Update on planning for fall 2021

Dear Stanford community,

I’m writing to provide an update on our planning for fall 2021, with an emphasis on what students should be anticipating in terms of in-person presence on campus.

Though we are still contending with limited supplies of COVID-19 vaccine locally right now, we continue to see a brightening vaccination picture over the coming weeks. We’re delighted that this allows us to plan with optimism for a "new normal" in our university activities beginning this fall.

In our research and teaching, Stanford is planning for as normal a fall as possible, with modifications as needed based on the public health situation. Of course, this will depend on the trajectory of the pandemic and the public health rules in effect at the time. But our planning is for a return to an in-person academic experience on campus this fall.

For our staff employees, many of whom can do some of their work remotely, we are planning for a fall that includes flexible work opportunities involving on-site, hybrid and fully remote work. A process is underway to outline parameters for flexible work arrangements, and we’ll be using this summer to pilot some of these opportunities. Additional communication on this will be coming shortly for staff employees.

A great deal of work is currently underway to prepare for the fall, and for the "on-ramp" period that will occur between now and then. We will be providing updates periodically.

However, many students who are admitted to Stanford for this fall have deadlines coming up in the next few weeks to determine whether they will be enrolling. With that in mind, we want to provide the following guidance:

Students who plan to enroll at Stanford for the fall should plan to be on campus, in person. We are enthusiastically planning for in-person education and research, and we’ll keep you updated on what protocols may be needed in the fall to continue protecting public health. (Please note, some advanced graduate students may receive permission from their programs to be away from campus during the next academic year to conduct research or for other reasons approved by their faculty advisers.)

We also realize that some new and returning international students in certain countries are currently facing delays in visa processing to allow them to come to the United States. Stanford is working to provide support and information through the Bechtel International Center for students in this frustrating and stressful situation.

For new and returning undergraduate students who are facing visa challenges, the Bechtel International Center and Office of Undergraduate Admission will be providing information about options available should the visa delays extend into the fall quarter. For graduate students , because our academic programs and the nature of graduate students’ research and education activities are so varied, we are asking schools and departments to work with international graduate students on a case-by-case, program-by-program basis to determine what is possible for the fall quarter if they are affected by visa delays. Please reach out to your school or department if you have questions, or to Bechtel as a general resource.

With our peer institutions, we continue to express to Congress and the federal administration our concerns with federal policies that negatively affect international students, including these visa delays. We sincerely hope that those who are currently experiencing delays will see improvement in the situation soon, and we’ll continue working to support you.

Finally, we are in the process of evaluating whether we will have COVID-19 vaccination requirements for any on-campus populations once vaccines are fully and easily available to all. Students who are considering enrolling should be aware of this possibility. Right now, vaccination does not affect one’s on-site status nor change the protocols we are all expected to follow on campus. We will keep you informed as more decisions are made.

In the coming days and weeks, we will be providing more information about the questions on the minds of our community - about vaccinations, planning for the summer quarter and many other matters. The latest information can also always be found on Stanford Today.

Sincerely,

Persis Drell
Provost


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