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Our Path Forward: Spring Update

Monday, November 16, 2020

This message was sent to undergraduate students on November 16, 2020.

Dear students,

We are more than halfway into the fall term, and I hope that you and your loved ones are safe, healthy and well. Following President Bollinger’s message, I write to provide additional updates about Columbia College’s outlook for the spring term.

As difficult as it was to move to a remote fall term, Columbia has been fortunate that our efforts to maintain low population density, implement regular testing and enforce the Columbia Health Compact have yielded success in terms of minimizing infection rates in our community. The sacrifices made by everyone in our community have allowed us to keep our community healthy during what continues to be a concerning global pandemic. Thank you for contributing to these efforts and exhibiting incredible patience and support throughout this tumultuous year.

Guided by public health and state guidelines, along with our success in mitigating COVID-19 transmission, Columbia now plans to modestly increase the number of students we invite back to campus housing for spring term. In this new approach, we will prioritize seniors as we believe it is particularly meaningful for them to experience campus during their final term at Columbia. In addition, we will reopen housing consideration for students with special circumstances, regardless of class year, as we did in the fall. Students currently living on campus as well as those who were previously approved for full year housing, but deferred to spring term, are still approved for housing. Should there be any remaining housing capacity, we may be able to accommodate a limited number of juniors.

All students with guaranteed housing status will receive a separate communication later today regarding next steps for spring campus housing.

It is important to remember that even for students who may return, life on campus will continue to be vastly different than in past years, especially as we see infection rates begin to increase again around the country and world. In-person gatherings will continue to be limited, and students will be required to uphold all safety protocols mandated by the University, including agreeing to the Columbia Community Health Compact.

We are saddened that we cannot bring back all of our students, whom we miss greatly. For students who will continue to be remote, the College is working even harder on new programs and support to ensure all students, especially our first-years and sophomores, have increased opportunities to interact and build bonds with fellow students and the entire community. We know the prospect of extended remote learning is disappointing for many. Undergraduate Student Life is interested in working with you to build community across our many time zones. Please email us your suggestions for spring programs or activities.

The University’s task forces, faculty and staff have been reviewing and integrating valuable student feedback from the recent academic survey. Spring courses will predominantly continue in a remote format, although some hybrid courses may also be available. Information about spring courses and modes of instruction will be shared by early December, and to accommodate this continued planning, the University Registrar announced that course registration has been rescheduled to begin on December 1. In addition, the Center for Undergraduate Global Engagement (UGE) continues to innovate on ways to provide global experiences to students, through their broad network across the globe. Students interested in exploring these opportunities should reach out directly to speak to an adviser in UGE.

We will continue to update you as more details about spring term become available. You can also find helpful answers to questions you may have on the College’s website, which includes recently updated FAQs.

Over the past many months, I’ve witnessed remarkable efforts by so many, along with exceptional acts of grace and perseverance. It has been humbling and inspiring to be a part of a community that continues to forge a path forward through this truly unusual time. I hope the remainder of your fall term is as engaging and productive as possible.


Dean Valentini

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