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Santa Clara County in purple tier

Categories: Campus, Health & safety


Given uncertainty surrounding the Omicron COVID variant, Stanford recommends that individuals contemplating travel during the winter quarter as part of university programs or group travel defer making firm financial commitments until further notice. Undergraduate students, however, continue to be guided by the travel policy below (See: “Undergraduate Students”)

Stanford affiliates who traveled over the holidays should familiarize themselves with the university’s winter quarter return policies.

As a result of the Omicron COVID variant, pre-travel and post-arrival testing and quarantine requirements are continually changing at the local, national and international level. For instance, as of December 6, 2021, all U.S.-bound international travelers must test within 24 hours of departure, regardless of vaccination status or nationality. Please note that reimbursement for any mandatory quarantines associated with university-sponsored travel is the responsibility of the sending unit or department.

Given current uncertainty around entry requirements, Stanford recommends that unvaccinated non-U.S. citizens DO NOT travel outside of the United States, as return may be problematic.

Regardless of vaccination status, all individuals are required to comply with campus access restrictions and testing requirements, utilizing PCR or Color/LAMP-based COVID tests, following personal or university-sponsored travel. In addition, visitors and guests coming to campus must also complete a daily Health Attestation form.

For those planning their return to campus following the winter break, Stanford has posted protocols here. Our winter quarter return protocols include:

  • Continued masking
  • Two Color tests the first week back on campus from the winter break
  • An additional rapid test upon arrival for students who return to on-campus housing the weekend of Jan. 1-2
  • Limitations on student parties and certain other gatherings for the start of the winter quarter
  • Additional requirements for those who are unvaccinated, including a period of restricted activity for unvaccinated individuals arriving from domestic or international travel

Vaccinated individuals returning from international travel may not come to shared spaces, including class, until they receive a negative COVID test result taken on Day 0 (immediately upon return). They must also take a test on Day 5.

Unvaccinated students and employees who have traveled internationally may not return to campus, except housing, until a Day 5 negative test.

Travel to Hawaii, Alaska, and U.S. territories and possessions is considered domestic travel.

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