Stanford University freshmen and sophomores will not be allowed on campus during the winter, school officials said a day after saying 43 campus students tested positive for COVID-19.
In a statement to the Stanford community, President Mark Tessier-Lavigne and Vice-Rector Percy Drell announced the changes for the quarter, which will run from Monday to March 19.
“We hoped to be able to allow half of all students – that is, second- and sophomore classes – to be in person on campus for the winter quarter,” Stanford spokesman AJ Miranda said in an email.
A statement sent to the university on Saturday attributed the change to the increase in COVID-19 cases at the state and local level and the extension of restrictions on staying at home in Santa Clara County to help slow the recent outbreak of the new coronavirus.
Last month, Stanford announced plans to allow freshmen and sophomores to attend classes this quarter, but their arrival will be delayed until Jan. 21
“COVID-19 cases in California have jumped sharply,” Stanford leaders wrote. “We are now at the worst point of the pandemic so far.”
The Stanford letter quoted health officials as saying that before Thanksgiving, Santa Clara County had four or five daily cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 population.
“Recently, there have 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 students, professionals, or students were in isolation after passing tests on COVID-19 on Jan. 2. Updated information is expected to be published on Monday.
Most of the cases involved students who had recently arrived on campus or returned to Stanford, the website said. Health officials have not found a prevalence in the university’s student community, the statement added. He also said that the overall degree of positivity in student testing programs remains low.
Miranda, a spokeswoman for the school, said graduate students and students with special circumstances were returning to Stanford last week.
In a letter to the community, Stanford leaders said that “the deteriorating circumstances of COVID-19 have now undermined our expectations about the experience we can provide to students during the winter months.”
The spring quarter is scheduled to begin on March 29. Stanford officials said they plan to have freshmen and sophomores in the summer quarter, starting June 21, if health conditions allow.
Stanford is not the only school to deal with the limitations of COVID-19 while trying to serve students.
UC Berkeley is scheduled to begin the spring semester on Jan. 19 with at least two weeks of fully distance learning, according to its website. The school plans to have limited personal training from February 1, if health conditions allow.
The California State College and University system, which operates 23 campuses, including the state of San Jose and East Cal State Bay in Hayward, previously announced that most classes for the 2020-21 school year are held online.
However, some personal instructions continue for special classes such as laboratories. The state of San Jose is scheduled to begin the semester on Jan. 27, Cal State East Bay on Jan. 19.
Last month, CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White announced plans to return to mostly private classes in the fall of 2021.
The University of Santa Clara announced that it will resume courses only online on January 4, as Santa Clara County restrictions on slowing the wave complete plans for university housing and private classes.
St. Mary’s College in Moraga plans to offer virtual, personal, hybrid and “flexible” coursework in the spring, said William Mullen, vice vice chancellor for enrollment and communications.
The school has only held online classes for its January term, which begins Jan. 4, but expects about 700 students on campus for the spring semester, which begins Feb. 8, Mullen said Sunday.
“The spring semester will last four months,” he said. “It will change and we will change.”