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43 Stanford students test positive, with winter move-in barely begun

Stanford says spike — nearly four times the previous weekly record — mostly due to students coming to campus, not community spread

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With only a fraction of students having moved back to campus, Stanford reported Friday afternoon that 43 students had tested positive since Saturday. These students are currently in isolation on campus, according to Stanford’s COVID-19 dashboard

The total is nearly four times the record so far in weekly student cases, set last week

“Most” of the newly announced cases are associated with students moving to campus this week, not community spread, according to Stanford. The dashboard update added that the overall positivity rate in student testing remains “low,” at 1.6% in the same-day rapid testing program for arriving undergrads, and 0.9% in the regular Verily student testing program, over the last week.

Large student gatherings over winter break resulted in multiple positive COVID-19 cases within the Graduate School of Business (GSB), Dean Jonathan Levin wrote in an email to students obtained by The Daily, without indicating a specific number. Though Levin wrote the gatherings occurred off-campus and over break, he added that at “Stanford GSB our expectations extend beyond these boundaries.” 

“If you feel you can’t abide by Stanford’s rules, make different living arrangements,” Levin wrote, before further calling on students to “do their part” to combat the spread of the virus.

Students have the opportunity to be tested before arriving on campus through Binx, and are tested twice upon arrival. Following arrival, they are tested twice-weekly through Verily and are required to complete daily self-reports of health status through Stanford Health Check, a tool for tracking COVID-19 symptoms on campus. 

The results announced Friday “are a reminder of the importance of testing,” according to the University.

Students with special circumstances and residential assistants began to move in to campus this week, with frosh and sophomores coming to campus two weeks from now. (The University announced in early December that it would be staggering student arrival due to public health conditions.) A University spokesperson declined to comment on whether Stanford would be altering plans due to the recent spike. 

The University did not respond to questions regarding contact tracing efforts, and did not indicate if students and staff were notified of possible exposure. 

According to William Shan ’21, the co-director of the student government COVID-19 response team, he and his team are currently investigating the situation under the assumption that the University’s reopening plans will proceed as announced. 

The student government is working to ensure that the University “understands key areas where student safety is still wanting,” such as students and staff who feel unprepared for reopening, Shan wrote in an email to The Daily. He added the team is also trying to “set up bi-directional feedback mechanisms between university administrators and students who will be on campus.” 

This story has been updated with new information regarding cases in the Graduate School of Business. 

Sam Catania and Tammer Bagdasarian contributed reporting. 

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Newsroom Development Director
Emma Talley is from Sacramento, California. She is the volume 260 Newsroom Development director, and has served as a two-time news editor. She previously worked for the San Francisco Chronicle with the metro team covering breaking news and K-12 education. She's obsessed with coffee. Contact her at etalley 'at' stanforddaily.com or news 'at' stanforddaily.com.
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Athena Xue is a beat reporter covering vaccines for the Science & Technology desk in News. She is a freshman from Fremont, CA interested in studying biology and product design, and she enjoys watching cute otter videos. Contact her at news 'at' stanforddaily.com.