Dear TC Community:
I am writing with two updates to my message yesterday. I appreciate that you are bearing with us as we work to respond to constantly changing information and guidance about this growing public health concern while keeping our mission in mind.
First, I want to clarify that, while students may choose to pursue their virtual studies in our residence halls, we hope that students who are able to leave will do so (whether permanently for the term or until the situation improves, as we hope it will). Our goal here is twofold: first, to be able to provide a home for those students for whom leaving would be a hardship; and, second, to reduce the residential population in order to lower the risk of transmission of the virus.
Second, we have been grateful to all faculty and staff who began to pilot working from home over the course of the last two days. Beginning Monday, March 16 (until further notice) in line with Columbia’s recommendation (as you can read in President Bollinger’s email below), we are asking that only those staff who absolutely must come to campus to perform essential functions to do so. Everyone else should plan to work remotely. Here, too, our goal is to minimize unnecessary contact and thereby reduce the possibility of transmitting the virus as much as possible. We value everyone who works at the College, and we are committed to facilitating and supporting your work even in this time of disruption. Please continue to work with your managers and, as needed, with Human Resources, to determine a work plan.
Thank you, again, for continuing to work together in this unprecedented time. And a special thank you to those who continue to work to keep our buildings clean, functioning, and safe.
President Thomas Bailey
Begin forwarded message:
From: "Lee C. Bollinger" <officeofthepresident@
Date: March 13, 2020 at 8:33:44 PM EDT
Subject: Update on COVID-19
Dear fellow members of the Columbia community:
I am writing, again, with two quick but important updates to the message I sent yesterday. Please understand that we are continually reassessing our position by the hour, as new information comes in and our judgments evolve. We are, of course, in close contact with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and with our state and city officials, as well as local experts.
The first is to express our support for all students who are able to continue to leave the residence halls at our request and pursue their studies remotely for the remainder of the semester. This is important for the goal of reducing our residential population to a degree that will lower the risk of transmission of the virus. We realize that modifying travel arrangements and moving belongings out quickly may impose financial costs that present a hardship; for some students, and, to help ameliorate and expedite departures, we will provide up to $500 to any undergraduate who needs help in this regard.
The second is to say that, as of Monday, March 16, we are asking only designated personnel who are required to perform essential functions to report to work on-site. All other employees are asked to report to work virtually according to procedures that are being announced and coordinated by your home departments and schools. Our goal, as with our residential facilities, is to reduce the population on campus and to scale back as much as possible in order to keep people safe while maintaining the mission of the University.
I want to close this message today with a very special note of thanks to all those who will continue to perform essential functions on-site and to the doctors, nurses, technicians, aides, and all support staff at the Columbia University Irving Medical Center, and all their colleagues at the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, who are serving on the front line of this crisis. They deserve our deepest gratitude.
Lee C. Bollinger