STANFORD (CBS SF) – Officials at Stanford University announced some details of its plan to reopen this fall, months after the coronavirus pandemic forced classes to go online.
“Though our planning is not complete and some important decisions are yet to be made, the overall structure for the year ahead is coming into place, and we thought it was important to share our thinking with you as soon as possible rather than waiting until every aspect is worked out,” university president Marc Tessier-Lavigne and provost Persis Drell said in a letter to the school community.
Among the changes, Stanford plans to start the fall quarter a week earlier, on September 14th, with classes ending on November 20th, the Friday before Thanksgiving. Students would then take their final exams from home after the Thanksgiving holiday, to help reduce the potential of the coronavirus spreading due to travel.
In another departure from previous years, the school is planning for undergraduates to have a four-quarter academic year, which includes Summer 2021. Half of the students would be on campus per quarter, and would rotate each quarter.
By rotating, most undergrads would be on campus for two quarters, learn remotely for one quarter, and would allow each student on campus to sleep in their own private space, officials said.
Stanford intends to have incoming freshmen and transfer students on campus for the fall quarter and graduating seniors on campus during spring, but the school has not made an official decision.
For students on campus, social distancing will be in place, along with limitations on gatherings. Students will likely be asked not to travel outside the local area or be asked to self-isolate upon returning.
As for teaching, Stanford said “we will need to view online as the default teaching option” even though in-person classes will be offered. Classes larger than 50 students would likely need to go online, class times may need to be extended, and classes that can only be held in-person may be need to be offered multiple times during the year.
Stanford’s announcement comes as schools across the Bay Area and the country try to plan for the upcoming year amid a possibility of a second wave of COVID-19 infections. Nearby Santa Clara University was also planning for in-person instruction in the fall, if health orders allow.
Meanwhile, the much larger University of California and California State University systems announced remote learning would likely continue for most students in the fall.