Barnard will welcome 30% of the student body to live on campus, and in-person classes will become available alongside continued remote instruction.

In an email sent to the Barnard community on Monday, President Beilock announced official reopening plans for Spring 2021, including select residential living and in-person classes. Included in the FAQ are additional plans to reconfigure student life, including a calendar of select in-person events that will be available next semester.

Staggered move-in will begin on January 16 with all classes remote until January 25 in order to allow students to complete quarantine periods after winter break travel. About 30% of the student body will be living in residential housing, which was granted to all eligible students who applied. Students will be living in single rooms in suite-style configurations.

All students will be required to quarantine upon arrival on campus, with the length of isolation dependent on current quarantine standards.  Students living on and off-campus will be required to adhere to a frequent testing schedule, beginning with twice-weekly tests at the start of the semester, and the frequency of testing is subject to change. Additionally, all students will be required to stay local for spring break or remain under strict travel-based quarantine policies to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Details about travel restrictions will be released closer to spring break. 

Courses will be operating in a variety of modalities, giving professors the flexibility to choose in what capacity their class will operate. Almost all courses will have a remote-only modality, for students who will not be on or near campus. As Spring registration continues, the planned modality of a class may change due to class composition or professor discretion. 

President Beilock expressed her gratitude for the support and dedication shown by the Barnard community during the COVID-19 pandemic. She acknowledged the national rise in COVID-19 cases but underlined that the Barnard community will be able to adhere to this plan, as well as respond to any new regulations. 

The full email from President Beilock can be found below:

Dear Members of the Barnard Community,

Our community has done extraordinary work in 2020 to provide the intellectual engagement that is a hallmark of a Barnard education, even in the face of historic challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Throughout these demanding months, the College has taken a multilayered and data-driven approach to health and safety on campus. These layers include careful distancing, managing facilities to minimize risks, regular use of masks in all public settings, and an extensive program of monitoring and contact tracing honed through the more than 11,000 tests the College has administered so far this fall. We have also stood up a new Pandemic Response Team to bring additional, dedicated attention and expertise to bear on public health challenges we all face.

Over the course of the Fall semester, and guided by this layered approach to safety, Barnard has gradually opened up our research labs and some of our studio space, increased access to study spaces for students living nearby, and continued to refine and expand our COVID-19 testing program.

Now I write to finalize the plans I laid out in late October. We believe, based on the conditions we can control and our experience over the past several months, that we will be able to welcome many students to live and learn at Barnard during the Spring 2021 semester.

I am pleased to report that on-campus housing was granted to all eligible students that applied, including students who were initially put on the waitlist. Residential living will be at about 30% of total housing capacity. All students on campus will be in single rooms in suite configurations that are designed to mimic what worked so successfully for students living off campus in the fall. All students in residence halls must complete a multiday arrival quarantine on campus and produce several negative tests prior to engaging in campus life. As Dean Grinage wrote to students earlier in the fall, staggered move-in to the residence halls will begin the week of January 16. Housing assignments and other details will be sent out later today.

We also look forward to welcoming students living off campus to use campus facilities and attend any in-person classes and events.

Dean Grinage will be in touch in the coming weeks about forms and training that all students must complete before the start of the Spring semester (e.g., COVID-19 health and safety training, Semester Contingency Form, required flu vaccine, COVID-19 entry and regular testing, etc.). Updated information about the Spring semester can also be found on our website.

All students (whether living on or off campus) who choose to access Barnard and/or Columbia’s campus will take part in our entry testing program and frequent regular testing. We will start the Spring semester by testing all students twice a week, faculty and staff who regularly interact with students once a week, and all other faculty and staff monthly. In addition, we have instituted a program to test wastewater for COVID-19 in several of our buildings. More information about Barnard’s comprehensive testing program can be found on the College’s website and will be continually updated in the coming weeks. Questions can be directed to

Classes will be taught in a variety of formats, ranging from completely virtual to a combination of virtual/in-person to mostly in-person. Almost all of our classes, even those taught in-person on campus, will offer a remote-only option that will allow students to continue to pursue their studies remotely if they so choose. Students who have completed their Spring term registration should review the course syllabi as they become available for more information about the instructor’s intended mode of classroom delivery, while recognizing that planned modalities may change throughout the semester based on class composition, the feasibility of in-person instruction, and professor discretion.

As part of our plans to mitigate risks related to winter break and subsequent travel and to allow ample time for quarantine, we have decided to conduct all classes remotely until, at least, January 25. Moreover, all students will be required to stay local for spring break or adhere to strict quarantine and testing policies related to travel, including the possibility of restrictions on return to campus (more information to follow). We will be monitoring conditions in the city, state, and country closely and will adjust frequency of testing, remote vs. in-person classes, and travel restrictions/requirements accordingly. Questions about the College’s pandemic response planning can be sent to

The decision to continue to open up campus may seem counterintuitive, based on the rising COVID-19 case numbers nationally. And indeed, we must always prepare to be nimble in the face of conditions we cannot control, such as any unforeseen government mandates. But based on the preparations we have undertaken this fall, what we have observed through our own testing of students living off campus, and what we have learned from other institutions, we are confident we can create a community that prioritizes health and safety while also allowing for a fuller version of the Barnard experience.

I’ve written before of my admiration and appreciation for our students, faculty, and staff for the way they have poured themselves into Barnard’s mission in 2020, in their intellectual endeavors and in their care for one another. I am grateful, too, for our families, alumnae, and so many others who have offered the additional support we need to thrive in a time of pandemic. While we see new signs of hope for some relief from COVID-19 as we move into 2021, we know that we will not be able to let our guard down for many months to come. I am confident that you will all bring to our Spring semester the same extraordinary spirit that has allowed us to thrive thus far.

With appreciation,

Sian Leah Beilock, President

Barnard Hall via Bwog Archives