May 27, 2021: Vaccine Mandate Update for Faculty, Researchers and Staff

Dear Colleagues:

We are writing to provide you with additional details on implementation of the May 14th vaccine mandate for faculty, researchers and staff and updates on some related matters.

Completing the COVID-19 Vaccination Requirement

Beginning tomorrow, May 28th, you will be able to do two new things via your ReopenCU app (a prototype is shown below), or via the web if you do not have a smart phone. Under the My Checklist section, you will be able to attest to your vaccination status or apply for an exemption for medical or religious reasons by going to “I have complied with the University’s COVID-19 vaccination requirement” and clicking on “faculty/staff.”

To upload your vaccine information: Complete the section that starts: “I have received COVID-19 vaccination.” Then, upload a picture of your CDC card, WHO booklet, or a letter from a physician verifying you have been vaccinated. Once you have completed the required fields and uploaded your documentation, the app will have an automatic check mark, similar to the one that shows you have signed the Columbia Compact, completed your COVID-19 training and met the University’s testing requirements. All documentation provided is subject to review. Should an issue be found with the documentation submitted, you will be notified and provided with additional instructions on how to correct the error. Any false statements, falsified documents, or deliberate omission of information related to this submission could lead to disciplinary actions up to and including termination of employment. Failure to provide sufficient documentation will result in the check mark being removed.

To request an exemption for medical or religious reasons. Check the box “I am requesting a medical or religious exemption”, and you will be provided additional instructions.  Review of exemption applications will take approximately 15 days and will be conducted by a panel of medical experts including a representative from Human Resources. If your exemption is granted, your My Checklist section of the app will have an automatic check mark. If your exemption request is not granted, you will receive notification from us. You will be unable to access campus in the future as you will receive a “red pass” when opening your app. 

We encourage you to begin this process as soon as possible. While the final date to complete this section of the app is no later than August 2, any classroom personnel who teach in schools whose fall semester begins during July and August will need to submit their information by 30 days before the beginning of their semester. Students in those situations will be asked to do the same.

Columbia will follow best practices and comply with applicable laws in maintaining privacy and security with respect to employee vaccination status.

CDC Guidelines Adopted by Governor Cuomo on May 19th

Columbia University remains focused on the health and well-being of our community. While the new CDC and NY State guidelines do allow for reduced masking in certain instances, the University will continue to enforce an indoor masking policy (even if you are vaccinated) and expect to have that in place until at least early September. However, vaccinated individuals may remove their masks outdoors on CU campuses, if they choose. We also are continuing to enforce physical distancing of six feet indoors.  We do, however, expect that for the fall term all classrooms will be at full occupancy. In any instance, if a person chooses to wear a mask, or physically distance in any setting, you should respect that decision and make no assumptions as to the reason for it.

Gathering Size Expansions

Recognizing that many in our community have been vaccinated and that we have been able to maintain a low COVID-19 positivity testing rate on campus, we are increasing our gathering size limitations:

  • Non-academic including administrative: Indoors 25, outdoors 50
  • Academic: no limits except six-foot distancing and face coverings
  • Commencement: Outdoors up to 100.

 These gathering size limits are subject to modification as public health conditions change.

 A thank you

We acknowledge that the pandemic has created many changes and sacrifices on your part, but our primary goal is to keep you and our entire campus safe. We are excited that in just a few months, the university will begin to return to what it looked like before March 2020.

Thank you for your flexibility and willingness to support these efforts. For additional information, always go to:


Gerry Rosberg
Senior Executive Vice President  

Donna Lynne
Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, CUIMC
University COVID Director