Stanford considers holding classes in outdoor tents this fall, provost says

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SAN JOSE, Calif. — Stanford University is considering teaching some classes outdoors in tents during the fall as it plans for a partial resumption of campus activity amid the coronavirus pandemic, the school’s provost said.

Provost Persis Drell mentioned the tents option in a virtual conversation with President Marc Tessier-Lavigne and school of medicine Dean Lloyd Minor on Wednesday, according to a university spokesman.

The comments were first reported by the university’s student newspaper, The Stanford Daily.

Drell said using the tents for instruction would allow the university to “take advantage of the weather” and possibly help slow the spread of the disease, according to the Daily.

“Absolutely nothing is off the table,” Drell said.

However, the use of tents is “not a formal proposal or a plan,” at this point, and was brought up “within a broader discussion of many possible options,” according to E.J. Miranda, a spokesman for the college.

“If people have good ideas, we want to hear them. As yet, no decisions have been made,” Miranda said in an email Friday.

Miranda said the university is considering many factors to make decisions about what the fall quarter could look like, including the availability of COVID-19 testing and treatments in the fall, and “the ability to accomplish physical distancing and other safety measures for our students, staff and faculty.”

Those factors, combined with “what makes sense educationally for our students and their academic progress” will all be weighed, Miranda said, but added that any decisions about the fall quarter are not expected to be made “until sometime in June.”

The virtual conversation also covered the school’s research efforts during the pandemic, and its financial situation.

The school said it is facing “significant financial pressures during this time of unprecedented uncertainty,” in a previous statement.

“The combination of lost revenue, increased costs and a market downturn that could have a substantial impact on our endowment are all expected to negatively affect the university’s finances for some time to come.”


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