- What is Columbia doing to protect its community from the coronavirus and the flu?
As it has been since the beginning of the pandemic, our pandemic response has been driven by science and public health guidance.
Based on guidance from both the CDC and State of Illinois, masks will now be required indoors at Columbia College Chicago effective July 30.
The entire campus has been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, and increased disinfection and cleaning of our facilities is an ongoing feature of our facilities maintenance program going forward.
- In addition to following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the State of Illinois, and the City of Chicago, our planning is informed by experts from Rush University and University of Chicago.
- Columbia College Chicago requires all students to be vaccinated before the start of the Fall 2021 semester.
- Vaccination for faculty and staff is not required but is strongly encouraged.
- Those who are unvaccinated are required to provide COVID-19 test results dated within 3 days* of each visit to campus, mask, and maintain social distancing where possible.
- We support public health authorities and provide appropriate assistance with contact tracing.
- Columbia provides COVID-19 testing on campus and is offering appointments for COVID vaccinations on campus to students and employees. Please visit the vaccination website for more information.
*Beginning September 7, (the day the fall semester starts), unvaccinated individuals seeking entry to a college facility will have to show evidence of a negative test that is no more than two days old (versus the current requirement of three days).
- Is completion of the daily pre-check app required to gain entry to campus?
No. Completion of the daily pre-check app will not be required upon entry to campus in the Fall. Individuals should self-screen for COVID symptoms at home and stay home if they feel sick. Unvaccinated individuals should also stay home if they are a close contact of an individual who has tested positive for Covid-19.
- What are the vaccination options on campus for members of the Columbia community?
The college is a vaccine site and is offering appointments for COVID vaccinations on campus to students and employees. Please visit the College Vaccination Requirements website for more information.
Additional Vaccination Resources
Members of the Columbia community may also explore community and healthcare system-based options for vaccination.
Here are some options for vaccination shared with us by government entities:
- What are the COVID-19 testing options on campus and how do I schedule an appointment?
Free testing is available on campus to all campus community members by appointment only. You will receive the results within 30 minutes of taking the test. Please visit the COVID-19 Testing Information page for more details.
- What should I do if am experiencing COVID-19 symptoms?If you have had any COVID-19 related symptoms before you intend to come on campus:
- Do not come to campus.
- Students should call the Student Health Center or your personal health care provider.
- Employees should call CareATC or your personal health care provider.
- Notify your supervisor and/or professor of your absence.
- Monitor your symptoms.
This notification triggers contact tracing, the process in which you will help us to identify others who may have been exposed to you while you were on campus and may have been contagious.
You are required to notify Campus Security if you are a campus community member who:
- Has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
- Is waiting for test results because you are experiencing symptoms and currently
- Recently had close contact with a diagnosed case of COVID-19.
- Students: Contact your campus supervisor if you work on campus.
- Employees: Contact Human Resources at email@example.com and notify your supervisor of your absence.
- Columbia faculty are committed to working with students who become sick with COVID-19 or have been in close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and needs to self-isolate. If you are sick and/or need to self-isolate it is essential that you communicate with your instructors so that they can proactively work to support you.
- Take the time needed to heal and recover.
- Contact your professors as soon as you are able to make a plan for completing your course work.
- Complete your work in the timeframe agreed upon between you and your professor.
- Before you return, provide an attestation to Student Relations that:
- At least 1 day (24 hours) has passed since recovery, defined as the resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); and,
- At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.
- Your COVID-19 related absences will be excused.
- You will be allowed to make-up course work; however, accommodations may vary depending on the specific course.
- Remote option for class participation may be available depending on the course.
If a Student Becomes Sick in the Residence Halls
In the event a student in the residence halls contracts COVID-19 and does not require being in the hospital, we will house them in a special room. We will also reserve rooms for residence hall students who, per CDC guidelines, should self-isolate because they have been in close contact with a person who has COVID-19. These individuals will be provided with:
- Some medical supplies.
- Food delivery.
- Wellness checks only for residential students.
- Student Health Services and Residence Life staff will remain in close communication with these students, whose health and well-being will be our top priority.
- Do not come to campus.
- If I am unvaccinated and recently tested positive for COVID-19, am I required to comply with the College’s COVID-19 testing requirement (displaying a negative COVID-19 test from CareATC no more than 2 days old while on campus)?Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Chicago Department of Public Health, individuals who have had COVID-19 may test positive for a duration of 90 days even though they are no longer sick. If an individual has tested positive for COVID-19 and been cleared to return to campus by the College, they are not required to be tested for 90 days. Please see the Fall 2021 Return to Campus Plan 90 Day Testing Exception for more details.
- What should I do if I am fully vaccinated and am exposed to someone with COVID-19?
If you are a vaccinated individual who is a close contact, the college requires you to get tested 5 days after the date of your close contact, even though you are vaccinated. Your test should occur no sooner than Day 5 after the close contact. You are allowed on campus in the days preceding your test, provided you wear a mask at all times. You should isolate for 10 days if your test result is positive.
Please know your ID will be turned off on Day 6 after the close contact. To enter campus buildings after that time and have your ID turned back on, you must receive a negative test from our campus testing center. To make an appointment at the CareATC testing center at 618 S. Michigan, call 844-766-3775; the phone line is open Monday-Friday from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. In the event that you are sick with COVID-19, employees should contact HRbenefits@colum.edu; students should email firstname.lastname@example.org and notify email@example.com as soon as possible.
- What if someone who is unvaccinated doesn’t want to wear their mask while they are on campus? Failure to wear a face covering as required will be subject to discipline, up to termination for employees, and up to expulsion for students. Please see the Face Coverings page for more details.
- What is a “close contact” when it comes to COVID-19?
The college draws on guidance from the CDC and considers “close contact” to mean a person who has had contact within six feet for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period, and includes those who have:
- provided care at home to someone who is sick with COVID-19.
- had direct physical contact (hugged or kissed) a person infected with the virus.
- shared eating or drinking utensils with a person infected with the virus.
- been near an infected person who sneezed, coughed, or somehow got respiratory droplets on you.
While wearing masks remains one of the best ways to protect ourselves and others, the close contact guidelines still apply even if both parties are masked. Individuals sharing a dwelling are also considered close contacts by the College. The College begins contact tracing upon notification of a positive case and notifies close contacts as needed.
Public Health Recommendations:
Except in certain circumstances, people who have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 should quarantine. However, the following people with recent exposure may NOT need to quarantine:
- People who have been fully vaccinated.
- People who were previously diagnosed with COVID-19 within the last three months.
- How will positive cases of COVID-19 be handled in the workplace?
Despite all precautionary measures, there is always a risk of potential workplace exposure to communicable diseases. Should an employee contract COVID-19 and expose others in our workplace, the college will undergo contract tracing and will notify individuals as appropriate.
- Can I choose to continue to work from home?
No. All employees are expected to report to work on campus based on the department’s established work schedules unless there is a legitimate reason to continue working remotely, such as an approved ADA accommodation with Human Resources.
- What if I am concerned about safety in returning to work?
Employees should be reminded that the college is taking every precaution to ensure our workplace is safe. We have implemented practices such as on-campus COVID-19 testing, mandatory COVID vaccination for students, and testing for unvaccinated employees and students. In addition, campus facilities are cleaned and disinfected daily. We are following city and state health and safety guidelines as well as guidance from the CDC, CDPH and our partners at RUSH University Medical Center and the University of Chicago.
- Will in-person meetings resume?
In-person meetings will resume. As you schedule meetings you will want to consider whether you will include a virtual option (Zoom, Teams, teleconferencing, etc.) for employees to participate from their personal workspace and to accommodate employees’ flexible work schedules.
- How do I schedule the use of a conference room for group meetings? How do I know the capacity limit in conference rooms?
You can reserve a meeting space via the online Room Request form. Capacity limits for each available room is indicated on the Room Request Form. Questions regarding space and scheduling can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Can my manager ask if I have been vaccinated?
Yes, but only for planning purposes. Managers may need to know this information to adequately schedule for coverage in the department while employees receive their vaccine or to advise non-vaccinated employees of the college’s testing requirements.
- What if an employee feels sick?
Employees who feel ill should notify their manager and not report to work. If the employee is already at work and begins feeling sick, they should notify their manager and go home immediately. Employees can utilize accrued paid-time-off hours and/or other paid leave that may be available. Managers and employees should contact human resources for more information on available paid time off if the illness is deemed to be related to COVID-19.
CareATC does not test symptomatic employees. Symptomatic employees should be tested at their healthcare provider.
- What is the college’s policy for employee COVID-19 testing or vaccinations?
Employees are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated and are also required to report their vaccination status to the College via Covid Navigator. Please be aware that it will take 24 hours before your vaccination status has been processed and your card will be activated. If your card is not activated, you will not be permitted to enter campus. Unvaccinated employees will be required to provide negative COVID-19 test results dated no more than 2 days old for each visit to campus.
Testing on campus is reserved for asymptomatic employees and students. Vaccinated individuals are able to test as a precaution as long as they are asymptomatic. For more information, please review the COVID-19 Testing and Vaccination Information page.
- What do I do if I find out an employee tested positive for COVID-19?
If an employee tests positive for COVID-19 on-campus, that employee should be sent home immediately. The employee should notify Campus Security at email@example.com and Human Resources at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The college’s contract tracing team and Human Resources will follow-up with the employee to provide guidance on when they will be cleared to return to campus.
- How do I go about requesting more disinfectant and cleaning materials for my department?
If additional supplies (hand sanitizer, disinfecting spray, paper towels) are needed for your department, your department administrator or designee should compile a list of supplies needed and submit the request via 360Facility. Materials will be delivered with the mail, with south campus deliveries on Tuesdays and Thursdays and north campus deliveries on Mondays and Wednesdays. For more info, visit the Facilities and Operations Sharepoint site.
- I'm concerned about the person next to me who is not vaccinated even though I'm vaccinated.
Unvaccinated people on campus are subject to the COVID-19 Testing Requirements, wearing a mask, and social distancing when possible. Prior to the vaccine, these measures alone were proven to be effective in the spread of COVID-19.
Becoming vaccinated offers you an additional and effective layer of protection from the virus. It reduces your risk of getting or becoming severely ill with the virus. The CDC continues to recommend frequent handwashing, wearing a mask, and distancing.
- Will the COVID-19 Childcare Leave Benefit still be available to employees?
Yes, the COVID-19 Childcare Leave will remain available to employees through the fall semester. Employees who need to take a COVID-19 Childcare Leave should submit a completed Emergency COVID-19 Childcare Leave Request Form to Human Resources and your manager no later than two-weeks prior to their requested leave date, or as soon as possible after you become aware of the need for leave. For more info, visit the HR Sharepoint site or contact benefits at HRbenefits@colum.edu.
- My colleague is not vaccinated and does not want to wear their mask. What should I do?
If you observe an employee or colleague who is not adhering to the College’s health and safety requirements kindly remind them of the college’s health and safety requirements and our shared responsibility to contribute to a healthy work environment. If the employee continues to defy the college’s safety requirements, you should inform your supervisor accordingly. Employees who continue to violate the college’s safety requirements may be subject to disciplinary action up to or including termination.
- How do I handle a person on campus who is noncompliant?
- Assume they are unaware of the non-compliance (lack of face covering or distancing may be inadvertent), and if you are comfortable doing so, bring it to their attention.
- Remind the person of the requirements of the policy, emphasizing our mutual responsibility for protecting the health of all persons on campus.
- If the individual refuses to comply, ask that they leave the area or notify Campus Security.
If a student continues to defy the college’s safety requirements despite multiple requests from faculty or staff to adhere to established health and safety requirements, inform your Department Head and apprise the Office of the Dean of Students of the issue. Students who continue to violate the college’s safety requirements may be subject to disciplinary action.
- What do visitors need to know when coming to campus?
All visitors must follow the college's Visitor Guidance, which includes safety precautions such as wearing a mask while on campus. Thank you for helping to keep our campus community safe, and we hope you enjoy your visit.
- Why was I unable to gain clearance to enter campus?
Unvaccinated employees and students with approved religious and medical exemptions, or international students within their first six weeks of the semester are required to comply with the college’s COVID-19 testing requirements before entering campus.
Unvaccinated individuals seeking entry to a college facility will have to show evidence of a negative test that is no more than two days old.
Anyone in the following categories who is unable to provide evidence of a negative COVID test will be denied entry to academic buildings. Only tests conducted on campus will be acceptable, and only those tests will be linked to the system through which individuals will be able to demonstrate compliance when they enter a building.
For more information regarding testing requirements for those who are unvaccinated, visit this page.
- Where can I eat on campus?Visit the Eating Spaces page to view the latest guidelines and a list of designated eating spaces on campus.
- What is Columbia doing to keep campus buildings disinfected and clean?
As part of the college's ongoing efforts to promote the health and safety of the campus community, the campus is regularly cleaned and disinfected.
What Columbia is doing:
- Frequent disinfection and cleaning of our facilities is an ongoing feature of our facilities maintenance program.
- All facilities, offices, studio spaces, break rooms, classrooms, lobbies, elevators, and restrooms receive comprehensive daily cleanings and disinfection according to CDC guidance.
- Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) are inspected and air filters have been replaced on all systems.
- There are nearly 200 hand sanitizing stations available across campus.
- All bathroom faucets and paper towel dispensers are touchless.
- Special sanitizing protocols are in effect when instructional equipment and library books are being checked out and returned.
What you should do:
- Members of the campus community are encouraged to avail themselves of wipes and disinfectants that the college provides in learning spaces, workstations, restrooms, and other areas so they can clean tools, other equipment, and office technology such as keyboards and phones that are shared.
- Keep workstations clear of items at the end of the work day.
- Employees and students are also encouraged to use DIY cleaning supplies to wipe down surfaces and other areas as they choose.
The mechanical systems and HVAC expert retained by the college, RAM Mechanical Services Inc, has completed its air assessment. There were two components to RAM Mechanical’s analysis:
Examination of 135 air handling units at Columbia
These represent the totality of the HVAC units that serve all occupied (non-IT or non-mechanical spaces) spaces on campus. RAM experts inspected and surveyed all units to verify fresh air ductwork and volume dampers were present in each of the listed pieces of equipment. All dampers were verified to be functional and operational, and filters were inspected to be properly installed and clean. In 1014 S. Michigan, one unit, which only serves part of the fourth floor and two instructional spaces, had a lower performance and was flagged for remediation. A second unit in the same building, which does not serve instructional spaces, also had a lower performance and will be remediated.
Air assessment of spaces slated for higher-aerosol activities
CDC guidance encourages organizations to review standards published by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) in assessing ventilation. ASHRAE Standard 62.1-2019 (“Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality”) establishes recommended thresholds, taking into account room size, occupancy, and planned activities.
On the advice of our epidemiology and infection control experts from Rush University Medical Center and the University of Chicago, the college decided, as an added precaution, to conduct an additional air assessment for some campus spaces. This assessment focused largely on rooms that are home to activities that bring higher potential risk for COVID-19 spread.
RAM Mechanical determined that all of the more than 70 instructional spaces examined exceed the ASHRAE standards, with the exception of the two rooms at 1014 S. Michigan noted above. These rooms are served by the same air handling unit and will be addressed.
UVGI installation has been completed in the dance building (1306 S. Michigan), the theatre building (72 E. 11th), as well as the movement spaces at 916 S. Wabash. Installation is expected to be complete at the Media Production Center (1600 S. State) before the end of the weekend. UVGI installation has already begun in the music building (1014 S. Michigan) and will be followed by the lower level Audio Arts & Acoustics facilities at 33 E. Ida B. Wells. Because some spaces at 1104 S. Wabash, 618 S. Michigan, and 754 S. Wabash were only included in UVGI because of possible use for performances in future semesters, that work will take place last.
- Why is Columbia requiring students to get vaccinated?
Columbia will not be reconsidering its final decision to require COVID-19 vaccination for students. After consultation with health and legal experts, Columbia made the decision to require students to vaccinate in order to manage risk and promote safety. We are a college for creatives where hands-on learning and collaboration are at the heart of what we do. While we have leveraged testing and other precautions to resume certain limited student performances and projects, students being immunized will allow us to offer them more opportunities and to ensure that they have a full and rewarding college experience. As I’m sure you are aware, many other colleges in the Chicago area and throughout the United States are mandating COVID-19 vaccination.
Whereas we acknowledge the concern and hesitancy you have expressed regarding COVID-19 vaccination, Columbia follows guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC has published information regarding the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccination available here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/safety/safety-of-vaccines.html.
- Upon entry to campus, will my unvaccinated status be disclosed when I enter campus with my card?
We have implemented a system at our security desks on campus that serves to help our guards identify several different things, not just vaccination status. No one who may be passing by the desk will know the vaccination status of any student based on this system. Additionally, no student who is following our requirements will ever be detained. Our security guards are well trained to be very sensitive with our students, especially regarding the COVID-19 vaccination requirement.
It will be a very quick and discreet process for entering our campus buildings. Our recommendation for non-vaccinated students is to have their most recent negative COVID-19 test result ready to display on the Navica app while entering a campus building. Students should swipe their campus card, display the app screen to the security guard, and continue walking once all is approved.