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Happy New Year, Winter Quarter COVID Updates

graphic of the VPGE Shield
Jan 9 2021
COVID-19, Stanford, Students, VPGE

Dear graduate and professional students,

Welcome to winter quarter and 2021! We hope you had a restful break and are excited about winter and spring quarters ahead. As the days lengthen and the COVID vaccine begins to roll out, we hope to see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel of the pandemic. Your steadfast commitment to carrying on with your studies, research, and projects and preparing for your future careers gives us great hope for the future.

We know that many of you are deeply affected by the shocking takeover of the US Capitol that took place in Washington, DC yesterday. In addition to concern about the democratic principles we value, you may feel concern about your safety or the safety of your friends and family, understandable given the terrible images we have seen. This is a moment to reach out to and support each other. The Graduate Life Office is offering virtual open office hours this week. Please drop in if you would like to talk with a GLO Dean and other students and take the time you need in the coming days to stay grounded and restore your hope for the future. You may also be interested, and perhaps find comfort, in these Stanford scholars' perspectives on yesterday's events.

New Students

We welcome those of you who are beginning your graduate studies this quarter. You are joining a vibrant, diverse graduate community of more than 9,000 students pursuing master's, doctoral, and professional degrees in all seven Stanford Schools. We and our colleagues in the Offices of the Vice Provost for Student Affairs and Vice Provost for Graduate Education are here to support your well-being and academic success during your time at Stanford, working collaboratively with faculty and staff in your programs. You will hear from us periodically via email, can read our previous messages in Grad Updates' News, and will receive VPGE's GradEd@Stanford newsletter and the Graduate Life Office's Grad Announce each month.

Stay Up To Date

Please stay informed of all university COVID-related policies and university news by visiting the Health AlertsStanford Today and Grad Updates websites frequently. Consider making Stanford Today's Student & Postdoc portal your browser's default homepage so you don't miss anything.

Current COVID Policies

We have important updates for those of you living on or planning to come to campus this quarter. As you are aware, the COVID pandemic is at a critical phase in California, and local policies are among the most stringent in the US. We posted current Bay area and Santa Clara County policies that affect students' activities on campus on Grad Updates. Health Alerts also includes COVID updates. Please review these policies carefully.

Public health policies are subject to change, as we wrote in our Dec. 9 letter. Note that the Santa Clara County mandatory travel quarantine policy was reduced from 14 to 10 days and was extended indefinitely, beyond the original Dec. 21 date, and the Bay Area stay-at-home order is likely to be extended beyond the current Jan. 7 date. As campus activity ramps back up, we are also restricting households and essential visitors (except those providing medical or child care) at the start of the quarter to limit potential outbreaks in our community. We will send an update once households and visitors are again allowable.

We appreciate your dedicated efforts to limit the spread of the coronavirus on campus and in the surrounding community. Your commitment to support and educate each other, especially students newly arriving to campus, is critical as positive cases continue to be high in our area. You can share your concerns via the COVID Community Concern Reporting Form. In response to any reports, our focus will be on educating students and making resources available so everyone can comply with these important policies. You may also see new Safety Greeters wearing red coats who will help educate visitors and others about campus safety policies.

Winter Quarter Testing

Keeping up with twice-weekly COVID testing at the start of winter quarter is critical due to the pandemic surge and extensive travel over the break. Please carefully review the Dec. 15 message about testing from our colleagues Mona Hicks and James Jacobs. Note that we have significantly increased Verily’s testing capacity and now have two testing locations: McCaw Hall and Tresidder. When you make an appointment, you will be able to choose a site. Be sure to report to the correct site.

Staying Healthy

Like you, we are looking forward to moving beyond the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021. For now, though, our focus is on keeping you and our community safe and healthy. Wearing a mask, social distancing, handwashing, and, if you are on campus, testing regularly and completing your daily Health Check (which will monitor your compliance with regular testing requirements) -- these practices have become part of our personal routines. We thank you for adhering to these policies and practices, for the safety and health of you and your loved ones and the communities where you live.

We hope that you have a wonderful winter quarter, take full advantage of all your program and Stanford has to offer, and reach out when you need the support and guidance. We always welcome your ideas and suggestions (via this survey) and will do our best to respond in a timely manner.

With our best wishes for 2021,
Susie and Stacey

Susie Brubaker-Cole
Vice Provost for Student Affairs

Stacey F. Bent
Vice Provost for Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs
Jagdeep and Roshni Singh Professor in the School of Engineering