Freshmen and sophomore students at Stanford University will not be allowed to return to campus for the winter quarter, the university announced over the weekend.

After 43 students on campus tested positive for the coronavirus, President Marc Tessier-Lavigne and Provost Persis Drell announced by email the suspension of in-person attendance for the quarter, which begins today and runs until March 19.

The email explained that Stanford’s hospital is now caring for its largest-ever number of COVID patients, including those who were transferred from other hospitals in California. As a result, the university is now pulling the plug on returning freshmen and sophomores, fearing it will endanger the on-campus undergraduate experience this quarter.

The announcement attributed the change to the spike in state-wide COVID cases and Santa Clara County’s extension of stay-at-home restrictions to help decrease the recent surge. 

“COVID cases in California have skyrocketed. We are now at the worst point of the pandemic so far,” the school said.

Stanford now hopes to welcome undergraduate students on campus for the summer quarter starting June 21, if health conditions allow.

“The university will continue to be in touch with students about the public health situation, and about what may be possible on campus as this quarter progresses,” the university informed.

Adapting to Changes

Stanford is not the only school grappling with the massive spread of COVID while trying to serve its students.

Responding to pandemic safety protocols in Santa Clara, Santa Clara University has also switched to online-only classes till the county eases restrictions on in-person classes and on-campus housing.

The California State College and University system also announced that it will conduct most classes online for 2021. 

Other universities like the Pennsylvania State University have also canceled in-person classes for the beginning of the upcoming spring semester after monitoring national and local COVID-19 trends. 

“While we know this creates a number of challenges for our community, we are very concerned with the current outlook across the country and the commonwealth and believe this is the most responsible way to begin our semester,” said Penn State President Eric J. Barron.

Depending on the changing pandemic situation, more colleges are now adapting their policies to suit the interests of students and faculty.