Columbia University suspends classes due to coronavirus


NEW YORK (WKRG) — Columbia University has suspended classes for two days due to exposure of a student to coronavirus, according to its website.

WKRG News 5 also obtained this email that went out to students:

“Dear Students, 
This email contains important information for this coming week. As President Bollinger informed you, in light of new developments related to COVID-19, classes are suspended on Monday and Tuesday, March 9-10, as we prepare to move to an online format for instruction for the rest of this week. Please read to the end of this message.

This new development is based on an abundance of caution. As President Bollinger noted, we do not have a confirmed case of the virus on campus. A member of the Columbia community is in self-quarantine on campus as a result of exposure to COVID-19. This individual is well and is receiving appropriate support, consistent with guidance from the New York City Department of Health. Federal law precludes us from disclosing the person’s identity, and we urge you to respect the privacy of this individual and that of anyone else who may have a personal or family connection to COVID-19 exposure.

We understand that this development may cause anxiety or concern. Please know that you have many sources of support here on campus and access to resources and accurate information on Columbia’s COVID-19 website. Please continue to follow these familiar basic health precautions: wash your hands, don’t shake hands or share food and drink, cough and sneeze into your elbow, and avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.

Because this is an unfolding situation, we understand that you will have many questions, including about next week and beyond. For now, please read this information carefully, and we will follow with more in the coming days.


  • For Monday and Tuesday, classes are suspended as we prepare to move to the online format.
  • You will soon receive instructions from your school about how to access your classes online.
  • Some classes cannot easily move to an online format. Your school will let you know about alternate arrangements for these classes.  


  • Take-home exams will continue as usual.
  • Your school will update you about arrangements for in-class exams.

Disability Services Accommodations

  • Disability Services will communicate with registered students about accommodations that may be needed for the online format.

Columbia Health and CUIMC Student Health Service

  • Most services remain open to support you and your well-being. Because of the high volume of inquiries, we encourage you to use online resources for information and support.
  • For your information, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued recommendations that individuals at higher risk for COVID-19 complications should stay at home as much as possible. Those at higher risk include adults over age 65 and people who have severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease.
  • You may want to take additional precautions to reduce your risk of exposure if you are immunocompromised, such as on chemotherapy, having had an organ transplant, taking immunosuppressive drugs; or have a serious cardiovascular or respiratory disease.

Other Questions About Libraries, Fitness, Housing and Dining

  • Campus remains open; this includes libraries and fitness centers.
  • You can continue to study with friends and classmates.
  • Dining facilities and coffee shops remain open, with enhanced cleaning. All dining facilities will offer grab-and-go meal options.
  • Housing remains open, and enhanced cleaning of high-touch areas continues in all common areas of residential and academic buildings.

Spring Break travel

  • We know many of you have questions about spring break travel. We will follow up soon with more information.   

Campus Life

  • Most schools will be on spring break from March 16 to March 20. University Life will follow up with more about campus events and activities – both in-person and online.

Getting Help

  • The University’s COVID-19 website has up-to-date information on all University policies and resources.
  • Beginning tomorrow, Columbia Health’s COVID-19 phone hotline will be available for questions from 9 am to 5 pm Monday-Friday: 212-854-9355.
  • For concerns about bias or harassment, please speak with your Dean of Students or contact Student Conduct and Community Standards with concerns. In this unusual time, our community values of respect and consideration for each other are especially important.

Thank you for your careful attention as we continue to develop and revise policies, with the health, safety and well-being of everyone at Columbia as our top priority.

In community,Suzanne B. Goldberg
Executive Vice President for University Life
Herbert and Doris Wechsler Clinical Professor of Law”


Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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