In an email today, Columbia College released new guidance for COVID-19 protocols, most notably the end of mandatory classroom masking starting October 1.

The first day of October will mark the end of mandatory masks in classrooms, according to a new email from CUIMC Senior Vice President Provost Mary C. Boyce, University COVID-19 Director Donna Lynne, and Senior Executive Vice President Gerald Rosberg. Masking will now also be optional on Columbia-managed shuttles, and only required in clinical research and patient care spaces. The full text of the email can be found below.

These changes, the email said, came as a result of the “successful start” to the fall semester, as well as “encouraging trends” in COVID-19 incidence on Columbia’s campus and in New York City as a whole.

The existing vaccination and gathering policies are unchanged. Students, faculty, and staff are all required to be fully vaccinated and have received at least one booster; additionally, the email encourages students to receive the new bivalent booster as soon as they are eligible. There are no restrictions on social gatherings on or off campus, except for clinical settings.

Email from Senior Executive Vice President Gerald Rosberg, sent to students on Wednesday, September 28 at 11:39 AM:

Dear Columbia students,

In mid-August, we wrote to you to describe COVID-19 policies that would be in place as we entered the fall semester.  Those policies were intended to allow a smooth transition back to a vibrant campus, with a fully in-person environment. Our public health experts have carefully monitored developments over the first few weeks of the semester to determine where adjustments might be needed or appropriate.  Because the fall semester is now off to a successful start, and with COVID-19 conditions on campus and in New York City continuing to improve, including encouraging trends from our wastewater testing program, we are today announcing further modifications to some of our campus protocols. 

The following new guidance will take effect as of October 1.

Masking.  Masking has been strongly recommended in all indoor spaces on campus but required in all classrooms through September 30th to allow a smooth return to the classroom. With that return successfully completed, the classroom-specific requirement will end on October 1.  From that point on masking will be strongly encouraged, but not required, in all indoor settings, including classrooms, other than in clinical research and patient care spaces, where masking continues to be required. Masking will also be strongly encouraged, but no longer required, on Columbia-operated shuttles.

For other policies that will continue moving forward, please see At-A-Glance-COVID-19-Policies. All Columbia students continue to be required to have had the primary vaccination series plus one booster dose, when eligible.  Additionally, individuals are eligible for the new bivalent booster at least two months after the last vaccine dose and/or at least three months after the last episode of COVID-19 experienced by the person and are encouraged to receive it as soon as they become eligible. Bivalent boosters are widely available through retail pharmacies, various city locations and through your regular primary care physician.

The adjustment to our masking policy that we are sharing with you today is possible because of your efforts to keep the campus safe.  You have helped to create a fully vaccinated community and have complied with masking and other public health protocols, allowing us to make a safe and successful transition back to most of our regular activities.  Even though COVID-19 remains present in our community and around the world, we are now much closer to normal life on campus. 

As always, we will remain vigilant, tracking changes in COVID-19 conditions, including continued wastewater testing, and adjusting our policies as appropriate. 

Thanks to all for helping us return to the regular routines of campus life.

Mary C. Boyce 


Donna Lynne

Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, CUIMC

University COVID Director

Gerry Rosberg

Senior Executive Vice President

Covid Testing in Lerner Hall via Bwog archives.