We are actively monitoring the situation with COVID-19 and have been in close contact with Columbia Preparedness. Late this evening we received notice from Columbia University that a member of Columbia’s community has been quarantined as a result of exposure to the Coronavirus, but at this point, they do not have a confirmed case. Columbia has decided to suspend classes on Monday and Tuesday in order to give the university time to prepare for teaching online for the remainder of the week. They are not closing the university, just suspending classes. The complete text of the Columbia message is at the bottom of this post and read more updates from Columbia Health here.
For the last month, we have been working closely with the team at Columbia to determine the best course of action to take in relation to COVID-19. We are subsequently suspending all classes Monday and Tuesday, and there will be no chapel. At this point, however, we are not closing the seminary so people should feel free to be in the buildings, and use the chapels for personal prayer and/or meditation. Staff are expected to report as usual. Faculty will receive additional information from the Dean tomorrow.
Regarding larger events on campus, in an abundance of caution, Columbia University has now updated their events policy to strongly discourage non-essential events of more than 25 people on all of their campuses. Campus fitness facilities will remain open for individual use, though group fitness classes will not take place.
Union is also discouraging larger events on our campus at this time. Please know that your health and well-being is our primary concern and we will continue to update you on the situation as we learn more. I realize many of you work in communities that may also be affected by the situation, and I wish you well as you step into roles of leadership. For such a time as this you have been called.
Peace to you all,
Letter from Columbia:
Dear fellow members of the Columbia community:
I am writing this evening to notify everyone that, because a member of our community has been quarantined as a result of exposure to the Coronavirus (COVID-19), we have decided to suspend classes on Monday and Tuesday. This suspension of activities will allow us to prepare to shift to remote classes for the remainder of the week. I want to emphasize that the individual who has been quarantined has not been diagnosed at this point with the virus.
Please understand that the decision to suspend classes does not mean that the University is shutting down. All non-classroom activities, including research, will continue in accordance with the new travel and events restrictions announced recently. At this point, just to restate what is important to know, we do not have a confirmed case of the virus on campus. This action is intended to prevent the virus from spreading.
This message will soon be followed by more specific information from deans and other University leaders, including plans for remote instruction beginning Wednesday and continuing until the start of Spring Break on Friday.
Let me say how much we appreciate the efforts of everyone who is helping us work our way through this challenging situation and your understanding and attention. As always, we are especially committed to providing updates as we have more information and recommendations.
Lee C. Bollinger