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 information on testing, tracing, and quarantine, please see COVID-19 Public Health Protocols. For updates on distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, please see COVID-19 Vaccine Information for CUIMC Employees and Students.

All students, staff, and faculty must upload their vaccination information into the ReOpenCU app, or use the app to request an exemption. Everyone must also use the app to digitally sign the revised Columbia, even if you have previously signed it. Additional details about how to upload vaccine documentation can be found in these Vaccine Documentation Upload Instructions and the CUIMC Vaccination Attestation Tutorial

Please familiarize yourself with the Return to Campus Guide: A Guide to Returning to CUIMC After COVID-19.

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


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

Please note that 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 and the University's announcement regarding the mandate

Testing and Daily Attestations


For information on testing eligibility, locations, scheduling, and process, please see COVID-19 Testing Process. The University has increased options to include weekly voluntary testing for those accessing campus regularly. Voluntary testing will be available through October and will continue to be evaluated. For voluntary testing you simply select the “voluntary testing” option when scheduling online. Voluntary testing is currently available at the William Black Building (CUIMC) and Lerner Hall (Morningside) locations. 

Daily Attestations

All Columbia affiliates (students, faculty, and staff employees) returning to the medical center for any purpose or who are living in campus housing are required to complete daily COVID-19 symptom attestations to ensure safety and prevent the spread of the virus. You will be able to complete the self-check online or by using the ReopenCU app. For more information, please see Symptom Self-Checking

Fall Term

Anyone who has not accessed campus since January 2021 is required to present themselves for a “gateway” test just prior to returning. Appointments can be made via the Columbia Health Online Patient Portal. Once such testing has been accomplished, weekly mandatory testing of unvaccinated affiliates and random sampling drawn from all affiliates on campus will continue into the fall semester. Additional details are included in the COVID-19 Testing Program for Fall 2021 Plan.  

New Hires 

New Hires are required to have a COVID-19 PCR test before starting work on campus. Upon the creation of their UNI, managers must alert the new hire that they can now self-schedule a test and instruct them on how to do so. For more information, see CUIMC Human Resources: Employment

Campus Safety and Facilities Guidelines

Face Coverings

  • All Columbia affiliates must continue to wear masks in indoor settings in Columbia facilities, regardless of vaccination status.  Unvaccinated individuals must continue to wear masks both indoors and outdoors. However, individuals may choose to continue to wear masks outdoors on Columbia’s campuses, thus, no assumptions should be made regarding why an individual chooses to mask outdoors.
  • Face coverings may be removed by individuals in single offices when no other individuals are present and the door is closed, or when eating (while maintaining 6 feet physical distancing). Face covering can also be removed by classroom instructors or American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters to facilitate communication while maintaining 6-foot distance. These are the only exceptions to the requirement for face covering on Columbia’s campuses. Face masks with exhalation valves or vents and fleece face coverings are NOT recommended and should not be worn. Face shields should not be worn without another face-covering.
  • As of September 9—as we are a fully vaccinated campus—there are no distancing requirements, including for those with approved vaccine exemptions. Relaxation or expansion of the use of face coverings may be required depending on public health conditions.
  • At CUIMC, requirement for face coverings in patient-facing areas is anticipated to continue, and the above-mentioned guidance will apply in non-patient facing areas.
  • Until indoor masking is no longer required for vaccinated individuals, indoor dining at campus food service locations will not be permitted if physical distancing cannot be maintained.

Facilities Guidelines

Rapidly-changing circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic require us to take strategic interim measures to support Columbia University Irving Medical Center's day-to-day operations. For information on facilities, on-campus housing, and campus services, please visit the Facilities Management and Campus Services COVID-19 Resources Page

Information shared will be updated as the impact of the virus changes locally and nationally.

Continually check Environmental Health & Safety and other applicable University resources as guidelines may change:

Event and Gathering Guidance for Fall 2021

On November 1, all indoor gatherings for the Columbia community will have attendance caps lifted, with the exception of indoor sporting events, which will be limited to 70% capacity. Only events with outside guests will continue to have attendance caps; approval is still required for requested exceptions for those events. Food services at all events will remain grab-and-go. For more information, please see COVID-19 Public Health Updates and Indoor Gatherings.

For more information on events and gathering, including current capacity limits, please see Event and Gathering Guidance for Fall 2021. Gathering considerations and restrictions will be based on Columbia’s Framework for COVID-19 Risk Assessment and Management Plan, which takes into consideration that circumstances remain fluid. This guidance is designed to help you plan for your gathering but does not imply permission to proceed.

All gatherings initiated by faculty, staff and students must adhere to the Columbia Compact and must adhere to the protocols put in place by their school or unit. 

Campus Housing 

For more information on campus housing, please visit On-Campus Housing Resources or contact the Office of Housing Services at with further questions.


For questions about public area signage or to report an issue with any public area signage, please contact the CUIMC Facilities Customer Service Center at 212-305-HELP (4357), option 3 or at

If your school or department requires signage around physical distancing, use of masks, or other guidelines, you can download the signage files (including for digital screens) on Resource Space. You will need to login with your UNI, select “Phase 1 Operations Signage” in the right-hand column, and click “Search.”

ColumbiaPrint is open and available for signage printing. 

Buildings leased or owned by CUIMC or NYP

CUIMC Buildings

  • 154 Haven Ave. Residence
  • 390 Fort Washington Ave.
  • 50 Haven Ave.
  • 83 Haven Ave.
  • 51 Audubon Ave.
  • Allan Rosenfield Building 722 W. 168th St.
  • Alianza Dominicana 530 W 166th Street
  • Georgian Building 617 W. 168th St.
  • Hammer Health Sciences Center 701 W. 168th St.
  • Irving Cancer Research Center 1130 Nicholas Ave.
  • Lasker Biomedical Research Center 3960 Broadway
  • Mailman School of Public Health 722 W. 168th St.
  • NYC Department of Health 600 W 168th St. (NYC)
  • New York State Psychiatric Institute 1051 Riverside Drive (NYS)
  • NYSPI–Kolb Research Building 40 Haven Ave. (NYS)
  • Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Group 516 W. 168th St.*
  • Roy and Diana Vagelos Education Center 104 Haven Ave.
  • Russ Berrie Medical Science Pavillion 1150 St. Nicholas Ave.
  • School of Nursing 560 W. 168th St.
  • Tower 1 60 Haven Ave.
  • Towers 2 and 3 100 Haven Ave.
  • Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons 630 W. 168th St.
  • William Black Building 650 W. 168th St.

NewYork-Presbyterian Buildings*

  • 21 Audubon Ave.
  • Edward S. Harkness Eye Institute / Research Annex 365 W. 165th St.
  • Harkness Pavillion 180 Fort Washington Ave.
  • Herbert Irving Pavilion 161 Fort Washington Ave.
  • Milstein Hospital Building 177 Fort Washington Ave.
  • Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital (CHoNY) 3959 Broadway
  • Neurological Institute of New York 710 W. 168th St.
  • Presbyterian Hospital Building 622 W. 168th St.
  • Service Building 627 W. 165th St.
  • Vanderbilt Clinic 622 W. 168th St.
  • Vivian and Seymour Milstein Family Heart Center 173 Fort Washington Ave.

* Indicates buildings that are patient facing, including all NYP buildings.

What To Do If You Have Symptoms or Test Positive

For Employees

  • Stay home if you feel ill and contact your healthcare provider for assessment.
  • If you do test positive for COVID-19, you must immediately alert your department HR, Leave Management, or Contact Tracing. Positive cases should be reported to More information is available here: Contact Tracing Program. If you have additional questions/concerns, please contact the COVID-19 hotline at: 212-854-9355.
  • 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.
  • All Columbia affiliates (students, staff, or faculty) who receive a positive COVID-19 test, even if they are working or studying remotely, should begin self-isolating immediately. Unless you are fully remote, you should email to alert the Columbia Test and Trace program. You must report a COVID-19 positive result even if your test was not performed at the Columbia testing center.

For Students

  • For up-to-date guidance on quarantining, please reference the Coronavirus Quarantine Guide for Students.
  •  Non-vaccinated individuals identified as being a close contact of an individual with COVID-19 are required to quarantine for 10 days after their last contact with the infected individual if no symptoms have been reported. They must continue to monitor symptoms daily for 14 days and follow all other guidance including face coverings, hand washing, and social distancing.
  • Asymptomatic individuals who have been vaccinated are not required to quarantine (excluding healthcare personnel) after exposure if they are fully vaccinated (more than 2 weeks after the second dose for 2-dose vaccines; more than 2 weeks after vaccination for 1-dose vaccines). While not required to quarantine, vaccinated individuals must still: Monitor for symptoms for 14 days; Follow all other guidance including face coverings, hand washing, and social distancing;  Immediate self-isolate if any symptoms develop and report the symptoms to

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

Fall 2021 Travel Policy

Please refer to the University guidance regarding international/domestic personal travel for faculty, staff: Fall 2021 Travel Restrictions 

  • As of June 25, 2021, the New York State Travel Advisory is no longer in effect. As such, travelers arriving in New York are no longer required to submit traveler health forms. All travelers, domestic and international, should continue to follow all CDC travel requirements.
  • Domestic personal travel guidelines require that faculty, staff, and students need to follow guidance issued by the state or states to which you are traveling and upon return. 

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. 

Temporary Part-Time Parking

A special temporary parking program for CUIMC faculty, staff, and post docs who are working second and third shifts (3:00pm-11:00 pm and 11:00 pm-7:00 am) has been extended through the Fall semester. For questions, 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.


Beginning September 9, the existing “no visitor” policy will be rescinded. Visiting and exchange students, visiting faculty, scholars, and scientists, among others, will be allowed back on campus. All approved visitors are expected to comply with the University’s health and safety policies. Additional details about the new visitor policy and CUIMC’s Screening Process for Service Providers can be found in Visitor Guidelines for Fall 2021.

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

What's New:



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