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COVID-19 and Spring Break Travel

Thursday, February 27, 2020

The below message was sent to undergraduate students on February 27, 2020.

Dear Students,

With Spring Break approaching, you may have questions regarding how the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) could affect your upcoming plans.

The University is following expert national and international recommendations regarding the outbreak and has published a continually updated series of FAQs that may answer many of your questions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Columbia Preparedness websites are also important resources for any updates and alerts related to travel. Please review the information below for additional guidance.

  • Whether or not you plan to travel abroad, we encourage you to discuss your spring break itinerary with your families or loved ones, to share with them any travel providers (airlines, trains, etc.) and the contact information for your travel companions.
  • The University is restricting travel to South Korea and China, including Hong Kong and Macau, until further notice. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Level 3 Travel Warning for both South Korea and China, urging all U.S. residents to avoid nonessential travel, and a Level 2 Travel Alert for Iran, Italy and Japan. Outbound travel to other destinations is not impacted at this time, but this may change.
  • If you plan to travel abroad, check entry and exit requirements for the U.S. and your intended destination before your departure and your return. Many countries have instituted restrictions and quarantines for travel into and out of the country that may directly affect you. Please be mindful that travel restrictions can change with little or no advanced notice, and airlines may change or cancel flights in response.
  • Students traveling on an approved Columbia-related trip will receive support from the University while abroad and should look for additional information to be sent from the Undergraduate Travel Review Committee.
  • We will also reach out individually to students who are studying abroad to provide additional information.

Many of you may be thinking ahead to how this situation could affect your summer plans. We will share recommendations after Spring Break regarding summer programs abroad.

While there is still much that is unknown about this virus, the prevention steps recommended during each cold and flu season remain useful. This virus has similar symptoms to the flu so it is important not to make any assumptions. Students experiencing high fever, cough or respiratory challenges should call 212-854-7426 for Morningside Medical Services.

We understand that this rapidly developing situation is concerning and may also directly impact your family, friends and loved ones. If you need support and would like to speak with someone, visit the resources section of the Live Well | Learn Well website to connect.


Marlyn Delva, Dean of Students, School of General Studies
Cristen Kromm, Dean of Undergraduate Student Life, Columbia College and Columbia Engineering
Shannon Marquez, Dean of Undergraduate Global Engagement