Ds Scholarship

Update on the beginning of winter quarter

Dear Stanford community,

This letter provides an update to students and teachers about the start of winter term instruction in January. As you will read, we are now planning to start the semester with two weeks of online teaching, although students are welcome to return to campus on schedule and do not need to change their travel plans. Other university operations will continue.

As background: We’ve all seen in recent days as cases of COVID-19 have increased in some parts of the country, and as other universities have seen surges on their campuses. While there are still positive signs that the Omicron variant may lead to milder cases of COVID-19, its transmissibility this winter remains a concern.

Back in the winter quarter, we want to minimize disruptions to students’ coursework as well as provide as much predictability as possible for both students and teachers. The current uncertainty around Omicron poses a number of logistical challenges for starting in-person classes, especially if students test positive during the break and cannot return to campus on time, or test positive on arrival and need isolation.

To support academic continuity and to provide as much predictability as possible based on what we’ve seen in recent days, today we’re sharing these changes regarding the start of winter education for students:

  • Classes at Stanford University will be online in the first two weeks of the winter quarter. The third quarter will begin in January for most students, as scheduled. We will resume in-person instruction Tuesday, January 18th, after the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday. We still expect students and teachers to be on campus during the winter.
  • We will require students to take a COVID-19 test before returning to campus. Do not travel if the test result is positive! More information on this below.
  • Students are strongly encouraged to get a COVID-19 booster vaccine, if eligible, before returning to campus for the winter. All eligible students will be required to submit reinforcement documents, unless they have medical or religious accommodation, by January 31, 2022.

We anticipate that our two-week online internship will allow students to settle in, get boosters, and navigate any health issues without worrying about missing the start of classes. When planning these modifications, please consider the following:

  • Students do not need to change their travel plans and are welcome to return to on-campus housing as scheduled, assuming they are in good health. Should you test positive for COVID-19 and need isolation, you will be able to follow lessons online and be able to recover before in-person lessons start on January 18.
  • Other operations of the university will not be affected, and staff should continue with their current plans to return to campus after the winter closure. Our concern is not with the safety of classrooms or workplaces at Stanford University, but rather with the logistical challenges of supporting students amid Omicron’s uncertainties.
  • Our testing protocols after returning to campus remain the same As announced on December 6. The express test will be available to newly arrived students, and everyone must complete the color test twice during the first week after they return to campus. Student gatherings will also be limited to the first two weeks of the quarter, as indicated in the December 6 letter.

We would like to express our sincere appreciation to the coaches for their flexibility in making this adjustment. Our teachers have become well versed in online education during the pandemic, and we hope that this two-week period will make classroom management easier than it might otherwise be. However, we know this will be an adjustment, and resources to support the trainers will still be available.

Below are answers to a number of questions you may have. We will continue to monitor the course of the epidemic and the guidance provided by public health authorities. We wish you a pleasant winter break, with the assurance that we will be back in the winter in a way that supports the academic progress of students and the health of our community.


Press Drill

Contact for
Assistant Dean, Environmental Health and Safety


Questions and answers regarding the first two weeks of winter term instructions

Why is this step being taken now, rather than waiting to see if cases of COVID-19 increase at Stanford once our community returns to campus?
We hope to reduce academic disruption and provide students and teachers with the greatest predictability possible. We think it’s wise to make this adjustment now – and give teachers more time to plan for the first two weeks of online teaching – rather than making a shift during college winter break or right after returning to campus.

Is this step being taken due to an increase in COVID-19 cases at Stanford?
No, the fall quarter is over at Stanford. The COVID-19 dashboard showed a slight rise in the number of COVID-19 cases over the two weeks following the Thanksgiving holiday. However, the transition to online instructions in the first two weeks of winter is due to the reasons described above.

I am currently a student away from the Stanford campus for the winter break. Do I have to go back once housing reopens, or can I wait until later?
If you are in good health, we encourage you to return to campus on time and settle in. You can return to campus later if you choose, but we advise against waiting until in-person classes are about to begin. This is because if you come back on time, test positive on arrival and need at least 10 days of isolation, you will be able to continue your homework during the online teaching period. Once in-person instruction has begun, any amenities for those reclusive should be arranged with individual coaches at their discretion.

Is there to worry about the safety of the classroom and workplace?
We still have strong indoor anonymity requirements at Stanford University and generally haven’t seen transmission of COVID-19 in classrooms or workplaces this fall. University operations will continue into the winter semester. Concealment requirements remain in place, and restrictions will remain on student parties and some other gatherings during the first two weeks of the winter quarter to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19.

Are resources available for teachers to move the first two weeks of teaching online?
Yes. A comprehensive guide to transferring your course online can be found here, and resources to help you can be found here.

What about the COVID-19 test students are required to get before returning to Stanford?
This is for students who are away from campus during the winter break and will need to come back. To reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19 to others while travelling, we require that you obtain a negative COVID-19 test result immediately before return flights begin. Any test, whether antigen, PCR, LAMP or other, is acceptable.

What are the details of the express test process for students returning to on-campus housing?
These will be provided separately in an email that will be sent to the students.

How do students get a COVID-19 booster vaccine and provide proof?
Enhancements for those who qualify are available through local health care providers and pharmacies. In the Stanford area, boosters are available at Stanford Healthcare locations, and in California, boosters can be scheduled through the California Department of Public Health. Information about student booster doses can be uploaded into the Vaden portal at any time. As a reminder, boosters are available in California for:

  • Anyone 16 years of age or older who has completed the initial vaccination series with the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine at least six months before
  • Anyone 18 years of age or older who completed the initial Moderna series of vaccinations at least six months ago
  • Anyone 18 years of age or older who completed the initial series of vaccinations with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two months ago

Will employees be required to get a COVID-19 booster vaccine?
We will provide more information on this after the winter close. Reinforcements are highly encouraged for each eligible person, as explained in this December 14th letter.

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