Stanford cancels in-person classes; two students in isolation pending COVID-19 test results | News | Mountain View Online |


Stanford cancels in-person classes; two students in isolation pending COVID-19 test results

Professor tests positive; Admit weekend for prospective students will not take place as university escalates response to coronavirus

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Stanford University has become the second major U.S. university to cancel in-person classes to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus. The university also announced Friday that two undergraduate students who possibly were exposed to the virus are in self-isolation and that a School of Medicine faculty member has tested positive for COVID-19.

Beginning Monday, March 9, all classes will move online "to the extent feasible" for the last two weeks of the winter quarter, Provost Persis Drell wrote to students on Friday.

Stanford's response to the coronavirus has escalated rapidly this week. Just yesterday, the university said it expected regularly scheduled classes to continue through the remainder of the quarter.

Students will now take winter quarter finals at home. The university made this decision after "thoughtful consideration," Drell said.

"The public health guidance we are receiving continues to emphasize not only good personal hygiene practices, but also minimizing close contact among groups of people, as means of restraining the spread of COVID-19," she wrote. "We recently placed constraints on large public events at Stanford, and now, in order both to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and to ease anxiety in our community as winter finals approach, we are taking new steps regarding course instruction."

Dean Lloyd Minor and Stanford Health Care leadership notified the School of Medicine on Friday of the faculty member, who they said has not been in the work environment since experiencing symptoms. Stanford has followed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines in this case, they wrote, including notifying people who might have been exposed to the person and requesting that they self-isolate to prevent potential spread of the coronavirus. The clinic where the person worked has been closed for cleaning and is expected to reopen on Monday, they wrote.

Drell separately said Friday that the two undergraduates in self-isolation are not displaying any symptoms of COVID-19 and have been tested at Stanford Health Care; results are expected within 24 hours. Both students have moved out of their undergraduate housing, she said.

"I know that this development will be a source of anxiety and concern. We continue to be guided in our actions by medical professionals and public health guidance, and our team of university leaders is prepared to take additional steps to safeguard the health of our community as they become necessary," Drell wrote. "Out of respect for the students involved in this immediate matter, I want to encourage you not to engage in rumors or speculation that will not be helpful to the situation."

Stanford enrolls about 7,000 undergraduate students and nearly 8,000 graduate students.

Drell encouraged students to take the same precautions that public health and school officials have been urging: stay home when sick; wash your hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds; cough and sneeze into your elbow; and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

On Friday, Drell also announced that admit weekend, a major April event for students who have or will be accepted to Stanford, has been canceled. Group campus tours and information sessions for prospective students will also no longer take place.

A slew of university events have been canceled to stem the potential spread the new coronavirus. Stanford has also suspended all international study abroad programs for the spring and has increased its travel restrictions to include university-sponsored travel to any country.

The University of Washington was reportedly the first major university to cancel in-person classes earlier Friday amidst an outbreak in Seattle and with a university staff member who tested positive for the coronavirus.

The number of cases of the new coronavirus in Santa Clara County increased to 24 on Friday, when four new cases were announced by the Public Health Department. The county has the most cases of any in California, accounting for more than a quarter statewide.

On Thursday, Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne announced that a "few" patients who tested positive for COVID-19 are being treated at Stanford Medicine.

"With the increased availability of testing, we can expect that confirmed cases of COVID-19 will continue to grow in our region and perhaps in our university community," Drell wrote.

Drell encouraged faculty with classes scheduled on Monday to cancel them and use the time instead to shift their courses online. As much is feasible, faculty will be expected to make their course content, including class materials, available via online education platform Canvas or other online options.

Stanford as a whole will remain open but is encouraging employees and managers to work remotely if possible.

"Many people are understandably anxious about COVID-19 and the unknowns that it poses. And yet, our community is doing a remarkable job rising to the challenge: from our food service workers who are continuing to serve our students, to the custodians performing more frequent cleanings; from the faculty and staff rescheduling events and projects, to the dedicated teams who have been working exhausting hours coordinating the university’s response," Drell wrote.

Read our latest updates on local coronavirus cases here.

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8 people like this
Posted by Elaine
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 7, 2020 at 9:07 am

So why are public elementary schools still in session?

9 people like this
Posted by Jo
a resident of Rex Manor
on Mar 7, 2020 at 9:44 am

Elementary schools are germ farms.

15 people like this
Posted by Voice of Reason
a resident of another community
on Mar 7, 2020 at 3:10 pm

Stanford has over 40,000 people on campus every day. They also have the infrastructure in place to move from "in-classroom" to "online". There is no reason for elementary schools to jump the gun and start cancelling classes.

6 people like this
Posted by Babysitters
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Mar 7, 2020 at 3:19 pm

Schools are partly babysitters - enabling parents to do other things. But schools should actually have contingency plans. Are they bring paid to have NO CONTINGENCY PLAN? Afraid so. Money with no strings attached.

17 people like this
Posted by MV Resident
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Mar 7, 2020 at 4:57 pm

@Babysitters: give the district-slamming a rest. If you were on the school email distributions you’d know that there’s a bunch of stuff going into action already. Trips and events getting canceled, and contingency planning galore.

9 people like this
Posted by Overreaction
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 7, 2020 at 8:45 pm

Don't we think this might be a little over reaction on Stanford's administration. It seems that they are making a decision to do something just to do something because no one can control this. You can either spend money on cleaning and staff to do more cleaning than normal or just send everyone away. I am not sure having students self contained in their dorms or fraternity houses is the smartest idea either.

But I get it. You have to act like you are doing something "out an of an abundance of caution."

Catch phase of the month.

8 people like this
Posted by poor poor Cuesta
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 8, 2020 at 9:09 am

> Catch phase of the month.

Professionals with all the information make a public decision which offends an anonymous poster.

Someone feels personally aggrieved. Imagine our sympathies for you....

2 people like this
Posted by Babysitters
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Mar 8, 2020 at 12:00 pm

The Voice should next report on the plans, if any, in the school districts to head off spread of the virus across the city.

1 person likes this
Posted by Voice of Reason
a resident of another community
on Mar 8, 2020 at 12:58 pm

Why is it the schools responsibility to "head off spread of the virus across the city"? The virus is being spread by adults, not children.

1 person likes this
Posted by poor poor Cuesta
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 8, 2020 at 4:22 pm

> Why is it the schools responsibility

It's all of our responsibility.

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