Symptom Self-Checking 

As of June 22, 2020, all faculty, staff, and students will be required to complete a symptom self-check every day before they enter campus premises. 

Background

On May 28, 2020, the New York State Department of Health issued “Interim Guidance for Office-Based Work during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency” and on June 8, 2020 “Interim Guidance for Higher Education Research during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency.” Both require office buildings and higher education research facilities to take precautions that would protect against the spread of COVID-19 as those offices and research facilities re-open or continue to operate. The guidance covers physical distancing, size of gatherings, PPE, and other issues. Among the required processes is health screening, which includes symptom self-checking.

Symptom Self-checking Questions and Processes

Effective June 22, 2020, all faculty, staff, and students will be required to complete a symptom self-check every day before they enter campus premises. The self-check requires you to answer the following questions:

  • Have you knowingly been in close or proximate contact in the past 14 days with anyone who has been tested positive for COVID-19?
  • Have you tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 14 days?
  • Have you experienced any symptoms of COVID-19 in the last 14 days?

You will be able to complete the self-check online or by using an app we created—ReopenCU.

Once you complete the process, and the answer to all three questions is no, you will receive a 24-hour "green" pass. That pass on your phone must be shown to security at all entrances to campus buildings. If you are using a PC at home and do not have a smartphone, you will be able to print out the green pass. If you have neither a smart phone nor access to printer at home, kiosks will be located at various locations (see below). If you don’t complete this process, or if the process shows you are ineligible to enter because you answered yes to any one of the questions, access to buildings is not permitted. We strongly urge you to use the app or the website before you arrive on campus, if feasible for you, to avoid delays at the kiosk. We will have staff at the kiosk locations to assist you.

If you answer yes to any one of the questions and receive a “red” pass, you also should not come to work and should notify your supervisor. More detail is provided in the FAQs.

The University is required to report on adherence with the symptom self-check for all persons accessing its campus buildings. Thus, for all persons who access campus premises using a CUID card swipe (i.e., buildings without campus security staff at entrances), their names will be cross-checked with information from the Symptom Self-check App to ensure that they are adhering to the daily reporting of symptoms.

Kiosk Locations

If you work in a building other than those listed above but are within walking distance, please check in at the nearest building before reporting to work.

Locations Not on Columbia Campuses, Not Owned by Columbia

Other buildings will have their own self-check procedures, but showing proof (your app or the paper receipt) should satisfy security in other buildings. Faculty and staff who work in these locations will have to comply with any requirements imposed by facilities not operated by Columbia.

Questions?

If you have questions about or need help using ReopenCU or the kiosk, submit a ticket to the CUIT Service Desk; you can also contact the Service Desk at 212-854-1919 or askcuit@columbia.edu.

On the CUIMC campus, contact the CUIMC Service Desk at x5-Help (212-305-4357), option 5, or email 5help@cumc.columbia.edu.

Symptom Self-check FAQs

General

All Columbia affiliates (students, faculty, and staff employees) coming onto the campus for any purpose or who are living in campus housing. If you are working from home or not coming onto the campus, you do not need to complete the daily symptom questionnaire.

It is required by New York State as a condition for office-based workers or for universities in New York to restart in a limited way. The purpose is to help protect against the spread of COVID-19 as facilities reopen or continue to operate.

There are three questions. First, whether you have any of a list of several symptoms that have been reported to be associated with COVID-19; second, whether you have been in close contact with someone known to have COVID-19 outside of clinical research, training, or care; and third, whether you have had a recent positive PCR (nose swab) test for COVID-19.

Every day. We will provide a web portal and an app that can be loaded onto a smart phone. You will be expected to complete the symptom check daily prior to entry to campus facilities. You can use either the web portal or the app to do this. Completion of the questionnaire will generate a date- and time-stamped 24-hour certificate, assuming you have no symptoms.

Human Resources will immediately reach out to you. General instructions will also appear on your screen: (1) do not come to work, (2) notify your supervisor that you are not coming to work, (3) contact your health care provider for health advice including advice regarding COVID-19 testing, and (4) follow guidance regarding return to work (see below).

Yes. You can re-take the questionnaire and update your response.

Yes, you are required by the New York State regulations to immediately report any new symptoms. You should do this by re-completing the self-check on the app or the portal, as there is useful information for positive responses linked to the questions, and this is the method for meeting the New York State requirement.

In addition, you must do the following: (1) separate yourself from others; (2) notify your supervisor that you are unwell and going home. Note that the reasons for being unwell are private and confidential. You may choose not to disclose to your supervisor that you have a symptom or symptoms consistent with COVID-19, or some other specific symptom; (3) don a face covering, go home, maintain physical distancing, and seek advice from a health care provider including possible testing for COVID-19; (4) follow procedures for return to work described below.

Yes. Once you return to on-site activity, New York State regulations require you to update the self-check immediately upon any change, whether you are on campus or at home.

No. The process is very quick, but it does require you to open the app or the web portal, to type in your UNI and UNI password, and answer the questions.

Yes.

Yes.

Those states are listed on New York State COVID-19 Travel Advisory.

Questionnaire and Entry to Columbia Facilities

Individuals who answer “No” to all of the questions will receive a “green pass” that indicates you are cleared for entry.

If you have a smart phone, and you use the app or web portal, you will receive a 24-hour “green pass” with a date and time stamp on it, that you can show to security personnel or to other personnel assigned to checking access to University buildings.

For individuals who do not have a smart phone, or do not choose to use their smart phone to receive the green pass, they will need to use one of the on-campus kiosks where they will receive verification by printing a copy of their daily green pass.

Individuals who answer "Yes" to any of the three screening questions will receive a red pass. University Public Safety personnel will not permit them to enter Columbia University buildings.

The University is required to report on adherence with the symptom self-check for all persons accessing its campus buildings. Thus, for all persons who access campus premises using a CUID card swipe (i.e., buildings without campus security staff at entrances), their names will be cross-checked with information from the Symptom Self-check App to ensure that they are adhering to the daily reporting of symptoms.

Data and Privacy

No. This information is private and confidential; thus, you do not have to disclose it. In addition, supervisors may not ask specific questions about an individual’s health or symptoms.

All responses, negative and positive, are provided to a central point of contact, which in our case is Columbia University Human Resources. All information is confidential and will not be shared with supervisor or anyone else, except to comply with state and local health department requirements. All these data will be deleted after 21 days.

University Human Resources is the point of contact. Data will not be distributed to any other individual or department, except to comply with state and local health department requirements. In addition, extra effort regarding any required disinfection of work spaces for individuals reporting positive on the questionnaire will be communicated from HR to Facilities without disclosure of identify of the individual reporting positive response to any of the screening questions.

The app has been designed specifically to collect only the information required by the New York State regulations on the daily symptom questionnaire. The app does not capture data from any other use of your phone, including location data, regardless of whether you have location tracking turned on or off. The terms of use of the app will be provided to you when you load it onto your phone. These include statements that the data you provide will be used only for the purpose of complying with the New York State regulations, that it will not be shared for any purpose, and that access to the data will be limited to this purpose.

Twenty-one (21) days. The data will be deleted thereafter.

Actions in the event of Positive Case or Symptoms

Facilities should be contacted to conduct cleaning and disinfection of the space in which the person worked according to CDC guidelines on Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility and Interim COVID-19 Guidance for Commercial Building Management.

The supervisor should inform the individual to update the COVID-19 self-check app. This update will trigger appropriate responses by the University’s central point of contact (Human Resources), including triggering disinfection of relevant area.

You should also close the workspace, office, or laboratory where that individual worked, notify co-workers not to enter it, and call Facilities to disinfect the workspace, office, or laboratory. You should refrain from disclosing specific reason for individual’s illness, unless explicitly permitted by the individual.

Clearance and Return to Work

The symptom reporting process does not attempt to make a diagnosis or to distinguish between symptoms caused by COVID-19 or another cause. Individuals with symptoms should seek advice from a health care provider.

The procedures for being cleared to return to work for individuals with symptoms and for individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 are described below.

New York State guidelines provide that if an employee tests positive for COVID-19, the employee may return to work upon completing at least 10 days of isolation from the onset of symptoms or 10 days of isolation after the first positive test if they remain asymptomatic.  Note that New York State provides special guidelines for health care workers and other essential personnel, as described below. All individuals must use face covering and observe other public health guidance while in campus facilities.

Individuals with symptoms consistent with COVID should consult a health care provider and are strongly urged to obtain testing. If the test is positive, the guidelines above apply.

CDC Guidance as of May 6, 2020 is that such an individual can be with others and return to work after 3 days with no fever and symptoms improved and 10 days since symptoms first appeared. All individuals must use face covering and observe other public health guidance while in campus facilities.

CDC guidelines provide that if an individual has had close or proximate contact with a person with COVID-19 for a prolonged period of time (15 minutes or more and no physical distancing) AND is experiencing COVID-19 related symptoms, the individual may return to work upon completing at least 10 days of isolation from the onset of symptoms. Testing for COVID-19 is strongly encouraged.

The CDC considers a close contact to be someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from 48 hours before illness onset until the time the person was isolated without use of face covering. The local health department should be contacted if the extent of contact between an individual and a person suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 is unclear.

If an individual has had close or proximate contact with a person with COVID-19 for a prolonged period of time AND is not experiencing COVID-19 related symptoms, the individual may return to work upon completing 14 days of self-quarantine. COVID-19 testing in strongly recommended.

If an individual is deemed essential and critical for the operation or safety of the workplace, upon a documented determination by their supervisor and a human resources (HR) representative in consultation with appropriate state and local health authorities, the exposed, asymptomatic employee may return to work so long as the individual adheres to certain practices prior to and during their work shift, which should be monitored and documented by the employer and individual:

1. Regular monitoring: The individual must self-monitor for a temperature greater than or equal to 100 degrees Fahrenheit every 12 hours and symptoms consistent with COVID-19 under the supervision of their employer’s occupational health program.

2. Wear a face covering or face mask: The employee must wear a face covering or face mask at all times while in the workplace for 14 days after last exposure.

3. Social/physical distance: The employee must continue social/physical distancing practices, including maintaining, at least, six feet of distance from others.

4. Clean and disinfect workspaces: The employer must continue to regularly clean and disinfect all areas, such as offices, bathrooms, common areas, and shared electronic equipment.

5. Maintain quarantine: The individual must continue to self-quarantine and self-monitor for temperature and symptoms when not at the workplace for 14 days after last exposure.

See response above regarding return to work for individuals with COVID-19. All individuals with symptoms of COVID-19 are strongly recommended to get tested.

  • Students at CUIMC: Student Health Service.
  • Students at MS and other campuses: ColumbiaHealth.
  • Faculty and staff at CUIMC engaged in patient care who are credentialed at NYP and/or work in the Columbia Faculty Practice Organization: Work Force Health and Safety.
  • Faculty and staff at CUIMC not engaged in patient care: CUIMC Human Resources.
  • Faculty and staff at MS and other campuses: Columbia Human Resources.

Clinicians, Clinical Students, and Clinical Researchers

Healthcare providers are essential personnel. New York State has issued separate Protocols for Essential Personnel to Return to Work Following COVID-19 Exposure or Infection. These protocols provide that essential personnel who have been exposed to a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 can be permitted to work in the required workplace setting provided that certain conditions are met.

This question does not refer to individuals involved in clinical research, training or care, who have contact with patients who have known or possible COVID-19. If you are using your personal protective equipment properly, employing appropriate hand hygiene, and following other safety measures for health care workers, you may answer “NO” to this question. However, if you have had contact with an individual with known or possible COVID-19 outside work, you should answer “Yes”.

Procedures for Visitors

All visitors must be screened using the same questionnaire prior to being permitted to enter a Columbia University building or facility.

Columbia presently has a no-visitor policy; this will continue to be the policy after June 22, 2020, with exceptions for the following types of individuals.

Patients and individuals accompanying them. Screening of patients coming to outpatient facilities will be done at time of arrival (in addition to the day prior to the visit, if this is the procedure of the practice). It will be documented in Epic that they were screened and that the screening was negative.

Research participants and individuals accompanying them. Screening of research participants coming to Columbia University buildings will be done at the time of arrival (in addition to the day prior to the visit, if this is the protocol). The date and time of the screening, the fact that it was negative, and the name of person doing the screening must be recorded in the case report form or research file/record for the participant.

All other visitors including construction and other workers and deliveries. Construction workers and other service personnel are required to follow the University’s general procedures for visitors.