Important COVID-19 Policy Updates From Columbia College and the Engineering School

January 10, 2022

As we prepare for the beginning of the spring semester on January 18, the current trajectory of the omicron variant suggests we will experience many more positive cases on campus than we did this past fall. However, we are a fully vaccinated community with a booster mandate. The impact of the virus, in particular the omicron variant, is very different under these circumstances than in the early stages of the pandemic. While highly transmissible, this variant tends to result in asymptomatic or mild infections, allowing a different balance to be struck between the benefits and negative impacts of isolation.

Accordingly, the University has updated several key policies in consultation with the President’s COVID-19 Task Force and consistent with updated guidance from the CDC and New York State Department of Health. Please review the information below carefully, and find additional details on these and other policies impacting undergraduate students on this website, which will be kept up-to-date with the latest information.

Isolation Protocols

Effective tomorrow, January 11, students who test positive after returning to campus will be instructed, in most cases, to isolate in-place for a minimum of 5 days – either in their assigned campus residence or non-Columbia housing. Separate isolation facilities will be reserved for students with underlying health conditions, and those with symptoms that require close monitoring.

  • All students who test positive will be provided with resources and support when contacted with instructions to begin their isolation period.
  • Approved masks (i.e. non-cloth) must be worn at all times by those in isolation while in the presence of others.
  • Students isolating in Columbia housing may only leave their room in limited situations:
    • Up to 3 times per day to pick up grab-and-go meals from a designated location on campus
    • Medical appointments or treatment
    • Relocation to an off-campus location (i.e. with family) for isolation via private vehicle
  • Anyone concerned with their own symptoms, or those of a roommate or neighbor, should proactively contact Columbia Health or Public Safety for medical assistance.
  • All roommates or suitemates of students in isolation should wear an approved mask at all times and will be required to test 5 days after exposure, unless otherwise indicated.
  • No guests are allowed in any room or suite where students are in isolation.
  • Only students who have not received a booster (if eligible) will be required to quarantine in-place after close contact with a student in isolation.

Review more detailed information on these updated isolation protocols and policies.

Isolation FAQs

Dining, Events & Gatherings

  • Columbia Dining halls will offer grab-and-go food only during the first week of the term, January 18-24. Additional information on dining services will be shared in the days and weeks ahead.
  • Non-academic Columbia-related gatherings, both on and off campus, are prohibited until the end of January.
  • Students are strongly urged to avoid indoor social gatherings, wherever they are located, unless you are aware of the vaccination and testing status of everyone present. Approved masks should be worn at all times while indoors, and in crowded outdoor gatherings.

Pre-Arrival & Gateway Testing

In addition to required gateway testing, all students are strongly encouraged to test 48 hours prior to their return to campus. If you test positive before arrival, email [email protected] ASAP to notify Columbia Health. They will provide isolation instructions and support information. Do not travel to campus. Isolate in-place, and do not return until you complete your isolation period.

Pre-arrival testing will help to protect our community by reducing the risk of unknowingly spreading the virus upon arrival.

Please remember to confirm your gateway testing requirements and schedule your tests in advance. Appointments can be made 7-10 days in advance via the Columbia Health Patient Portal. If you are already back on campus and have not tested, make an appointment now.

Booster Documentation

Please upload documentation and details for your required booster shot as soon as possible. The deadline to receive your booster, if eligible, is January 31, 2022.

Upload your booster documentation now via the Columbia Health Patient Portal

Upload Your Info

We look forward to seeing you on campus in the coming weeks and hope you are staying safe while enjoying the winter break.

— Columbia College and Columbia Engineering