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Taking Care of Ourselves & Each Other

Mental Health Resources at Stanford

Updates on the university’s response to COVID-19

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Dear graduate and professional students,

We hope that you share our excitement about the new academic year, despite the many challenges this unique year brings such as the implementation of new pandemic safety measures and the dark and smokey skies over the Bay Area this week. Our thoughts are with those directly affected by the fires throughout California and the West.

Today, we are writing to cover several topics connected to the university’s response to COVID-19. Below our signatures, we provide:

Before turning to these topics, we would like to thank all students who have registered for our COVID testing program. So far, there have been no positive cases among the over 3,000 student tests conducted last week, but, of course, we must remain vigilant. Stanford is developing a new dashboard that will publicly display de-identified testing results for students, faculty and staff, and we expect to launch it soon.

We welcome your questions. Here is the best way to reach us, and thanks again for working together to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as we begin the new year.


Susie, Stacey & Mona

Susie Brubaker-Cole
Vice Provost for Student Affairs

Stacey Bent
Vice Provost for Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs

Mona Hicks
Senior Associate Vice Provost and Dean of Students


Visitors and guests in campus residences

We have good news! We have received additional guidance from the county on visitors or guests in student residences. Effective immediately, students’ spouses/partners and students’ minor dependents are allowed as essential visitors under county and state orders. The campus compact’s provisions regarding guests and visitors are being amended to reflect this clarification. Note that childcare providers are already included under the essential visitors classification. 

Students hosting essential visitors must be mindful of the guest policy as articulated in their residence agreement, including ensuring the agreement of apartment mate(s), and visitors must adhere to all campus policies and public health orders. We are developing a process for providing essential visitors with written permission to access campus zones otherwise closed to the public. More information will be available soon.


We have received many questions about what gatherings are allowable at Stanford under state and county orders. The university has provided this update and summarized applicable information here. Especially relevant to students are the following:

  • To reduce the transmission of the novel coronavirus, both indoor and outdoor gatherings are generally prohibited per California state order. Gatherings are broadly defined to include an event, assembly, meeting, or convening that brings together people from separate households in a single space, indoors or outdoors. As described by the state, gatherings “pose an especially high danger of transmission and spread of COVID-19” and consequently there are limited, narrow exceptions to this general prohibition on gatherings as described below.
  • The general prohibition on gatherings (indoor and outdoor) applies to gatherings of a social nature, including gatherings of student organizations. However, for academic purposes there are opportunities discussed on this site.
  • Indoor religious services are not permitted. The Office for Religious and Spiritual Life and partners offer virtual gatherings for our diverse communities of faith. ORSL and Environmental Health & Safety are developing guidance for outdoor religious services. More information will be available soon.
  • Stanford is in active discussion with the county about allowing defined student social groupings (“pods”) and will share additional information as soon as available.

We recognize that these restrictions place significant burdens on us all. We wish we could offer much more. These are truly exceptional circumstances. We will update this information as public health orders change. 


We are grateful to the many students who shared feedback on the compact and requested important clarifications. We hope this information will better inform your decisions with respect to signing the campus compact.

Below, we provide updates on the following:

  • The appeal process
  • An update on educational interventions and administrative actions that could be taken for different levels of violation
  • Campus Review Panel members
  • Sexual violence reporting and the compact
  • Length of time the compact will be in effect

The appeal process

We have added to the compact an appeal mechanism for Compact Review Panel decisions that result in a restriction of access to Stanford facilities or removal from campus, including housing. Such decisions may be appealed directly to the provost.

An update on educational interventions and administrative actions that could be taken for different levels of violation

As students have requested, we have drafted guidelines to help inform students of what actions the university could take in response to specific student behaviors. In our consultation with student leaders, they have requested another day to work with us to seek further improvements. We apologize for this delay but we want to honor this request and this partnership. We plan to have a completed document to share on Friday. We’d like to thank all students who have continued to provide extremely helpful feedback on this project.

Campus Review Panel members

We have identified five staff members, three graduate students, four undergraduate students, and three faculty to serve on the Compact Review Panel. We are still working to identify additional faculty to serve on the panel. We plan to have three members serve on any review, at least one of which will be a student.

Sexual violence reporting and the compact

The university is aware of potential issues related to the intersection of the compact and reports of sexual violence. A protocol has been developed for those seeking help and reporting matters. More information has been posted here.

Length of time the compact will be in effect

We will have a student compact in place through the duration of the pandemic. As conditions improve or worsen, underlying policies will evolve based on state and county guidance. We will notify all students when significant policy changes occur that impact the campus compact. We do not expect the core components of the compact to change beyond what we have discussed to date as they reflect the core requirements of the county and state guidance for institutions of higher education.


Some students have asked why students are required to sign a compact, while no such document exists for the faculty and staff who access campus. The student compact was created for two primary reasons. First, we want to ensure that the requirements we are living under are clear to students arriving on campus from other U.S. regions or other countries where public health orders may be quite different from Santa Clara County’s. Our faculty and staff live here year-round and have been able to follow these orders as they have developed.

Second, our normal student rules and means of accountability, through the Fundamental Standard and Judicial Charter, are not well suited to the COVID-19 world. Our normal judicial processes can take months to complete. Although we hope and trust that members of our community will avoid behaviors that put fellow community members at risk, in rare cases where such behaviors may arise, we need more nimble and rapid ways to deal with them because of the pandemic. This is why for students we created the administrative processes of the campus compact: to provide for swift action in order to prevent heightened risk of community spread. Of note, unlike in our normal judicial process, actions taken under the compact will NOT become a part of a student’s disciplinary record.

Faculty and staff are required to adhere to the same public health orders as students, but they are already subject to accountability measures that allow for swift and decisive disciplinary measures under the existing environmental health and safety provisions of university’s Code of Conduct and the university’s terms of employment; a change to the process for them is therefore not required. Again, we hope and trust that all community members will take great care in following public health guidelines and that neither the compact accountability process for students nor the faculty/staff disciplinary processes will be necessary.


Responding to feedback we received from students, we are updating who is required to participate in this program.

The COVID testing program is required for:

  • All students who are living on campus, whether or not they are working, studying, or engaging in any other campus activities.
  • All students who are living off campus, including those living in off campus Stanford student housing, if they are coming to campus on a regular basis.

Testing is not required for:

  • Students who are living off campus and plan to come to campus infrequently (once or twice quarterly). These students should complete Stanford Health Check on the day they come to campus before they arrive and adhere to all public health guidance and university policies. 
  • Students who are living off campus and not coming to campus ever are not required to be tested.

It is important to keep the following in mind:

  • When registering for your first test, use your Stanford area address. This address will work for all students living on campus: "Stanford University, Stanford, Calif., 94305"
  • A couple days after you complete your first test, make an appointment for your next test. Weekly tests are required. Verily will send reminders.

Additional information is posted on this web page and this FAQ, which we are updating on a regular basis.


The following information is for students who travel during the quarter outside Northern California, as defined here. University-wide guidance says community members who travel outside Northern California must self-isolate for 14 days upon return. For graduate and professional students, the period of self-isolation can be shortened if the traveler tests negative for COVID through tests administered 0-2 days and 5-7 days after the student returns to Northern California. Verily Life Sciences is conducting COVID-19 testing for students who travel. You’ll find more information here.

Students traveling during the quarter should make plans to self-isolate off campus until they receive negative test results. The university will do its best to provide self-isolation housing for students who must travel due to family obligations or emergency situations. For more information on self-isolation housing, please contact the Graduate Life Office.

To be clear, this guidance does NOT apply to new students or continuing students who are arriving to campus for the fall. Guidance for these students can be found in this communication.