Stanford University has instructed students from around the globe returning for the fall quarter that they must take a COVID-19 test before school begins and undergo weekly testing moving forward, regardless of vaccination status.
The requirement applies to all students residing on campus, living in university provided off-campus student housing, or coming to campus.
Vice Provost for Student Affairs Susie Brubaker-Cole told students in an email on Wednesday that the university developed new health and safety requirements “to minimize the prevalence and reduce the spread of COVID-19 on our campus.”
“Working together, we can monitor the prevalence of COVID-19 at Stanford, adjust requirements as needed, protect our friends and family, and keep campus as safe as possible for in-person learning and activities this summer and autumn,” she wrote. “If we need to make adjustments, we will let you know.”
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, “The new testing procedures mark a reversal of the school’s initial policy for vaccinated students.” The outlet reported, “Just three weeks ago, officials posted a message saying ‘students living on campus or coming to campus frequently this summer are no longer…required to participate in COVID-19 testing and health check after providing documentation they are fully vaccinated.’”
The message to students reiterated that face coverings are still mandated indoors, and that “all students coming to campus this autumn are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.” It said the deadline to provide evidence of immunization has passed, and they would be prevented from registering for classes if they have not submitted documentation.
Unvaccinated students are asked to arrive “7 days before in-person activities to complete entry testing, vaccination, and a period of restricted activity.”
Brubaker-Cole said the “highly sensitive self-test” from Color Genomics comes at no cost to students, and results would be provided within 24 hours, “facilitating early diagnosis.”
More details from The Chronicle:
Officials did not say how much the school will pay Color, a health technology company, for the tests the private university will provide for free.
Stanford’s new budget plan said the campus spent $44 million on surveillance testing for the coronavirus last year — when many students, particularly undergraduates, were not on campus.
Princeton, Brown and Yale will also require weekly coronavirus tests for vaccinated students, for at least a limited time.
According to the Mercury News, the move “comes just weeks after at least seven vaccinated students on campus this summer became sick and tested positive for so-called breakthrough cases.”
Some students expressed concern that they could still reside in living quarters with peers who have not been vaccinated, which university officials addressed.
“We know many of you have this question: Will unvaccinated people be assigned to my residence?” the email reads. “We cannot disclose the immunization status of one person to another, so you won’t know the vaccination status of other people in your residences. However, only a very small number of students living on campus this autumn will be unvaccinated.”