Important COVID-19 Update for Students

Friday, March 13, 2020

Dear Students,

I write to follow up on President Bollinger’s message and let you know what this means for student life on our campuses. Please read this message to the end. It contains information about housing, gatherings on campus, campus resources, public safety and more.

First, I want to say, once again, how much I appreciate the way so many of you are adapting to this quickly changing situation. We also know you have many questions, and we are working to get additional information for you as quickly as we can.

Starting next week, many Columbia staff and faculty will work remotely to help reduce density on our campuses, in keeping with public health guidance and directives. If you are on campus, here is what you need to know. Your school will follow up with more, too.


As President Bollinger wrote, the University encourages all undergraduate students in residential housing to leave the residence halls for the remainder of the semester, if possible.

Undergraduate students: You will hear directly from your schools about how to seek assistance with these urgent moving costs. We understand that some students will remain in University housing.  

CUIMC students living in Bard Hall on the Medical Center campus: You have also received specific information about your residence hall.

Students in University Apartment Housing: You are not being asked to leave, but Columbia’s housing offices will not charge a cancellation fee if you choose to move out. Please see housing FAQs on Columbia’s COVID-19 website for more information.

Gatherings on Campus

Due to the high risk of transmission of COVID-19 from close contact, and because close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 requires self-quarantine for 14 days, the University does not permit any events of more than 25 participants. For any other social events and gatherings, even with fewer participants, we strongly recommend that you maximize social distancing measures.

  • Ensure you are not clustered in small spaces with poor ventilation.

  • Keep at least six feet between yourself and another person wherever possible.

  • Avoid close contact, including handshakes and hugging.

We know you recognize how important this is and count on you to monitor yourselves. 


Because of limited staffing, Columbia Libraries will be open and operating on a reduced schedule, with access restricted to CUID holders. Seating will be arranged to enable social distancing. The Libraries’ online resources remain fully available to you.


Fitness centers will remain open on a limited basis. Equipment use will continue to be limited to enable social distancing.


Coffee shops on Morningside: All locations except Butler Blue Java are closed for spring break and will not re-open until further notice.

  • As of March 23, Butler Blue Java will remain open Monday through Friday, 9 am-5 pm.

Undergraduate dining: All locations except John Jay are closing for spring break after today. After spring break, John Jay will be open from 9 am-8 pm, with grab-and-go options.

CUIMC: The CUIMC student meal plan will continue to serve on the same schedule. Meals will be to go, as dining service is suspended.

Columbia Health/CUIMC Student Health Service

Health care services will continue to be available to you, either virtually or in person. Please check the websites for the most up-to-date information about the availability of services and access to care.

  • Columbia Health (Medical Services, Counseling and Psychological Services, Disability Services, Sexual Violence Response, Alice Health! Promotion)

  • CUIMC Student Health Service (Medical Services, Mental Health Service, Center for Student Wellness)

  • If you have the Aetna Columbia Student Health Insurance Plan, you have national and international coverage. Please see here for more information, and contact Columbia Health and CUIMC Student Health Service for questions about referrals.  

Student Services

Student services will be available to you for virtual support and other assistance. You can find more information on the websites of each of these services:

Public Safety 

Public Safety staff will continue to be on all of our campuses to support your safety and security.  

Our Virtual Campus Community

We have already received great ideas from many of you about coming together as a Columbia community from wherever we are in the world. Keep the suggestions coming to and look forward to University Life online activities coming soon.

I know this week has stretched many of you in ways that seemed impossible to imagine even a week ago. My continuing thanks for your patience and fortitude. As we make our way together through this challenging time, it makes me immeasurably proud to be part of Columbia’s extraordinary community.

In community,


Suzanne B. Goldberg

Executive Vice President for University Life

Herbert and Doris Wechsler Clinical Professor of Law

P.S. Once again, here are resources you might find useful in the coming days: