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Beginning January 4: Required COVID testing for faculty, staff and postdocs

Categories: Leadership communications, Provost

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Dear Stanford community,

I am writing with more information on Stanford’s efforts to keep our community healthy and safe as we confront the COVID-19 pandemic.

The public health situation in California and the rest of the country has been getting worse with the continued spread of COVID-19. As I wrote in my Nov. 9 communication about our planning for the winter quarter, we will be requiring increased surveillance testing for students when they return to campus in January.

To ensure our entire community can continue to thrive, to provide increased safety for those who are working on-site, and to protect the colleagues and students we work with and the families and communities that we go home to, on Jan. 4 we also will begin requiring COVID-19 surveillance testing for faculty, staff and postdoctoral scholars who come to campus for in-person work.

For this testing we will continue using the same testing system that has been offered on a voluntary basis this fall for faculty, staff and postdocs who are working on campus. Many of you are familiar with it and have already been participating.

Details about the program are provided below. We hope and believe this expanded testing will help protect the health of our community, facilitate the gradual resumption of activities as public health conditions allow, and support the healthy work environments that our community expects and deserves.

Thank you in advance for your partnership in this effort. And, as we approach Thanksgiving and the Winter Close, please continue to take good care of yourselves, your families and your neighbors. The efforts of each one of us truly make a huge difference in limiting the spread of COVID-19.

Sincerely,
Persis Drell
Provost

Additional information on winter quarter COVID-19 surveillance testing for faculty, staff and postdoctoral scholars working on-site

What is the testing requirement, and what is the frequency?

Beginning Jan. 4, 2021, we will be shifting our COVID-19 surveillance testing program for faculty, staff and postdoctoral scholars from a voluntary basis to a required basis. The required testing applies to those who are working on-site at a Stanford location in Santa Clara or San Mateo counties (which includes the main Stanford campus and Stanford Redwood City. SLAC also is requiring testing and is in communication separately with SLAC employees.)

The testing requirement will apply to those who are listed in the On-Site Role Management System (you can check your status in ORMS here) and are coming to a Stanford campus for on-site work. Those working on-site at least one day per week will be required to test once per week. Those who work on-site infrequently (less than one day each week) will be required to test on the day they are on-site.

Why is the requirement being implemented?

Thanks to the efforts of people across our community, the prevalence of COVID-19 at Stanford has remained low so far. This is a testament to our community’s respect for public health and its embrace of the safeguards that are necessary to keep one another healthy and safe.

However, COVID-19 cases are rising once again both nationally and in California, which calls for increased vigilance. A testing requirement for faculty, staff and postdocs aligns with the university’s existing requirement of testing for students (information about the student testing program is available here). In addition, we know that many in our community are understandably concerned about protecting their health if they need to work on-site. We want to make certain that as Stanford welcomes students back after winter break and gradually resumes in-person activities as health conditions allow, those who are working on campus can have the confidence that their working environments will support their health and safety.

What does the testing process involve?

Participating in the COVID-19 testing program for faculty, staff and postdocs involves going to one of several sites at Stanford or Stanford Redwood City, picking up a self-administration kit for the nasal swab test, and returning the kit to the site when complete. The testing process is administered by Color Genomics.

We also will continue to offer testing through the university Occupational Health Center for anyone who has technology or language barriers using the Color system.

How long will the requirement be in place?

We expect that it will last at least through the winter quarter. The program, and the public health conditions affecting Stanford, will be evaluated on a continual basis.

How is personal information and information about positive test results handled?

Preserving individual privacy is important to Stanford. The testing results section of the COVID-19 Surveillance Testing page has details on how personal information is handled.

When and where will there be more information about how to participate?

Those who are currently authorized to work on-site, and those who will be returning to on-site work for the first time during the winter quarter, are encouraged to thoroughly review the information on the COVID-19 Surveillance Testing page and on the Cardinal at Work website. Additional information will be provided in December to employees authorized to work on-site.

What about COVID-19 testing during the Winter Close?

Testing will continue to be available during Winter Close for faculty, staff and postdocs who are already participating in the voluntary COVID-19 surveillance testing program and who will continue to work on-site during the break. Please see details of locations and hours here. In addition, individuals who are currently participating may pick up extra testing kits in advance of Winter Close to prepare for the testing requirement taking effect Jan. 4.