Update on Stanford GSB and COVID-19

Dean Jon Levin writes to the Stanford GSB community with updates on Spring Quarter, switching to virtual learning, and COVID-19.

March 09, 2020

The last several days have involved a lot of uncertainty and also a tremendous response on the part of the GSB community. I am confident that we will be able to navigate the coming weeks with adaptability and goodwill.

This email is intended to provide common information to students, staff, and faculty about major points of action and planning at this time. There has also been, and will continue to be, specific information provided to each group, as Stanford makes campus-wide decisions, and we figure out how to execute and implement these policies at the GSB. This is a long email because there is a lot to share.

Teaching and Academics for Winter Quarter

As Provost Drell communicated on Friday, in-person instruction has been cancelled for the remainder of Winter Quarter. This means instruction will be virtual this week, and exams will be taken via Canvas. The faculty teaching winter quarter, and our Teaching and Learning staff, have shown remarkable speed and collaboration over the weekend in figuring out plans to adapt and complete teaching. Students will have heard, or will be hearing shortly, from individual instructors about class arrangements. Many classes and review sessions have been moved to Zoom (so extra thank you to the GSBer responsible for starting Zoom).

Campus Facilities

Stanford and the GSB remain open for business – and will continue to provide services through the remainder of the quarter and through Spring Break. Arbuckle and Coupa will be open during normally scheduled hours. Stanford’s Recreation Facilities, Stanford GSB Library, GSB Residences front desk (login required), and IT Help Desk (login required) operations are scheduled to proceed as normal, but please check their websites for any changes. The GSB Facilities team has put in place protocols for extra cleaning and disinfecting as a precautionary measure.

Campus Activities

Consistent with university policy around in-person instruction, student events and activities for this week will be virtual or be postponed. The same applies for faculty and PhD student research seminars and lunches. We are asking that event organizers communicate with their intended audiences about modifications or postponement. As a reminder, Stanford has cancelled large events through April 15. In a few cases, we have postponed events scheduled beyond April 15, based on the need for participants to plan in advance, the nature of the event, and the ease of postponement. For now, these decisions are being made case-by-case based on the above factors, pending guidance from the university about whether to extend the April 15 window or resume normal operations. We will communicate as soon as such guidance is received. Again, I would like to acknowledge the hard work put into some long-planned and exciting events that sadly have had to be postponed or cancelled.

Work Arrangements

We are implementing Stanford’s HR policies and procedures for GSB staff. While these policies are made at the university level, implementation is necessarily local due to different staff work responsibilities and varying needs to be on campus. The guiding principle is to maintain continuity of academic operations, while protecting the safety of the community through social distancing and best practices for hygiene and health. Following Provost Drell’s message on Friday, we are encouraging staff members to work with their managers to identify whether it is possible to work remotely. In some cases, on-campus presence is necessary, and I appreciate everyone’s flexibility in identifying these needs with their managers and work units.

Travel and Spring Break

Many of us planned travel for the end of the quarter and Spring Break, and have been looking forward to it for some time. As communicated earlier, Stanford has restricted all university-sponsored international travel through April 15, and strongly recommended against personal travel out of the country. International travel creates a risk of self-isolation on return, not being able to re-enter the United States, or missing regularly scheduled courses. I encourage you to use good judgment around domestic travel, keeping in mind your personal health and the well-being of the GSB community.

Spring Quarter

Stanford has not made a definitive decision on Spring Quarter classes. Be assured that we will continue to communicate as Stanford’s plans develop. I appreciate the challenge that comes with this uncertainty, and as well as everyone’s understanding regarding the need for the university to gather information and make decisions in fluid circumstances. The priorities here are to protect the health and welfare of the community, while ensuring that academic instruction continues, and that students in the Class of 2020 have a path to graduate in June.

In Closing

I would like to conclude with a few further thoughts.

First, right now, we don’t know if the incidence and health impact of Covid-19 in the U.S. will be limited or severe. In retrospect, measures to limit its spread could look like an over-reaction, or extremely prescient. What you should feel assured about, despite this uncertainty, is that Stanford and the GSB have well-organized processes for decisions and implementation, a fortunate depth of resources, and most importantly, a strong and adaptable community that will show its best colors.

Second, let’s hope it doesn’t happen, but if some in our community do become sick in the coming days and weeks, it will be incumbent on us to show empathy and compassion. Let’s commit to provide them the support that we would want to be shown.

This is a truly novel situation, and I want to reiterate my thanks to everyone who has stepped up over the last days and weeks to show their resilience and flexibility. It is a reminder of why the GSB is such a special place.


Jon Levin
Philip H. Knight Professor and Dean

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