How Campus Life Will Be Different

The Facilities and Campus Life Working Group, part of the University COVID-19 Task Force, establishes health and safety protocols for campus operations and creates guidelines for use and assignment of space while COVID-19 mitigation strategies are in place.

Facilities and Operations has implemented operational and maintenance inspections and procedures to increase the reliability of the HVAC systems and assure indoor air quality performance. Air handling units in all buildings are being assessed for the occupancy and type of use; and multiple protocols are being deployed to meet or exceed CDC, ASHRAE, and REHVA recommendations, including enhanced ventilation, enhanced filtration, and increased frequency of preventative maintenance.

These measures and inspections are recommended best practices and in compliance with CDC, New York State Department of Health, and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers. As part of the inspection, enhanced air filtration will be instituted, where feasible. Outdoor air ventilation and general exhaust ventilation will be increased to greatest extent possible. Recirculation of central air handler unit air will be minimized or eliminated where possible.

Please keep windows closed to allow the central systems to operate properly. If your space does not have a central air supply, windows can be opened while the space is occupied. Do not leave windows opened unattended.

Building entrances, elevator lobbies, corridors, and thoroughfares will use one-way directions, where feasible, in compliance with building codes and will emphasize physical distancing. Where practical, a reduction in use of elevators and alternate use of stairs will be encouraged. Please follow all posted signage.

Classrooms are cleaned and disinfected twice daily, including:

  • Tables
  • Podium and lectern areas
  • Floors
  • Chair armrests
  • Door handles and glass
  • Blackboards, erasers and chalk trays
  • Emptying recycling and trash

High-touch surfaces—doorknobs, elevator buttons, handrails, and light switches—are also cleaned twice daily. The method of disinfecting, electrostatic cleaning, surpasses CDC guidelines. The spray contains positively charged particles that aggressively adhere to surfaces and objects allowing the applicator to increase coverage significantly.

Facilities and Operations has implemented several enhancements to its pre-covid cleaning procedures.

Dodge Fitness Center is currently closed to users. Virtual fitness and wellness classes are available for registered users, and virtual personal training is also available.

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.

On campus, everyone must follow University health policy.

  • Wear a face covering over your nose and mouth at all times, except when alone in a private office or in an enclosed room with the door closed
  • Keep at least 6 feet (about 2 arms’ length) distance between yourself and other people whenever possible
  • Follow signage and guidance on use of campus spaces
  • Stay home if you are not feeling well
  • Follow workplace and shared-space hygiene. Wipe workplace surfaces used frequently, including desk surfaces, keyboards, light switches, and shared equipment such as copiers, printers, A/V, etc., with disinfectant sprays or wipes that the University will provide. Columbia staff will do frequent specialized cleaning of high-touch surfaces throughout campus.

Some libraries are open for study seat reservationsBook pick-up and scanning services are also available. Many other services, tools, and collections remain available online. Check the Libraries' Website for the latest updates.

In outdoor spaces on campus, everyone must follow the University health policy:

  • Follow the Health Compact guidance.  Wear a face covering over your nose and mouth at all times, keep at least 6 feet (about 2 arms’ length) distance between yourself and other people whenever possible, and follow signage and guidance on use of campus spaces.
  • For the safety and health of our community, the University is opening the following spaces: South Lawn, Butler Lawn, Furnald Lawn, Furnald Plaza, Van Am Quad, Low Plaza, Low Steps, College Walk, and the Sundial.
  • No gatherings should exceed 50 persons and all are subject to the guidelines of the Governor of New York. 
  • Student groups are not allowed to reserve outdoor spaces during this period. This is to ensure that as many people as possible can have access to our open spaces.

As faculty, staff, and students (personnel) begin to return to their University workplaces, it is essential that they follow guidelines on proper respiratory protection practices. To obtain additional face masks, cleaning supplies, and cleaning products, visit the Central Purchasing website.

See "Current Columbia Residential Quarantine Information."

Please note: Incoming residents traveling from states not on the restricted list will not be required to quarantine. However, they may have neighbors and roommates who are required to quarantine in their private rooms or apartments. As such, they are still expected to follow all University public health guidance, including wearing face coverings and maintaining 6 feet of physical distance from their roommates and neighbors. 

Support during Quarantine or Isolation for Morningside students: Columbia Health has designed a series of programs and services to support your well-being needs while in quarantine or isolation in New York. Download the guide or visit the Columbia Health website for more information.

Restrooms are being monitored for capacity, and other enhancements are being implemented to maintain physical distance and improve health and safety on campus. Where possible, restroom fixtures are being converted to hands-free operation. Increased steam cleaning will also be utilized to disinfect and kill germs.

Workspaces have a combination of measures to reduce density, including revised maximum occupancy to meet physical distancing requirements, staggered shifts, reconfiguration of furniture, and asking those who can work effectively from home to delay their return to campus. For all buildings, personal protective equipment (PPE) and enhanced cleaning are provided, and University health policy will be followed. Laboratories have additional safety guidelines.