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Santa Clara County in purple tier

Categories: Campus, Health & safety

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Due to the ongoing surge in COVID-19 in the United States and the world, Stanford recommends delaying travel especially if you are not fully vaccinated.

Fully vaccinated faculty, staff, postdocs, and graduate students are permitted to travel domestically and internationally. Unvaccinated persons who wish to travel internationally must first receive a travel exception from the university (detailed below). Such permission is unlikely to be granted for unvaccinated international travelers during Fall 2021.

Regardless of vaccination status, individuals are required to comply with campus access restrictions and testing requirements following personal or university-sponsored international travel. This includes remaining off campus or quarantining if residing on campus until they submit a negative COVID-19 PCR or Color/LAMP test taken no sooner than 5 days after arriving in California following international travel.

Prior to commencing any travel, individuals must report their vaccination status to the university as described below.

As with all policies during the COVID-19 pandemic, this guidance is subject to changing global health conditions.

Dear Stanford community,

Earlier today, due to increases in COVID-19 case counts, 39 of California’s 58 counties were moved backward in the State of California’s COVID-19 Blueprint for a Safer Economy framework

Santa Clara County has moved from the orange “moderate risk” tier to the purple “widespread risk” tier, effective Tuesday. San Mateo County, where Stanford Redwood City is located, moved from the orange tier to the red “substantial risk” tier.

As a result of the shift in tiers, there will be new restrictions on activities within Santa Clara County, including a prohibition on indoor dining and the closure or restriction of other types of indoor activities.

Adjustments at Stanford

At Stanford, one effect of the change in tiers is that the allowed densities for some gatherings and meetings will be adjusted beginning tomorrow, Tuesday, Nov. 17. We are continuing to follow the framework for these adjustments that is laid out in our In-Person Instructional Recovery Plan. In summary:


  • Indoor lectures will no longer be permitted. Faculty with classes that moved indoors during the autumn quarter will be contacted by the Registrar’s Office or the appropriate school with information about alternate outdoor locations. 
  • The use of specialized instructional spaces such as labs and studios will be allowed, with substantial physical distancing.
  • All other instruction/academic-related meetings such as office hours should move to remote wherever possible. If they cannot be remote, they must be outdoors. 
  • Full details can be found in the In-Person Instructional Recovery Plan.

Essential Meetings/Remote Work/Research:

  • All personnel must continue to carry out job functions remotely if they are able to do so, including with respect to meetings. Replace in-person meetings with video or teleconference calls whenever possible. 
  • In-person research operations will continue with existing protocols to restrict density and ensure physical distancing. 
  • For necessary university business meetings unable to be conducted virtually: Outdoors, the maximum will be 15 people (down from 50 people). Indoors, the maximum will be 10 people or 25% of room capacity, whichever is less (down from 30 people or 50% of room capacity).


  • Indoor events and gatherings are not permitted. 
  • For essential shared spaces, including bathrooms and laundry rooms: The maximum will be 25% of room capacity (down from 50%), not to exceed 10 people.

Religious Observances: 

Gyms and Fitness:

  • Gyms and fitness facilities will move to outdoors only with modifications. 

We will continue to monitor the situation and keep you informed when there are adjustments in our policies. You can always find the latest university guidance on this website.

Steps for the path ahead

COVID-19 case counts are increasing nationally and in California, and 41 California counties representing 94% of the state’s population are now in the purple “widespread risk” tier. There also was an increase last week in positive cases among students tested at Stanford.

This is an important time to remind ourselves of the critical steps we must all take to prevent the spread of the virus: wear a face covering; continue physical distancing; minimize interaction with people outside of one’s own household; engage in frequent hand washing and other hygiene best practices. The states of California, Oregon and Washington also recently issued travel advisories discouraging non-essential out-of-state travel and asking travelers to self-quarantine for 14 days after arriving in each of these states.

As you saw in the provost’s message on Nov. 9, we are planning for additional safeguards in our campus protocols at the beginning of the winter quarter. As the provost indicated, if any changes in Stanford’s approach to the winter quarter are needed, they will be communicated before the university’s Winter Close begins on Dec. 14.

This latest news about the continued spread of COVID-19 is not what any of us had hoped to hear. But we can, together, continue to take steps that will make a meaningful difference in the battle against the virus. Thank you for your perseverance, and for your continued efforts to keep yourselves, and one another, healthy and safe.

Russell Furr
Associate Vice Provost
Environmental Health & Safety