Stanford cancels classes because of air quality concerns

In the message below to the campus community on Thursday, Nov. 15, Provost Persis Drell explained the decision to cancel classes at Stanford today, Friday, Nov. 16, because of air quality concerns. Since that time, the Big Game against Cal has been rescheduled to Dec. 1 because of air quality concerns. Learn more about the Big Game.


Throughout this week, the university has been monitoring the air quality effects from the devastating fires that have occurred in California. While there has been a great deal of variability, there has been a significant increase in smoke in the area around Stanford over the last 24 hours, with official readings beginning to creep into the “very unhealthy” category.

Out of an abundance of caution, we have made the decision to cancel classes at Stanford on Friday, Nov. 16. Local Air Quality Index numbers increased this evening, and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District has said that the readings are likely to be worse in the region on Friday.

Other operations at the university will remain open on Friday — but we clearly recognize that this extraordinary set of circumstances is affecting many people in our community in different ways, and we want to provide the greatest flexibility possible for our employees. We know, for instance, that many school districts around the Bay Area have canceled classes on Friday, which will pose child care issues for parents.

Public safety, student services, residential and dining services and other essential operations need to retain full on-campus staffing on Friday. Other university offices also will remain open. The university will be limiting unnecessary outdoor work for employees and grounds crews who have prolonged strenuous outdoor work responsibilities will not be at work on Friday.

As reported earlier, students who feel they need an N95 mask can obtain one by visiting the Vaden Health Center while supplies are available. (To be effective, a mask needs to be fitted properly with a seal. The best advice continues to be to limit prolonged air exposure and to avoid strenuous outdoor activity.) Students with other questions or needs should be in touch with your Resident Assistants, Resident Fellows, Residence Dean or Graduate Life Office Dean.

Stanford Athletics will be reviewing the air quality situation as scheduled athletic events approach and will make decisions about events based on guiding policies. A number of events are scheduled for later in the day on Friday and into the evening, and conditions may change between now and then. Updates will be available on the Stanford Athletics website.

Additional guidance and links to other resources continue to be available on the Environmental Health & Safety website.

Thank you for your perseverance and understanding during this challenging time for so many people, here and across California, and most especially in the communities that have been ravaged by these recent wildfires.

See updates on the air quality situation at