An Important Message to Columbia Affiliates in Residential Housing

August 19, 2020

Dear Resident,

While this year's move-in won't be quite the same as a traditional year, we have been working with University partners to plan for the arrival of new residents and meet the challenges of the time as a community. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the University has made significant adjustments to health and safety policies including face covering and mask wearing, physical distancing, hand hygiene, daily symptom checking and reporting to reduce the spread.

The health and safety of all our residents is our top priority. All new and returning residents are expected to follow all University requirements and city, state and CDC-recommended guidelines while living in Columbia housing. Please take time to review in detail the health and safety guidelines and procedures guided by and consistent with the University’s Enhanced and Safety Policy and the Columbia Community Health Compact that all University affiliates must agree and adhere to.

University Health and Safety Procedures

  • COVID-19 Testing: All Columbia students, faculty, and staff returning to campus will be required to sign the Columbia Community Health Compact agreeing to follow prescribed public health protocols, as well as agreeing to participate in Columbia’s testing program. Testing is mandatory. The testing program does not require out-of-pocket costs or insurance billing. All test results will be confidential and provided in a timely manner, ideally within 24 to 48 hours of specimen collection. Testing will be minimally intrusive and convenient for individuals being tested.
  • Sample Testing: All faculty, staff, and graduate students, after their initial testing, will be randomly sampled for COVID-19, with an initial cohort of 5% each week during the semester; this frequency and sample size will be adapted based on key COVID-19 indicators. For more information, visit the University Test and Trace Program page.
  • Quarantine: Students, faculty, and staff coming to Columbia from states with high prevalence of COVID-19 or from outside the U.S. are required to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. This is New York State’s current policy and the only exceptions are essential workers, including health care workers. Also subject to the 14-day quarantine requirement are individuals identified as being a close contact of someone with COVID-19.
  • Isolation:  Columbia Residential and Columbia Health have identified single occupancy spaces that will be used for safe isolation of any student resident who becomes ill. Students with concerns or those who are ill should contact Columbia Health at 212-854-7426. A nurse will determine if you should seek medical attention. Non-students who need to quarantine may choose to do so in their apartments. Further guidance on whether someone should isolate or quarantine is available.

Protocols in Your Building: In addition to University-wide procedures, there are other important measures to follow inside your building to keep you and your fellow residents safe.

  • Wear a face covering: Face coverings are required in all common areas of the building including but not limited to hallways, elevators, stairwells, lobbies, mailrooms, laundry rooms, and all amenity spaces.
  • Keep physical distance: Physical distance of at least six (6) feet is required whenever possible. Please be reminded that within the building, physical distancing is not a substitution for masks or face coverings.
  • Wash your hands: Continue to regularly wash your hands with soap and water, or with hand sanitizer when soap and water is not readily available.
  • Elevators: Limit the number of occupants in the elevator to one household per cab.  
  • Laundry Room Use: Face coverings and maintaining six (6) feet physical distance between yourself and others is required at all times. Please use the laundry room for loading and unloading of laundry only. Folding must be done in your unit.
  • Common Areas: All residents are expected to adhere to the occupancy posted in each common area including but not limited to lobbies, hallways, staircases, lounges, and roof decks. Furniture in these areas will be set up for social distancing norms. Furniture should not be moved.
  • Indoor Amenities: Indoor amenity spaces will remain closed until further notice. Please note that Columbia Residential reserves the right to shut down building amenities to comply with state and city requirements or if residents fail to adhere to the required safety guidelines below.
  • Outdoor Amenities: Outdoor amenity spaces are now open. As we reopen these spaces in a way that allows you to enjoy and make use of the amenities safely, we remind residents that there is still ongoing community spread of COVID-19 and advise that the use of these amenities be at your own discretion.
  • Guest Policy: Columbia Residential has consulted with Columbia Health regarding our guest policy to make sure that we are in line with their guidance. As of March 17, 2020, guests are not allowed in University housing. Please review the guest policy for complete guidelines.
  • Maintenance: Columbia Residential’s custodial team is taking preventive measures by sanitizing frequently touched surfaces in building common areas and will continue to provide routine cleaning of those spaces. Building staff continue to be on-duty to respond to essential maintenance requests and issues. We encourage residents to submit all non-emergency maintenance requests online; the reduced phone and email traffic will allow us to allocate staff more efficiently to essential tasks. Emergency maintenance concerns can continue to be reported to (212) 854-2222. For regular updates on changes to building operations, please review the COVID-19 FAQ page.

As the University continues to monitor the crisis, Columbia Residential will update you with timely information about specific health and safety guidance. We encourage you to regularly reference the Columbia Residential COVID-19 FAQ page for updated information. For more information about the University's response to COVID-19, please review the COVID-19 Resource Guide for the Columbia Community.

We look forward to having you as part of the Columbia community and welcoming you this fall for the 2020-21 academic year. While there are many uncertainties still ahead as we navigate through the complexities of reopening, be assured that the health and safety of all our residents is our top priority. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns.

Columbia Residential
[email protected]