This afternoon, University COVID-19 Director Donna Lynne announced via email that non-cloth masks will be required in all Columbia classrooms, starting Monday morning.

Beginning Monday morning, April 11, Columbia will require students and faculty to wear non-cloth masks in all classrooms, according to an email sent this afternoon by University COVID-19 Director Donna Lynne. As per Lynne’s email, the mandate applies only to classrooms, not other Columbia spaces, and is expected to remain in place through the end of the semester. The full text of Lynne’s email can be found below.

This announcement comes just under one month after the University phased out its mask mandate, citing consistently low infection rates on campus. This also comes just four days after Barnard announced it would be reinstating its own indoor mask mandate after seeing a spike in positive cases. Notably, Barnard saw a significantly higher spike in positive cases before its announcement. Last week, Columbia’s positivity rate was 1.46%, which was slightly higher than the previous week’s rate of 1.25%. According to Columbia’s COVID-19 Monitoring Plan, both the university and New York City remain at green status, meaning positivity rates and hospitalizations are still low. Lynne’s email, however, states the mandate was reinstated out of an “abundance of caution,” citing an uptick in positive cases on campus and citywide. 

Email sent to Columbia students from Gerald Rosberg, Sr. Executive Vice President on Sunday, April 10, at 12:32 pm: 

Dear Colleagues, 

We write to update you on the COVID-19 status in New York City and where we are in terms of public health measures at the University. Based on the current situation and in an abundance of caution we will require wearing of non-cloth masks in classrooms beginning Monday morning April 11, 2022. This mandatory masking policy applies to classrooms only and is expected to remain in place for the few remaining weeks of our spring semester.  As has been our policy all year, instructors have the option to  remove their masks while teaching.  Current policies on masking in all other settings continue unchanged.

We remain in low-risk or green status based on Columbia’s COVID-19 monitoring plan and so does New York City based on its designated risk levels. Over the past few weeks there has been an uptick in the number of COVID-19 cases in New York City and not surprisingly in the percent positivity in our own surveillance testing program. Reassuringly, this has not been associated as of yet with a commensurate increase in hospitalizations in New York City, an important and more reliable metric of the status of the pandemic.  

Continued caution in certain situations remains extremely important, particularly in indoor social settings when the vaccination status of attendees is unknown or uncertain. Being up-to-date in terms of COVID-19 vaccination status – i.e., to get all doses of the vaccines (primary and booster doses) as recommended by the CDC – is critically important. Lastly, the availability of effective COVID-19 treatments for those with COVID-19 and at risk of complications should also be noted. 

Thank you,

Donna Lynne

Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, CUIMC

University COVID Director

Gerry Rosberg

Senior Executive Vice President

Columbia University campus via Bwog Archives