FAQs About the Compact Requirements

Everyone, vaccinated or not, must wear face coverings anytime you are indoors on campus through September 8. In addition, individuals who are unvaccinated must wear face coverings outdoors when on campus.

Beginning September 9, when we will have achieved the status of a fully vaccinated campus as per CDC definition, guidelines for face coverings will follow the rules established by the state and/or city of New York as well as those established in the University Fall Monitoring Plan. Relaxation or expansion of the use of face coverings may be required depending on public health conditions. At CUIMC, requirement for face coverings in patient-facing areas is anticipated to continue, and the above mentioned guidance will apply in non-patient facing areas.

Eating or Drinking 

Until September 8, when you remove your face covering to eat or drink, you must be at least 6 feet (2 arms’ length) from others. 

Beginning September 9, unvaccinated persons should refrain from eating or drinking with other people indoors and should not remove face coverings when not eating or drinking. Beginning September 9, unvaccinated persons no longer have to physically distance.

Riding an Elevator  

Elevator capacity will be limited. Follow the instructions on the sign nearby whatever elevator you plan to use. If the elevator permits more than one person at a time and you’re in the elevator with someone else, stay as far apart as the space allows, and keep your face covering on. Everyone will know that this is about keeping our community safe. And if you are able, take the stairs instead.

Common Areas

In elevators, building lobbies hallways, restrooms, stairways and other common spaces, it is recommended that all persons, including those vaccinated, wear face coverings.

Using the Restroom 

Keep your face covering on.

  • Restroom signs will show how many people can use the restroom at one time.  This occupancy limit will be based on restroom size to ensure at least 6 feet distance between individuals.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly (20 seconds, with soap) afterward to reduce the potential transmission of the virus.  If there is someone already at the sink, wait until they have left the restroom to use the sink yourself. 
  • In certain shared facilities, Columbia Facilities and Operations/CUIMC Facilities Management and Campus Services will have easy-to-use cleaning materials for you to wipe your sink area. 

Sitting or Walking Outside on Campus With Someone

Beginning immediately, vaccinated people do not need to wear face coverings or distance outdoors. Unvaccinated people must wear face coverings and distance outdoors through September 8. Beginning September 9, unvaccinated people are not required to distance.

Alone in a Private Office

Face coverings are not required when you are alone in an enclosed office with the door closed.

Hanging Out, Studying, or Working on a Project With Friends or Colleagues

This is permissible for all students following University policy. All students must wear a face covering indoors and stay 6 feet (2 arms’ length) apart through September 8 when gathering indoors. Starting September 9, vaccinated individuals no longer have to physically distance. If you’re unvaccinated, you must continue wearing face coverings, but are not required to distance. Remember not to make assumptions. Many students will choose to wear a face covering and physical distance even if they are vaccinated.

Getting Around Campus and New York City 

Follow the Compact, as well as state and city guidelines.

Remember, face coverings are required in a number of public places, including mass transit. Avoid crowds and remember to use hand sanitizer, too.

The health and safety of our students, faculty and staff are the University’s highest priority.  This is embedded in our policies and procedures

Because transmission of COVID-19 poses a threat to the health of other members of our community, actions both on and off-campus that risk exposing our community to COVID-19 are prohibited by University policy governing student conduct. 

This includes interactions between students inside off-campus apartments and in other off-campus settings, both indoors and outside. Of particular concern are social gatherings and parties, as these pose a high risk of transmission if students do not follow Compact requirements regarding face coverings and physical distancing.

There have been questions if dining at restaurants and in parks off campus are Compact violations. Students are expected to follow their state and city rules and consider the associated public health risks.

Students can be subject to Dean’s Discipline for any activity that occurs on or off-campus that puts another Columbia community member at risk, including violations of the Compact and associated policies. "Off-campus" includes student residences and any other setting where Columbia students are gathered. For additional information visit the Student Accountability Plan.

Can We Get Together in Groups for Events, Meetings or to Socialize?

University policy on group gatherings will be updated to reflect changes in health policy and New York law. For now, group gatherings of 25 indoors and 50 people outdoors are permitted on campus for socializing.  Starting August 3, there are no capacity limits. For additional information, visit the University’s space use guidelines. Here is current New York State guidance on the subject. 

  • Wearing face coverings and keeping physical distance (6 feet of distance between each person at all times) will be required for any gatherings indoors until September 8.
  • All events and meetings held prior to August 3, that can take place online should happen online, even if it means modifying the event. 

Find More Answers

Read the Reopening Columbia FAQs.