In an email sent to students early this evening, Barnard announced that masking indoors will be optional, though highly recommended, starting October 10 and updates to flu vaccine and COVID-19 booster availability for students.

Barnard has updated many COVID-19 policies for the Fall semester, announcing changes to indoor masking, offering further information on the College’s approach to polio and monkeypox, and encouraging students to receive their flu vaccines and the newly approved COVID-19 booster. The announcement came in an email from April Autry, the Director of Pandemic Strategies and Clinical Advisor, to the Barnard community early this evening. The full text of the email can be found below.

The largest change to Barnard’s current COVID-19 policy outlined in the email is the update to masking requirements. Starting next Monday, October 10, students and faculty will no longer be required to be masked in indoor spaces, except in any campus health service offices. Masking will continue to be highly recommended, though, and Barnard maintains that it is an important strategy to avoid infections.

Barnard also advocated for students to receive their flu vaccines and the updated COVID-19 booster. Autry told students and faculty to be on the lookout for further information about vaccine clinics and health fairs where both flu and COVID-19 vaccines will be offered. The College is not requiring either vaccine for students nor faculty.

Additionally, the College provided information and resources regarding both polio and monkeypox. If any adult on campus is not fully vaccinated against polio, Barnard recommends they make appointments to receive those vaccines, since Governor Hochul declared a state of emergency, and provided resources and information about monkeypox.

The email concluded with a statement of gratitude for Barnard’s wastewater testing program, headed by Environmental Science Professor and Co-Chair of the Environmental Science Department Brian Mailloux and Assistant Professor of Biology JJ Miranda.

Email sent to Barnard students and faculty at 5:45 pm on Tuesday, October 4:

Dear Barnard Community,

In these first days of autumn, our minds shift to cozy layers, beautiful foliage, and cooler temperatures. Fall also tends to welcome the cold and flu season, and we want to keep our community as healthy and as protected from these as possible. Vaccination, and masking, are some of the best ways to protect yourself, your families, and your community from severe illness from COVID-19 and Influenza. Our campus COVID-19 guidance and protocols continue to be informed by public health circumstances and data and may change, sometimes abruptly. We will continue to keep you informed of these changes.


As of Monday, October 10th, masking indoors at Barnard will be highly recommended and optional, except in any health services areas (Primary Care Health Services and Furman Counseling Center), as well as in CARDS. Additionally, masking continues to be required on days 6–10 of someone’s COVID-19 illness, regardless of symptoms, and for those who have an approved vaccine exemption. Faculty have the option to require masking in their classrooms and teaching spaces.

Masking remains an important strategy to avoid infections. We request that you respect individual decisions about whether a person chooses to mask or not.

COVID-19 Boosters & Seasonal Flu Shots

The new, updated COVID-19 vaccine booster has been authorized for everyone (12 and older) who has already completed their primary COVID-19 vaccine series or booster at least two months ago. This booster is specifically designed to protect you against the omicron sub-variants that account for nearly all recent infections in NYC. This vaccine booster will increase your protection against getting very sick or needing to go to the hospital if you get COVID-19.

You can get this updated booster at the same time as other vaccines, so schedule both your booster and your seasonal flu shot today.

October is a great time to boost your own immunity and help protect your families and our community. While not required, both vaccines are strongly recommended. The College will be offering vaccine clinics (through PCHS for flu and COVID-19 for students, and through HR for flu for staff and faculty) and health fairs on campus for students, faculty, and staff in the next month, so please keep an eye out for additional information.

In addition to vaccination, please continue to mask where and when it is required and as desired, practice good hand hygiene, and stay home if you feel unwell. We are all in this together, and it’s up to our community to help stop community spread.


Given the recent announcement by Governor Hochul declaring a state of emergency in New York State due to the detection of evidence of the polio virus in wastewater surveillance from New York City and several other counties in the State, we wanted to provide you with information and resources regarding polio vaccination.

Please note that most adults are likely to have been fully vaccinated (having received four doses as part of childhood vaccination or three doses if vaccinated as an adult).

For those who are fully vaccinated against polio, there is no recommendation to receive a booster dose.

If you or someone you care for is not vaccinated or not fully vaccinated, talk to your healthcare provider about scheduling an appointment for vaccination as soon as possible. For more detailed information, visit The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The New York State Department of Health, and The New York City Department of Health.


Monkeypox is a rare, viral infection that does not usually cause serious illness. It has been declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO). It’s important that we are all informed about monkeypox and understand the symptoms, how it spreads, and what to do if exposed. You can read more on the CDC’s monkeypox section and get specific information about vaccination for Monkeypox here.


Since 2021, Professor in Environmental Science and Co-Chair of the Environmental Science Department Brian Mailloux and Assistant Professor of Biology JJ Miranda have been testing the wastewater of various campus buildings to identify potential COVID-19 cases as sources of contamination. They’ve worked with the Pandemic Response Team (PRT) and will now work with the Public Health Response Team (PHRT) in helping to advise when there are spikes in the data so the community can be informed of any action to be taken. We are grateful that we will continue to use this highly successful method of identifying not only COVID-19 and flu on campus but also may soon include testing for Polio and/or Monkeypox.

Thank you for your commitment to both your own health and wellness and that of our community. If there are any questions or concerns, please email

Take very good care and warm regards,

April Autry

Director of Pandemic Strategic Response and Clinical Advisor