Sunday Message: Preparing for Fall Quarter

Dean Jon Levin writes to the Standford GSB community with updates on returning to campus, COVID-19 testing, and hybrid instruction.

August 16, 2020

I am writing to provide an update on our Fall Quarter plans. This week Stanford made the difficult decision not to invite undergraduates back to campus in September. We are continuing with plans to welcome graduate and professional students, based on the differing living, dining and academic experiences that President Tessier-Lavigne emphasized in his message. I know we all recognize that the health conditions that led to the undergraduate decision will create continuing challenges throughout the fall.

We are approaching an incredibly complex academic year. The pandemic requires us to take a responsible and careful approach to public health, while serving students and society by delivering high-quality education and advancing our research mission. We need to respect local health conditions, regulations, knowledge of the virus, and the needs of our community. It is imperative, when interacting in the community, that each of us behaves in accordance with local public health rules. The reputation of the GSB depends on it — and more importantly, so does the health of the people living around us, including the most vulnerable.

All of our planning is being done in accordance with State and County guidelines, and in concert with the broader University. A week ago, the State of California released its much-anticipated Higher Education Guidelines. We anticipate these guidelines will be followed soon by guidance from Santa Clara County. Together, these will provide the framework under which Stanford will be operating to start Fall Quarter.

What follows is a summary of some key information that complements the specific and detailed information being sent regularly to students, faculty, and staff. I would like to thank everyone for their efforts in preparing for the upcoming year, and especially the Autumn Quarter Task Force for its ongoing and thoughtful planning work.

Important Dates

Students are starting to arrive in GSB residences. The MBA Welcome is Friday, September 4. View the full 2020-21 GSB Academic Calendar on myGSB (SUNet ID required).


The California guidelines do not permit indoor lectures in counties on the California Watch List — this currently includes Santa Clara County. We continue to prepare for multiple modalities: online instruction, the creation of outdoor space for instruction, and some use of classrooms if Santa Clara is removed from the watch list.


Stanford plans to test students on arrival and throughout the quarter. Each student living in a Stanford residence will be tested twice in their first week, and there are analogous plans for GSB students living off-campus. Faculty and staff are not currently required to be tested, but must complete the Health Check to enter campus.


Stanford has suspended non-essential travel through January 4, 2021. Individuals who have traveled outside of Northern California are restricted from returning to campus for 14 days, unless they test negative for COVID-19 at least five days after return. Student travel is governed by the Graduate Student Compact, which was released this weekend.

Faculty and Staff Return to Campus

Remote work is the expectation at Stanford through the end of the calendar year, with exceptions where the research and education mission require faculty and staff to be on campus. We are making arrangements for GSB faculty to use their offices to prepare classes, conduct research, and teach from studios or in-person where permitted. We anticipate having a limited number of staff on campus to support instruction and provide student services, in addition to our facilities staff who continue to play an essential role in maintaining campus safety and health.

Public Health

The State and County have imposed strict public health guidance and continue to update it based on changing health conditions. Essential individual behaviors include six-foot social distancing, wearing a face covering, and practicing good hand hygiene. We continue to regularly sanitize GSB buildings and facilities. We will provide ongoing guidance around campus policies throughout the quarter. The university also has implemented a Graduate Student Compact that emphasizes the importance of our collective responsibilities to protect public health. To reiterate an important point from above, it is essential that each of us follow public health guidelines both on-campus and when interacting in the community beyond campus.


A striking feature of the pandemic is that it is both global — all of us on the planet are in this together — and local, because of the direct and meaningful consequences our behavior can have on the people around us. Over the next few weeks, we will come together to form a local community. As we seek to enable interactions that enrich the educational and research missions of the school, we need to remain acutely conscious of the consequences that our actions can have on our collective health and well-being, and the health of our surrounding community. I have been inspired throughout the last six months by the responsibility, goodwill, and optimism of the entire GSB community. I look forward to this continuing in the weeks ahead, and to finding more moments of inspiration and pride in our individual and collective actions.

Wishing you good health and optimism,

Jon Levin

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