March 3, 2020 - Update and Travel Information

Dear Barnard Community,

We write to update you on the College’s continued response to the coronavirus 2019 disease (COVID-19). Although currently there have been no cases detected in the Barnard College or Columbia University communities, we want to assure you that the College is monitoring this outbreak closely, and working with Columbia University and the appropriate federal, state, and local officials to respond appropriately and decisively to a very fluid and changing situation.

As we get closer to spring break, it is important to recognize that the COVID-19 situation is rapidly evolving. As a result, if you have travel plans in the coming weeks, please understand that travel advisories could change at any time. We suggest you closely monitor the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Travel Warnings for any additions or changes in travel alerts as well as Executive Orders and guidance issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Department of State, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. It is expected that the United States will be announcing further travel restrictions for additional countries in the coming days. Below are current updates:

College-Sponsored Travel

  • Until further notice, we are suspending all College-sponsored travel to any country with a CDC level-3 warning, which currently includes China, South Korea, Iran and Italy. Please note the countries included on this list may change at any time.
  • For students, all upcoming international travel organized, led, or financed by Barnard or Columbia is suspended until further notice, including faculty-led trips scheduled during spring break. 

  • Faculty and staff who will be engaging in any College-sponsored international travel are reminded to register all such travel with International SOS, and to consider changing or postponing their plans. 

Spring Break and Other Travel

  • All Barnard students, faculty, and staff are strongly urged to postpone any nonessential international travel until further notice.
  • Barnard College is now requiring that all students, faculty and staff who have returned from or transited through the level-3 countries listed on the CDC website in the past 14 days, or have had direct close contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19, fill out our Confidential Registration Form. Upon completion of this form, we will provide you with individualized assistance and instructions. 

  • Please note, as per the NYS Department of Health, Barnard students, faculty and staff returning from or transitioning through level-3 countries may be required to self-isolate for a minimum of 14 days and remain symptom-free before returning to classes and engaging in other activities.

Study Abroad 

  • The CDC has issued guidance that institutions of higher education should “consider postponing or canceling student foreign exchange programs.” This advice is motivated in part by an awareness that, in the near future, “students may face unpredictable circumstances, travel restrictions, [and] challenges in returning home or accessing health care while abroad.” 
  • In light of the concerns and recommendations of the CDC, we will be contacting all students on study abroad programs to evaluate their individual situations and, as appropriate, to begin the process of arranging for their return home.

Community Guidance 

  • Students, faculty, and staff are strongly encouraged not to report to work or class if they are feeling unwell. Employees who have questions about the use or availability of sick leave should contact Human Resources. Faculty members are urged to work with students on individualized work-plans and should not penalize students for illness-related absences.
  • As a reminder, symptoms of COVID-19 include fever and symptoms of lower respiratory illness, such as cough and difficulty breathing. These symptoms may be similar to the flu or the common cold. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia and other complications, especially in infants, older individuals, and those with underlying health conditions.
  • As we would expect at this time of year, we are seeing many cases of influenza and other common respiratory illnesses in our students, faculty, and staff. If you are concerned about your symptoms, please contact your healthcare provider:
    • Students: Please call Primary Care Health Service at 212-854-2091 and ask to speak to a provider.
    • Faculty and Staff: Please reach out to your primary care provider.
  • Recognizing that COVID-19 may interrupt the global medication supply chain, the College recommends that all students and employees maintain a one-month supply of all prescription medications.

The College also recommends following the CDC prevention guidelines, including: 

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds several times a day.

  • Avoid touching your face with your hands.

  • Stay home when you’re sick.

  • Cover your mouth and nose with the crook of your elbow when you sneeze or cough.

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

As always, the safety of our students, faculty, and staff remains our top priority. We are increasing the availability of hand sanitizers across campus and empty dispensers should be immediately reported to Facilities Services.

We understand how disruptive this situation is for our community and beyond. For more information, visit:

We will continue to offer regular updates in response to changing circumstances and to ensure you are well-informed and supported. 

Linda A. Bell, Provost and Dean of Faculty
Leslie N. Grinage, Dean of the College