Positive Case Response Procedures

Stanford has established a process to respond to positive COVID-19 cases which ensures that case investigation, affected area cleaning, and notification is completed.  This process satisfies State and Local requirements.

The following describes the general process of how cases are managed and the corresponding responsibilities of involved groups.

1. Positive Case Isolation

The infected person is instructed to immediately leave campus and told to stay home and isolate for 14 days from the date their symptoms began AND for 7 days with improvement in respiratory symptoms and no fever.  The EOC (Emergency Operations Center) Medical Support Team provides specific recommendations on when the individual is allowed to safely return.

2. County Notification

The County Public Health Department is notified by the EOC Medical Support Team within 4 hours of learning of the positive case.

3. Area Cleaning

EOC Safety Team works with local unit management to ensure disinfection of high-touch surfaces within affected areas used by the infected person (i.e., office, lab shop) within the last 24 hours. All cleaning and disinfection procedures are consistent with best practices and specifications from the US Center for Diseases Control (CDC).

4. Contact Tracing

Any University personnel who had high-risk close contact with the infected person will be identified and promptly contacted by the Medical Support Team, typically within 24 hours of the initial positive case report.

A high-risk close contact is a person who has had indoor unmasked and prolonged exposure (15 minutes, can be cumulative over time) to a positive case. Think: sharing a room, eating together indoors, riding together in a car, intimate partners.

Unvaccinated individuals who have had close contact with a positive individual, are also high-risk close contacts.

5. Local Notification of Positive Case

EOC Safety Team will work with schools and departments to notify occupants of the building(s) where the infected person was present to self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms for 14 days after the last day the infected person was onsite (per California State Bill AB685). See this page for more information about the Local Notification of Positive Cases: AB 685 Notification.

What should I do if I receive a building notification?

Given the level of community spread in the county and broader Bay Area, COVID-19 cases are expected to occur on campus. The University is taking steps to isolate identified cases, test their high-risk close contacts, enhance cleaning of common areas across campus, and perform periodic screening to keep transmission rates low. The campus community is urged to continue use of face coverings, and hand hygiene, as these measures significantly reduce the risk of acquiring and spreading COVID-19.

In addition, continue being mindful to avoid coming to class or work on-campus if you are feeling sick and to use the Health Check app which is an automated symptom tracker to keep our onsite population healthy through early self-reporting of COVID-like symptoms, exposures to sick contacts, and positive COVID testing.

  • You are advised to self-monitor for symptoms.
  • If you develop COVID-like symptoms, such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath, contact your primary health care provider and report this through Health Check.
    • Stanford offers COVID surveillance testing to confirm that onsite individuals are well. For information on surveillance testing, Faculty, Staff, and Postdoctoral Fellows should visit the HealthAlerts web page.
  • If you are tested for COVID-19 or test positive for COVID-19, notify Stanford via Health Check and make sure to follow-up with your personal physician.

For the most up-to-date information about Stanford’s policies on and response to COVID-19, please visit healthalerts.stanford.edu.

Responsibilities of Involved Groups

Positive Case Individual

  1. Re-submit daily HealthCheck to report the positive test result as soon as possible.
  2. Notify your supervisor/ PI that you will not be coming to campus.
  3. Promptly respond to the University’s Medical Support Team investigation call, being ready to provide requested information including but not limited to:
    • visited locations on campus within the previous 48 hours, and
    • identity of close contacts.
  4. Remain isolated, per instruction by the Medical Support Team and County Public Health.

Individual’s PI/ Supervisor

  1. If contacted by the EOC Medical Support Team, the PI/ Supervisor will be expected to indicate who is the best point of contact for exposure tracing and determine areas occupied by personnel who tested positive (Supervisor, PI, or Lab Safety Coordinator).
  2. PI/ Supervisor may be contacted by the EOC Safety Team to verify locations of concern, and where cleaning is required, to clarify any sensitive locations that are not to be disturbed during a cleaning effort.
  3. For identified locations that require site cleaning and disinfection, the PI/ Supervisor will work with department leadership and/ or building management to promptly close the applicable room(s) by posting door signage.
  4. Once cleaning services have been performed, space may be opened following notice of completion of cleaning and disinfection services.

Facilities/Department Management

  1. Based on the assessment of information collected, the EOC Safety Team determines where cleaning and disinfection are necessary for the affected area(s) and informs Facilities Management (or another Department-specified contact).
  2. Facilities/ Department Management to promptly notify building occupants of the positive case using a template provided by the Safety Team. The document informs building occupants:
    • the timeframe of the recent positive case in the building;
    • that occupants who were close contacts w/ the positive case have been individually notified; and
    • that all occupants should continue to self-monitor for symptoms per daily HealthCheck, at least for a 14-day period.

High-Risk Close Contact Employees

  1. The Medical Support Team will reach out directly to individuals deemed high-risk close contacts to advise them on self-quarantine and testing requirements and recommendations.
  2. The EOC Medical Support Team will determine when high-risk close contacts are approved for onsite access and indicate this with a green badge in Health Check. More information is available on Health Alerts.

General Building Occupants/ Non-Close Contacts

  1. Building occupants will receive a notification that a positively-tested individual had been inside their building, which explains their level of risk and offers further guidance (see below for details).


COVID Notifications for Building Occupants

In accordance with AB 685, COVID-19 Infection Prevention Requirements, building occupants are being provided email notifications of any local positive case that has been identified in a building. High-risk close contacts are promptly notified directly by Stanford’s EOC Medical Support Team and provided guidance on when they can safely return onsite.

All other persons who may have occupied a building in the same general time period as the positive individual are not high-risk close contacts and are not considered as having elevated risk of exposure.



Workplaces & Instructional Spaces

All other persons who may have occupied a building in the same general time period as the positive individual are not high-risk close contacts are not considered as having elevated risk of exposure. But Stanford does notify individuals who may have been present in the same building as an individual with COVID-19 and may have been exposed. In making notifications, the university follows federal and state privacy-protection requirements.

Stanford is required by state law to inform employees, including postdoctoral scholars and students with university jobs, of a positive case in a building where they work. Under the law, this notification is required within 1 business day after the university learns of the possible exposure. The notice provides details on quarantine pay, sick time, disability and workers’ compensation benefits. Students who have been in instructional spaces where a positive case has been identified will also be notified.

Please note: If you have received a building notification and have not been contacted separately that you were in high-risk close contact with a positive individual, you are not considered as having an elevated risk of exposure, and may continue to report to work on-site. When completing your Health Check following receipt of a notification, you do not need to indicate that you have been exposed.



Student Residences

High-risk close contacts of a student with a confirmed positive COVID-19 test are contacted directly. Students who test positive receive on-campus isolation housing, meal delivery, and medical care.

While not required by law, Stanford is following an additional set of standards for notifying individuals who are not high-risk close contacts when positive cases are identified in student residences.

In order to protect the privacy of personal health information, individuals who test positive for COVID-19 cannot be identified.

  1. Floor-level notifications for on-campus residences with shared restrooms: The university will notify students, who are not high-risk close contacts, that someone who lives on their floor has tested positive for COVID-19. These notices recognize the possibility that, for example, other students passed this individual in the hall or shared the same restroom, where students may remove their face coverings to brush teeth. While this is a low level of exposure, the university shares this information out of an abundance of caution.
  2. Building-level notifications for on-campus residences: The university will provide building-wide notifications in student residences generally upon reaching a threshold of three cases within a building in a seven-day period.
  3. Building-wide notifications for workplaces and instructional spaces: Building-wide notifications may be issued at a smaller number of cases, depending on medical experts’ judgment of whether there is a significant threat based on the residence’s size.

The university understands that notifications may generate some fear or anxiety among students, and has made a number of resources available to them. Students with additional questions or concerns should contact the on-call residence dean or Graduate Life Office Dean on Call. Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) assistance is available 24/7. Well-Being at Stanford offers a wealth of virtual resources and opportunities.