Starting in January, all Stanford University faculty, staff and postdoctoral scholars working on campus will be required to get tested for COVID-19 rather than on a voluntary basis.
The required testing applies to those who are working on-site at the main Stanford campus, the university's Redwood City location and at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.
In an announcement, Provost Persis Drell said the local and national spike in coronavirus cases "calls for increased vigilance."
"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," she said.
Those working on-site at least one day per week will be required to get tested once a week while people who work on-site less than one day each week will have to take a test the day they are on campus, Drell said in the announcement. The test, which is administered by Color Genomics, involves picking up a kit for the self-administration nasal swab test and returning the kit to the site when complete. It's the same process currently available voluntarily to faculty, staff and postdoctoral scholars.
The testing requirement will begin on Jan. 4 and is expected to last through the winter quarter.
As of Nov. 16, over the last 11 weeks, 34 Stanford students have tested positive out of more than 53,000 tests that have been completed through the university's surveillance testing program, according to a university dashboard. Over the same time period, three faculty, staff, and postdoctoral scholars tested positive out of more than 15,000 Stanford-facilitated surveillance tests.
Since March, Stanford has had a total of 69 confirmed coronavirus cases among students and 120 among faculty, staff and postdoctoral scholars, according to the university. There are currently 11 students in isolation on campus.
Stanford is still planning to allow freshmen, sophomores, new transfer students and other undergraduates who have approved academic, athletic or personal exceptions to live on campus for the winter quarter if they want to. Their first two weeks of classes will be fully online and no in-person gatherings will be allowed. Testing for undergraduate students will be required twice weekly at the beginning of the quarter.
The plan to bring more students back to campus could still change, though, if prevalence rates on campus and in the region worsen, and if there are "significant" changes in the state and local public health requirements that apply to Stanford, Drell wrote in a separate announcement. If the winter quarter plans change, the university will notify students before Dec. 14. The university is encouraging students to make refundable travel plans, "just in case."
Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.