The University reported 136 new student and 100 new faculty, staff and postdoctoral scholar COVID-19 cases for the week of Dec. 27, according to the COVID-19 dashboard.
Most of the newly recorded cases are from students who returned to campus after winter break, and the remainder of the student cases are from those who were on campus during break and tested positive before the weekend, according to the dashboard and a Jan. 3 email from Associate Vice Provost Russel Furr.
The case counts do not include students who returned after Jan. 2 or opted to stay off-campus during the University’s two-week remote learning period, according to the dashboard.
Despite the lower number of tests conducted during the week of Dec. 27, the new student and employee case counts mark a significant increase from the 27 student cases and 12 employee cases reported during the week of Dec. 6, before winter break. The seven-day positivity rates are 7.7% for students and 2.86% for employees, which are still lower than the 11.2% seven-day positivity rate in Santa Clara County and 15.9% rate state-wide.
The surge in cases on campus after winter break is larger than the one reported after Thanksgiving break, when there were 30 new student cases and 23 new staff cases. In preparation for the increase in positive cases, the University has taken measures to restrict the spread of COVID-19 on campus, including a two-week remote learning period at the start of winter quarter, vaccine booster requirements for all eligible students and restrictions on gatherings, Provost Persis Drell wrote in a Dec. 16 email.
While many of Stanford’s peer institutions are still on winter break, those that have resumed classes have faced similar increases in COVID-19 cases. The California Institute of Technology, most of the University of California schools, Northwestern, Dartmouth and the University of Chicago have also begun their winter quarter and are starting with two weeks of remote learning. All of these institutions saw a rise in their seven-day positivity rates — Dartmouth reported an increased 4.37% positivity rate, and UCLA reported an increased 4.66% positivity rate — but the seven-day positivity rates at these peer institutions were all lower than Stanford’s 7.7% rate.
“We will update the community on any new developments or policy changes,” University spokesperson E.J. Miranda wrote in an email to The Daily when asked about whether the new cases could affect the University’s current COVID-19 policies.
Since the start of the 2020-2021 academic year, Stanford has conducted more than 514,000 student tests and 326,000 faculty, staff and postdoc COVID-19 tests through its surveillance testing program. According to the dashboard, a total of 593 students and 485 faculty, staff and postdocs have tested positive — 22% of the total number of cases came from the past week alone.
The University continues to monitor the COVID-19 variants and enforce weekly COVID-19 testing and masking requirements, regardless of vaccination status. Stanford also continues to emphasize that vaccination, testing and masking can prevent serious illness, according to the dashboard.