PALO ALTO, Calif. - Stanford University becomes one of the first in the nation to test every student once a week for COVID-19, whether they are vaccinated or not. Stanford notified students about the new requirement on Wednesday.
The school said they want to minimize the spread of the coronavirus before the fall quarter begins next month in-person and people from all over the world head to campus.
"I’m vaccinated," said Stanford Sophomore Caroline Cahilly. "I still have to wear a mask and that’s worse in my opinion."
Cahilly is voluntarily testing weekly to make sure her allergy symptoms aren’t COVID-19.
Students can pick up testing kids on campus, self-test and then put them in drop boxes at Stanford. Results come back in a day. She said the process is simple.
"I also think it’s a good thing if we know if these vaccines are really working, if people are getting the delta variant or other variants of COVID," said Cahilly.
Concerns over the delta variant are prompting university officials to now require all students to not only get the vaccine and wear face coverings indoors, but now submit to tests once a week.
It start August 15, one month before school starts in-person.
In a letter to students, Stanford writes the requirement is aimed to minimize the prevalence and reduce the spread of COVID-19 on campus.
"If we aren’t testing, we just don't know how many people have COVID," said Stanford Junior Bennett Liu.
"There have been these breakthrough cases so it does make a little bit of sense," said Stanford Sophomore Ayush Krishnamoorti.
"Stanford did have a problem late last month with breakthrough cases and I’m sure it spurred their rethinking about this," said Dr. John Swartzberg, UC Berkeley School of Public Health.
In July, seven students all vaccinated tested positive for COVID after the university loosened testing requirements. The students were all symptomatic. Medical experts said asymptomatic individuals can carry the virus as well.
"By doing surveillance and making sure people are negative that is they are not carrying the virus that adds a great deal of assurance," said Dr. Swartzberg.
"I’m honestly apprehensive about how much is going to happen in the fall, in the upcoming year," said Stanford sophomore Nathan Mohit.
Students worry Stanford could decide last minute again against in-person instruction.
"I was very frustrated last year to be sent home two days before quarter started," said Krishnamoorti.
They want to return to as close to a normal fall quarter as they can get.
"I would definitely much rather do testing and be here than do another year alone at home virtually," said Stanford Fifth-Year Student Giana Gayles.
Stanford said a very small number of students living on campus in the fall will be unvaccinated. They are recommending, not requiring, spouses and children living with students to get the vaccine.
Azenith Smith is a reporter for KTVU. Email Azenith at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @AzenithKTVU or Facebook or ktvu.com.