Stanford is scaling back COVID-19 testing requirements beginning Sunday for graduate and professional students, as well as for faculty, staff and postdocs, University administrators announced in a Thursday email. Required routine surveillance testing for vendors, contractors and affiliates coming to campus will become voluntary.
Undergraduate students will still have to be tested twice a week, with provost Persis Drell, School of Medicine dean Lloyd Minor and associate vice provost Russell Furr citing the congregate nature of residential settings and the relatively new reintroduction of more on-campus undergraduates as justification for this decision.
Graduate and professional students, who were previously tested twice a week, will now be required to take a test once a week. Coterminal students testing with Verily will continue testing twice a week, while those testing with Color will be reduced to once a week. Postdocs living in R&DE-assigned campus housing still need to be tested twice weekly. Testing for faculty, staff and postdocs coming to campus will be voluntary, although the announcement encourages continued testing for those not yet vaccinated.
The Testing Oversight Committee recommended the changes in light of the low positivity rates among students and a steady decrease in COVID-19 cases in the surrounding area.
The announcement comes after the CDC released new guidance on Tuesday that allows fully-vaccinated people to go outside without masks in small groups and with household members. The guidance still urges the use of masks for larger outdoor gatherings, like concerts or sporting events, regardless of vaccination status.
“The just-released CDC guidance is welcomed news and illustrates the importance of being fully-vaccinated,” wrote University spokesperson E.J. Miranda following the news. “We are reviewing the new guidance to determine how it may impact our on-campus COVID protocols and we will provide any updated information to the community.”
All groups on campus are still required to complete their Health Check, as well as follow public health guidelines. Testing center hours will remain unchanged.
“We must still prioritize quickly identifying new COVID-19 cases and preventing community spread, and frequent testing facilitates this goal,” Drell, Minor and Furr wrote. “The university will continue evaluating this approach over the course of the quarter and as we plan for the summer quarter.”
Ujwal Srivastava contributed reporting.