Research Working Group

COVID-19 Updates for Research - June 2021 

What's New

We know that the greatest hope of many research teams is to resume full activity with no shifts, density restrictions or distancing requirements.  We expect to reach this milestone in September, when our vaccine mandate is fully implemented.  At this time, however, New York State continues to require the maintenance of 6-foot distancing in our indoor spaces, including laboratories and research spaces. The University has joined with other institutions to advocate for relaxation of the 6-foot requirement given the overall reduction in positivity rates at the state, local and university level. We will communicate any change in this regard ASAP, but there is no change now, even for fully vaccinated people.

Although the 6-foot distancing requirement remains in place, occupancy restrictions have been lifted. That means that, if you have the space to do so, occupancy is no longer limited to 50% and can grow to 100% capacity.  However, any occupancy increase is subject to the requirement to maintain 6-foot distancing.  

Columbia’s Summer 2021 Events Policy increased the gathering size allowed for indoor gatherings to 25, with 6-feet distancing, and for outdoor gatherings, to 50.  This means that lab and research team meetings can occur in person subject to these requirements.

As you have likely seen in University-wide communications, face coverings are still required indoors on campus, even for those who are fully vaccinated. 

The University’s Field Research Guidelines remain in place to enable safe field research during the summer. In addition, the University’s Summer Travel Restrictions are applicable to summer travel for research.  Finally, updated Guidelines for Visitors Participating in Academic Activities were published in April, in case you are hosting a visitor during the summer.

How to Comply with the Vaccine Policy

COVID-19 vaccination will be mandatory for all students, faculty, and staff who will be present on campus this fall. By August 2, you must provide vaccine documentation or apply for a religious or medical exemption.

Timeline to Comply

*Vaccines authorized by the WHO are also acceptable for international affiliates. See the WHO’s Emergency Use List for details.

Summer Health Guidance

Consistent with New York State guidance, all Columbia affiliates must continue to wear masks at all times in indoor settings in Columbia facilities and observe current 6 foot distancing as vaccination status is unknown for all individuals. Vaccinated individuals may remove masks and not physically distance only in outdoor settings on Columbia’s campuses. However, individuals may choose to continue to wear masks and observe distancing outdoors on Columbia’s campuses, thus, no assumptions should be made regarding why an individual chooses to mask outdoors.

Required Protocol for Returning to Campus

Coming to campus at any point this summer? Flu shots and quarantining are no longer required, but these rules—and related policies and guidelines—apply to you.

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1. Read the Enhanced University Health and Safety Policy

This policy has been established to help protect individuals in the Columbia community and our neighbors.

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2. Read and Sign the Health Compact

Everyone who returns to campus must sign the University Health Compact, which can be found in the required online safety training.

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3. Take Safety Training

If you are returning to campus, you must take the COVID-19 safety course before you return to campus.

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4. Get Tested

To provide an additional layer of safety, Columbia will require an initial single COVID-19 PCR diagnostic test of all faculty, staff, and students returning to campus.

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5. Complete the Daily Symptom Self-check

All faculty, staff, and students must complete a daily symptom self-check before entering campus.

Resources for the Research Community

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Guidelines for Visitors Participating in Academic Activities

The Research Work Group has developed Guidelines for Visitors Participating in Academic Activities.

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Guidelines and Form for Field Research

Resumption of any field research requires adherence to research guidelines and prior approval by the relevant dean, director, or vice president; with a report to the Office of the Provost. State and University travel policies must be followed.

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Research Administration and Compliance FAQs

The Offices of the Executive Vice President for Research answer frequently asked questions, including on human subjects research.

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Undergraduate Participation in On-campus Research

Undergraduates may participate in on-campus laboratory research subject to an approved Principal Investigator Ramp-up Plan and provided that they follow all return-to-campus protocols.

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Resumption of On-campus Human Subjects Research

On-campus human subjects research may resume on the Morningside and Manhattanville campuses, subject to an approved ramp-up plan and these guidelines.

Where to Go With a Concern

To discuss a concern, if possible, first contact your supervisor, department or the office of the dean of your school or institute.

Office of Academic Affairs (CUIMC)

Supporting over 9,500 faculty and researchers across the four health science schools of the medical center

Office of Faculty Affairs

Responsible for administering University policies and processes governing academic appointments, managing tenure review, and maintaining fair processes in handling grievances from academic officers

Human Resources

A full range of services, including recruiting, interviewing, placing and guiding employees; maintaining benefits and payroll; mediating conflict; hosting trainings; and, offering learning and development programs

Office of Postdoctoral Affairs

Supporting and assisting postdocs in their professional training and development, and offering in-depth guidance and resources on all matters pertaining to postdoctoral affairs

Compliance Hotline (Anonymous Reporting)

The hotline serves as a channel for employees to report or seek guidance on possible compliance issues.

Ombuds Office (Confidential)

A confidential place to discuss workplace issues, academic concerns, issues relating to administrative paperwork and process, explanation and interpretation of policies and procedures, and other issues or concerns.

Research Ramp-up Ambassadors

The Research Ramp-Up Ambassadors provide support on issues such as: (1) pressure to come back to on-site work at a time where this is voluntary; (2) concerns from individuals who want to come back but have been told to wait; or (3) concerns that individuals or labs are not following the required safety and public health measures to protect against the spread of COVID-19. 

Recent Communications