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COVID-19 testing update

Categories: Campus, Health & safety, Workplace & HR

A message from Persis Drell, Lloyd Minor and Russell Furr

Dear Stanford community,

We’re writing to let you know about some adjustments in our COVID-19 surveillance testing program for some parts of our on-site population. Effective this Sunday, May 2:

  • Graduate and professional students: Required routine surveillance testing will be reduced from twice per week to once per week for students living on campus or coming to campus.
  • Undergraduate students: Required testing will continue twice per week. (Coterms who have been testing with Verily will continue at twice per week; coterms who have been testing with Color will reduce to once per week.)
  • Faculty, staff and postdocs: Required testing for those coming to campus will become voluntary. However: (1) We recommend you continue to test weekly until you are fully vaccinated, and then following travel, if you have symptoms or if you believe you may have been exposed to COVID-19. (2) Postdoctoral scholars living on campus will still be required to test weekly, as is the case for graduate students who are in similar housing.

The university is making these adjustments at the recommendation of our Testing Oversight Committee, which has been monitoring COVID-19 conditions and their implications for our surveillance testing programs.

The prevalence of COVID-19 in our local area has remained low over the last several weeks, and the percentage of positive test results in our own testing programs also has been low. Our most recent weekly positivity rates were 0.01% for students and 0% for other campus populations. These conditions, and the positive overall direction of the pandemic in our area, allow us to begin loosening some of our testing requirements.

We’re asking for the continued partnership of our undergraduates in doing twice-weekly testing at this time. The residential setting for undergraduates is more congregate in nature than it is for other campus populations. And, most undergraduates have only been with us on campus for a few weeks. We must still prioritize quickly identifying new COVID-19 cases and preventing community spread, and frequent testing facilitates this goal. The university will continue evaluating this approach over the course of the quarter and as we plan for the summer quarter. We appreciate your support in keeping one another healthy.

Required routine surveillance testing for vendors, contractors and affiliates coming to campus will become voluntary, as it will be for Stanford staff. Individuals in these categories who have not yet been vaccinated are encouraged to test through their health care provider, at one of Stanford Health Care’s locations throughout the Bay Area, or through a county testing site. See this page for more information. 

As the campus population increases, the health and safety of our community remains a priority. Please keep in mind:

  • Health Check is still required for those coming to campus. Students living on campus also must fill out Health Check daily.
  • Please keep following all other health and safety measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • Graduate and professional students, the once-per-week requirement takes effect this Sunday, May 2. Please continue your twice-per-week testing cadence until then to avoid receiving a red badge in Health Check. Note that with the change to once-per-week testing, missing two consecutive tests, rather than three, will trigger the loss of key card access to most campus buildings other than your residence hall. Please refer to the graduate student testing website next week for updates to testing group categories.
  • Testing site hours and operations will remain unchanged to encourage continued use of the program. We will continue to evaluate testing needs in the coming weeks and provide operational updates as needed. Testing also will remain available during the week of June 6-13 as we approach Commencement.

Please follow the links at the top of this message for more details about the testing program for each of our populations. We’ll share other information about campus protocols as we hopefully continue to see more positive signs in the direction of the pandemic. Thank you.


Persis Drell

Lloyd Minor, M.D.
Dean, School of Medicine

Russell Furr
Associate Vice Provost, Environmental Health & Safety