I am writing in anticipation of travel that you may be considering in the coming weeks as we approach the fall break. Following a spike of cases during the first few weeks after move-in, the College’s asymptomatic testing positivity rate has been reduced significantly. This is largely due to the community’s diligent observance of Barnard’s multi-layered approach to minimizing transmission, so let me first thank you for the role that you individually and collectively have played.
Additional layers that support the health and safety of our extended communities will be very important in the coming days and weeks with Election Day weekend and Thanksgiving coming up. We know that some students are planning to return home or visit elsewhere, while others have already adjusted their plans to minimize travel. In all cases, we want to make sure that Barnard community members are well-informed so that they can make the best decisions possible during these well-earned breaks. Below please find recommendations for all students:
TWICE-WEEKLY TESTING FOLLOWING TRAVEL
We strongly recommend that students test twice per week (ideally every 3-4 days) for the 14 days upon returning from travel. This will help identify any asymptomatic infections that may have occurred during travel, allowing us to cut the chain of transmission as quickly as possible.
- Traveling off-campus means that you spend at least one night away from where you’re living this year.
- These tests can be Barnard tests or non-Barnard tests that get uploaded into CoVerified (instructions are here; please allow 1 business day for your test results to be integrated into the app).
- The College will not be registering personal travel for any community members.
- There are currently no additional restrictions associated with travel (i.e. there is no required quarantine). The policy will remain that students are not authorized to participate in in-person activities at Barnard or Columbia, including attending classes, when they are restricted in CoVerified.
- The Barnard Testing Center will maintain regular hours for Monday 11/2 and Tuesday 11/3. The adjusted schedule for Thanksgiving week will be extended hours on Monday and Tuesday with no testing Wednesday-Friday 11/26. That schedule will be reflected in CoVerified testing tab in the coming weeks.
VACCINATED PEOPLE ARE EXEMPT FROM QUARANTINE
Barnard’s and Columbia’s policies around quarantine following close-contact with someone with COVID-19 align with the public health guidance that vaccinated people are exempt from contact-related quarantine.
- This means that if you meet the definition of close contact, you are free to go about your daily in-person activities, including going to classes, as long as you remain symptom-free.
- This chart provides helpful information about the definition of “close contact” that Barnard uses in our pandemic response.
FLU SEASON: GETTING VACCINATED AND NEXT STEPS
The flu vaccine is required for all members of the Barnard community this year.
- Students are welcome to get vaccinated at no cost now at Primary Care Health Service (PCHS) by making an appointment; Flu Fairs will be held on 11/10 and 12/6 between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. Students must sign up ahead of time - no walk-ins. Sign-ups will be posted on PCHS and Well-Woman social media sites and the fairs will be held in the Well-Woman Office.
- Students are also welcome to take advantage of being vaccinated at local pharmacies or their off-campus healthcare provider. If you get vaccinated by someone other than PCHS, please hold onto your documentation until PCHS sends instructions for uploading via the Open Communicator website.
- It’s expected that some people may still get the flu even after being vaccinated. Please pay attention to your symptoms and stay home if you’re not feeling well so that you don’t make others around you sick.
REMINDER ABOUT TEST RESULTS
Although testing is a significant part of maintaining your health and safety during the pandemic, there are some important things to remember about what a negative result does and doesn’t mean:
- A negative result means that the virus was not detected at the time that you swabbed.
- A negative result does not mean that you couldn’t possibly have been infected when you swabbed.
- A negative result does not protect you from getting infected in the future.
- A negative result means that you still should practice mask-wearing and other risk-mitigating behaviors whenever you can, particularly when around people who are at a high-risk for COVID-19 and people whose vaccination status you don’t know.
Remember that your test is just a snapshot of a particular moment of time and cannot offer any guarantees about your current status.
Thank you for your diligent and active participation in the policies and procedures that keep everyone as healthy and safe as possible. Much information can be found here on the Pandemic Response Information mini-site, but if you still have questions you’re always welcome to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wishing you good health,
Marina Catallozzi, MD, MSCE
Vice President for Health and Wellness and Chief Health Officer