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Update on COVID testing, travel and employee support

Categories: Health & safety, Leadership communications, Policies, Travel, Workplace & HR

CORRECTED: The initial version of this message has been corrected to reflect that the COVID Flex Hours program has been extended through December 2021.

A message from Persis Drell, Lloyd Minor and Russell Furr

Dear Stanford community,

The coming weeks will be a time for reconnecting on campus and also, given the recent rise in cases driven by the Delta variant, for redoubling our commitment to keep our community safe from COVID-19. So, with more and more colleagues preparing to return, we are writing to update you on our efforts to support the health and well-being of our community and, in particular, revisions to the university’s COVID testing requirements and policies on travel, quarantine pay and flex hours.

Surveillance testing

On the recommendation of our Testing and Vaccine Policy Committee, beginning Sept. 20, surveillance testing will be required for faculty, staff, postdoctoral scholars and students on-site, regardless of vaccination status.

  • Fully vaccinated faculty, staff and postdoctoral scholars will be required to test once a week. This is already the policy for fully vaccinated students, but is a new requirement for these other groups.
  • Twice weekly testing will be required for unvaccinated faculty, staff, postdoctoral scholars and students (who are currently required to test once a week). This includes those who have not confirmed their vaccination status on Health Check or cannot be vaccinated. Testing will be once weekly for those who come to work on-site three days or fewer per week and are not fully vaccinated.
  • The university will continue to provide free COVID-19 testing, with results automatically reported to Health Check. The surveillance testing program continues to be available on a voluntary basis for members of the Stanford community until the new requirements begin on Sept. 20.
  • Kits for this self-administered test will be available at multiple locations across campus, Stanford Redwood City and other work sites.

Faculty, staff and postdoctoral scholars should plan to begin testing as soon as they return to on-site work. You can find details of the testing program here, and resources and links to vaccination providers here.

Stanford is truly grateful for the ways our community has pulled together: maintaining vital services, teaching, researching, securing vaccinations and following protocols. About 95% of students, faculty and staff coming to campus and making Health Check submissions report they have been fully vaccinated, confirmed positive cases remain low among our on-campus community, and individuals on campus have been taking requirements for face coverings seriously.

Our university leadership and medical professionals have concluded that community-wide surveillance testing will provide a meaningful additional layer of protection and assurance for our population as we resume in-person activities. It will:

  • Identify infections early to minimize spread of COVID-19 in our community.
  • Protect our peers who are unable to be vaccinated, have young children at home, or care for loved ones who are vaccinated but have conditions that put them at risk for severe illness from COVID.
  • Provide objective data points that inform and confirm our safety measures and, together with updates posted on our COVID dashboards, offer an additional layer of assurance that colleagues are following protocols.
  • Help inform contact tracing when someone tests positive for COVID.

Testing protocols, along with vaccinations and face coverings, have been critical to our phased return to campus and plans for fall quarter. As the Delta variant has made clear, COVID-19 will be with us for some time to come, and its complete elimination or eradication is not a realistic goal for the near future, possibly forever. But these proven safeguards, guided by the knowledge our researchers have gleaned from the pandemic, can dramatically reduce the risk of exposure or serious illness and enable us to resume in-person teaching and research.

Travel policy

University travel policies will also change, effective Sept. 20.

Fully vaccinated faculty, staff, postdocs and graduate students will be permitted to travel domestically and internationally without requesting a travel exception. Unvaccinated faculty, staff, postdocs and graduate students will be permitted to travel domestically, but must be approved for a travel exception prior to commencing international travel.

Travel associated with the Bing Overseas Studies Program, Stanford in New York and Stanford in Washington will be permitted for fully vaccinated undergraduates. In addition, undergraduates may travel within California for Stanford-related course field research and field trips that are accompanied by an instructor. The prohibition on other international travel and domestic travel outside California will remain in place.

More information on changes to university travel policy is available under For Travelers on Stanford Health Alerts.

Quarantine pay and flex hours

Our continued support for employees also includes extensions of two interim policies that were instituted to help those who are dealing with challenges brought on by the pandemic. Quarantine pay will remain in effect through March 2022 and COVID Flex Hours will continue to be offered through December 2021.

We will provide additional guidance on all of these policy changes as plans are finalized.

In our efforts to provide a safe environment for learning and working, we will continue to monitor public health conditions and protocols. As before, low or decreasing levels of infection – along with adherence to other safety protocols – will guide our decisions to ease or eliminate testing requirements. We will continue to evaluate and adjust as appropriate, but always with a priority on health and safety.

Stanford continues to be grateful for your continued understanding, feedback and concern for one another.


Persis Drell

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

Russell Furr
Associate Vice Provost, Environmental Health & Safety