Return to In-person Instruction

Details and answers to frequently asked questions about the fall 2021 return to in-person instruction

 

As communicated over the past months and most recently by Provost Mary Boyce, Columbia is resuming in-person instruction and activities for the fall semester with a vaccination mandate and public health protocols to ensure a safe return for all in the Columbia community.

This return to campus is guided by national, state, and city public health guidelines as well as by the ongoing monitoring and review of our policies and procedures by our own Columbia public health experts and the President’s Advisory Task Force on COVID-19. We return to campus confident in the University’s robust plan that includes a vaccination mandate, a rigorous testing program, an indoor face covering policy, and an updated Columbia Community Health Compact and attestation, among other measures.

Below are details and answers to frequently asked questions about the return to in-person instruction.

Key Takeaways

  • The vaccination mandate applies to all faculty, students, researchers, and students on campus and off.
  • After September 2, those who have not submitted vaccination documentation or received an approved medical or religious exemption will not be able to access campus facilities.

Details

The COVID-19 vaccination mandate applies to all faculty, researchers, staff, and students. Beginning on September 2, any individual who has not submitted their vaccination documentation or has not received an approved medical or religious exemption will have a red pass on the ReopenCU app and will be unable to access campus or participate in any Columbia-related activities. Additional information is available on vaccine requirements.

Faculty Requirements

The vaccination mandate applies to University faculty, including full-time and part-time faculty, officers of instruction, and adjunct faculty teaching any class offered by Columbia in Fall 2021 as well as faculty teaching in Columbia’s online programs. The mandate applies to all University faculty, even those who will not be teaching on campus.

After September 2, any faculty member who has not submitted their vaccination documentation or has not received an approved medical or religious exemption will have a red pass on the ReopenCU app and will not be permitted to teach or access any University facilities. Deans and Human Resources staff in the relevant schools will be notified so that alternative teaching arrangements can be made.

Student Requirements

All students must comply with the vaccination mandate. After September 2, students who have not uploaded vaccination documentation, received a medical or religious exemption or completed the international students’ temporary authorization, are considered non-compliant and will be prohibited from moving into Columbia residential facilities, or participating in academic or research activities.

International Students

International students who arrive without vaccination must comply with the vaccination mandate and will be able to receive their vaccine once they arrive on campus. Students must quarantine for seven days after arriving in the United States from international travel. This will also include a test between days 3-5 after return. Students will not be able to attend class or other events until the quarantine is completed and results of the test between days 3-5 are received. They should then plan to get their vaccine immediately after their quarantine is completed. Read the FAQs on vaccine requirements for international students for more information.

International students with temporary authorization to access campus must comply with the vaccination mandate and with health and safety protocols including regular testing and required face coverings until fully vaccinated. Those who fail to comply will be subject to disciplinary action including removal from housing and classroom attendance.

Key Takeaways

  • All individuals, regardless of vaccination status, must wear face coverings in indoor campus spaces, including classrooms.
  • Unvaccinated individuals must wear face coverings both indoors and outdoors.
  • The requirement for face covering indoors will be reassessed throughout the fall.

Details

Current University policy requires that all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, wear face coverings in indoor campus spaces, including classrooms. Unvaccinated individuals must wear face coverings both indoors and outdoors.

In an abundance of caution, the University will continue to require face coverings for all Columbia affiliates in indoor spaces, including classrooms, through the end of September. This requirement will be monitored and revisited as the semester progresses.

Teaching With or Without a Face Covering

Faculty and instructional staff may teach with or without face covering, even during the indoor face covering mandate. If a faculty member or instructional staff chooses to teach without a face covering, they must maintain 6 feet of distance from the students. The faculty member must then use a face covering upon completion of the classroom instruction.

Face Covering All Semester?

Given that the University will be a fully vaccinated campus as of September 2, the required use of face coverings in indoor spaces will be monitored and, depending on public health conditions, revisited on an ongoing basis. Currently, we are requiring face covering as an additional precaution during the transition to a full return to campus.

Even if the University relaxes the face covering mandate at a later point in the semester, any faculty member or student may choose to continue to wear a face covering in the classroom. No assumption should be made regarding vaccination status of an individual who chooses to wear face covering.

Key Takeaways

  • Any member of the Columbia community with a positive COVID-19 test will need to isolate for 10 days from the time of their first symptoms or from the date of the positive test if no symptoms are present, regardless of vaccination status.
  • Any member of the Columbia community who tests positive through non-Columbia testing sites must inform the Columbia contact tracing team for further guidance.

Details

If Faculty Test Positive

Any member of the Columbia community, including any faculty member, with a positive COVID-19 test, will need to isolate for 10 days from the time of their first symptoms or from the date of the positive test if no symptoms are present, regardless of vaccination status. As a result, faculty with COVID-19 will need to remain out of the classroom for the period of isolation.

If the faculty member feels well enough, they may teach remotely during the isolation period and should work with their academic leadership to ensure appropriate short-term arrangements. Once the isolation period is completed, the faculty member will return to the classroom. Students should plan to attend the class in-person unless informed of other temporary arrangements.

In addition, any faculty member who tests positive through non-Columbia testing sites must inform the Columbia contact tracing team for further guidance. The contact tracing team will determine whether the faculty member had any close contacts and, if so, the requirement for quarantine and testing of such individuals.

If a faculty member who tests positive is too ill to teach remotely, then a replacement instructor should be identified for the class following the normal procedure for illness.


Learn more about the Columbia Test and Trace Program.


If a Student Tests Positive

A student who tests positive will need to isolate for 10 days from the time of their first symptoms or from the date of the positive test if no symptoms are present, regardless of vaccination status. Any student with a positive test will be informed of their requirement for isolation, and the contact tracing team will determine if they had any close contacts and, if so, will reach out to those contacts with instructions. Vaccinated individuals who have been in close contact with an individual who tests positive do not need to quarantine after the exposure, and may continue to attend class. They should continue to wear a mask, get a COVID-19 test between days 3-5 after the exposure, and continue to monitor for symptoms for 14 days.

A student who tests positive should work with their faculty instructor and/or academic advisor to ensure they are able to make up any missed class work.

In order to maintain the health and safety of students, staff and faculty during this academic year, students who are adhering to University-required isolation or quarantine must not attend class. Student absences relating to COVID-19 will be recognized as circumstances for which absences are excused and students will not be penalized.

  • Students must contact their instructor to inform them that they will be unable to attend in-person classes for medical reasons. The student may decide to share the reason for the absence, but is not required to do so. Students must include the required dates of their absence and communicate regularly with the instructor about their ability to participate during that time.
  • Students should then work with their instructors to develop a plan to receive instruction and complete course related work. Instructors are expected to make reasonable accommodations for students who miss classes, assignments or exams due to necessary quarantine or isolation related to COVID-19 exposure or illness.
  • If the instructor is recording their course lecture, the student may request to view the lecture. Students should note that not all courses are being recorded and they should be in touch with their instructor as to the best way to make up missed class and assignments.

If students are attending a class in which a COVID-19 diagnosis or exposure has occurred they should continue to attend class if they are not experiencing symptoms. Vaccinated students who have been in close contact with an individual who tests positive do NOT need to quarantine after the exposure, and should continue to attend class. If asked, professors should reinforce the University guidance with regards to isolation, quarantine, and class attendance and refer the students to the information on the Columbia COVID-19 Resource website. 

The following provides specific guidance relating to COVID-19 exposure or illness and class attendance for students. Students in the categories below will display a red pass on the ReopenCUApp.

Confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis and in isolation: Student must not attend class. Student is expected to participate in all assignments to the extent possible based on severity of symptoms.  Students are expected to inform instructor of duration of absence with specific dates and to communicate regularly about their ability to participate during that time. 

Symptomatic and needs testing or awaiting results: Student must not attend class, but is expected to participate in all course-related activities and/or assignments to the extent possible based on severity of symptoms.  Student should seek out a COVID-19 test through student health, aprivate medical provider or city locations. Symptomatic tests are NOT performed at the campus mass testing sites. If a student hasa positive test result from a non-Columbia testing site, they must submit their test result to [email protected]

Confirmed COVID-19 exposure, unvaccinated, and in quarantine: Unvaccinated students with close contact to a case of COVID-19 must quarantine. Student must not attend class but is expected to participate in all course-related activities and/or assignments. Should symptoms develop, students should seek out COVID-19 testing as described above. Student must follow guidance from Contact Tracing team in terms of testing and duration of quarantine.

For all isolation or quarantine: As previously stated, students are expected to contact their instructor, to develop a plan for the completion of course-related activities and/or assignments, and indicate the student's inability to participate in in-person instruction. The student may decide to share the reason for the absence, but is not required to do so. If the instructor is recording their course lecture, the student may request to view the lecture. Students should note that not all courses are being recorded, and they should be in touch with their instructor as to the best way to make up missed class and assignments.

Key Takeaways

Details

Medical Leave

Faculty with a medical condition can apply for medical leave. If the leave is granted, the school or department will assign the course to another faculty member.

Workplace Accommodations

Whether a faculty member is returning from a medical leave, has a chronic condition, or is seeking an accommodation for a temporary injury, COVID-19 related effects, or the effects of a medical procedure, the Human Resources Leave Management Office (in consultation with medical panel review where appropriate) will coordinate the requested accommodation with the faculty member and their department.

Additional information and how to request an accommodation can be found at Request Workplace Accommodations.

Teaching Remotely

Faculty members cannot decide to teach remotely if they have concerns about campus safety. As previously stated, teaching during the fall 2021 semester will take place in person and on campus. The University has put into place, at present, public health protocols including the vaccination mandate, the use of face coverings, and other measures to ensure a safe return to campus and in-person teaching. As a result, faculty can be in their workplace safely through observation of the University safety measures. This guidance applies to all faculty including adjunct faculty.

Public health conditions will be monitored closely per the University monitoring plan, and faculty will be informed if conditions change and necessitate remote teaching.

Key Takeaways

Details

Students are required to adhere to the Columbia Community Health Compact when they are representing Columbia in a required off-campus academic experience including externships and field experiences. This includes the vaccination mandate, face coverings and other measures. Students are also expected to comply with the host organization’s requirements if they exceed Columbia’s requirement.

Any international placement is subject to the Fall 2021 travel restrictions.

Key Takeaways

  • Guest speakers or lecturers should be virtual unless it is deemed necessary and approved by the dean of the relevant school.

Details

Guest speakers or lecturers should be virtual unless it is deemed necessary to a course, an academic program, or a research endeavor and approved by the dean of the relevant school. Deans are asked to maintain records and report on locally approved visitors to the President’s COVID-19 Task Force. Refer to the Visitor Guidelines for Fall 2021 for additional information.

Key Takeaways

  • At the start of Fall 2021, all libraries will reopen for Columbia students, faculty, and staff.

Details

At the start of Fall 2021, all libraries will reopen for Columbia students, faculty, and staff. Butler Library will resume 24-hour operations, and Butler Cafe will reopen. The full return of in-person, physical library services will be complemented by robust online resources and activities that will continue to be in place to support users no matter where they are learning. Read the Libraries Status Updates for the latest information about reopening and for assistance with teaching, learning, and research needs.