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As winter quarter begins, a COVID-19 update and reminders

Russell Furr, associate vice provost for environmental health and safety, shares an update and safety reminders as we begin winter quarter amid the spread of the Omicron variant.

Dear Stanford community,

I hope you were able to enjoy the winter break. I am writing with a brief update on the COVID-19 situation, and some reminders, as we begin the winter quarter amid the continued spread of the Omicron variant.

As we had planned and expected, rapid testing is allowing us to quickly identify COVID-positive cases as students return to campus. As of this afternoon, 146 students are isolating in Stanford student housing, either in designated isolation housing or in their assigned housing unit if it has a private bedroom and single-occupancy bathroom. Most of these students tested positive with rapid tests upon returning to campus over the weekend; the others were on campus over the winter break and tested positive prior to the weekend.

Under our isolation procedures, Stanford is providing delivered meals, medical consultation and other support for students who are in isolation. Because we are beginning the first two weeks of the quarter with online instruction, students who are in isolation are able to access their classes. Our previously announced temporary limitations on student gatherings also are in effect and will help prevent transmission on campus.

Not all students have returned to campus yet. We continue to have isolation space available, and our dedicated university staff continue working with students to provide support and guidance as they arrive. We are monitoring the situation closely and will keep you informed of any changes in campus protocols that may become necessary.

University operations have resumed following the Winter Close. While some employees are needed for in-person work, leaders of schools and units are providing flexibility for remote work where feasible. Please check with your manager if you have questions about your unit’s plans. Test twice with Color during your first week back on campus, and as always, please stay home if you are sick.

We remain hopeful that Omicron will peak soon, as a number of models are suggesting, and then recede. In the meantime, please keep in mind the following:

  • If you are a student who has not yet traveled back to campus, please test before you begin travel, if you can, and don’t travel if you test positive. When you arrive on campus, take a rapid test, and if you test negative, test twice with Color during your first week back. Details are available on this site.
  • Wear a well-fitting, high-quality face covering indoors and whenever you are near others. N95 respirators and KN95 masks provide a higher level of filtration. Surgical masks and double-layer cloth face coverings remain acceptable though they do not provide the same level of personal protection. Details are available on Health Alerts.
  • Get a booster shot if you are eligible. Information is available through Stanford Health Care and the California Department of Public Health. We are working on additional possible booster opportunities for students, though we encourage you to still seek a booster at your earliest opportunity.

While this is not the way any of us had hoped to begin 2022, we’re deeply grateful for everything you are doing to support the health of our community through this period. Thank you, and we will continue to keep you informed.


Russell Furr
Associate Vice Provost
Environmental Health & Safety