COVID-19 Campus Safety for Employees and Students

CUIMC is focused on the safety of our health care providers, our staff, students and the patients we serve. In charting a path forward, CUIMC is committed to continuing our missions of providing the finest clinical care, cutting edge research, and educating the next generation of leaders in science and medicine.

For updates on the COVID-19 vaccine in relation to medical center operations, please see COVID-19 Vaccine Information for CUIMC Employees and Students. For additional information on University-wide policies, please visit

If you have further questions or requests, please email or your Senior Human Resources Business Partner. If you have any COVID-19 specific questions, please email

Updates and Announcements

Testing, Daily Attestations, and Gateway Requirements

Thursday, May 12, 2022 was the last day of the University testing program. Gateway testing for new hires, surveillance testing of current affiliates, and weekly testing for those with medical or religious exemptions have been discontinued.

Testing is now readily available in public and private locations, as well as through self-tests, and surveillance testing no longer plays the important role that it did previously, in the context of high vaccination and booster coverage at the University. Wastewater surveillance will continue for undergraduate residential buildings. Should public health conditions change, we will reassess the need for on-campus testing options. In addition, the Contact Tracing Program will continue to provide information and guidance as necessary. Information on accessing self-testing kits is available on Columbia’s Human Resources website.

Campus Safety Guidelines

While we have seen significant drops in COVID-19 test positivity in the New York metropolitan area, we do want to remind you that last month New York City raised its COVID-19 alert level to High (Orange) New York City’s COVID-19 alert status. To reflect the increased risk of COVID-19 transmission in the city, all affiliates are strongly encouraged to follow the University’s guidance, as outlined below in three sections: Preventing COVID-19, What To Do If You Test Positive, and What To Do If You Are Exposed.

Preventing COVID-19

  • Wear a mask:
    • Masks are required in classrooms and clinical settings this summer, including clinical research context
    • Masks are strongly recommended for all other indoor spaces on campus
    • Masks should be higher-quality (e.g., surgical, KN95, KF94, N95) and can be worn in combination with cloth or surgical mask on top for enhanced protection
  • Stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines. Get vaccinated and boosted based on your eligibility:
    • Vaccines are available in New York City for everyone ages 5 and older. Booster doses are available for everyone 12 and older
    • Visit the NYC COVID-19 and Flu Vaccine Finder or call 877-VAX4NYC (877-829-4692) to find a vaccination site
  • Monitor for symptoms and stay home if you are sick: Monitor for symptoms, and if you feel sick, notify your supervisor, stay home or leave work early.
  • Get tested: Testing is especially important if you have COVID-19 symptoms or were recently in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. You should also get tested before and after traveling or getting together with others in indoor settings
  • Consider avoiding higher-risk activities: Crowded, indoor gatherings should be avoided. Limit any type of gathering to a small number of people and consider wearing a mask when indoors

What To Do If You Test Positive

  • If you test positive, email
    • After emailing, you will receive guidance for returning to work/class, which typically involves isolating for a minimum of 5 days and continue wearing of masks in public settings till day 10. Faculty and staff should also inform your supervisor Students should notify their professors or advising deans.
    • The University, in alignment with Department of Health guidelines, is no longer performing contact tracing. Individuals who test positive may elect to inform anyone they may have been in close contact with while contagious, but are not required to do so.

What To Do If You Have Been in Close Contact with Someone Who Tested Positive

  • All individuals should be tested on day-5 after last exposure, regardless of vaccination status
  • All individuals who are up-to-date with their vaccination, i.e., fully vaccinated with primary series AND boosted as per their eligibility AND not experiencing symptoms are not required to quarantine, but should wear a well-fitting approved mask (i.e., surgical or N95/KN95 mask) for 10-days after exposure when around others
  • All individuals who are not up-to-date with their vaccination i.e., not fully vaccinated with primary series OR fully vaccinated but not yet boosted even though eligible, are required to quarantine for 5 days after exposure and wear a well-fitting approved mask (i.e., surgical or N95/KN95 mask) for an additional 5 days after exposure when around others
  • All individuals who have received the primary vaccine series AND not yet eligible for a booster AND not experiencing symptoms are not required to quarantine, but should wear a well-fitting approved mask (i.e. surgical or N95/KN95 mask) for 10-days after exposure when around others

Clarification on gatherings, events, meetings and visitors during the NYC High Alert/Orange Status:

  • While Columbia-related gatherings and events can be held during this time, we strongly recommend wearing masks in indoor settings.  There are no limits on the size of gatherings and events
  • It is the responsibility of Columbia event sponsors to check the vaccine status of all non-Columbia attendees or visitors prior to or at the beginning of the event

As always, the University’s COVID-related policies are reviewed on an ongoing basis, to reflect current public health conditions, and any changes in the City’s alert levels. Thank you for continuing to keep yourselves and the Columbia community safe.

Public Health Guidance and Safety Training

Public Health Guidance

Columbia University is committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for all its faculty, staff, students, and visitors. COVID-19 Public Health Guidance for the CUIMC community outlines steps to minimize the potential for transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in our community as faculty and staff gradually return to work on our campuses. A commitment to comply with all public health guidance is included in the Columbia Community Heath Compact that all affiliates will be expected to sign as part of the return to campus. In addition, it is strongly recommended that all affiliates follow these guidelines when engaged in social and other activities off campus, including physical distancing, face covering, and hand hygiene.

COVID-19 Safety Training

An important requirement for everyone working on campus is to complete online COVID-19 safety training. Principal Investigators, supervisors, and departments are responsible for ensuring that their personnel (faculty, staff, and students) complete the required training. Everyone will complete the Columbia Community Health Compact as part of this training. 

Vaccine Mandate and FAQs Regarding COVID-19 Vaccination

COVID-19 vaccination is mandatory for all University students, faculty, and staff—this includes officers of instruction, officers of research, officers of the libraries, student officers, officers of administration, union and non-union support staff. Students can register their compliance through the Columbia Health portal; faculty and staff may use the COVID-19 website or the ReopenCU app. Additional details about how to upload vaccine documentation can be found in these Vaccine Documentation Upload Instructions and the CUIMC Vaccination Attestation Tutorial

For more information, please see FAQs Regarding COVID-19 Vaccination.

Booster Deadlines

Faculty and staff: It is strongly recommended that all faculty and staff be up to date with their COVID-19 vaccinations, i.e., that they have received their recommended booster doses in addition to the primary series, including those who are eligible for a second booster based on age or with underlying medical conditions. There is currently no university deadline for uploading first booster dose documentation. The university will revisit its policies regarding enforcement later this summer. More information is available here: Update on COVID-19 Vaccination (Including Boosters)

Students: Columbia will require all students, beginning with the Fall 2022 term, to be up-to-date with their COVID-19 vaccinations. More information is available here: Update on Vaccination Requirement for Students

Upload Booster Documentation: All faculty, staff and students may upload documentation of their booster dose in either the ReopenCU app or via ReopenCU website. You can find instructions here and a helpful video here.  

COVID-19 Tracking Portal for Employees

All CUIMC employees may report any COVID-like illness, symptoms, test results, or COVID-related absences online through the COVID-19 Tracking Portal. The self-service portal is to be used to report a COVID-like illness and/or quarantine orders. Positive COVID-19 test results must still be reported to regardless of being reported in the new tracking portal.

What’s Changing?

  • CUIMC employees may use the COVID-19 Tracking Portal to report a COVID-related illness, symptoms, and to upload PCR test results for themselves or a household family member.
  • CUIMC employees who use the portal will receive email notifications from the COVID-19 Tracking Portal with instructions for self-isolation dates, and return to work instructions.

What’s Staying the Same?

  • Continue to use the ReopenCU App to self-monitor COVID19 symptoms and related issues
  • Continue to alert in the event of a positive COVID19 test
  • Follow Columbia Contact Tracing Team’s instructions and University policy for guidance and next steps 
  • Notify your manager on your absence, work status and return to work dates.
  • The Workforce Health & Safety (WHS) Hotline 646-697-9470 is available to answer questions about protocols related to COVID-19. The Hotline is available from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.   
  • Continue to work with CU Leave Management on Red Pass clearance procedures.

Questions regarding the University policy related to absences can be directed to Leave Management at Any other questions can be directed to CUIMC HR at

Travel Information

Summer 2022 Travel Restrictions

Please refer to the University guidance regarding international/domestic personal travel: Summer 2022 Travel Restrictions

All affiliates must continue to abide by the Columbia Community Health Compact, all relevant University Public Health Protocols, and the University International Travel Planning Policy.

Transportation for Faculty and Staff

Columbia Transportation provides commuter shuttle service for faculty, staff and students from four outer boroughs and Manhattan to the Morningside, Manhattanville, and Medical Center campuses Monday through Friday. Seats on the bus are by online reservation only, and spaces are first come, first served. We have recently modified rider eligibility and made route enhancements. For routes, stops, and reservations, visit  Columbia Transportation—Commuter Shuttles.
Columbia students, faculty and staff working and studying on the Morningside, Manhattanville, and Medical Center campuses, as well as Barnard College and Teachers College, are eligible to ride.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) are available on the Transportation website. If you have further questions, reach out to Columbia Transportation by phone at 212-854-3382 during business hours, or email us at any time at   

Additional Transportation Services
In addition to the Commuter Shuttle, Columbia Transportation offers a number of travel options between campuses. This fall, the Intercampus Shuttle will be making stops at 96 Street throughout the day, and Saturday service will be available following the Red Line. Columbia also offers an on-demand Evening Shuttle, powered by Via, that runs between 4 PM and 4 AM each night. For those interested in using Via outside of the Evening Shuttle service, Columbia affiliates can use the code 'CU2020' to unlock 20% off all private rides. 


For questions on parking, please contact or visit CUIMC Parking for additional information.

There are various private parking facilities located in the vicinity of the Medical Center that offer both daily and monthly parking that may better suit your commuting needs. Please note these parking lots are not affiliated with Columbia.

Visitor Policies

All visitors, including those who enter any campus facility for any period of time, must be vaccinated and show proof of vaccination as part of visitor attestation. Additional details about the new visitor policy and CUIMC’s Screening Process for Service Providers can be found in Visitor Guidelines for Spring 2022.

Employee Benefits

Backup Care

Eligible employees can access 200 hours of in-network in-home or center-based back-up care between July 1, 2021—June 30, 2022. That’s 50 extra hours again this year, to help families due to COVID-19 related challenges over the upcoming school year. Please keep in mind: This set of 200 hours is your allocation for the ENTIRE fiscal year. For registration and reservation information, please see Back-Up Care.

Employee Assistance Program

The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a network of free or discounted services to support your personal success and help with everyday challenges. Humana is the EAP provider and featured resources include:

  • Legal, mediation and financial Consultation
  • Counseling services for you and your dependents
  • Life coaching

For Managers

Managers should review the Return to Work Guide. The guide provides managers at CUIMC with considerations and resources to help employees within their span of control as they transition back to the workplace following the modification of on-site reporting procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Clinical and Laboratory Research

For information on research operations, please see Research Ramp-up




CUIMC's Department of Psychiatry has partnered with ColumbiaDoctors and NewYork-Presbyterian in developing CopeColumbia, which provides information and resources for the CUIMC community, including 1:1 counseling sessions, peer support groups, guided meditations, suggested reading, and other resources for managing stress, fear and anxiety. To access these resources, visit CopeColumbia. For any questions or if you have any unmet needs, please email

Additional Resources for Employees

COVID has had tragic personal impacts on many of us. As described in the CUIMC Coping with Grief Resource Guide, grief is a natural human adjustment process triggered by loss. The bereavement guide above offers resources for counseling, pastoral care, emotional support, and more for all CUIMC employees. Additionally, at CUIMC we are proud of our cultural diversity and celebrating it through our Employee Resource Groups. It is important to respect how each employee chooses to grieve.

Narrative Medicine

The Department of Medical Humanities and Ethics and its Division of Narrative Medicine is responding to CUIMC’s urgent needs for connection, stress-reduction, and remedy for isolation in the face COVID-19 and challenges to our health and safety. 

Narrative Medicine provides critical resources in response to the COVID crisis. Through Columbia Narrative Medicine, Columbia faculty, trainees, and staff can:

  • Sign up for a private, small-group seminar with those you work with (Naturally Occurring Work Groups, or NOW groups) to meet with a trained facilitator for regularly-occurring narrative sessions.
  • Join hour-long Zoom sessions with persons across the globe uniting for creative and reflective work. Through a blog discussion board, participants post their creative work and respond to one another’s postings.
  • Listen in to Creative Director novelist Nellie Hermann reading aloud a short story each day.
  • Join the NM Book Club
  • Use NM’s web resources of literary texts and visual images for reflection and solace and pleasure on your own time. We invite you to join us in all these projects at

We encourage you to write directly to Rita Charon, chair of Medical Humanities and Ethics, at with questions and requests.

Additional Resources for Students

The CUIMC Student Health Service has created a webpage with resources for students to cope with COVID-19-related stress. For more information on healthy coping strategies and how to take advantage of student resources, visit Coping During the Pandemic

Town Halls, Forums, and Symposiums

Additional Information


If you have further questions or requests after reading this guide, please email or your Senior Human Resources Business Partner. If you have any COVID-19 specific questions, please email