COVID-19 Updates for Research - June 2021
- Physical distancing continues to be required indoors
- Occupancy restrictions relaxed with 6-foot distancing requirement remaining
- Indoor gathering limit increased to 25 with physical distancing, outdoor limit expanded to 50
- Updated Summer Travel Restrictions for research
- Updated Guidelines for Visitors Participating in Academic Activities
- Must comply with Vaccine Policy by August 2, 2021
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.
Resources for the Research Community
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.
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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.
By taking the pledge, we've joined forces with the U.S. Department of Education and colleges and universities across the country to play our part in vaccinating as many Americans as possible.
This forum will feature three medical experts who can address vaccine safety and hesitancy, as well as other topics.
Details on uploading vaccine documentation and information for international students, as well as updates on masking and gathering policies on campus.