In an email sent out Thursday morning, Columbia notified the community of a future shift in University COVID-19 policy which will end the vaccine mandate and no longer require affiliates to report positive test results to the University.
Columbia has announced a substantial change in its COVID-19 policy to go into effect as of May 11, according to an email sent by Provost Mary Boyce this morning. The full text of the email can be found below.
Among the most significant of the changes is the decision to end the vaccine mandate for students and staff. Starting May 11, University affiliates will no longer be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19, or to submit proof of vaccination if they are already vaccinated. The University will no longer use the ReOpen CU app to allow CUID access to University buildings on the basis of vaccination status.
Furthermore, the email states that campus visitors will no longer be required to submit proof of vaccination following the change in policy. Although the University will cease to mandate vaccination, the email emphasizes that it is still strongly recommended that affiliates abide by the CDC guidelines for COVID-19 vaccination, including staying up to date with booster doses.
This planned adjustment to University policy comes in the wake of a decrease in both national and local rates of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, as well as the Biden Administration’s decision to end the COVID-19 national public health emergency in May. According to Thursday’s email, the University has decided to change several parts of its COVID-19 policy after continual and close monitoring of campus infection rates.
In another notable shift from current University policy, affiliates will no longer be required to self-report positive COVID-19 test results to the University. Instead, if an affiliate tests positive for COVID-19 after May 11, they are encouraged to consult CDC guidelines and their provider for care. The email reiterates the University’s recommendation to abide by CDC guidelines in the event of a positive test result, noting that Columbia will continue to encourage affiliates to stay home if unwell, and to isolate if they test positive for COVID-19.
As for masking, the email states that Columbia will continue to recommend affiliates abide by University guidance on indoor masking, which is based on community transmission levels at the time. People may choose to mask based on individual circumstances, but the University will not mandate indoor masking. The exception to this guideline is in University clinical and clinical research settings, where masking will continue to be required.
The email concluded with the University’s assurance that they will continue to monitor campus and community COVID-19 rates and alter their policy accordingly.
Email sent to Columbia students and faculty at 10:56 AM on Thursday, February 23:
Dear members of the Columbia community,
We write to update you on important changes to the University’s COVID-19 policies.
The University continues to monitor the COVID-19 situation closely and to provide guidance accordingly, thanks to the continuing efforts of our Public Health Working Group. We have all benefited from their vigilance and expertise since the earliest days of the pandemic.
At this point in time, the status of the COVID-19 pandemic has improved substantially, with cases and hospitalizations continuing to decline in New York City and the US. This is due to a combination of factors, including availability of vaccines and booster doses, immune response after infection, access to effective COVID-19 treatment, and the appropriate use of other protective measures.
With the planned ending of the COVID-19 national public health emergency scheduled for May 11, 2023, the University is adjusting its COVID-19 guidance as of that date, as indicated below. Please also note the additional requirements for those in clinical and clinical research settings.
- Vaccination: The COVID-19 vaccine mandate will no longer be in effect, and proof of vaccination will not need to be submitted. However, we strongly recommend that all affiliates follow CDC guidelines for COVID-19 vaccination which recommend that everyone be up to date with COVID-19 vaccines including booster doses.
- Masking: Affiliates are recommended to follow community guidance on indoor masking, which is predicated on community transmission levels. Individuals may decide to mask based on their own circumstances and their preferences. Such decisions should be respected.
- Visitor policy: Visitors, including vendors and alumni, will no longer need to show proof of vaccination.
- ReOpen CU app: The ReOpen CU app will no longer be in use by the University.
- Positive COVID-19 tests: An affiliate with a positive test does not need to report their result to the University; all affiliates should refer to the CDC for guidance after a positive test and consult with their provider for appropriate care.
Additional requirements for patient-facing faculty, staff, and students in clinical and clinical research settings:
University clinical and clinical research settings
Masking, including an N95 when necessary, remains required in University clinical and clinical research settings, as of the present time. Additional guidance or future changes in requirements will be communicated as they occur.
Non-University clinical spaces (e.g., affiliated hospitals)
Existing vaccination and masking policies in these spaces should be adhered to.
For all settings, the University continues to strongly recommend that affiliates stay home if they feel unwell and isolate according to CDC guidelines if they test positive for COVID-19.
As always, the University will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation carefully and adjust these measures as needed.
Thank you for your past and current commitment to the safety of our community.
Mary C. Boyce (she/her/hers)
Katrina Armstrong, MD (she/her/hers)
Dean of the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons
Executive Vice President of Health and Biomedical Sciences
Gerald M. Rosberg (he/him/his)
Senior Executive Vice President
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