University urges pandemic precautions during upcoming breaks

Nov. 14, 2022, 8:36 p.m.

The University encouraged members of the community traveling during the upcoming Thanksgiving and winter breaks to take COVID-19 precautions in a Monday email to the campus community. 

Among the recommendations made in the email, which was signed by Vaden executive director James Jacobs and Occupational Health Center medical director Rich Wittman, the University urged community members to get boosted, mask up in indoor spaces and test before returning to campus.

This winter is the third since the start of the pandemic, and the University’s email follows previous years of seasonal COVID-19 surges. Weekly cases of COVID-19 have been on a steady decline in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, data from the previous two years have demonstrated that notable spikes of reported cases occur during the winter holiday season, with the highest number of cases being reported between November and January.

Campus case counts have not reached last year’s winter peak, where hundreds of students tested positive each week during November and December. Since the beginning of fall quarter, a total of 135 students have tested positive from Color or Stanford PCR COVID-19 tests, according to Stanford’s COVID dashboard.

This winter season also comes with lighter pandemic restrictions than in years prior, both across the nation and at Stanford. In the United States, health restrictions relating to COVID-19 have slowly faded in the past year with Joe Biden stating that “the pandemic is over” in his 60 Minutes interview. Earlier this fall, Stanford joined in on lifting COVID-19 protocols with masks no longer being required in classrooms.

Monday’s email recommended that students, faculty and staff receive the bivalent booster against COVID, citing Stanford’s “highly vaccinated campus community” and the booster’s ability to help reduce the risk of hospitalization and the development of symptoms. While the bivalent booster and other vaccine boosters are not required, Stanford mandates all on-site faculty, staff, postdoctoral scholars and students to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19.

The email also requested that students take COVID tests before returning to campus, listing further information about where free rapid tests are located across campus such as at Arrillaga Family Dining Commons, the Environmental Health & Safety tent at 484 Oak Road and Stanford Redwood City RecWell Center. Masking while in indoor spaces is a way to limit the spread of COVID and other airborne diseases, according to the email.

The University has not announced mandatory pandemic precautions after the return from the break as it has in previous years. California mask requirements were reinstated in December 2021 and indoor University events and gatherings were limited in January.

Mark Allen Cu '26 is a news writer for science and technology at The Daily. Contact him at [email protected]

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