Students who choose not to receive a COVID-19 vaccine and have not received an official medical or religious exemption face stringent restrictions to their campus access. 

On Tuesday afternoon, Columbia College and Columbia Engineering sent an email to undergraduate students prefacing courses of action for the fall semester for students who have not yet taken or have chosen not to take a COVID-19 vaccination. The announcement was not addressed to students who have been granted an official exemption on the basis of medical or religious reasons nor to international students who have filled out the temporary authorization form allowing them to get vaccinated upon arrival in New York City. The full text of the email can be found below. 

Among the restrictions placed on voluntarily unvaccinated students are cancellations of housing contracts and prohibition from accessing campus buildings. In addition, the email echoed remarks from a recent University Life Forum recommending that such students speak with their Advising Deans to arrange leaves of absence if they have no intention to take the vaccine, as classes will not have a remote option in the fall. 

The email also reminded students who have been vaccinated but have not yet uploaded documentation to still do so “if they wish to remain enrolled this fall.” Students should also make sure to complete required safety training and sign the Columbia Community Health Compact if they have not already done so. Instructions for how to upload vaccine documentation can be found here.

The message took a serious tone as the Delta variant of COVID-19 continues to overwhelm medical systems in communities with low vaccination rates. Vaccination is essential, as the email stated, “for the in-person residential and academic experience to go forward.” 

Email from Columbia College and Columbia Engineering sent to undergraduate students on Tuesday, August 10 at 3:17 pm EST:

Dear Undergraduate Students,

The deadline for uploading vaccination documentation or requesting a medical or religious exemption has now passed. For those who complied with this important University requirement, thank you. Columbia Health is now processing your paperwork and you should receive your updated status within the next two weeks. You can also see if your documentation was approved when you log into the Columbia Health Portal and view the “Medical Clearances” section in the left menu.

Students who have not uploaded vaccine documentation, received a medical or religious exemption, or completed the international students’ temporary authorization form, are considered non-compliant. Read more about the effect this will have on your fall semester:

  • Non-compliant students who were planning to reside in Columbia Housing will not be able to move-in as originally planned; they must achieve full vaccination status before being allowed to move in or their housing contracts will be cancelled.
  • Classes will not be offered remotely and students who have not complied will not be permitted to attend in-person classes; students who choose to remain unvaccinated should contact their Advising Dean to explore a voluntary leave of absence.
  • Non-compliant students will be unable to access any campus buildings.

As a reminder, your ability to attend classes, participate in student activities and live in Columbia housing is based on your completion of the below checklist items:

       1. Get your vaccine – unvaccinated students should still try to get the

           vaccine as soon as possible if they wish to remain enrolled this fall

       2. Upload vaccine documentation once vaccination is completed

       3. Complete the Safety Training required for all community members

       4. Sign the Columbia Community Health Compact by August 16 for

           this academic year, even if you have signed in the past

       5. Prepare to complete daily self-attestations once on campus, by

           downloading the ReopenCU App

As the conditions related to the Covid-19 pandemic continue to fluctuate, it is critical that Columbia strictly adheres to guidelines and requirements that will protect our community’s overall health, and also allow for the in-person residential and academic experience to go forward. Our success this fall depends on every student complying with University guidelines in a timely and cooperative manner.

We appreciate your commitment to our shared community.

Columbia College and Columbia Engineering

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