Interim Space Use and Modification Guidelines

Columbia University is preparing for the fall 2020 term during the COVID-19 recovery period with new health and safety protocols for campus operations. As the University follows mitigation measures based on the guidance from the CDC that include physical distancing and limits on occupancy, a reconsideration of how space is used at Columbia’s campuses is needed.

In support of the ramp-up efforts being coordinated by the Facilities and Campus Life Working Group, the following guidelines for use and assignment of space on campus are designed to assist academic, research, and administrative partners across the University in preparing academic and operational plans while COVID-19 mitigation strategies are in place. Please note that these are intended to be broad guidelines across several categories, understanding that further conversations about spaces unique and specific to your school or department may be required.

These guidelines are based on best-known public health practices at the time of Phase II of New York State’s reopening as provided by the CDC, NYS DOH, OSHA, and other government entities to reduce the chance of a resurgence of the virus. It should be noted that the documentation upon which they are based are subject to revision as informed by updated guidance from the aforementioned governmental agencies.

Risk Assessment Overlays

Conceptual plans of different space types and circulation areas that are typically in use around the University are available in a catalogue of risk assessment overlays as a supplement to these guidelines, upon request. Spaces addressed with these guidelines include, but are not limited to:

  • Administrative offices (shared offices, open offices and workstations)
  • Libraries and study areas
  • Computer labs/lounges
  • Classrooms and lecture halls (large, medium and small)
  • Research labs
  • Dining facilities and residence hall common spaces
  • Fitness facilities
  • Public thoroughfares (elevator lobbies, building entries and vestibules, reception areas, informal gathering spaces, stairways)
  • Break rooms, pantries, vending spaces, copy/printer areas
  • Restrooms (public and internal)
  • Other points of service or contact (e.g., transaction counters, information booths, security checkpoints)