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Important COVID-19 updates: Thanksgiving travel, gatherings, visitors, testing

Mona Hicks, senior associate vice provost and dean of students, and Dr. Jim Jacobs, associate vice provost and executive director of Vaden Health Services, outline the requirements for students returning to campus after domestic and international travel, along with other important COVID-19-related updates.

Dear students,

We’re writing today with health and safety updates and information, focusing on:

  • Flu shots
  • Travel, including Thanksgiving Break
  • What to do if you test positive
  • Gatherings
  • Visitors

We’ve updated our websites with all the details, so we’ll just provide a quick summary here, with links for more information. As always, conditions may change, and we may need to make adjustments. We’ll email you any updates. Our current student guidance is posted here. 

Please get a flu shot!

It’s free and easy, and there are many clinics planned across campus. COVID-19 and flu symptoms are indistinguishable. A flu shot means more healthy days, more time with friends, and fewer missed classes for you and everyone around you.

Travel updates

  • Exercise caution. Many of the positive cases we are seeing among students are connected to travel and unmasked social gatherings during travel. Because many students will travel during the Thanksgiving Break, we are updating our policies.
  • Testing. Effective Nov. 27, 2021, students should test twice for COVID-19 after returning from travel outside California.
    • Test on the day you return to California (Day 0 test).
    • Test 3 to 5 days after returning to California (Day 5 test).
    • Then continue testing once weekly (vaccinated students) or twice weekly (students who are not fully vaccinated).
  • Required restricted activity. Students who are not fully vaccinated and all students returning from international travel on or after Nov. 27, 2021, are required to restrict their activities. Restricted activity means you cannot attend in-person class. There will be no special arrangements in place to accommodate students who cannot attend class because of Thanksgiving travel. For this reason, we discourage international travel during the Thanksgiving Break so that you can continue your studies in week 10. Under restricted activity, you may leave your residence only for the following activities: COVID-19 testing, medical care, laundry and trash, solo outdoor exercise, meal pick-up if you have a Stanford Dining meal plan or pick-up of grocery or prepared food deliveries.
  • Here are the requirements by vaccination status and destination.
    • Fully vaccinated, returning from domestic travel: No period of restricted activity.
    • Not fully vaccinated, returning from domestic or international travel: Restrict activities until receiving a negative Day 5 test result.
    • Fully vaccinated, returning from international travel: Restrict activities until receiving a negative Day 0 test result. After receiving a negative Day 0 test result but before receiving a negative Day 5 test result, resume in-person activities but refrain from indoor public dining and continue wearing face coverings indoors and in crowded spaces.
  • Longer trips. If you will be away for more than one full week (Sunday-Saturday) at any time this quarter, complete the Temporary Absence Report to remain in compliance with our COVID-19 surveillance testing requirements.

Gatherings and visitor updates

What to do if you test positive

  • We need the facts. Help our medical team understand how COVID-19 is brought to or spread on campus so we can provide the best advice to the community on how to prevent spread. If you test positive, a Vaden clinician will contact you with a secure message followed by a confidential conversation. After discussing your health, Vaden will help you think through people you know who may be high-risk close contacts. Vaden will then reach out to these people to offer medical advice, which may vary depending on vaccination status and underlying medical conditions.
  • Notifications. While the positivity rate among students is very low, we are continuing to experience new cases and you’ll be notified if  someone in your class or residence tests positive.
  • Classrooms. We generally consider classroom exposures to be lower risk close contacts because face coverings lessen risk. To learn more about lower-risk close contacts, review this guidance.
  • Dorms. Roommates of a positive case in the undergraduate residences, including those sharing two-room doubles and suites, are considered high-risk close contacts. Please review this guidance and report this high-risk close contact via Health Check.
  • Apartments. If an apartment-mate or family member tests positive, please review this information and report this high-risk close contact via Health Check.
  • Academic support. Our academic advisors and faculty are ready to help if you can’t go to class due to COVID-19. The guidance we’ve provided faculty on managing classroom absences is here.
  • Test kits. We’ve added new drop-off and pick-up locations for Color test kits. You can see the full list (including a map) here.
  • Testing websites. You’ll find more information on our COVID-19 testing program on our refreshed undergraduate testing website and graduate and professional student testing website.

In closing

We are proud to see our student community following COVID-19 protocols, and we are grateful that the prevalence of the virus remains low. We would like to thank all of you for continuing to do the best you can to keep yourselves, your friends and everyone at Stanford as safe and healthy as possible.


Mona Hicks
Senior Associate Vice Provost and Dean of Students

Dr. Jim Jacobs
Associate Vice Provost and Executive Director, Vaden Health Services