The below message was sent to Columbia College and Columbia Engineering undergraduate students on March 8, 2020.
This is an uncertain time for many on our campus. What we know about COVID-19 is continually evolving, and this unfortunately leaves space for mixed messages and inaccurate rumors — all in the midst of midterms, no less! It’s important to stay informed and follow reputable sources, and to verify what you hear so that you do not contribute to the spread of misinformation.
Based on guidance to administrators and faculty leaders who are meeting frequently to address the coronavirus outbreak and are in daily contact with Federal, State and City health authorities regarding this fast-moving issue, classes on campus continue as scheduled.
This morning, the University has updated our events policy to strongly discourage non-essential events of more than 25 people on all of our campuses, and we ask that any student group leader please reach out to your student group adviser or sponsoring department with questions. The newly created Columbia webpage, COVID-19 Guidance for the Columbia Community, includes a variety of expert resources and also provides information for community members who are planning group gatherings.
Please stay up-to-date with the precautions you should be taking as you continue to engage in campus life. There are a few essential prevention steps repeated in our communications, and I want to reiterate one in particular — wash your hands; wash your hands; wash your hands! Keep in mind that there is a proper way to wash your hands effectively and that you should avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
Our campus is also taking precautions, mindful that our community is primarily a residential one, with many shared spaces. We live and learn together, in classrooms, dining halls and residence halls.
- The Campus Operations custodial team is frequently cleaning common areas of academic and residential buildings, using a one-step, hospital grade, heavy-duty disinfectant on high-touch surfaces, such as doorknobs, handles, push bars, push plates, water fountains, elevator buttons, bannisters, handrails and more. They are also making sure that hand sanitizer is more readily available across key campus locations.
- Our dining services will operate as usual, but with enhanced cleaning consistent with public health guidance. We will also be providing to-go containers at no charge.
- As you may have read in the message sent from the University earlier today, campus fitness facilities will remain open for individual use, although group fitness classes will not take place, and there will be increased cleaning of equipment and locker rooms.
- Should the need arise, the University is also preparing for remote learning.
If you are feeling unwell, show care for yourself and for your fellow community members by staying home. If you do feel sick, keep in mind that we are still in the midst of cold and flu season and symptoms are similar. If you have symptoms of fever, cough or breathing challenges and are feeling concerned, call 212-854-7426 for Morningside Medical Services.
We understand that some of you may be feeling concerned in this evolving situation. Often we remind you to care for yourselves and each other, and this situation is no different. Practice kindness, civility and respect. Consider offering to bring food to a friend who is unwell. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces in personal spaces. Remember that the RA on-call can loop in Residential Life professional staff with any pressing concerns.
We are and will continue to be discussing and planning for the potential impact of the coronavirus on our community. I thank you for your ongoing support and partnership as we continue to share updates.
Dean of Undergraduate Student Life