Stanford University’s freshmen and sophomores will not be allowed on campus for the winter quarter, school officials announced a day after they said 43 students on campus had tested positive for COVID-19.
In a message to the Stanford community, President Marc Tessier-Lavigne and Provost Persis Drell announced the changes for the quarter that runs Monday to March 19.
“We had hoped to be able to allow half of all undergraduates — that is, the frosh and sophomore classes — to be in person on campus for the winter quarter,” Stanford spokesman E.J. Miranda said Sunday in an email.
The campuswide communique sent Saturday attributed the change to the uptick in state and local COVID-19 cases and Santa Clara County’s extension of stay-at-home restrictions to help slow the recent surge of the novel coronavirus.
Stanford had announced last month it planned to have freshmen and sophomores attending in-person classes this quarter but that their arrival would be delayed until Jan. 21-24.
“COVID-19 cases in California have skyrocketed,” the Stanford leaders wrote. “We are now at the worst point of the pandemic so far.”
The Stanford letter cited health officials’ statements that before Thanksgiving, Santa Clara Clara County had four or five daily COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population.
“Recently, it has been approximately 50 cases per 100,000 population – a tenfold increase,” the letter said.
On Friday, Stanford announced on its COVID-19 dashboard that 43 graduate, professional or undergraduate students were in isolation after testing positive for COVID-19 since Jan. 2. Updated information is expected to be released on Monday.
Most of the cases are associated with students who recently arrived on campus or returned to Stanford, the website information said. Health officials have not identified a spread within the on-campus student community, the statement added. It also said the overall positivity rate in the student testing programs has remained low.
Miranda, the school spokesman, said that graduate students and undergraduate students with special circumstances have been returning to Stanford over the past week.
In the letter to the community, Stanford’s leaders said, “the worsening COVID-19 circumstances have now eroded our expectations about the experience we could deliver to undergraduates in the winter months.”
The spring quarter is scheduled to begin on March 29. Stanford officials said they plan to have freshmen and sophomores on campus for the summer quarter starting June 21, if health conditions allow it.
Stanford is not the only school dealing with COVID-19 restrictions while trying to serve students.
UC Berkeley is scheduled to begin the spring semester on Jan. 19 with at least two weeks of fully remote instruction, according to its website. The school plans to have limited in-person instruction starting Feb. 1 if health conditions allow it.
The California State College and University system that operates 23 campuses, including San Jose State and Cal State East Bay in Hayward, has previously announced most classes for the 2020-21 academic year are being held online.
However, some in-person instruction continues for special classes such as laboratories. San Jose State is scheduled to start the semester on Jan. 27, Cal State East Bay on Jan. 19.
Last month, CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White announced plans to return to primarily in-person classes in the fall of 2021.
Santa Clara University announced that it resumed online-only classes on Jan. 4 because Santa Clara County restrictions to slow the surge ended plans for on-campus housing and in-person classes.
Saint Mary’s College in Moraga plans to offer virtual, in-person, hybrid and “flex” course instruction in the spring, said William Mullen, vice provost of enrollment and communications.
The school has held only online classes for its January term that began Jan. 4, but expects about 700 students on campus for the spring semester that begins Feb. 8, Mullen said Sunday.
“The spring semester will go four months,” he said. “It will change and we will change.”
Stanford pulls plug on the return of freshmen and sophomores to campus