Dear Barnard Students, 

Welcome to the start of the Fall 2020 semester. We know this is a semester like no other, and we want to take a moment to share with you some thoughts and reminders as you begin to navigate living away from the Barnard campus in New York City or in your home community.

Although many of us feel “over” the COVID-19 pandemic, the pandemic is far from over. With this comes the need for continued shared responsibility for the health and well-being of people we know and those we may not know but who are part of our neighborhood. All members of the Barnard community have been asked to sign the Community Commitment and Personal Responsibility Pledge. With this commitment, all students, faculty, and staff promise to abide by a set of rules for behavior that includes requirements around the wearing of masks in public, hand-washing and sanitation, social distancing, the use of designated spaces at designated times, as well as other behaviors to help promote the well-being of all on campus and in our communities.

Particularly for those of you living in and around NYC, we remind you that you are living within communities that have endured and been significantly affected by COVID-19. Around the country, we have witnessed recent outbreaks at colleges and universities, sadly originating from those members of the community who have chosen to disregard health and safety guidelines.

At Barnard we often talk about taking responsibility for the College’s impact on the surrounding community. If there was ever a moment to own this responsibility, it is now. Your daily choices and actions have a direct impact on vulnerable residents of Morningside Heights and Harlem, as well across NYC, the United States, and all the countries and communities where Barnard students live and study. Please remember, wherever you are, you represent Barnard. We urge you to wear your mask when outside of your home, to limit your gatherings to no more than 10 people, to support one another to have safe, socially distant fun, preferably outside, and to remind your peers of their responsibility. For those of you who are accessing Columbia’s campus this fall and who are participating in Barnard’s comprehensive testing program, this means taking the mandatory entry test as well as the required weekly surveillance tests. This is a requirement, so please don't forget to schedule your weekly mandatory test. We are a college not only in NYC but of NYC, and the pandemic has revealed the depth of what this relationship means to Barnard.

We understand that these are challenging times for everyone, and that what is being expected of you may not also be adhered to by others. But if we can make a collective effort to respect and follow the prevention guidelines set out by health experts, we will be protecting ourselves and our communities today, and hopefully stop future outbreaks tomorrow.

We wish you well and the best start to the Fall 2020 semester.   


Ariana González Stokas
Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

MJ Murphy
Executive Director of Student Health and Wellness Programs