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

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

Asymptomatic Testing

Columbia offers testing in five locations, with two sites operating five days per week. University testing appointments open 7-10 days in advance, so please plan accordingly. To ensure opportunities to be tested, please book your appointment in advance of your desired testing date. Capacity has been expanded, but demand for testing is high, so consider all of the potential sites.

Please note that walk-in testing is not available during January 2022, and tests from non-University sites cannot be used to meet the University-required COVID-19 tests.

Symptomatic Testing

Symptomatic testing of clinical personnel only will be done by NYP in the Milstein Heart Center. Symptomatic testing will only be conducted for clinical staff who will be working in clinical settings and not for travel or other testing for any other purpose. All appointments must be scheduled via Connect. Select "schedule an appointment" from the Menu tab and then select "NYP/WCM/CUIMC Employee Labs and Testing" as the reason for coming in, followed by "Yes" to scheduling.

Hours of Operation

  • Monday–Friday: 7AM—7PM
  • Saturday–Sunday: 8:30AM–5PM

Outside Testing

While Columbia is doing its own testing on campus, we also urge you to report any outside positive test results you do receive to so that we have an accurate picture of COVID-19 positive cases amongst our affiliates and can provide you with information on available resources.

Gateway Testing

All residential undergraduate students are required to test through the Columbia testing program on the first business day after your return to campus and again between days 5 and 7. All other students are required to get a Columbia gateway test within 72 hours of their return to campus. Gateway testing is also required for all non-student affiliates who did not receive a Columbia gateway test in 2021.

Campus access will be allowed while awaiting results of the gateway test. After January 28, 2022, red passes will be applied to all those who are not compliant with the gateway testing requirement.  You may notice that the testing requirement box on the ReOpenCU app will be unchecked until after you have completed the requirement.  Please allow up to 72 hours for the box to be checked following your University gateway test.

Columbia offers testing in five locations, with two sites operating five days per week. Testing sites are reopening for testing on Tuesday, January 4, 2022. University testing appointments open 7-10 days in advance so please plan accordingly. To ensure opportunities to be tested, please book your appointment in advance of your desired testing date, consider all of the potential sites, and remember that it is not possible to add people to a fully booked schedule. On select days, the Lerner Hall location will be offering extended hours. Please note that walk-in testing is not available during January 2022, and tests from non-University sites cannot be used to meet the University-required COVID-19 tests.

Affiliates with a Recent Positive PCR Test

If you had a PCR positive test in the past 90 days, and reported this to the University as required by the Columbia University Community Health Compact, you will be considered compliant with the gateway requirement.  Please do not re-test unless directed to do so by a healthcare provider and refer to the testing FAQ on how to submit your documentation in case of a positive test result.

Morningside and CUIMC Graduate and Professional Students
All students are strongly recommended to get a PCR test from a local testing site 48 hours prior to returning to campus. There is no need to provide proof of this test, unless it is positive.

  • Gateway testing for fully vaccinated students: Get a gateway COVID-19 PCR test from a Columbia testing location within 72 hours after your return to campus.  
  • Gateway testing for unvaccinated or partially vaccinated students: Get a COVID-19 PCR gateway test from a Columbia testing location prior to accessing campus, and weekly thereafter if you have an approved exemption or until you are fully vaccinated.

Faculty & Staff

All faculty and staff that have traveled, have been away for a period of time, or have participated in social events and gatherings are strongly recommended to get a PCR test from a local testing site 48 hours prior to returning to University facilities. There is no need to provide proof of this test, unless it is positive.  

  • New faculty, researcher, or staff OR any individual who has not received a gateway test since Jan. 1, 2021: Get a gateway COVID-19 PCR test from a Columbia testing location within 72 hours after accessing the campus.
  • Returning faculty, researcher, or staff: In light of holiday travel and gathering, all non-student affiliates are strongly recommended to receive a PCR test before or as you return to campus at either Columbia testing sites or other community testing locations. There is no need to provide proof of this test, unless it is positive.
  • Are you also a student? You must meet the relevant student requirements described above.

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

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

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.

Vaccine Booster Dose Mandates

All faculty, staff, and students must receive their vaccine booster dose (if eligible) by January 31, 2022. Students should upload evidence of their booster dose as they did with prior doses. Our prior message sent on December 14 provides details regarding the availability of booster doses and testing venues for our affiliates.

Campus Safety and Facilities Guidelines

Face Coverings

  • All Columbia affiliates must continue to wear masks in indoor settings in Columbia facilities through March 31, regardless of vaccination status. It is also recommended to wear mask in crowded outdoor settings. Unvaccinated individuals must continue to wear masks both indoors and 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.
  • 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:

Meals and Gatherings/Events Guidance

  • Columbia-related non-academic gatherings on and off campus are prohibited until the end of January.
  • In all dining halls, only grab-and-go food will be available for the first week of the undergraduate return beginning January 18th.
  • All affiliates are strongly urged to avoid indoor social gatherings wherever they are located, unless aware of vaccination and testing status of all attendees.  Masking in these locations is also strongly recommended as well as in crowded outdoor social gatherings.
  • Masking indoors at Columbia will continue through March 31, and we urge wearing of masks indoors in all public settings as well as in crowded settings when outdoors.
  • Columbia athletic events will permit no fans for the first two weeks of January.

For additional information and University policies, please see Meals and Gatherings/Events Guidance

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

Isolation & Quarantine

New York State, acting on guidance from the CDC, has modified isolation and quarantine as follows.

  • Isolation
    • All individuals who test positive for COVID-19 can end their isolation after 5 days if they are asymptomatic. Day 0 is considered the first day of symptom onset and/or the day of a positive test result.
  • Quarantine
    • Individuals who are fully vaccinated and have received booster dose, do not need to quarantine. Such individuals are recommended to get tested on day 5-7 after last exposure.
    • Individuals who are not vaccinated or not fully vaccinated or are eligible for a booster but have not yet received one should quarantine for 5 days – where day 0 is the last day of exposure – provided symptoms do not appear. Such individuals are recommended to get tested on day 5-7

Full details can be found on the New York State Department of Health website.

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

Spring 2022 Travel Restrictions

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

All travel beginning before January 18, 2022 remains subject to the Fall 2021 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