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Online Classes Extend Through The Rest Of The Semester, Dorms And Campus Facilities Remain Open

Following an unprecedented series of closures, Columbia and Barnard have decided to hold online classes for the remainder of the spring semester.

Columbia and Barnard students received emails from President Bollinger and President Beilock respectively announcing that classes will be held online for the remainder of the semester. Classes will be held on Zoom unless otherwise stated. 

As of now, campus resources, including dining halls, fitness centers, health services, and libraries will remain open. Both Columbia and Barnard dorms will remain open for the remainder of the semester but students are highly encouraged to move out if possible. Students who cannot move out of the residence halls for any reason are allowed to continue living in or to leave their belongings in the dorms for the remainder of the semester. Barnard students who choose to move out and do so in a timely manner will be refunded for housing and dining fees. Columbia has not yet released whether such refunds will be given to their students. 

President Beilock underscored that currently, no member of the Columbia community has been diagnosed with COVID-19, but that this choice was made in efforts to minimize the spread of the disease. Students are asked to regularly check the COVID-19 alert on the Barnard website as well as a list of Semester Completion FAQ’s, both of which will be updated as the situation unfolds. 

Additionally, President Bollinger wrote that the University discourages congregating in groups larger than 25 people, at least until April 30th. President Bollinger also mentioned that the University has restrictions in place for individuals who have traveled in severely affected areas. All international and domestic Columbia business travel has been suspended for all affiliates of the University.

More information regarding the University’s coronavirus management can be found on the University’s COVID-19 Guidance webpage.

President Beilock’s full statement can be found below:

Dear Members of the Barnard Community,

It has been an unprecedented year here at Barnard with many highs and, sadly, many lows. Through it all, I have been extraordinarily impressed with our community and the caring and support you have shown for each other. 

Today I write to let you know that, following Columbia University (see President Bollinger’s message below), Barnard will continue with virtual classes for the remainder of the semester. This is not a decision we have come to lightly, but it is one we feel best supports the academic excellence that Barnard prides itself on and promotes the health and well-being of our community.

Our faculty are world-class scholar-teachers, unprecedented among our Ivy League and liberal arts peers. They have worked tirelessly over the last few weeks to mount all Barnard courses on-line and all of our courses will continue virtually throughout the semester. I want to thank them for their hard work.

At present, no Barnard student, faculty, or staff member has been diagnosed with COVID-19. Nonetheless, because the Barnard residence halls are highly communal spaces and given that classes will be virtual, we are asking students not to return to campus after spring break (unless it is to move out of your room). This will help reduce the risk of further spreading the virus during COVID-19’s next phase. For students who feel your personal circumstances necessitate that you remain in the residence halls through spring break and/or the rest of the semester, you are welcome to do so. 

Barnard remains open, however all events and gatherings are cancelled for the remainder of the semester. Faculty and staff will soon be hearing from the Provost and Human Resources about specific instructions to support their work, health and safety.

There are so many aspects of COVID-19 that we do not yet understand. As such, we must act based on what we currently know to support our community as best we can. I recognize that this news represents a major adjustment for many of you. We have developed a set of Semester Completion FAQs to answer some of the questions you have and will continue to add information as it becomes available. Please also check back often to our COVID-19 website, as it will be updated frequently.

This is certainly not what any of us expected as we wind down the spring semester. I want to again thank you for all you have done to support one another during this difficult time. Please continue to care for each other and to uphold the health and safety of those around you.

With Care,

Sian Leah Beilock, President

President Bollinger’s Statement:

Dear fellow members of the Columbia community:

As promised, I am writing with an update on how the University needs to respond to the outbreak of COVID-19. We all know this is a rapidly evolving and very challenging situation. Yesterday afternoon, the World Health Organization officially declared this to be a pandemic. Thus far, we continue to have no confirmed cases of COVID-19 on our campuses. Just to be clear, the principle that has guided us up to this point is to maintain the mission of the University as much as possible consistent with preserving the health of every part of our community. To that end, as of yesterday, we launched nearly 2,000 classes online and continue to prepare to teach classes virtually for the remainder of the semester.

In light of the spread of the virus, especially in the New York metropolitan region, we now need to take further steps. Specifically, in order to reduce the density of our residential environment, while respecting the interests and needs of students who have reason to continue to remain in residence on campus, we are instituting three critical decisions: (1) The University will remain open and functioning; (2) All classes for the remainder of the semester will be conducted online; and (3) We encourage any students who are able to move out of undergraduate residence halls for the rest of the semester to do so, and we are ready to help in that process. The Office of University Life and your school will follow up with more information.

It is worth repeating that our campuses will remain open. However, we have restrictions in place for those who have traveled to severely affected areas, as per guidance from the CDC. We will, as indicated previously, actively discourage congregations in large numbers. We also strongly discourage holding any events with over 25 people, at least through April 30th. All Columbia business travel, both international and domestic, is now suspended for all affiliates.

This is a hard time for all of us. We are concerned about every student, colleague, friend, and neighbor. Clearly, balancing all of the interests of all parts of the institution is an extraordinarily complex undertaking. I am so grateful to all of you and especially to those who daily help us chart the right course for Columbia through this crisis. 

Sincerely,

Lee C. Bollinger

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6 Comments

  • ny resident says:

    @ny resident Meanwhile the staff are required to come in to their offices, exposing themselves to possible infection, instead of telecommuting (even while most students are off campus!). Shameful.

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    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous Its a university. People have to work and do their research and labs, dissertations, etc. The university still has to function. If you don’t want to come, don’t.

  • Frank Abagnale, Jr. says:

    @Frank Abagnale, Jr. This is your website’s most recent coverage of this situation? Damn, y’all dropping the ball. I predict bwog will be defunct within 12 months.

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    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous hey buddy, I hope you realize this blog is run entirely by students who are 1) on spring break and 2) dealing with the entirety of their lives being upended in the span of a little over a week. i predict you need to learn some empathy

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      1. Anonymous says:

        @Anonymous hi bwog

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  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous I wonder if colleges will wake up after this and stop doing things that make them hotspots for disease transmission. why do they need to pack 3 people in a single room? Why are communal bathrooms a thing? Why is there no space between desks in classrooms? Why are professors entirely unforgiving when it comes to extensions for illnesses? At some point, people have to come before profits. That time is now. Do you think CU administrators making over 6 figures would be willing to take a pay cut to prevent something like this in the future?

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