Interim provost Ira Katznelson provides details on the travel policy, based on advice from Columbia’s public health experts, to explain how this policy will be implemented.
March 05, 2020
Dear fellow members of the Columbia community:
On Monday, I wrote to ask the Center for Undergraduate Global Engagement (UGE) to contact our students on study abroad programs to begin the process of determining options for a safe and orderly return home. I am writing now with more detail, based on advice from Columbia’s public health experts, to explain how this policy will be implemented. The University’s approach, of course, may need to be revised as events concerning COVID-19 develop. Our first concern is safety. Hence, the following distinctions apply not only to UGE programs but to the wider Columbia community.
Students in countries designated as CDC COVID-19 Risk Levels 1, 2 or 3, who have not yet returned to their permanent residence (or a safer location, if they are not able to go home), should do so as soon as safely possible. This set of locations currently includes China, Iran, Italy, Japan, and South Korea. As more countries are added to these designations by the CDC, this requirement will apply to students there as well.
Students on study abroad programs in countries with evidence of increasing community spread, marked by a rising number of diagnosed COVID-19 cases, should seriously consider returning home given the potential for a more severe outbreak. We are also concerned that it might later be difficult to return home. Current examples include France, Germany, Spain, and Singapore.
Where there is currently no evidence of significant community spread, an evaluation will be made with each student, based on the program requirements and end dates, concerning the potential to remain in place to complete the semester.
As the situation develops, the University will be reviewing this guidance and will promptly communicate any changes.
Ruggles Professor of Political Science and History