Classrooms and Lecture Halls

Returning to Indoor Classroom Instruction

Beginning Autumn 2021, Stanford University will return to full indoor instruction with no distancing requirements in classrooms and instructional spaces.

General Health and Safety Guidance

The purpose of this document is to provide campus partners with information for instructional spaces as we return to full indoor instruction. Please note this guidance is subject to change, dependent upon federal, state and/or local directives.

Minimum Facility Requirements

Buildings/rooms with mechanical ventilation or operable windows may be used for instruction. For more information on ventilation systems, please see the Healthy Buildings FAQ.

Health Check & Face Coverings

  1. Instructors and students must follow university health check requirements.
  2. Instructors and students are currently required to wear face coverings at all times in classrooms/teaching areas. The use of face shields alone does not replace the requirement at the time of publication. Accommodations can be granted by the Office for Accessible Education (students) or the Disability and Access Office (faculty, staff, instructors).

Exposure Tracing & Scheduling Considerations

  1. The new scheduling pattern allows 15 minutes between classes.
  2. Regardless of who is coordinating the scheduling and assignments, Axess must be updated with the correct room and/or location as appropriate in order for the Registrar to support exposure tracing by Vaden or other health staff. New rooms can be added as necessary to Axess and/or 25Live by the Registrar’s Office as needed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are faculty, instructors, and students required to wear a face covering in classes?

Yes.  Every person in an indoor classroom setting must wear a face covering. There are various options of face coverings to meet specific needs.  Contact if you have any questions.

Can a class participant lift their face covering temporarily to take a sip of water?

Yes, but the face-covering must be put back on immediately. Food is not permitted during class. Students who need to eat a snack for medical reasons as registered accommodation are required to step out of the room and away from others to do so.

What should instructors do if a student refuses to wear a face covering in a setting where face coverings are required?

Stanford University currently requires that face coverings be worn in all indoor classroom settings. If a student shows up to class, office hours, or another classroom setting without a face covering, instructors should ask them to put one on. If the student refuses, the instructor should ask the student to leave. If the student refuses to leave and comply with classroom public health guidelines, the instructor should cancel the session, and report the student/situation to Covid Community Concern Reporting Form for non-compliance. The matter will be addressed in the Dean of Students Office.

Are faculty and instructional staff allowed to ask about the vaccination status or testing compliance of a student?

No. Stanford Health Check (for faculty and staff) and the VadenPatient portal (for students) are the allowable mechanisms through which Stanford asks for vaccination status. It is not appropriate for anyone to ask members of a course about their COVID-19 vaccination status.

Are faculty and instructional staff allowed to check the “green badge” on Health Check of a student prior to their entering a classroom or meeting in person office hours?

Yes, as long as this practice extends to all students. It is strongly recommended that instructors implementing this practice include this expectation in the syllabus and review it on the first day of class so the students are aware of what to expect. 

How will class instructors be informed if there is a positive case in a classroom?

The Registrar’s Office will notify the class students and instructors of a positive case.  This notice will include follow-up instructions (i.e., symptoms monitoring).

What do I do if I’m notified that someone in my class tested positive?

Participants who are seated in a classroom near a positive case are not generally considered high-risk close contacts, due to masking and vaccination the risk of acquiring COVID in this setting is extremely low. Quarantine or activity adjustment may be recommended for higher-risk close contacts that are identified via contact tracing and contacted by Vaden or OHC. These individuals will be risk-assessed as a part of contact-tracing follow up.

Will all class participants be asked to quarantine for 10 days?

No. Generally, participants in the same class are not considered close contacts by simply being in the same classroom.  Quarantine is recommended only in cases of high-risk close contact, which are identified via contract tracing. Individuals will be contacted separately if they are identified as needing to quarantine.

Does the University clean a classroom if a positive case individual was present?

f the individual who has tested positive has been in the classroom since it was last cleaned, the room will be closed for cleaning.  However, all classrooms undergo cleaning nightly in order to minimize the likelihood of having to shut down classrooms. Cleaning supplies such as wipes will also be available in classrooms near the hand sanitizer stations.

Is there a risk of contracting COVID by sitting in a classroom after a positive case individual had been present?

The risk of infection is extremely low due to the multi-tiered strategy including universal masking, Stanford’s vaccination, testing, and the Health Check sentinel surveillance program. Transmission from surfaces is extremely unlikely based on what we know about COVID-19 transmission.

Are classrooms ventilated?

Yes. All University classrooms are either mechanically ventilated and/or via operable windows. The University follows consensus industry best practices to ensure building ventilation is optimized for minimizing COVID-19 risk.

Are there any physical distancing requirements in classrooms?

Physical distancing is no longer required in classrooms, with rare exceptions e.g., (medically-related).

How frequently are the classrooms cleaned?

Classroom high-touch surfaces are cleaned and disinfected nightly on a Monday through Friday basis by custodial services.

Will there be face coverings and cleaning supplies available for students and instructors at classrooms?

Masks and cleaning supplies will be provided at the beginning of the semester, for all university classrooms.