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Updates on self-isolating students, campus operations, student travel planning

Categories: Health & safety, Leadership communications, Research, Travel

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

I am writing to provide a few updates as Stanford continues responding to the spread of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. This message comes with deep appreciation for the steps so many of you are taking to assist with efforts to reduce the risk of virus spread.

In this message I will cover:

  • Follow-up from Friday
  • University operations continue
  • Travel planning for students

Follow-up from Friday

On Friday we let you know that two undergraduate students were being tested for possible exposure to the novel coronavirus. Since then, other students also have been tested. At this time we are not aware of any test results that have come back positive for coronavirus among Stanford students, which is welcome news.

As the School of Medicine reported on Friday, the school does have one clinical faculty member who has tested positive for COVID-19. This individual has not been in the work environment since experiencing symptoms.

Many more people are likely to be tested in the days and weeks ahead, as a result of either symptoms they are experiencing or concerns about a possible exposure. The university will not be in a position to provide ongoing updates about the numbers of individuals in our community who are being tested. However, to the extent we are aware of confirmed cases of COVID-19 among members of our community, we will be in close communication with county public health officials on the appropriate response steps, and we will be working to keep our community informed.

University operations continue

As Provost Drell announced on Friday evening, classes at our main campus will meet online rather than in person for the remainder of the winter quarter. This coming week is the last week of winter classes, and final exams occur the following week. Resources are being provided to assist instructors with online instruction and provisions for final exams. For instructors who have questions or need support, please continue to go through the website for assistance.

However, it’s important to emphasize that the university remains open and most functions continue operating. Though classes are not meeting in person and some events have been curtailed, research activities, support services and overall university operations continue.

Graduate students and postdocs can continue their research, including lab activities, unless you are sick, immuno-compromised or have other individual circumstances that should be discussed with your advisor or PI. Likewise, employees should continue work responsibilities unless you feel unwell or are showing signs of illness. University Human Resources has provided a set of frequently asked questions, including on issues such as telecommuting, to help managers and employees.

Providing for our community’s health and safety continues to be a critical concern for everyone coordinating the university’s response to COVID-19. Please continue to follow our CDC-informed guidance for prevention and well-being to help prevent the spread of infection (including washing hands frequently and avoiding touching your face with unwashed hands). Please also keep in mind that if you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed, the university has resources to support you, listed on that same web page.

Travel planning for students

We know that some undergraduates are in the process of leaving campus, or will be as spring break approaches. As Vice Provost for Student Affairs Susie Brubaker-Cole wrote to students last night, we encourage you to keep two things in mind as you plan:

  • The COVID-19 situation is rapidly evolving. Travel will continue to be uncertain, and a range of factors may make it difficult for you to travel back. Please pack with travel delays in mind, making sure to include all items you might need and packing more heavily than you normally would.
  • For students who plan to stay on campus rather than traveling, please know that Stanford will continue to support you, through Vaden Health Center and your residences, throughout the rest of the quarter and spring break.

We know that many of you – faculty and staff, as well as students – have questions about the spring quarter. The leadership of the university is actively reviewing these issues and will be in touch with more information soon.

Additional information continues to be on our website. Thank you.