Stanford University will ban visitors who are not affiliated with its academic programs from entering much of its campus starting Sept. 1, a sweeping restriction that university officials say is necessary to resume research and teaching in the fall quarter.
Under the university's new "campus zone" system, which Stanford plans to roll out this Tuesday, entrance in the designated "academic zones" would be limited to approved faculty, staff, postdocs and students. This area includes most of the campus area between Junipero Serra Boulevard and El Camino Real, including the Quad, the Oval, Lake Lagunita and the university's playing fields.
The "arts district," which includes the Rodin Sculpture Garden, Cantor Arts Center, the Anderson Collection, Frost Amphitheater and Bing Concert Hall, will now be off-limits to the general public, as will areas just east and west of central campus that include student housing, academic and cultural facilities.
Members of the public will still be allowed to visit the Dish loop, use the Campus Perimeter Trail and walk, bike and drive along Campus Drive, the university announced. The Arboretum, Sand Hill Fields, the Stanford Golf Course and the Stanford Golf Course Learning Center and Driving Range will also remain open to the broader community.
The new system also will not affect public access to Stanford Health Care facilities.
The new rules, which include exemptions for deliveries, testing and maintenance, will require Stanford students, faculty and staff to wear visible Stanford IDs whenever they are in the restricted academic or athletic areas starting Sept. 8. Vendors and subcontractors without Stanford IDs will be asked to wear an appropriate uniform and have a university-issued authorization letter available.
Visitors who do not have an ID will be asked to relocate to another location by Stanford safety personnel, who will be stationed at popular gathering places. While the university is hoping that visitors would voluntarily abide by the new rules and comply with requests to leave, those who do not could be cited for trespassing, according to a university page dedicated to frequently asked questions.
By enacting the changes, Stanford is trying to comply with state Department of Public Health guidance for higher education institutions. The guidelines, which were released on Aug. 7, requires colleges and universities to "limit, to the greatest extent permitted by law, external community members from entering the site (campus grounds) and using campus resources, as the number of additional people onsite and/or intermixing with students, facility and staff increases the risk of virus transmission."
Stanford is also prohibited from having indoor classes for as long as Santa Clara County remains on the state's COVID-19 watchlist. This creates a greater need for outdoor meeting spaces, the university stated.
The university is adopting the new rules as it anticipates its student population to grow next month, notwithstanding its decision on Aug. 13 to cancel on-campus learning for undergraduates in the fall semester in favor of virtual classes. The university had previously planned on bringing half of its undergraduates back to campus during different quarters. Stanford has also canceled all on-campus events until the end of this year.
Despite these decisions, the university still expects to have about 6,300 students on campus in the coming semester, according to the announcement. Research activities and graduate education are resuming as planned, Stanford's announcement states. In addition, a reduced number of undergraduate students with special circumstances continue to live on campus.
In announcing the restrictions announced Aug. 28, Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne emphasized that the changes are temporary and that the university looks forward to "expanding the areas available to (the general public) as public health conditions permit. The university's announcement also notes that it may relax the restrictions in some areas, such as the "arts zone" faster than in others.
Tessier-Lavigne said in a statement that as the university works toward the resumption of teaching and research on campus, "the rapidly evolving nature of the pandemic requires unprecedented steps to safeguard the health of all who live, learn and work here."
The Stanford announcement calls the changes a "necessary adjustment" as the university prepares to begin the autumn quarter. Russell Furr, associated vice provost for Environmental Health & Safety who is coordinating Stanford's response to the pandemic, called the separation of the academic and residential portions of the campus from the open community areas "an important component of limiting in-person interactions during this critical phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We want to enable everyone involved in the academic mission of the university to remain focused on teaching and research as we welcome new and returning students to campus, along with additional faculty and staff," Furr said in the announcement.
Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.