Research Working Group

COVID-19 Updates for Research - July 2021 

What's New

In order for the research community to return to a “new normal” with minimal restrictions, compliance with the University’s vaccine policy is essential.  If you are not vaccinated yet, we ask that you get vaccinated or request an exemption and upload your documentation of compliance as soon as possible.  

Additional details can be found below in the sections entitled How to Comply with the Vaccine Policy and Timeline to Comply with the Vaccine Policy.  There is also a helpful tutorial video with step-by-step instructions for faculty and staff on downloading the ReopenCU App and how to upload vaccine documentation or apply for an exemption.

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 policy is fully implemented.  
As of August 3, the indoor distancing requirement will be relaxed for vaccinated individuals only. Unvaccinated individuals will continue to be required to physically distance. Finally, beginning September 9, when we expect to have achieved a fully vaccinated status, distancing no longer will be required except for persons who have received a vaccine exemption.

Although the 6-foot distancing requirement remains in place during the summer, 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.  

Columbia has increased the gathering size allowed for administrative, research and team gatherings.  This means that lab and research team meetings can occur indoors in person subject to six-foot distancing (so long as they are for fewer than 250 people).  However, social and extracurricular gatherings remain limited to 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors.   

As you have likely seen in University-wide communications, face coverings are still required indoors on campus through the summer, even for those who are fully vaccinated.  As of September 9, face coverings will no longer be required for fully-vaccinated people except in communal or patient-facing spaces at CUIMC.

Visitors, including high school students, are allowed on campus for research this summer subject to the updated Guidelines for Visitors Participating in Academic Activities published in April. The University’s Field Research Guidelines remain in place to enable safe field research during the summer. Finally, the University’s Summer Travel Restrictions are applicable to summer travel for research.  

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.

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Get Vaccinated

Get vaccinated at a Columbia-operated location or use the New York Vaccine Finder. Find out which vaccines are accepted.

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Find Out What Vaccine Documentation Is Accepted

Individuals who are currently working on campus or who expect to return by early September must submit vaccination documentation by August 2.

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Upload Vaccine Documentation or Apply for Exemption

Be sure to upload your documentation or apply for a medical or religious exemption by August 2.

Need help uploading your vaccine documentation? Watch a short video tutorial.


What to Do If You Failed to Meet the Vaccination Mandate Deadline

Fall Health Guidance

All Columbia affiliates must continue to wear masks at all times in indoor settings in Columbia facilities, regardless of vaccination status. Vaccinated individuals may remove masks and not physically distance only in outdoor settings on Columbia’s campuses. Unvaccinated individuals must continue to wear masks both indoors and outdoors. However, individuals may choose to continue to wear masks outdoors on Columbia’s campuses, thus, no assumptions should be made regarding why an individual chooses to mask outdoors.

Until September 8, only vaccinated individuals do not need to distance indoors. After September 9, when we are a fully vaccinated campus, there will be no distancing requirements, including for those with approved vaccine exemptions.

Required Protocol for Returning to Campus

These rules—and related policies and guidelines—apply starting this fall. You must follow all University Public Health Protocols, which include masking and distancing where appropriate.

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Get Vaccinated and Upload Documentation

Get vaccinated at a Columbia-operated location or use the New York Vaccine Finder. Find out which vaccines are accepted. Be sure to upload your documentation by August 2.

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Read and Sign the Compact

Read and sign the Columbia Community Health Compact, which can be found in the required online safety training.

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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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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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Download the ReopenCU App

Use the app to generate a "green pass," which is needed to access campus buildings. Download it from the App Store or Google Play, or use the web version.

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