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Fall quarter decision coming in June, Stanford announces

Campus to reanimate in phases

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A decision on fall quarter can be expected “sometime in June,” announced President Marc Tessier-Lavigne on Tuesday, as the University faces an anticipated $100 million budget deficit by the end of the fiscal year. 

As Bay Area counties extend shelter-in-place orders through the month of May, Stanford has also begun planning to resume on-campus operations in phases, with a priority on in-person research activities. 

In the first phase, once public health conditions allow, “a fraction of employees” would return to campus to resume research and “other priority activities,” according to Tessier-Levigne’s email. Employees who perform “research, administrative operations, physical plant maintenance, transportation, and other facets of campus operations” would return in later phases, he added. 

“As much as we all yearn to get back to normal, our consultations with public health experts convince us that it will be imperative for our eventual re-start of university operations to occur in a phased, measured, careful manner,” Tessier-Lavigne wrote.

Even once life on campus resumes, physical distancing and other protective measures will be maintained “for some time to come,” according to the email. 

Fall quarter plans — which, Tessier-Lavigne wrote, encompass options ranging from fully in-person to fully online — remain under consideration. Tessier-Lavigne wrote that while he hoped to resume in-person instruction as soon as possible, the decision is ultimately dependent on the availability of testing and treatment as well as the feasibility of upholding social distancing. 

“In assessing all options at Stanford, we will need to consider factors including the availability of COVID-19 testing in the fall, the availability of treatments, the ability to accomplish physical distancing and other safety measures, and what makes sense educationally for our students and their academic progress,” Tessier-Lavigne wrote.

According to the email, the “highly communal nature” of undergraduate life poses a challenge to physical distancing procedures that, in the absence of a vaccine, are critical to controlling the pandemic. The need for such procedures could stretch into winter quarter: Tessier-Lavigne advised that “the winter could be much like the fall,” regarding additional safety practices and changes to on-campus life. 

Undergraduate housing plans and the graduate housing lottery have been delayed pending changes to fall quarter plans and county guidelines. 

With an estimated $200 million reversal in the University’s consolidated budget, departments across Stanford have also been advised to plan for the 2020-21 fiscal year with the expectation of a 15% reduction to the endowment payout and a 10% reduction to general funds.

“The challenge is likely to grow in the 2021 fiscal year, when we expect to see reduced operating revenues in a number of areas as well as a potentially significant decline in endowment payout based on losses in the financial markets,” Tessier-Lavigne wrote.

Contact Grace Carroll at gac23 ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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