After nine and a half months of tightly controlled access to its campus, Stanford University on Wednesday, June 16, will again allow the general public to enjoy its outdoor spaces.
The lifting of restrictions coincides with the state's reopening on June 15, when social distancing and capacity rules have been dropped in most situations and masking requirements are now governed by vaccination status.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Stanford last September banned visitors unaffiliated with its academic programs from entering much of its campus, a sweeping restriction that university leaders said was necessary to resume research and teaching in the fall quarter.
Entrance to the university's designated "academic zones" — which included 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 — was limited to approved faculty, staff, postdocs and students.
The "arts district," which includes the Rodin Sculpture Garden, Cantor Arts Center, the Anderson Collection, Frost Amphitheater and Bing Concert Hall, also became off-limits to the general public, as were areas just east and west of central campus that include student housing, academic and cultural facilities.
Members of the community have been allowed only on the Campus Perimeter Trail and Campus Drive, the Dish hiking trail, the Arboretum, Sand Hill Fields, the Stanford Golf Course and the Stanford Golf Course Learning Center and Driving Range. Visitors found anywhere else on campus were asked to leave by university safety personnel.
"We deeply appreciate how the Stanford community and our neighbors adjusted to the campus zones program so we could safely and gradually bring back more in-person teaching and research activities during the COVID-19 pandemic," Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne said in a statement last week.
"It is encouraging that public health conditions have improved sufficiently that we can now welcome more people back to our campuses," Tessier-Lavigne said.
The restoration of access to open spaces is the latest stage of the campus' reopening. Restrictions to the university's arts district and the athletics zone were lifted in April.
Access to many indoor facilities will remain limited after June 16, however, in order to maintain appropriate health and safety precautions, the university's announcement stated.
Parking at the main campus is returning this week to weekday enforcement for commuter and visitor parking. Most visitor spaces will be enforced from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays or according to posted signage. Most commuter spaces will be enforced between 6 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Hourly visitor parking permits will be available for purchase through the ParkMobile app or website, according to the announcement.
Stanford Transportation will provide details about returning to weekday commuter and visitor parking enforcement, including links to purchase parking spots.
While the public continued to use the Dish hiking trail since last fall, the one-way traffic flow that was instituted to ensure physical distancing will end June 16. Hikers will not be required to wear masks unless they cannot maintain 6 feet of distance between themselves and those from different households. People should continue staying to the right of the path unless passing, the university advised.
Because the drinking fountain at the Dish is turned off, visitors are encouraged to bring their own water. Hikers should also avoid gathering in groups and use the gate entrances according to ground markings.
In terms of campus COVID-19 protocols, the university is continuing to evaluate evolving guidance from Cal/OSHA (the state Division of Occupational Safety and Health), which could result in changes to requirements for face coverings, physical distancing and density for the campus community. Current university guidance is available on its Health Alerts website.