020 at 11:08 pm
3 people like this

At some colleges, students will not be permitted to go off campus. I would request that Stanford follow this rule. It's not great for the local economy, but it will help keep Stanford and the community safe.


student
Stanford
on Jul 8, 2020 at 11:56 am
student, Stanford
on Jul 8, 2020 at 11:56 am
8 people like this

Harvard and MIT sue Trump administration over online-only instruction for foreign students in the US. CNN News report: Web Link


student
Stanford
on Jul 8, 2020 at 12:00 pm
student, Stanford
on Jul 8, 2020 at 12:00 pm
8 people like this

Harvard, MIT sue Trump administration over rule that strips visas from international students. NBC News report: Web Link


student
Stanford
on Jul 9, 2020 at 2:13 pm
student, Stanford
on Jul 9, 2020 at 2:13 pm
8 people like this

99 members of Congress demand Trump administration withdraw threats to deport foreign college students. NBC News report: Web Link


student
Stanford
on Jul 9, 2020 at 10:18 pm
student, Stanford
on Jul 9, 2020 at 10:18 pm
8 people like this

California Will Sue Trump Administration Over International Student Visa Policy. CBS News report: Web Link


student
Stanford
on Jul 13, 2020 at 4:27 pm
student, Stanford
on Jul 13, 2020 at 4:27 pm
8 people like this

200 universities and 17 states sue the Trump administration over the threat to deport foreign students attending universities with online classes during the pandemic: Web Link


student
Stanford
on Jul 14, 2020 at 1:21 pm
student, Stanford
on Jul 14, 2020 at 1:21 pm
12 people like this

The Trump administration abandons plans to deport foreign college students. CNN News report: Web Link


in-person
College Terrace
on Jul 14, 2020 at 9:45 pm
in-person, College Terrace
on Jul 14, 2020 at 9:45 pm
23 people like this

Very few classes will be offered in-person, and most of these will be taught by un-tenured faculty members who are typically younger and at lower risk and can be more easily coerced into risking their health. Overall this will be Zoom U lite.


Newsom order impact?
Green Acres
on Jul 17, 2020 at 8:23 pm
Newsom order impact?, Green Acres
on Jul 17, 2020 at 8:23 pm
10 people like this

Now that all K-12 schools in Santa Clara County will be online only this year dur to rising COVID-19 infections, will Stanford move their classes online as well? Or is the health of Stanford junior faculty and students less of a concern that that of K-12 teachers and students in PAUSD and other Santa Clara county schools??


assitant prof
Stanford
on Jul 18, 2020 at 9:18 pm
assitant prof, Stanford
on Jul 18, 2020 at 9:18 pm
5 people like this

I get the sense that Stanford undergrads and their parents are not terribly concerned (and certainly significantly less concerned than PAUSD parents) about students or instructors contracting covid-19 by participating in one of the few in-person classes. Instead, they seem content that the residence halls will remain open so students can enjoy the social/networking benefits of living on-campus for 2 quarters, even if most of their classes are on Zoom. Please remind me why some of us are being coerced to put our and our families' lives on the line for what appears to be a minor component of the college experience.


Resident
Old Palo Alto
on Jul 19, 2020 at 6:21 pm
Resident, Old Palo Alto
on Jul 19, 2020 at 6:21 pm
1 person likes this

@ Assistant prof
I believe foreign students (both undergrads and graduate students) will be the greatest presence on campus. They put up the biggest fight to stay in March to remain on campus for the remainder of the year. Many do not want to return to their home countries because it may ruin their long term immigration goals of staying and working in the US forever. Students from developing countries paid migration brokers in their home countries lots of money to fix their applications to get into Stanford - so they have no intention of returning - Covid or not. Their excuses to stay were lame, but they "won".
Students who are not already on campus - are on their way. Some TA's still have no idea what courses they will be teaching.
Check Reddit (r/Stanford) "Stanford PhD Life" for posts made just in the past day or so.
Clearly these graduate students are disregarding rules, and the health and welfare of the community. These overly social grad students don't care if they infect people in our community by their shopping, drinking, partying, and dining out. They think they are above the law.
Here are just a few excerpts from Reddit from the past day.

"Hi! I’m an incoming PhD student and a social butterfly! I was curious to know if PhD students here engage in social activates/events, or are students more introverts?"

"brokeh1b
Well, if you want, you can always hang out around Palo Alto (Menlo Park may be better since it belongs to San Mateo) under the county’s guidance. Stanford cannot control what grad students are doing off-campus."
---------------
"Rains hosts Thursday beers EVERY week! It’s mostly for Rains people, but I’ve seen many people from outside (even postdocs). Stop by one of those!"


Covid-19 ready
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 19, 2020 at 8:21 pm
Covid-19 ready, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 19, 2020 at 8:21 pm
Like this comment

@Newsom Order Impact,
A district in a County who is off the watch list for 14 days can offer in-person live instruction. In addition, in Santa Clara County, any district, private school, or charter may ask for a waiver elementary to be taught in-person live with protocols. Yes, for right now, for the next two weeks, PAUSD is in this pickle, but we can get out of it. The order does not apply to non K-12.


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Post a comment

In order to encourage respectful and thoughtful discussion, commenting on stories is available to those who are registered users. If you are already a registered user and the commenting form is not below, you need to log in. If you are not registered, you can do so here.

Please make sure your comments are truthful, on-topic and do not disrespect another poster. Don't be snarky or belittling. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

See our announcement about requiring registration for commenting.