Skip to main content

Further updates regarding COVID-19

Categories: Academics, Health & safety, Leadership communications, Travel, Workplace & HR

TO: Stanford University community
FROM: Russell Furr, Associate Vice Provost for Environmental Health & Safety

Following my email to you yesterday, I am writing to provide further updates on Stanford’s actions in response to COVID-19, or novel coronavirus.

This message will address:

  • Updated travel guidance
  • Suspension of BOSP spring quarter programs
  • Forthcoming guidance on coursework
  • Guidance for staff
  • Preventing the spread of respiratory diseases like COVID-19

We are continuing to evaluate a large number of additional issues and will continue to be in touch with you as significant updates become available. You also can always find the latest information for the university community on the website. Questions about issues related to COVID-19 can be sent to

Updated travel guidance

With the approval of the president and provost, the university is providing significantly updated travel guidance to our community due to the continued spread of COVID-19. The following guidance is effective through April 15:

  • International travel – university-sponsored: We are restricting university-sponsored international travel, to any country. This supports social distancing and reduces Stanford’s contribution to the potential spread of infection to other areas, in support of global public health. We realize the impacts may include cancelled trips, the window of time that research can be done, and for some researchers, the contractual obligation to complete projects involving international travel. To mitigate the above, an exception may be granted by a dean, vice president or vice provost. However, the traveler must understand that given the rapidly changing situation there is a chance that Stanford’s self-isolation requirement for 14 days upon return from countries with CDC Level 3 travel health restrictions may be expanded to additional countries, and that there may be air or governmental restrictions on return that are beyond Stanford’s ability to control. Note: No exceptions will be granted for undergraduate student university-sponsored international travel.
  • International travel – personal: We strongly recommend against personal travel out of the country. If you do undertake such travel, you must understand there is a chance that there may be a self-isolation requirement for 14 days upon return as well as the fact that there may be air or governmental restrictions on return that are beyond Stanford’s ability to control.
  • Domestic travel – university-sponsored: We recommend against non-essential university-sponsored domestic travel to reduce Stanford’s contribution to the potential spread of infection to other areas. We encourage finding alternate means of conducting business.
  • Domestic travel – personal: Students who wish to avoid travel over spring break can stay on campus. Faculty and staff as well as students should consider their own health status and other reports before making plans for personal domestic travel, recognizing that the status of COVID-19 infection in the United States continues to change.

We encourage anyone who is planning travel to register it with the university. This will allow the university to contact you in the event of a major emergency or changing circumstances related to your travel destination.

Suspension of BOSP spring quarter programs

In response to the rapidly evolving events surrounding COVID-19 and out of concern for the health and safety of our community, Stanford is suspending all Bing Overseas Studies Program (BOSP) spring quarter study programs scheduled to take place outside of the United States.

As Senior Vice Provost for Education Harry Elam wrote today in announcing the university’s decision, “In addition to the spread of the virus itself, students may face unpredictable circumstances overseas during the spring quarter, including accessing health care while abroad, navigating disruptions to local services, and the potential for travel interruptions or restrictions.”

It’s important to emphasize that this is a temporary suspension of our study abroad programs. The university remains deeply committed to global education, and we intend to resume our programs abroad as soon as we are able.

Please refer to the communication above for additional information. With respect to winter quarter study abroad programs, as previously announced the BOSP Florence program has been suspended. Based on current intelligence from all sources, there are no plans to end other winter quarter programs early. All are scheduled to conclude in the next two weeks.

Forthcoming guidance on coursework

As we approach the end of winter quarter, we know there are many questions from students and faculty about issues including course attendance, technology options for faculty in delivering course material, administration of final exams and other course-related matters. The university is working through these issues right now, in coordination with school and faculty leadership, and we will be providing more guidance shortly.

As a reminder for faculty, resources regarding Stanford’s Zoom service for videoconferencing are available on the University IT website.

Guidance for staff

From University Human Resources: One effective strategy for minimizing the spread of COVID-19 is greater social distancing. Social distancing can be accomplished by using technology (Zoom or teleconferencing) to reduce the number of meetings involving large numbers of people. Additionally, for some employees, such as those in open and more densely populated work environments, telecommuting is another possible option to accomplish social distancing. However, given the wide variety of services that staff provide to the Stanford community, telecommuting is not always feasible.

In situations where work can temporarily be performed from home or an alternate location that would allow for social distancing, we encourage employees and managers to work together to identify those instances as possible telecommuting opportunities. In situations where telecommuting is not possible, we encourage employees to adhere to preventive hygiene measures, such as those listed below.

Preventing the spread of respiratory diseases like COVID-19

Help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases like COVID-19. Prevention measures are similar to those utilized against the common cold and flu, which are currently circulating in high numbers in California:

  • Stay home when sick.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Cough and sneeze into your elbow and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

We deeply appreciate the contributions of everyone in the university community to Stanford’s response to COVID-19, as well as your understanding as we continue to work through emerging issues. If you have questions about any of the issues in this message, please do not reply directly to this email but instead send your inquiry to