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COVID-19 Guidance for Undergraduates

Thursday, March 12, 2020

The message below was sent to Columbia College and Columbia Engineering undergraduate students on March 12, 2020.

Dear Students,

We write today with a message we could never have imagined sending. As you now know from various University messages, Columbia has decided to continue classes online for the remainder of the spring semester. As a result, on-campus residents who are able to have been encouraged to depart campus as early as possible, for the remainder of spring semester.

We know this news comes on the heels of different information you received just days ago, a reflection of how swiftly the conditions of COVID-19 are changing. We also know that this is incredibly disruptive and difficult news for you and your families. As you consider your plans, please keep in mind the well-being of those who are unable to leave campus for a variety of reasons. By choosing to leave if you are able to do so, you can help decrease the potential health risk to the larger community by reducing the population density.

Many of you are preparing to leave for Spring Break, or have already left, and we appreciate your cooperation as we work through this process together. All students must complete this housing status form, as soon as possible but no later than Monday, March 16 at 5:00 p.m. EDT. This will help us maintain accurate occupancy records so that we can provide support services. Those who are able to are encouraged to complete an early check-out from the residence halls by Monday, March 30. Note that there will be further information regarding moving out on the Housing FAQ page.

We know some students will be unable to return home for a variety of reasons and we will ensure those students continue to receive support and campus services, including Dining and Health services, as needed. However, it is important to understand that while Columbia will remain open, students who choose to remain in the residence halls should be prepared for a significantly altered campus life.

No doubt you have many more questions about how to plan and prepare for this new phase of Columbia life. We are working with partners across campus to address the many questions these changes have surfaced – about your virtual learning, maintaining our sense of community, preparing for summer and the possibilities around graduation. We will provide updates as we have them.

Undergraduate students are at the center of our campus life, and one of the hardest things to accept about this change is the temporary loss of our in-person community. So much of the Columbia experience is embedded in our campus interactions, your student clubs and groups, and the connection to our urban campus in the city. Especially for our senior class, we know this sudden and dramatic change to your final semester will prevent you from experiencing the joys of a normal senior year. We are heartbroken about this. It will not be easy to replicate the energy and vibrancy that comes from being all together, but we are eager to begin planning for ways to continue our sense of community and support for one another, through virtual experiences and connections.

Thank you for your understanding and cooperation in this unprecedented time.


Mary C. Boyce
Dean of The Fu Foundation School for Engineering and Applied Science

James J. Valentini
Dean of Columbia College and
Vice President for Undergraduate Education
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