Stanford creates new programs and resources to support gradual campus restart

As a limited number of people return to campus, starting with additional researchers on June 22, operational changes are being implemented to maintain campus health and safety.

New health and safety measures, along with online resources, are being put in place in advance of campus operations progressing to the second stage of the university’s COVID-19 recovery plan, which will begin on June 22 with the return of additional researchers to campus facilities.

An example of STAY SAFE program signs that are being placed in buildings to provide information about safely using campus facilities and maintaining healthy workplaces. (Image credit: Land, Buildings and Real Estate)

The new measures are designed to protect the health and safety of the campus community and assist faculty, staff and students as they gradually return to campus. University leaders have stressed that campus operations will resume carefully and slowly, and that most people will continue working remotely at least through the summer.

Stanford’s campus recovery process is divided into three stages, and each can be adjusted based on current health conditions and county regulations. The current phase, stage one, has been focused on preparing for “a broader on-campus restart” and only allows work that poses a minimum risk of COVID-19 exposure. As part of stage one, the university rolled out the mandatory Health Check tool that enables those coming to campus to report their health status before arriving, and a required COVID-19-specific training on hygiene best practices developed by Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S).

The move into stage two includes an expanded restart of “essential research functions and associated research support activities” that will allow a limited number of additional people to return to campus. Some activities that were not previously deemed essential by the county, and small gatherings now allowed by county guidance, will be permitted with appropriate precautions. Stage three will be the “new normal” for campus operations until a vaccine is developed and will include a broader array of allowed activities and gatherings, within established safety guidelines.

“The top priority is protecting the health and safety of our Stanford community as we seek to balance our response to the pandemic with reopening parts of the university,” said Russell Furr, associate vice provost for EH&S. “The last few months have been very disruptive for many members of our community, and it’s imperative that we take a careful, stepwise approach to restarting operations so we don’t sacrifice the progress we’ve made.

Safety signage and campus ambassadors

Two of the most visible on-campus operational changes are the installation of new safety signage and the presence of Safety Ambassadors. Both programs are designed to provide information about best practices and help people safely navigate campus.

The STAY SAFE program is a set of signs and graphical tools that promote social distancing and indicate what activities are allowed inside facilities as well as throughout exterior campus spaces. Building managers can download signs from the Building Manager Toolkit. Information kiosks with important reminders and daily updates are also being installed at building entrances as facilities reopen.

“One of the key drivers for this program was to create a bold and distinctive system of communication that provided a consistent code of conduct among buildings and the multiple Stanford campuses,” said David Lenox, university architect and executive director of campus planning and design.

STAY SAFE signs were piloted in five buildings over the last few weeks and are now being installed in additional locations. The signs, modeled after the Heads Up signage used for campus construction projects, are meant to provide consistent information and visual cues across campus. The next STAY SAFE pilot will focus on exterior campus spaces.

In addition to the new signage, a group of new Safety Ambassadors will be a resource to welcome back the campus community and document activity. The ambassadors, wearing easily identifiable vests, will initially walk around outdoor areas of the academic portion of the main campus checking building signage, observing and greeting the community. The team will document compliance with Santa Clara County guidelines and the efforts for safe return through the recovery stages.

Event Services staff members were chosen for this important role because of their experience connecting and collaborating with faculty, staff and students, producing events across campus and unique knowledge of buildings gained through established partnerships.

The Safety Ambassadors will also provide feedback to the university based on community concerns, which will help inform Stanford’s COVID-19 operational response. The program is evolving through the recovery stages and additional coverage areas may be added in the future.

“Public health circumstances require that we change how we live, work, and recreate on campus, and those changes can be confusing and stressful at times. We created the Safety Ambassador program not to report, but to collaborate as we adjust to these changes,” said Kerry Watkins, director of Event Services in Land, Buildings and Real Estate (LBRE). “We hope students, faculty, staff and visitors will reach out to the ambassadors if they have questions or need to be connected with university services.”

Transportation changes

Parking permit requirements on the main and Stanford Redwood City campuses were suspended in March when most campus operations were halted due to COVID-19. As the campus restart process moves ahead and more people return to their worksites, many of those requirements, including parking fees, are being reinstated beginning July 1 to effectively administer the limited supply of parking at both locations.

“The past few months have forced us to adjust our daily routines, including the way we commute,” said Brian Shaw, executive director of Stanford Transportation. “How people choose to get to and from work is a personal choice. Our goal is to provide them with the resources they need to assess their options and make a decision that best meets their needs.”

Campus commuters can also consult the return-to-commute resource page on the Transportation website for details of how various commute options have been affected by the new coronavirus. Transportation is also offering one-on-one consultations via Zoom to help employees assess their resources as they restart their commute, which can be scheduled here.

A noticeable change is the transition of visitor and hourly parking permits to a contactless process through the ParkMobile app. Pay stations at visitor lots are being taken offline to avoid the touching of shared surfaces that cannot be adequately disinfected throughout the day.

Transportation’s main COVID-19 webpage is being updated regularly with new information and frequently asked questions.

Online resources

A variety of online resources have been created to help members of the Stanford community prepare for a return to campus and safely navigate their workspaces.

The new Cardinal Recovery website is designed for faculty, staff, student workers, members of the research community and anyone interested in learning about the university’s phased recovery process. The website details the university’s plan for returning people to campus and covers a range of topics, from general guidance to health information to building management tools.

For those involved in on-campus research, the Research Recovery section of Cardinal Recovery is the primary source of information on allowed activities, with detailed guidance for each stage of the recovery process. Even as additional research activities are allowed to resume, researchers are still being instructed to work remotely when possible.

LBRE has also created a new microsite (SUNET ID required) to assist building managers and others in building operations roles with reopening LBRE-supported facilities. The site includes detailed recovery and building restart timelines, information about LBRE services and recommended processes, and tools and resources to inform planning.

The university continues to provide important COVID-19 updates through the Health Alerts website. There is also a COVID-19 page with information about testing, prevention and care; COVID-19-related research; remote learning and work; additional resources; and frequently asked questions.

Stanford is carefully monitoring the restart process and incorporating new guidance from county officials and public health experts. “This is an unprecedented period, both globally and for the Stanford community, and that requires us to be flexible and thoughtful in our approach to confronting the ongoing challenges posed by COVID-19. We deeply appreciate the ongoing commitment of Stanford students, faculty and staff to maintaining a healthy and safe campus environment,” Furr said.