Barnard Prepares for Spring Semester

December 22, 2021

Dear Members of the Barnard Community:

With the semester closing, we write to update you as we continue to monitor current data on COVID-19 cases in our community and in the New York area.

First, Barnard is planning for an in-person living and learning Spring semester. Our vaccination, booster, and indoor masking policies, along with our robust testing, isolation, and contact tracing programs, have made a huge difference thus far in keeping cases low on campus. Moreover, the Omicron variant, while still transmissible, appears to be less severe than previous iterations of COVID-19 in vaccinated and boosted individuals. Nonetheless, we need to continue to be cautious about transmissibility this winter.

Spring semester classes will begin, as planned, on January 18. However, all classes will be held remotely for the first two weeks of the semester through January 28. Columbia University is implementing the same remote class period, which is designed to minimize disruptions for students traveling back to NYC and to ensure appropriate gateway testing can be conducted before in-person classes commence. 

Students

Arrival

  • Even if previously approved, there will be no early arrivals to the residence halls without updated approval from Residential Life & Housing.
  • Transfers, visiting students, and students new to the residence halls for the Spring semester can move in beginning on January 14.
  • All students returning to campus housing will be able to move back into the residence halls between January 15-17 according to the following timeline in order to stagger the burden on the testing center:
    • January 15: first-years
    • January 15: sophomores
    • January 16: juniors
    • January 17: seniors  
  • Students can also choose to move in during the two weeks of remote learning (between January 18-30). If you are coming back after January 17, please complete the Returning to Campus Housing after January 17 form indicating your return date so that we can anticipate student arrivals.
  • We wanted to share this news now so that students can adjust their travel schedules. If any students need support due to travel arrangement changes (financial or otherwise), please complete the Supplemental Academic Support Application.
  • The New Student Orientation Program (NSOP) for transfers and visiting students will be held virtually from January 12-15 (visiting students will begin their sessions on January 11). We will offer opportunities for in-person campus tours and a meet-and-greet among these groups after the start of the Spring semester.
  • Students who are not in campus housing over winter break should refrain from accessing campus over winter break as our testing facilities will be closed and we hope to keep campus at low density generally

Testing Requirements

  • All students will need to provide a negative pre-arrival test (PCR), to be taken within three to five days of returning to campus. Please plan ahead and schedule your testing now. If the test result is not back before the move-in date, the student will need to have evidence of a negative antigen (Rapid) test on their move-in date. Students testing positive on either test should stay home and contact the Pandemic Response Team for further guidance.
  • All students will be required to have an entry PCR test in the testing center within 24 hours of arrival to campus.    
  • All students will be required to test two times a week for at least two weeks after returning to campus and until the end of January. Testing cadence for the remainder of the semester will be determined based on the COVID rates on campus and in New York City. 

Dining

We will start the semester with grab and go meals for students, with plans to reassess indoor dining based on our campus rates of COVID-19 infections. Liz’s Place and Peet's Coffee will also be to-go.

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Faculty and Staff

  • To reduce density on campus in early January so that we can start the semester in the best possible position, employees should work with their managers to follow a remote work schedule to the greatest extent possible during the first two weeks of the year. Exceptions to this include employees with essential duties who need to be on campus to fulfill their responsibilities and faculty who are conducting research that requires the use of labs and offices. This is only a temporary measure; employees should expect to resume their regular work model by January 18, 2022.
  • Faculty and staff who have been off campus for the winter break will need to have an entry PCR test at the testing center within 24 hours of returning to work on campus.
  • Faculty and staff will need to test two times a week for at least two weeks after returning to campus and until the end of January.
  • If you are continuing to work or conduct research on campus over winter break, the testing center is closed December 23 to January 4 but will be open for those who are living on or working on campus on December 27 (12:30-3:30 p.m.) and December 30 (6-8 a.m.), so you must test on these specific dates.  After January 4, you must continue to test twice weekly throughout the winter break.

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Entire Barnard Community
 

COVID-19 Positive During Break

Please upload your test results if you test positive for COVID during Winter Break.

Booster Requirement

Omicron is being transmitted rapidly in vaccinated individuals. Data indicate that vaccination followed by booster guards against severe illness and is an important tool in protecting those at high risk for serious disease. All members of the Barnard community are required to have a booster vaccination and upload proof by Monday, January 10, or as soon as they are eligible (six months after completing the Moderna or Pfizer series and two months after receiving the J&J vaccine). Please get your booster as soon as possible; do not wait until the last minute to do so.

Community Pledge

Members of our community, including students, faculty and staff are expected to acknowledge and adhere to our community pledge that details personal and collective responsibilities for maintaining a safe campus. Acknowledging the pledge and uploading a pre-return test will be required before returning to campus.

Masking

Masks will continue to be required indoors on campus except if in a space alone, since mask-wearing is an essential part of our health and safety protocols. This includes shared public spaces such as classrooms/meeting rooms, the library, dining halls, residential common areas, and some office configurations. Community members should avoid cloth masks and wear well-fitting masks of the highest grade possible (surgical masks, N95, KN95).  

Events and Gatherings

We know that unmasked social gatherings have led to cases, and so being especially careful can reduce the number of people impacted by a positive case. Therefore, we ask that there are no social gatherings during the first two weeks of the semester.

We will hold a webinar in early January to help students and families prepare for the next semester and address any questions you may have. Please look out for an invitation and also please refer to the website and for updated information about our COVID-19 policies and procedures.

We want to end by thanking the entire Barnard community for all you have done to ensure the well-being of our community. We wish you a safe and healthy holiday break and New Year. 

Linda A. Bell, Provost

Leslie Grinage, Dean of the College

Marina Catallozzi, MD, MSCE, Vice President of Health and Wellness, Chief Health Officer