Barnard College has announced preliminary plans for the Spring 2021 semester, including the possibility of on-campus housing and in-person classes.

In an email from President Beilock to students on October 26, Barnard College announced their tentative plans to invite some students back to live on campus this upcoming Spring semester and offer some in-person classes. Fully remote options will remain available to all students, and the school will continue to offer half-semester intensive courses. Classes for the semester will begin January 11 as noted in the previously-announced spring calendar, and registration for classes will continue as planned in November. 

Juniors and seniors will be given on-campus housing priority. But as over half of Barnard’s upperclassmen are already living locally in off-campus housing, the school expects to be able to accommodate many first-years and some sophomores, with first-years being the prioritized underclassmen group. Rooms will be single-occupancy, bathrooms will be assigned, and most housing will be suite-style. 

In contrast to the original Fall 2020 semester plans, Barnard students arriving to campus from restricted states will be able to complete their legally mandated 14-day quarantine periods in their residence hall rooms. In their August emails announcing the transition to a fully-remote fall semester, both Presidents Beilock and Bollinger cited the “unreasonable burden” of the 14-day quarantine periods for many students as a factor in their decisions to reverse their decisions to provide housing accommodations to all first-years and sophomores. At the time, Barnard claimed to not have the facilities to accommodate students who were required to complete the 14-day quarantine on its campus, so those students were asked to quarantine elsewhere before moving in, requiring lengthy hotel stays for many. It is yet unclear what changes have been made to accomodate students quarantining besides having single-occupancy bedrooms and assigned bathrooms.

In an email to students on October 8, President Beilock announced the phased reopening of select campus activities, including the availability of reservations for indoor and outdoor study spaces. In that email, Beilock cited the school’s COVID-19 testing results, which boast a positivity rate of less than .003%. This low positivity rate is one of the cited reasons in Beilock’s October 26 email for the tentative plan to welcome students back in the spring with suite-style living.

The final plans for Spring 2021 will be announced in early December, according to President Beilock, and questions relating to the semester plans can be directed to

Bwog has reached out to Barnard communications for clarifications on housing and other details but the office’s initial response indicates that such details have not yet been finalized. This post will be updated as needed, with the inclusion of Dean Grinage’s future email with more information regarding on-campus housing.

President Beilock’s email can be found in full below:

Dear Members of the Barnard Community,

As I wrote to you earlier this month, we are in the midst of a Fall semester in which Barnard has been able to bring its intellectual tools and creativity to bear on some of the most important challenges of our time. I am so proud of the work our students, faculty, and staff have done to pursue our mission of education and knowledge creation throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, turning obstacles into opportunities.

Even as that work continues, we have been making plans to restore more campus operations in the Spring semester. We are committed to doing so in a way that is safe, equitable, meaningful, flexible, and robust. This work is informed by our growing experience testing members of our campus community for the virus while providing limited access to some campus facilities. We are learning, too, from the experience of other colleges and universities, and benefiting from increased clarity from public health authorities.

The next steps are not simple, and they will continue to evolve as external conditions change. At this point, we believe we will be able to invite some students back to live on campus for this Spring semester. We also plan to introduce some in-person classes and educational experiences throughout our curriculum. Importantly, any student who wishes to continue with a fully remote curriculum is welcome to do so. Under this plan, the Spring semester will follow the current academic calendar adopted this summer and finalized in conjunction with Columbia University, with some courses offered as intensives during the first or second halves of the semester.

Many of the specifics now in place will shape the Spring semester. Students living nearby off-campus will continue to have access to campus, provided they take part in our testing program. On-campus, we plan to offer single-occupancy rooms, assigned bathrooms, and mostly suite-style living. This configuration, which is common in our students’ off-campus apartments, has been successful in terms of the extremely low rates of COVID-19 we have seen in our testing pool.

On-campus living will first be available to seniors and juniors. However, because over 50% of juniors and seniors are already living locally off campus, we believe we will also be able to offer accommodations to many first-years and some sophomores, prioritized in that order. Dean Grinage will be in touch with students shortly with information about applying for housing.

We will maintain the safety protocols outlined over the summer. Any modifications or additions to those protocols will be detailed for you closer to the beginning of the semester. We know one important change already: Following new guidance from New York City health officials, Barnard will now be able to allow students arriving from states designated as hot spots to undergo their legally mandated 14-day quarantine in their residence hall rooms.

For now, these plans are conditional, and we must be prepared to adapt between now and January. We will continue to measure our goals against external conditions. As you may be aware, the last few weeks have seen increased numbers of COVID cases across much of the country and the world and in some New York areas. We are watching these numbers closely and are in close contact with our colleagues at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, who have been providing support throughout the pandemic.

In order to prepare for the Spring semester, we will go ahead with course registration in November and update the community on our final plans in early December before Spring semester bills are due. We believe it is important for you to understand our thinking throughout this process, including where we stand right now. We know that you may have questions. Many answers can be found on our website. You can also email your questions to

Once again, I appreciate your patience and adaptability as we move forward. And I am especially grateful for your focus on our educational and intellectual mission, reminding each other and the rest of the world of Barnard’s distinctive place in higher education.


Sian Leah Beilock, President

Update October 27 at 9:37 pm  

Barnard has provided more details about their plan to offer on-campus housing to some students in an email from Dean Leslie Grinage this evening. Housing applications are live and are due by November 5th for all students who wish to be considered for on-campus housing, and students will be notified by November 9th on whether they have received housing. An application for applying financial aid towards off-campus rent is also available until November 5th for juniors and seniors. Students who applied for Fall 2020 housing will need to reapply to be considered for Spring 2021 housing. 

After eligible juniors and seniors have received housing assignments, first-years and sophomores will be assigned housing; then transfer students, students returning from leaves of absence, and other non-eligible students.  Students facing extenuating circumstances that require they be on campus who do not receive housing will be asked to complete an application to request housing.

Move-in will begin on January 16th, five days after the start of Spring semester classes. Students will receive their room assignment and move-in date in mid-December. 

Students living on campus will be tested upon arrival and will be required to quarantine in their campus housing until they receive their test results or according to the guidelines on the New York State restricted states quarantine list.  Additionally, all students accessing campus must provide proof of a seasonal flu shot. All students living on campus will also be required to purchase a meal plan. 

Spring bills will be available on November 19 and will be due on December 14, and the bill rates will be the same as in the Fall 2020 semester. 

Dean Grinage’s email can be found in full below:

Dear Barnard Students,

We hope that you continue to stay safe and healthy and that your semester is going well. As President Beilock shared with you yesterday, we are making tentative plans to welcome students to campus for the Spring semester, including residential living.

I am writing to provide more detailed information about what to expect and to outline important information you should know as we continue preparations for the Spring semester. While we don’t have all the answers yet, I want to share what we do know now.

Carrying Financial Aid Off-Campus

We have made the decision to allow juniors and seniors to apply to use their financial aid for room and board off campus if they choose to rent in the local area (even if they did not do so in the fall), following these eligibility requirements and procedures. Students can find additional resources on the Off-Campus Housing webpage. This decision has the potential added benefit of freeing up on-campus housing for first-years and sophomores.

On-Campus Housing

All students who wish to apply for Spring housing must complete the Spring Housing Application by Thursday, November 5. Students who previously applied for the Fall 2020 semester and wish to be considered will need to reapply for the Spring. No students will automatically be considered or assigned to Spring housing without submitting a new application.

Please note that all students will be assigned to single occupancy rooms in suite-style configurations. Isolation spaces will be set aside for students living on campus as needed.

We anticipate that a staggered move-in to the residence halls will begin on Saturday, January 16, after the start of classes. This is necessary to ensure adequate time for student RAs to move in, quarantine and properly train, as well as allowing for other campus preparations. Students will select a move-in time slot when room assignments are sent in mid-December. There will be a limited number of move-in time slots available each day, so students should not purchase tickets or finalize travel plans until after selecting their move-in time slot in December.

Prioritization for On-Campus Housing and Placement Process

We understand that there may be more students who want to live on campus than we are able to accommodate, given the need to de-densify on-campus housing. Eligible seniors and juniors who apply will be prioritized for placement, but given that 50% of juniors and seniors are already living locally off campus, we hope to provide housing to as many first-years, sophomores, transfers, and others as possible. In order to manage this as fair and equitably as we can, our plan to place students is as follows:

  • After assigning eligible juniors and seniors, we will assign first-year students using a randomized selection (if there is more demand than available beds).
  • After assigning first-year students, we will assign eligible sophomores using a randomized selection (if there is more demand than available beds).
  • We will then assign transfer students, students returning from a leave of absence, and other non-eligible students using a randomized selection (if there is more demand than available beds).
  • We will notify all students if space is available for them in campus housing by November 9.
  • We recognize that students may have extenuating circumstances (e.g., situations that make online learning nearly impossible, students who have academic work that is best conducted on campus in the Spring) that make living on campus ideal. If we are unable to accommodate all housing requests, we will contact any students who applied and did not receive an assignment, inviting them to complete an application if they believe they have extenuating circumstances.

Dining/Meal Plan Information

We know that the dining experience on campus will be impacted by COVID-19 restrictions, and we are working closely with our meal plan provider and learning from the experiences on other campuses. There will be a variety of menu options, but dining will be reconfigured to allow for staggered meals in a safe manner, with grab-and-go options and limits placed on the size of gatherings. Suite-style living will allow for smaller eating pods, though there will be other locations on campus for additional socially distanced dining.

All students living on campus will be required to purchase a meal plan. Students will be billed for the Standard Meal Plan.

  • Although students will be able to upgrade to the Platinum Plan or downgrade to the Flex 75 Plan, they will need to participate in meal plan delivery if they are required to quarantine or isolate during the semester.
  • Quarantine or isolation meals will be deducted from each student’s meal plan, so students should plan accordingly. If a student runs out of meals, they will be responsible for the additional costs for daily meals while in quarantine or isolation. We are requiring this because it is imperative to ensure adequate quarantine/isolation meal coverage. If you have any questions about quarantine/isolation meal coverage, you can contact with your inquiry.
  • Please note that the Convenience Plan (Points Only) will not be offered in the Spring semester.

Health and Safety

The health and safety of our community remains our highest priority — and preventing the spread of COVID-19 necessitates strict adherence to public health protocols. Residential operations on campus will require full participation, cooperation, and a commitment to following the College’s health protocols outlined in our Feel Well, Do Well: Health and Safety Plan.

  • Required testing and quarantine: The College has implemented a comprehensive COVID-19 testing and contract tracing program. As we had planned for the fall, students moving onto campus will be tested immediately upon arrival and will be required to quarantine either until their results come back or until they complete a required travel-related quarantine, which applies to travel from both international locations and locations on the New York State restricted states quarantine list. Students will be able to complete this quarantine in their assigned residence hall rooms. We will be monitoring the restricted states list as we get closer to move-in dates, as it changes weekly, and we encourage students to do the same.
  • Flu shot: All students accessing campus must provide proof of meeting the College’s seasonal flu vaccine requirement. More information will be shared as we approach the start of the Spring semester.

Billing and Financial Aid

The Spring term bill rates will be the same as the Fall 2020 semester’s except for an adjusted charge for those in housing. Because the move-in process will begin one week after the start of classes, the semester housing rate will be reduced to reflect the shortened housing term.

  • Spring bills will be sent out the week of November 9 and are due on Monday, December 14, 2020.
  • Room and board charges will appear on the initial bills for juniors and seniors who have applied for housing by November 5.
  • All other students will be billed for room and board once it is confirmed they will receive a housing assignment.

Finally, here are some key dates to keep in mind:

  • The deadline to submit the Housing Request Form for Spring semester is Thursday, November 5.
  • Early registration for Spring full-term, Spring A, and Spring B courses is November 16-20.
  • The Spring semester will begin on Monday, January 11.
  • Staggered move-in will begin on January 16
  • Spring break will begin after the last class on Friday, February 26, with classes resuming on Monday, March 8.
  • Classes will end on Thursday, April 15. Reading period will be Friday, April 16-Monday, April 19, with final exams conducted Tuesday, April 20-Friday, April 23.
  • Students will be required to move out of campus housing within 24 hours of their last scheduled exam or by no later than 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 24. Information about Commencement and senior move-out will be communicated later; we encourage families not to make any travel plans until further notice.

Recognizing the uncertainty around COVID-19, we will continue to provide planning updates, with a final decision to be communicated in December. In the meantime, we will keep planning for on-campus residential living and in-person experiences and encourage you to read the Barnard 411 newsletter and website for updates. If you have any questions, please visit the Residential Life Spring 2021 webpage or the Bursar’s site. Additional questions can be emailed to


Leslie Grinage

Dean of the College

Barnard Gates Via Bwog Archives