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Guidance related to winter quarter coursework and exams

Categories: Academics, Leadership communications

TO: Stanford University community

FROM: Russell Furr, Associate Vice Provost for Environmental Health & Safety

As I shared yesterday, the university has been developing guidance related to winter quarter coursework and exams, in light of the COVID-19 virus. Below, and linked from the below, is information from the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Development, Teaching and Learning.


Dear Stanford community,

I am writing to let you know that we have been working to address the many questions and concerns that have been expressed by students and instructors alike about completing winter quarter academic work in the context of the COVID-19 virus. I take the concerns that have been raised extremely seriously, and my team continues to work with colleagues in Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) to understand the potential impact of the developing situation on our academic mission.

We are now sharing guidance that we hope will be helpful to instructors, students (both undergraduate and graduate) and academic staff. The guidance includes the following:

  • We currently expect regularly scheduled classes to continue through the remainder of the quarter, and for final exams to be administered according to the existing schedule.
  • Based on advice from EH&S we are not at this time placing any restrictions on in-person instruction or administration of in-person exams, other than to ask students and teaching staff who are sick, or who have suppressed immune systems, to not attend class. EH&S has consulted with infectious disease experts and researchers, clinicians and the local health department on these issues. As previously noted, the university is taking other steps in academic settings to help prevent virus transmission, such as more frequent cleaning and strong encouragement of preventive hygiene practices.
  • Instructors are encouraged to be flexible with attendance and exam policies to help students who may not be able to attend class for the reasons described above, and to consider ways to make course content available online. We have created a website at with resources to help instructors with this transition.

Please see the FAQ web link for detail on each of these points and additional guidance on other issues. We also are planning for spring quarter and contingency plans that may be needed for course instruction then, and we will keep you informed about updated guidance.

I want to take the opportunity to thank everyone in the community who has reached out with concerns or questions about the impact of COVID-19 on the educational mission of the university.  We have read, and will continue to read, all of these communications, and we will continue to update our guidance in a timely and response manner as new information becomes available.


Sarah Church
Professor of Physics
Vice Provost for Faculty Development, Teaching and Learning

Ongoing information about Stanford’s response to COVID-19 is available at For questions related to COVID-19, please email