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Spring quarter to start late, be held entirely online; traditional commencement unlikely

Spring quarter will start one week late but end on time, finals week canceled

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Spring courses will be taught online for the entire quarter, and the start of spring quarter will be delayed one week from March 30 to April 6 in all schools except the Graduate School of Business, School of Law and School of Medicine, Provost Persis Drell announced on Thursday evening. 

Drell added that the University does “not expect to be able to hold this year’s Commencement in its traditional form” because of the “strong likelihood that prohibitions on large gatherings will remain in place by later this spring.”

According to Drell, spring quarter will still end on June 11, as previously planned, in order to not disrupt students’ summer plans. To ensure instructors can complete their courses, there will be no final exam period for timed exams in June; instructors will use quizzes and assignments throughout the quarter to assess student performance. 

“This decision recognizes the difficulties with administering timed high-stakes exams to students in a wide range of time zones, and whose access to quiet exam-taking space varies widely,” Drell wrote. “It also allows instructors to include all of their previously planned course content despite the delayed start of the quarter.”

According to Drell, multiple factors influenced the decision to make spring quarter entirely online, including “increasing uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak,” “potential for shelter-in-place guidelines to be extended” and the “desire to limit the amount of disruption that any mid- or late-quarter course adjustments would invariably introduce.”

Stanford’s “Spring Quarter FAQ” page states that instructors can change the grading basis and number of units of classes. Instructors can also cancel spring quarter classes, but are encouraged to transition to a remote learning format.

Students can obtain materials for spring courses from the Stanford Bookstore with free shipping, and Stanford libraries will remain open, according to the list of FAQs. 

The University will contact students who have already left campus to return belongings still in the dorms. For graduate students, the deadline to file a termination of occupancy with no fee was extended from March 24 to March 30. 

The University has not reached a decision about how commencement will take place. 

“We absolutely recognize the importance of this treasured milestone for our students, and we are working on a number of options that will allow us to honor our Stanford graduates appropriately and celebrate together,” Drell wrote. “We will be coming back to you soon with thoughts on how we can best do that.”

Contact Ujwal Srivastava at ujwal ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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