FAQs for Academic Year 2020/21

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December 22, 2020 at 1:45 PM

This page provides helpful information for students invited to live in Columbia Housing for Academic Year 2020/21.

The Guide to Living remains the central source of information and policies for living in the residence halls and has been updated to reflect changes due to COVID-19. Additionally, the University's COVID-19 Resource website is a source of information.

*Please be advised that information here is subject to change as health guidance and University plans are updated.*

HEALTH AND SAFETY IN THE RESIDENCE HALLS

Students in residence are required to follow public health guidance, which includes wearing face coverings, practicing physical distancing, ensuring frequent hand washing, participating in the mandatory testing program, and limiting the size of social gatherings. Students will be expected to agree to the Columbia University Compact

No. Residents may not sign-in or host guests, including Columbia students living in another residence hall, Columbia students living off-campus, family members or significant others.

Students are encouraged to socialize outdoors while practicing physical distancing or by using technological tools.

As stated above in the visitor question, students may not sign-in or host guests. In addition, students are encouraged to limit social gatherings in their room and are expected to comply with University and public health guidance when gathering. This includes maintaining 6 feet of physical distance and wearing a face covering.

Students are encouraged to socialize outdoors while practicing physical distancing or by using technological tools.

Residence hall lounges are open, but restricted based on reduced capacity requirements. Lounges are to be used by residents of that building only.

No. Residential hall lounges are restricted to building residents only.

Laundry rooms are open, but students are asked to follow capacity requirements and public health guidance, including wearing a face covering.

Columbia University Facilities and Operations has stringent cleaning standards and procedures in place. Learn more about these cleaning protocols and other enhancements made on campus.

In the residence halls, Facilities and Operations custodial teams have increased cleaning schedules in common spaces, including communal bathrooms in corridor buildings. In order to eliminate unnecessary traffic into private spaces, custodial staff do not clean in-suite or shared bathrooms. Students assigned to suite style buildings are provided with cleaning supplies so that they can clean their bathrooms.

Following city, state, and federal guidance, residence hall occupancy is designed so that bathrooms are shared by a minimum number of students, following a ratio of 4 students to 1 bathroom fixture or less where possible. Capacities is clearly posted for students using communal restrooms. Students have assigned bathrooms to ensure access without crowding.

Maximum capacities are displayed for all elevators. Students are encouraged to use the stairs whenever able.

Columbia Housing and Columbia Health have identified a residence hall that will be used for safe isolation of any resident who becomes ill. As residential students will be assigned single rooms, in many cases, quarantine (when a student has potentially been exposed, but is not ill) can occur in their current residential space. Learn more about the protocols in place for isolation, quarantine and care for undergraduate students.

Columbia Dining is available, though the format of service has changed to ensure physical distancing and minimize contact in the dining halls. Expect the same quality food you know and love from Columbia Dining, but more grab-and-go options. Learn more on the Dining website.

All students, including those living off campus, will be asked to abide by the Columbia Community Health Compact. Every member of the community has a responsibility to follow through this commitment and will be held accountable for doing so.

It is the expectation that all members of our community follow health and hygiene practices outlined in the University’s Enhanced Health & Safety Policy to help protect individuals in the Columbia community and our neighbors. If you observe non-adherence to safety protocols, e.g., not wearing a mask, large gatherings, etc., you may submit a report using the resources outlined on the COVID-19 Resource website.

WINTER BREAK TRAVEL

Yes, all students who travel to a state non-contiguous to New York for more than 24 hours will be required to quarantine. Contiguous states are exempted from quarantine requirements, and include Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Vermont.  

Quarantine can last up to 14 days. However, the New York State Travel Advisory has released a new protocol that can reduce the length of quarantine if the traveler follows the below procedure:  

  1. The traveler must seek testing from their state within 72 hours of departure, prior to arrival in New York. 
  2. The traveler must, upon arrival in New York, quarantine according to Department of Health guidelines for a minimum of three days, measured from time of arrival. 
  3. On day four, the traveler may seek a diagnostic test to exit quarantine. The traveler may exit quarantine upon receipt of the second negative test result. 

Learn more about travel-related quarantine on the COVID-19 Resource site and see updated New York State guidelines.  

Students who plan to leave New York for a non-contiguous state and then return to campus should plan to quarantine in a room separate from their academic year assignment. Students will receive a quarantine housing assignment at Check-In.

Students required to quarantine will not be able to return to their Fall Term (non-quarantine) room upon return to campus. Be prepared by packing and taking with you any valuable and essential items. If there are items you want transferred to your quarantine room, like linens, you may pack one small bag and request a transfer to your quarantine room. See more details about how to prepare here

No, students who travel to a non-contiguous state for less than 24 hours will not be required to quarantine or to seek testing prior to returning to New York. However, such travelers must complete the New York State traveler form upon New York entry and must take a diagnostic test on the fourth day after arrival in New York. 

GUARANTEED HOUSING & SPECIAL LIVING OPTIONS

Guaranteed Housing

If you remain enrolled full-time and choose to live off-campus, you will maintain your guaranteed housing status and can participate in Room Selection in March 2021.    

Yes. If you take a voluntary leave, you will lose your guaranteed housing status and will not be eligible to participate in Room Selection in March 2021.

No, only students with guaranteed housing will be eligible to request to live on campus based on the University plan.

Special Living Options

Yes. The Columbia Housing team will ensure your accommodation is taken into consideration when making assignments. 

Unfortunately, there is not a Barnard-Columbia exchange this year.

Unfortunately, we cannot offer SIC or FSL Housing at this time.

ROOM ASSIGNMENTS

Columbia Housing is open with reduced occupancy for academic year 2020-21.

Only students approved for the full academic year housing are living on campus during the Fall Term.

The University is opening additional spaces for Spring Term to offer single rooms to all seniors enrolled in Columbia College and The School of Engineering and Applied Science. Depending on campus density considerations, housing may be offered to some juniors at Columbia College and Engineering.

Students who wish to return to campus in the spring need to register their intent through their school. Registering your intent to return does not guarantee that you will be approved for housing as only a limited number of spaces are available.

Please be advised that this may change as the situation and health guidance are updated.

It was determined that the campus population must be reduced. Only those students granted exceptions for the full academic year due to personal or academic circumstances were approved to live in Columbia Housing for the Fall Term.

The University is opening additional spaces for Spring Term with priority given to seniors and students with special circumstances.

Yes, students who have been approved for residential housing for the Spring Term may submit their preferences with this form by 5 p.m. on December 4. You will have the option to rank your building preferences and to submit the names of three students with whom you would like to share a suite or be placed in the same building.

As assignments are determined, Columbia Housing will consider building and suitemate preferences if possible. Requests will be evaluated but cannot be guaranteed.

Room assignments for the Spring Term were sent on December 10. If you are required to quarantine, you will also receive a separate quarantine assignment at Check-In. Please be advised that this may change as the situation and health guidance are updated.

Room assignments are determined based on a number of factors, most importantly public health guidelines to ensure physical distancing in student rooms, bathrooms, kitchens and lounges. Students are assigned to single rooms. Only a certain number of students are assigned per floor depending on building style. Ultimately, your health and safety while living in the residence halls is our main priority.   

No. For students living on campus, there will not be an appeal process for assignments due to the complexity of housing students according to the set public health guidelines.

Where possible, suite-style living will still be available in the upcoming academic year, though with fewer students allowed in each suite. Given the complexities of assigning space in the residence halls around physical distancing requirements, this will not be possible for everyone. 

View fees for the full academic year and Spring Term.

Students approved for housing for the academic year must cancel their request to live on campus for the Spring Term via the Housing Portal by December 17 in order to avoid fees and/or have their Housing fees refunded.

International students who are approved and assigned housing, but find later that they have travel or visa issues will not be assessed a cancellation fee.

Yes. Columbia Housing will make a reasonable effort to keep full year students in the same room assignment. Please be advised that this may change as the situation and health guidance are updated.

PREPARING FOR SPRING TERM

Review the Check-In Day FAQs to learn how to prepare for your arrival to campus. In addition, we recommend that you review the Student section of the University’s COVID-19 Resource website.

As you make your travel plans, it’s important to note that each student will be permitted only one guest at Check-In. See Check-In Day FAQs for more information.

Students are strongly encouraged to bring to campus only what they can easily pack and travel with on their own. Think airline style: one large piece of luggage and two carry-on items. Students are discouraged from bringing personal furniture, TVs, or other large items.

Students who lived in Columbia Housing during Fall Term are guaranteed Housing through the end of the academic year. If you do not intend to return to campus after Winter Break, please cancel your housing through the Housing Portal by December 17.

If you leave at either break and are required to quarantine upon your return to campus, you will not be permitted entry into your non-quarantine residence hall and room until you have completed quarantine. Please plan accordingly and review Preparing for Breaks and End of Year.

Those approved to live on campus for the Spring Term will check-in the week of January 4, 2021. More information will be provided from Columbia Housing. Please be advised that this may change as the situation and health guidance are updated.

Students who are currently living on campus: if you plan to leave for Winter Break, we strongly encourage you to pack valuables and essential items to take with you. If you have any doubts that you may not return for the Spring Term, you can request boxes and labels from the Hartley Hospitality Desk in order to pack your belongings in advance of leaving campus. You will be responsible for making storage or shipping arrangements. If this occurs, please notify Housing of your plans. 

Students who are invited to live on campus for Spring Term 2021: Continue to monitor your email and the University’s COVID-19 website for updates should there be a change to University operations. 

Yes. Gateway testing is a check-in requirement for all AY 2020-21 residential students. Students checking into Housing for the Spring Term will receive testing instructions in their Check-In email. This is required of all Columbia affiliates, regardless of whether gateway testing was completed in summer and fall 2020 and whether they have been previously accessing campus.

Review the move-in and ongoing diagnostic testing schedule for undergraduate residential students and learn more about the University's Test and Trace Program on the University's COVID-19 Resource website. 

Every student who returns to campus for Spring Term will be required to quarantine in accordance with either the NY State Travel Advisory or the University’s gateway testing requirements. Please review the quarantine FAQs to learn more.

Yes, all students living on campus or regularly accessing campus this academic year are required to get the flu vaccine. We recommend you obtain the vaccine at the earliest opportunity. If you are vaccinated prior to arrival, please follow these instructions to upload proof of your vaccine to the patient portal.  

You may also get your vaccine through Columbia Health. Appointment only, no-charge flu vaccines will be offered on the Morningside Campus. Appointments via the online patient portal are required to ensure physical distancing.  

CHECK-IN DAY

Those approved to live on campus for the Spring Term will check-in the week of January 4, 2021. Please be advised that this may change as the situation and health guidance are updated.

No, only students who did not live on campus during Fall Term are required to formally Check-In. However, if you travel during Winter Break, you still may be required to quarantine per the New York State Travel Advisory. Please review the Quarantine FAQs for more information.

The Check-In times are designed to limit the number of students moving in simultaneously and enable University staff, residential students, and Check-In guests to maintain adequate physical distancing throughout the Check-In process. Housing discourages residents from requesting changes to their assigned Check-In time except in extenuating circumstances. Requests will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Columbia Health will provide COVID-19 testing by appointment. See the COVID-19 website for more information.

If you miss your scheduled appointment, contact covidtesttrace@columbia.edu for assistance in rescheduling.

Review the move-in and ongoing diagnostic testing schedule for undergraduate residential students and learn more about the University's Test and Trace Program on the University's COVID-19 Resource website.

COVID-19 testing is an essential facet of the University’s robust and ongoing virus screening program. It is essential to controlling the spread of COVID-19 in our community, and to protecting the health of New York City.

COVID-19 testing is mandatory for all residential students. If you do not submit for testing, you will not be permitted entry into the residence halls and will not be permitted to remain on campus.

Review the move-in and ongoing diagnostic testing schedule for undergraduate residential students and learn more about the University's Test and Trace Program on the University's COVID-19 Resource website.

Each student will be permitted only one guest at Check-In. The guest may be a family member, a friend, or a hired helper. You may not substitute one guest for another mid move-in; it must be the same person the entire time. Your guest may not accompany you through the Check-In and testing process in Lerner Hall. Guests will be instructed to wait at a designated location and submit a symptom attestation form.

Guests from New York, Contiguous States (CT, MA, NJ, PA, VT) or CDC Level 1 Countries: Guests from these states or countries will be allowed to accompany you into your assigned residence hall. However, they will not be permitted entry to any other buildings on campus.

Guests from Non-Contiguous States or CDC Level 2 or 3 Countries: Guests from these states or countries will not be permitted entry to any building on campus, including your assigned residence hall. 

Learn more about travel restrictions on the New York State Travel Advisory website.

Columbia Housing is scheduling Check-In appointments to manage the volume of activity and reduce density during the move-in process in each building. You and your guest will be expected to wear face masks/coverings and to maintain proper physical distancing at all times while on campus and in your residence hall. Students are not required to wear a face mask/covering while alone inside their own rooms.

Visit the Student Service Center’s website for assistance.

Columbia cannot provide parking, but you may be able to find street or garage parking. Keep in mind parking in New York City and during Check-In may be limited. View a list of neighborhood parking garages.

QUARANTINE

Every student who returns to campus for Spring Term will have to quarantine for a certain period, depending on the following:

If travelling from a non-contiguous state: In accordance with the New York State Travel Advisory, quarantine is required upon entry to New York following travel from non-contiguous states, US territories or CDC level 2 or 3 countries. Contiguous states include Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Vermont. This means that if you return to campus for Spring Term and travel from a non-contiguous state, you will be required to quarantine.

If travelling from a contiguous state: Although travelers from contiguous states (CT, MA, NJ, PA, and VT) are exempt from the New York State Advisory quarantine protocol, the University requires all students to quarantine until a negative COVID-19 gateway test result has been confirmed. This quarantine can be completed in the student’s Spring Term housing assignment.

If no travel occurred (i.e., the student remained on-campus over Winter Break): The University requires all students to quarantine until a negative COVID-19 gateway test result has been confirmed. This quarantine can be completed in the student’s AY housing assignment.

Per the New York State Travel Advisory, all travelers from non-contiguous states and abroad must complete the Traveler Health Form upon entering New York. Travelers who leave the airport without completing the form will be subject to a $10,000 fine and may be brought to a hearing and ordered to complete mandatory quarantine. Travelers coming to New York through other means of transport, including trains and cars, must fill out the form online.

Students can choose to arrive in New York State or a contiguous state (CT, MA, NJ, PA, or VT) and quarantine in an alternate (non-campus) location to meet the New York State Travel Advisory quarantine requirements. However, students are still be required to complete gateway testing and quarantine until a negative gateway test result has been confirmed.

Students can also choose to quarantine in Columbia Housing upon arrival, but may not arrive earlier than their assigned Check-In date.

Yes, effective November 4, 2020, travelers to New York State from a non-contiguous state, US territory or CDC level 2 or level 3 country can follow a new quarantine protocol to reduce the length of quarantine to a minimum of four days.

In order to shorten quarantine:

  • Seek SARS-COV-2 (COVID-19 virus) testing in the 72 hours before your departure to New York.  
  • Quarantine for 3 full days in New York. 
  • Test on day 4 or later through Columbia Health (you will be informed which day this test should occur). Please note that testing is not available on weekends. 
  • Receive three negative test results – departure point, gateway/move in and travel quarantine – and end your quarantine. 

Students who are completing quarantine following their gateway test will do so in their Spring Term or AY assignment.

Students who need to complete travel quarantine per the New York State Travel Advisory will receive their quarantine assignment at Check-In.

 

Students who are completing quarantine following their gateway test will do so in their Spring Term or AY assignment.

Students who need to complete travel quarantine per the New York State Travel Advisory will receive their quarantine assignment at Check-In.

Students who are required to quarantine will be required to stay in their assigned room for 4-14 days, starting at Check-In. Students on a Dining Plan will have meals delivered to the building. Students not on a Dining Plan should make arrangements to have food delivered to the building lobby. Students who do not have private bathrooms (i.e. in buildings with shared bathrooms) will have full access to assigned restrooms but are expected to take precautions to limit their exposure. This includes, but is not limited to, wearing a face covering, maintaining 6 feet of physical distance from floormates, and refraining from socializing in the restrooms and hallways.

Medical support through Columbia Health will be provided to all students in quarantine, as needed:

  • Medical check-ins.
  • Psychological support (access to individual counseling and virtual support spaces)
  • Communication with point of contact in school (Dean of Students) to provide academic materials and study support for students in isolation.
  • Coordination of other services for students.

During this time, students are not permitted to:

  • Leave their room, unless to use the restroom or for medical reasons
  • Enter another resident’s room
  • Use building amenities like laundry facilities or lounges

Find more information on the University's COVID-19 website.

Students are encouraged to bring enough clean laundry to cover the 4-14-day precautionary quarantine. Students observing quarantine are not permitted to use the building laundry facilities during this time.

Students should bring personal products including soap and other toiletries and enough clean laundry for the 4-14-day period. Students not on the Dining Plan should also bring snacks or prepare to have food delivered to their building.

CHECK-OUT

Check-out dates for Fall and Spring Terms can be found in the Housing calendar.

Information regarding the Check-Out process can be found under the Current Students menu on our website.

No. Students who are approved to live in Columbia Housing for the full Academic Year do not need to Check-Out for Winter Break.

Yes. Blue bins will be available to borrow for 2-hours at a time from the Hartley Hospitality Desk. More information is available on the Check-Out page.

To ensure appropriate physical distancing, the same guest policy that applied during Check-In applies during Check-Out. Only one guest can accompany a student into the residence hall at a time. All guests must sign-in with Public Safety when entering the residence halls.

In the interest of safety, we encourage you to bring as few guests to campus as possible to facilitate your Check-Out.

Full details on the Check-Out process are available on the Fall Term Check-Out page. All students must complete Web Check-Out via the Housing portal prior to leaving their rooms for the winter break.

Local storage vendors are available to pick up your belongings and store them for you if necessary. You may also contract the storage vendor to pack your belongings. If you do so, please ensure that you make Housing aware by emailing us at housing@columbia.edu so that we can provide the vendor with access to your room.

Residents are financially responsible for any damages, missing items, or unsatisfactory conditions in their room. More information is available on the Check-Out page and in the Damage and Vandalism information in the Guide to Living.

Submit a Service Request for all damages to your room prior to leaving for the winter break.

Yes. Fees are assessed for Check-Outs that occur after December 23, which is the last day of the Fall Term.