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Stanford scraps plans to invite students back after reaffirming them repeatedly

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One day after announcing that 43 students on campus tested positive, Stanford has canceled plans to bring frosh and sophomores to campus for the upcoming winter quarter, the University announced on Saturday.

Undergraduate resident assistants (RAs) and undergraduates with approved special circumstances — who have been moving in over the last few days — are allowed to stay on campus. Because some frosh and sophomores may not have applied for special circumstances housing, Stanford is offering a new application period for students who did not previously apply. 

The University wrote that it still plans to invite juniors and seniors back in the spring, but warned that “these plans, as always, are subject to the conditions of the pandemic,” in a set of FAQs posted with the announcement. Frosh and sophomores will still be invited back to campus for the summer quarter. 

Students on campus over winter quarter will be consolidated into a smaller number of houses, suggesting some students on campus may need to move. The University wrote that it is working on a “process that prioritizes friend groups, keeps the density of houses low but also maintains a critical mass of students in each space for safety and security.” Stanford will provide students with moving materials, but not professional moving assistance. 

RAs — who live in each residence and plan events and programs to create community in dorms — will still be paid their full winter stipend, and given the option to continue their staffing role in their new location, according to an email sent to staff by Vice Provost for Residential Education Cheryl Brown. 

“We are now at the worst point of the pandemic so far,” President Marc Tessier-Lavigne and Provost Persis Drell wrote. The Bay Area’s regional stay-at-home was extended yesterday after ICU capacity dropped to 3% and will remain in place until the capacity increases to 15%. Stanford’s own hospital is now treating its largest number of COVID-19 patients during the pandemic, including patients transferred from hard hit areas of California, according to the message. 

Despite rising case counts last fall, the University repeatedly reaffirmed plans to bring frosh, sophomores and new transfer students to campus. In early December, Provost Persis Drell announced student arrival would be staggered, with most students moving in two weeks later than initially planned. Undergraduates with special circumstances, resident assistants and new transfer students moved into campus last week. All other students were slated to arrive from Jan. 21 through Jan 24. 

Since December, cases in California and Santa Clara County have skyrocketed. The state has since imposed tighter restrictions in regions with low ICU capacity. According to the message, cases in the county have increased tenfold since Thanksgiving. 

“We deeply regret having to change plans,” Tessier-Lavigne and Drell added, saying they’d determined it was in the community’s best interest even though some would be disappointed.  

The first day of instruction for the winter quarter is still scheduled for Monday. All courses offered under a letter grading basis will include a credit/no credit (CR/NC) grading option in accordance with a July Faculty Senate measure meant to accommodate uncertainty in the upcoming academic year. The deadline to submit a request for a leave of absence with a full refund has been extended to Tuesday Jan. 19 at 5 p.m.

This article has been updated to reflect that the deadline to request a leave of absence has been extended.

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Emma Talley is from Sacramento, California. She is the vol. 258 and 259 Managing Editor of News and plans to pursue a career in journalism. Emma is a current metro intern at the San Francisco Chronicle covering education. The way to her heart is coffee. Contact her at etalley 'at' stanforddaily.com or news 'at' stanforddaily.com.