Columbia announced that all students must submit their vaccine documentation no later than August 2, in preparation for the fall semester, according to an email sent earlier this morning by Columbia Health Senior Vice President Melanie J. Bernitz and Executive Director of Student Health Marcy Ferdschneider. This update also included new information regarding summer COVID-19 restrictions.

Barnard College also updated their COVID-19 policies for the Summer B term.

All students who are returning to campus for the Fall 2021 semester must upload their COVID-19 vaccination documentation via their Columbia Health Patient Portal no later than August 2, according to an email announcement sent to students today by Columbia Health Senior Vice President Melanie J Bernitz and Executive Director of Student Health Marcy Ferdschneider. This email adds to the University’s announcement from April 19 that students must receive a COVID-19 vaccine in order to have access to campus during the fall. 

According to the email, beginning May 28, students can check whether they have successfully met the University’s vaccine mandate requirement by accessing the new box under the “My Checklist” section of the ReOpenCU app, which will show a checkmark for students who have verified their vaccine status. Students who received their COVID-19 vaccine from Columbia Health (Lerner Hall or Morningside) or from Student Health on Haven (CUIMC) will have their records automatically updated. For those who will receive their vaccine elsewhere and must therefore upload documentation, it is strongly advised that they begin this process as early as possible. If students have still not had their documentation submitted by mid-August, the box checked will have a red pass on the ReOpenCu app, and the student will not be able to access campus until the vaccine requirement has been met. 

In order to verify that they have been vaccinated, students must either upload a picture or copy of their CDC card, WHO booklet, or a letter from a physician detailing information on their vaccinations. It is to be noted that students should allow at least 15 business days for their documents to be processed by the Patient Portal. Morningside campus students will submit the forms via the Columbia Health Patient Portal, whereas CUIMC students will be asked to use the Student Health on Haven portal to upload documentation. 

For international students who may not be able to gain access to vaccines or complete a vaccine series before coming to New York, the University stated that vaccines will be available for administration for those students during the first week they are back on campus. More information specifying how international students can complete their vaccination whilst maintaining access to housing and classes will be released later in July. 

Additionally, the email revealed that in response to the new CDC and New York State guidelines, the University has updated its COVID-19 protocols for the summer, allowing fully vaccinated individuals to be unmasked outdoors on Columbia campuses. However, the University will continue to enforce an indoor masking policy regardless of one’s vaccine status, as well as the six-feet physical distancing policy indoors, and expect to implement these restrictions until at least early September. The University will also increase its gathering size limitations outside of class to 25 people in indoor spaces and 50 people in outdoor spaces. The full text of the email is provided below.

Barnard College also adjusted its COVID-19 procedures. Pandemic Response Team Head Cynthia Yang emailed Barnard affiliates on Friday, June 11 with further details. Starting on June 28, students will only be required to complete weekly COVID-19 testing for the Summer B term, contrasting with the current requirement of biweekly testing for Summer A. Students will still be able to test biweekly if they choose to do so.

Yang also included the College’s Quick Reference Guide, which details the different COVID-19 procedures. All Barnard affiliates must be fully vaccinated for the virus by August 15. Affiliates are still required to wear masks inside but vaccinated affiliates have the option to go maskless outdoors. Social distancing and cleaning protocols will remain the same from the spring and early summer terms. The testing program will stay the same, with the exception of the reduced frequency requirements for students in the Summer B term. Students can also email with any questions. The email from Yang can be read in full below.

After Bwog inquired about the differences in testing and dorm policy between Barnard and Columbia, despite sharing campus space, a Barnard spokesperson replied with the following statement.

We are urging our community members to get vaccinated as soon as they have the opportunity. In consultation with our infectious diseases advisors from the Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC) we are moving all student testing from twice weekly to once a week, beginning June 28, and made the decision to keep our guest policies in the residence halls intact for now. While Barnard and Columbia are aligned in many ways, each school does have its own policies that guide expectations for students. We will continue to monitor and communicate any adjustments to our requirements throughout the summer. The College is also creating ample opportunities for residential and non-residential students to connect by offering a wide range of programs throughout the summer, many of which take advantage of outdoor space. Additionally, the Furman Counseling Center remains open during the summer term to provide support to any and all students who need it.

Email sent to students from Columbia Health Vice President Melanie J. Bernitz and Executive Director of Student Health Marcy Ferdschneider on May 28 at 11:16 am:

Dear Students,

We write today to share important information on the University COVID-19 vaccine requirement that was previously announced on May 11.  While some additional details are still being confirmed, Columbia is committed to keeping you informed through these updates, as well as on the University COVID-19 website.  As you know, having a vaccinated population is key to a full return to in-person instruction and related activities. Your prompt completion of the vaccine requirement will help facilitate a smooth and safe return to campus this September.

Implementing the vaccine mandate

Beginning today, May 28, there is a new box under the My Checklist section of the ReOpenCU app. This is how you will know if you have met the University requirement.  Over the next few weeks, students with verified vaccine compliant uploads will start to see the check mark appear. Students who received their COVID-19 vaccine from Columbia Health (Lerner Hall, Morningside) or Student Health on Haven (CUIMC) will automatically have their records updated.

For students who received or will receive their vaccine elsewhere and need to submit vaccine documentation, we ask you to begin this process as soon as possible (and for incoming students, as soon as your UNI is active). Students must have vaccine documentation uploaded to their respective Patient Portal no later than August 2.  By submitting early we can reach out to anyone whose submission is not compliant and provide sufficient time to address before the fall term.  In mid-August, those without the box checked will have a redpass on the ReOpenCU app and will not be able to access campus until they have met the vaccine requirement.  If you have already submitted your vaccine information, there is nothing further to do.

Getting vaccinated at Columbia

For those in the NY area, you can be vaccinated on campus at no out-of-pocket cost to you. There are vaccines available at both the Morningside and CUIMC campuses.

For the Lerner Hall location, use the Columbia Health Patient Portal. For the Haven Avenue location, use the CUIMC Student Health on Haven portal. For other locations, visit or if you use ColumbiaDoctors providers, log in to your Connect account.

Uploading your documentation

To verify you have been vaccinated, please upload a picture/copy of your CDC card, WHO booklet, or a physician letter containing details of your vaccinations. Please allow at least 15 business days for processing and be sure to submit no later than August 2, 2021.  All documentation provided is subject to review. Should an issue be found with the documentation submitted, you will be notified and provided with additional instructions on how to proceed. The upload process applies to both those that have been vaccinated and those that may be requesting a religious or medical exemption.

Morningside Students: Please submit via the Columbia Health Patient Portal. Instructions are available to help you submit.

CUIMC Students:

  • Incoming School of Nursing students: Please upload your documentation to the Student Health on Haven portal.
  • All other CUIMC students, if you have not already uploaded your documentation, please wait as we are transitioning to a new patient portal. More information about that process – including when you can start uploading your documentation – will follow and will be added to our website.

International Students

Columbia recognizes that some international students may not be able to access vaccines or complete a vaccine series before coming to New York this fall.  We will have vaccines available to administer in the first week you are on campus.  More details on how to be vaccinated on arrival and how the University will ensure you have access to housing and classes while you go through the vaccine process will be shared in July.  If you arrive in the United States earlier, please get your vaccine at the site closest to you.

Masking policy on campus

Columbia University remains focused on the health and well-being of our community. While the new CDC and NY State guidelines do allow for reduced masking in certain instances, the University will continue to enforce an indoor masking policy (even if you are vaccinated) and expect to have that in place until at least early September. However, fully vaccinated individuals may remove their masks outdoors on Columbia campuses, if they choose. We also are continuing to enforce physical distancing of six feet indoors.  We do, however, expect that for the fall term all classrooms will be at full occupancy. In any instance, a person’s choice to wear a mask or physically distance in any setting must be respected and no assumptions made as to the reason for it.

Gathering size expansions

Recognizing that a growing number in the University community have been vaccinated and that we have been able to maintain a low COVID-19 positivity testing rate on campus, Columbia is increasing the gathering size limitations:

  • Non-academic, including administrative: indoors 25, outdoors 50
  • Academic: no limits except six-foot distancing and face coverings

These gathering size limits are subject to modification as public health conditions change.

Thank you

Throughout the past year and a half, you have kept the Columbia Community Health Compact, whether you were in New York or elsewhere. A vaccinated Columbia community is the next step in our commitment to each other and keeping Columbia healthy. On behalf of our colleagues, we acknowledge that the pandemic has created many changes and sacrifices on your part, but our primary goal is to keep you and our entire campus safe. We are excited that in just a few months, the University will begin to return to what it looked like before March 2020.

Thank you for your flexibility and willingness to support these efforts. For more information on the vaccine requirements, extensive FAQs, and additional resources, please visit the University COVID-19 website.

Be well,

Melanie J Bernitz, MD, MPH

Senior Vice President, Columbia Health

Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine (in the Center for Family and Community Medicine)

Marcy Ferdschneider, DO

Executive Director, Student Health on Haven, CUIMC

Assistant Professor of Medicine at CUIMC

Email from Barnard Pandemic Response Team Head Cynthia Yang sent to Barnard affiliates on Friday, June 11 at 2 pm:


Before sharing a reminder about current campus operations, I first want to thank you for your dedication to the Barnard community’s health and safety this year. As shown in our COVID-19 dashboard, the impressively low positivity rate in our campus testing program reflects tremendous diligence around the College’s COVID-19 policies and procedures.

Recognizing that it can be hard to keep track as things change around us, we have compiled key policies and procedures into a quick reference guide. This guide includes current College requirements around masking, physical distancing, and visitor protocols, among others. Additional reference documents can be found in the Pandemic Response Information mini-site. We will update this guide to reflect Fall policies and procedures later this summer.

As noted in the quick reference guide, the Summer B testing requirement for students will go from twice-weekly to weekly starting on June 28. Compliance settings in CoVerified will be adjusted for a weekly requirement. Students will continue to have the option to test as frequently as two times in any given week. The testing center will maintain its current schedule for Summer B.

The remarkable efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines has dramatically changed the landscape of the pandemic in much of the United States. As you may know, Governor Cuomo announced that when New York’s vaccination rate reaches 70%, the State will lift many of the COVID-19 restrictions that it has mandated, leaving businesses and other entities to determine what requirements they wish to have in place. While we anticipate that the Fall semester will have different campus operations, we do not anticipate making any major changes when the State lifts its restrictions.

In consultation with our infectious disease advisors, the College will continue to integrate changes to public health guidance in our policies and procedures. The quick reference guide will continue to be updated as we adjust Summer operations. Plans for the Fall semester, when our campus population will be fully vaccinated, will be communicated via email in the coming weeks.

The quick reference guide contains email addresses for specific inquiries; you can always email with any questions and a member of the Pandemic Response Team will be happy to assist.

Thank you,

Cynthia Yang

Deputy Chief of Staff to the President; Head of the Pandemic Response Team

Update made on Saturday, June 12 at 12:05 pm: This article has been updated to reflect the current COVID-19 policies of Barnard College.

Update made on Tuesday, June 15 at 10:40 am: This article has been updated to reflect a statement provided to Bwog from a Barnard spokesperson.

Columbia’s campus via Bwog Archives