This afternoon, one day after Columbia University released updated plans for COVID-19 safety protocols, Barnard students received a new set of guidelines in an email from Marina Catallozzi, VP of Health and Wellness.
The week of Monday, March 21 will mark the final days of Barnard’s weekly COVID-19 testing requirement and indoor mask mandate, so long as infection rates remain low. According to today’s email from Chief Health Officer Marina Catallozzi, Barnard will replace its mandatory weekly testing policy with a surveillance testing program beginning March 28, the details of which have yet to be released. Voluntary asymptomatic testing will still be available at any time, in line with the current policy. This stands in contrast with Columbia’s elimination of its voluntary testing program, which took effect on Tuesday.
Starting this coming Monday, March 7, faculty members will be permitted to remove their masks while teaching, though students and all other members of the community are expected to continue masking until March 28. On March 28, the same day that the new surveillance testing protocol will go into place, community members who are fully vaccinated with a booster on record will no longer be required to wear a mask indoors. Columbia currently allows faculty to remove masks while teaching, and its indoor mask mandate is set to conclude by Monday, March 14.
The change in masking policy comes with two significant caveats: it will only go into place if the post-Spring Break COVID-19 infection rates remain low (a threshold determined by the College), and faculty members are allowed to impose masking policies for their individual classrooms. Therefore, while indoor masking will not be required by the College after March 28, a professor may require their students to wear masks in their classroom. Barnard similarly instituted a conditional policy change based on infection rates when modifying its residential guest policy in the first weeks of the semester.
Campus event restrictions will also be lifted on March 28–usual room capacities will be reinstated and food will be allowed. Columbia loosened its restrictions on events and gatherings on February 14.
The College says it will not monitor Spring Break travel, but students traveling outside of New York State, beginning March 7, are expected to fill out a form at the Testing Center and take a packet of rapid antigen tests with them in order to test before returning to campus.
There is no change to the Daily Symptom Attestation policy or the Residential Guest Policy. Meanwhile, Columbia announced yesterday that it would be phasing out its daily symptom attestation requirement.
Here is an outline of the similarities and differences between this week’s Columbia policy updates, and Barnard policy updates, courtesy of Bwog:
|Masking Policy||Indoor masking for faculty members becomes optional while teaching on March 7; indoor masking becomes optional for all vaccinated community members March 28.*||Indoor masking is currently optional for faculty members while teaching. Indoor masking becomes optional for all vaccinated community members March 14.|
|Daily Symptom Attestation||NO CHANGE: Daily symptom attestation via CoVerified will still be required indefinitely. This attestation will remain necessary to maintain the green pass necessary to access BC facilities.||Daily symptom attestation via ReOpen CU will no longer be required after March 14, though a Green Pass (determined by compliance with other COVID-19 policies) will still be necessary to enter CU facilities.|
|Testing Program||The weekly testing requirement will end the week of March 21 and be replaced by a yet-to-be-explained surveillance testing program on March 28. Voluntary asymptomatic testing will remain available.||NO CHANGE: the current wastewater testing and random testing protocols will remain in place. The voluntary testing program ended Tuesday, March 1.|
|Vaccination Requirements||NO CHANGE:|
Barnard requires documentation of a booster shot, if eligible, by March 21.
Columbia has delayed enforcement of its booster shot requirement until May.
|Travel Policy||Students traveling outside of New York State for Spring Break will be required to fill out a form at the testing center and take a packet of antigen tests with them to use before their return to campus.||NO CHANGE: Columbia will not require any attestation or testing protocol for community members traveling during Spring Break.|
|Events Policy||Room capacity limits will be reinstated to pre-COVID levels and food will be allowed at indoor events.||NO CHANGE: Columbia’s last Events Policy change was announced on February 14. Currently, there are no capacity restrictions, and food and drink are allowed.|
*Faculty members will be allowed to set their own indoor masking policies for their classrooms.
Email from Chief Health Officer Catallozzi sent to students on Friday, March 4, at 12:23 pm:
Dear Members of the Barnard Community,
With signs of spring’s approach around the campus and a number of changes in greater New York and at Columbia University regarding COVID-19 restrictions, it is a good time to share our timeline for easing COVID-19 restrictions on Barnard’s campus. Cases of COVID-19 are diminishing, although still present on campus, as you will see from our COVID dashboard. This positive news, along with the information we have about COVID-19 incidence in New York City and New York state, prompts us to make some adjustments in the weeks ahead.
Spring Break and Travel
If you are traveling outside of New York City for Spring Break, please plan to test with enough time so that you will have your result before you travel. Please note that the College is not monitoring travel.
We are planning to monitor any COVID-19 infections upon return to campus. Therefore, if you are planning to travel outside of New York State, beginning March 7th, fill out a form at the Testing Center before you leave and pick up a packet of antigen tests so that you can test prior to returning to campus. Any positive test result should be uploaded to CoVerified.
The week of March 21st (the week after Spring Break) will be the final week of required weekly testing, assuming cases of COVID-19 infections remain low. Starting the week of March 28th, the Barnard community will move to regularly scheduled surveillance testing. More detailed information about the surveillance testing schedule will be shared before the week of March 28th. All members of our community can continue asymptomatic voluntary testing at the Testing Center at any time and any positive test, regardless of test type or where it was done, should continue to be reported to the College.
Daily Symptom Attestation
Daily symptom attestation will continue as usual and is linked to building access. Continuing to monitor symptoms to recognize when you are sick and should not be on campus is important in mitigating the spread of COVID-19 and keeping each other healthy.
Starting on March 7th, faculty can remove masks in the classroom to teach if they choose. We will continue to require masking for all others in Barnard classrooms and meeting and event spaces through the week of March 21st. Assuming COVID-19 infection and spread remain low at Barnard following Spring Break, community members who are vaccinated and boosted can choose to remove their masks indoors starting the week of March 28th. Faculty may impose stricter policies for their classrooms and may require masks. Students are expected to adhere to classroom policies as established by their faculty. Similarly, staff can decide if they want to require masks during meetings.
We encourage our community to respect the choice that each person will make about their own masking in a variety of settings once the mask mandate is lifted.
Residential Guest Policy
At this time, there is no change to the Residential Guest Policy as communicated in the letter to students on January 27. Students may host 1-2 guests at a time, and the total number of guests in a room or suite shall not exceed double its assigned occupancy. For example, a suite of four residents shall not exceed a total of eight people in the space at one time (four residents, four guests).
The College continues to require all members of the community to have received both the primary COVID-19 vaccine series and booster if eligible. We have extended the time to upload the information until March 21st. Please refer to the instructions for uploading your vaccine. We continue to expect those who become eligible for the booster to receive it, within 30 days of eligibility, and upload it.
Events on Campus
Beginning March 28th, we will return to usual room capacities for events. Food will also be allowed. We will continue to require evidence of being fully vaccinated (primary series plus booster) and symptom attestation for any non-Barnard affiliates.
We are encouraged by the decreases in cases we are seeing in the region and these COVID-19 policy adjustments represent an important turning point this spring. We also understand that our policies are somewhat different from Columbia’s. We are using a data-informed approach to guide Barnard’s campus and will continue to monitor and remain agile as needed. Thank you for doing your part to support the health, safety and well being of our community.
Wishing you well,
Marina Catallozzi, MD, MSCE
Vice President of Health and Wellness, Chief Health Officer
Barnard Hall via Bwog Archives