Dear Barnard Community,

One of the things that impressed me most since joining Barnard in September 2021 was the well-thought-out and implemented Barnard Pandemic Response Team (PRT). I have seen firsthand the power of a strategic, data-driven approach to managing the pandemic on our campus within a city hit so hard by COVID-19. By using sound public health frameworks, we have been able to learn, teach, work and live safely as a community. While COVID-19 remains a critical infectious disease threat, we have more tools to manage it and have shown that our campus and community can do so effectively. We have extraordinary rates of vaccination, and successfully rolled out a highly effective surveillance testing program this spring that was able to identify a surge and keep it from overwhelming our community.  

After thoughtful consideration of our testing data and other local data, and in discussion with our infectious disease and public health colleagues from Columbia University Irving Medical Center, as of July 1, 2022 we are moving from a distinct team managing on-campus COVID-19 operations (PRT) to a public health advisory team, the Public Health Response Team or PHRT.  The PHRT will set policy and response not only for the COVID-19 pandemic, but also for other public health threats. This will allow PHRT to provide big-picture guidance on public health issues to support our community’s health and wellness under the Francine A. LeFrak Foundation Center for Well-Being umbrella.

The establishment of the PHRT is an exciting and innovative team evolution that will position Barnard to continue to be driven by and responsive to data. While many other schools are closing down their pandemic response, we are shifting to focus on the public health of our community in a more expansive manner that will benefit our community in the long run. Please refer to the website for more information and future updates.

In the coming weeks, you will hear from members of PHRT about changes to on-campus operations, with a smaller team focused on campus-wide guidance rather than individual case management. We are fortunate that April Autry will be staying on as the Director of the PHRT, Caroline Ray will be the Associate Director of Operations and Data, and Nisha Chowdhury will be the Associate Director of Testing and Vaccinations.  

As we introduce our new approach to community health, we will be saying goodbye to a number of our valued PRT colleagues. We are grateful for each and every individual who has been a part of the Pandemic Response. I can confidently say that each of you contributed to the health and well-being of our community in ways that we could not have imagined. The Barnard community thanks you.  

As always, please reach out to me with any questions or concerns.

Wishing you well,

Marina Catallozzi, MD, MSCE
Vice President of Health and Wellness, Chief Health Officer