Columbia College | Columbia Engineering

Isolation & Quarantine FAQs

Students who report a positive test to Columbia Health will be instructed, in most cases, to isolate in-place for a minimum of 5 days – either in their assigned campus residence or non-Columbia housing. And, in some cases, students who report close contact to covid-positive individuals may be instructed to quarantine in-place. Separate isolation facilities will be reserved for students with underlying health conditions, and those with symptoms that require close monitoring. As a reminder: day 0 of the 5 day isolation period is the date of either a positive test sample or symptom onset - whichever comes first.

Please review the information below carefully, along with all other summer 2022 COVID-19 policy updates.

Updated: May 12, 2022

How should I prepare?

Gather what you will need in advance

The best way to prepare for a potential isolation or quarantine period is to gather anything you might need in advance. You will be in isolation for at least 5 days, and students in Columbia residences will only be able to leave their room for medical appointments, to pick up food, or to transfer to a separate isolation location.

Things to have on hand:

  • Clean clothes for a week
  • Pillow, bedding, blanket
  • Laptop, cell phone, and all required chargers
  • Course materials and textbooks
  • Toiletries and eyewear
  • Supply of approved masks (i.e. non-cloth)

Prep a self-care kit:

  • Digital thermometer (for daily symptom monitoring)
  • Hand sanitizer and alcohol wipes (particularly for those in shared spaces)
  • Over the counter fever reducing medications
  • Supplies of any other medications you may need
  • Water bottle (hydration will be important!)
  • Temperature and symptom log

If you live in a shared space, make a plan now

Discuss isolation plans in advance with your roommate(s). Given the transmissibility and rapid spread of the omicron variant, many students who test positive may have already unknowingly shared the virus with others in a shared residence. However, to avoid unnecessary infection there are a number of practical steps that should be taken to avoid exposure.

  • Plan staggered meal times so isolating individuals can eat grab-and-go meals alone.
  • Make arrangements for the use of shared bathroom facilities. 
  • Keep a supply of approved masks on-hand. Remember: students in isolation and their roommates should wear approved masks at all times in shared spaces (yes, even while sleeping).
  • Look out for each other. Remain aware of an isolating roommate’s condition and help provide support however you can.
     

When will I be instructed to isolate or quarantine?

Isolation requirements

You will be instructed to isolate in the following situations:

  • You have symptoms of COVID-19 and are awaiting test results 
  • You have reported a positive COVID-19 test to Columbia Health

All students who report a positive test, or are symptomatic awaiting results, will be provided with resources and support when contacted by Columbia Health with instructions to begin their isolation period.

Detailed information on Isolation protocols

Isolation Guide for Students

Quarantine requirements

If you have been exposed via close contact to another individual with COVID-19, you will only be instructed to quarantine if you have not received a booster or are not yet fully vaccinated. 

  • Students who have received a booster are not required to quarantine after a close contact, even if their roommate is required to isolate.
  • Those who have not received a booster will be required to quarantine after close contact. 

All students with close contact to an individual with COVID-19 – whether instructed to quarantine or not – should test 5-7 days after exposure (either when the contact tested positive or began experiencing symptoms, whichever came first).

If you develop symptoms after close exposure to someone with COVID-19, begin isolation immediately and contact Columbia Health at 212-854-7426 (available 24/7).

Detailed information on Quarantine protocols

Quarantine Guide for Students
 

I need to isolate, what should I do?

First, and most importantly, follow all instructions from Columbia Health and be on the lookout for any additional communications related to your isolation.

In addition to the information below, please take time to review the latest protocols and information from Columbia Health for students in isolation:

Where will I isolate myself?

Most students who report a positive test will be instructed to isolate in-place for a minimum of 5 days – either in their assigned campus residence or non-Columbia housing. An approved mask (i.e. non-cloth) must be worn at all times while in public spaces or in the presence of others.

Isolation in Columbia Housing

  • Students isolating in Columbia housing should only leave their room in limited situations:
    • Up to 3 times per day to pick up meals
    • Medical appointments or treatment
    • Relocation to an off-campus location (i.e. with family) for isolation via private vehicle
  • No guests or visitors are allowed in any room or suite where students are in isolation
  • Students with roommate(s): All students in isolation and their roommates should wear an approved mask at all times while in shared spaces. Yes, even while sleeping.
     

Students in dedicated isolation facilities

Separate isolation facilities will be reserved for students with underlying health conditions (i.e. immunocompromised), and those with symptoms that require close monitoring. 

  • Students with underlying conditions putting them at elevated risk should inform Columbia Health as soon as they test positive or have close contact with an individual who has tested positive.
     

Students isolating off-campus or at home

Follow all instructions provided by Columbia Health and make every effort to protect those around you if you are living in a shared space. Wear an approved mask at all times while in the presence of others, avoid public places - including public transportation, and take advantage of the resources listed here if you need support.
 

What will I do about food?

Whether you are isolating in a Columbia residence hall, or in off-campus housing – you can have food delivered to your residence hall from local restaurants (via GrubHub, etc.) regardless of meal plan status. Remember, you should not leave isolation more than 3 times per day to pick up meals.

Please note: Columbia Dining’s isolation meal service ends on Friday, May 13 at 6:00 p.m. Columbia Dining will be closed for the summer and students in isolation after this date should make arrangements to have food/groceries delivered or ask friends to help by dropping off food and supplies.
 

How long do I need to isolate?

If you have reported a positive COVID-19 test, you will be instructed to isolate for a minimum of 5 days. Day 0 is considered the first day of symptoms or the day you tested positive - whichever came first.

On Day 5

Columbia Health will contact you to assess whether you are ready to end isolation.

  • If you are asymptomatic, feeling healthy, and instructed to do so by Columbia Health, you can end your isolation.
  • If you still have symptoms, Columbia Health will provide you with further instructions.
     

Where kind of mask should I wear?

Surgical masks, worn doubled-up, or other high-filtration masks (N95, KN95, etc.) should be worn at all times by those in isolation while in public spaces or when roommates are present.
 

Who do I contact for medical help?

Please take your temperature twice daily and record your symptoms on the health log

If you develop symptoms or need medical help while in isolation, please call Columbia Health at 212-854-7426 (available 24/7). A nurse will determine if you should leave the premises to seek medical attention.

Symptoms related to COVID-19 include:

  • Fever (above 100.4°F)
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia and other complications, especially for older individuals and those with other health conditions.

For urgent medical emergencies, Public Safety is available 24/7 at 212-854-5555 or call 9-1-1.
 

What if I’m worried about my mental health? 

Please contact Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS) at 212-854-2878 if you need immediate counseling care. A provider is available to speak with you over the phone 24/7. 

Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations that require changes in location or behavior. When you’re in isolation, you may experience a range of feelings, including:

  • Anxiety, worry, or fear related to your health status or that of others
  • Anger or resentment at the inconvenience
  • Worry about not having your things with you or not doing your usual routine
  • Uncertainty or concern about how long you will need to remain in this situation
  • Excitement to have some alone time to rest and catch up on reading
  • Loneliness or feeling cut off
  • Boredom and frustration
  • Sadness or depression
  • Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder

Don’t hesitate to reach out for help if you need it. 

Additional resources can be found on the Live Well | Learn Well website.
 

Who should I contact for non-medical issues?

Academic support: 

Berick Center for Student Advising

Center for the Core Curriculum:

Directors of Undergraduate Studies

General issues:

Email the CC/SEAS Covid Support Team at ccseas-covidsupport@columbia.edu with any general questions or issues related to your required isolation.

What about my classes?

Student absences relating to COVID-19 will be recognized as circumstances for which absences are excused, and students will not be penalized. Instructions for students and additional information can be found in the resource guide on the return to in-person instruction.

My roommate is isolating, what should I do?

Given the transmissibility and rapid spread of the omicron variant, many students who test positive may have already unknowingly shared the virus with others in a shared residence. However, to avoid unnecessary infection there are a number of practical steps that should be taken to avoid exposure.

Do I need to quarantine?

If you are fully vaccinated, received a booster, and have no COVID-19 symptoms you do not need to quarantine if your roommate or suitemate is in required isolation.

When should I get tested?

If your roommate tests positive, you are recommended to get a test from any number of publicly available locations. This test should be taken within 5-7 days of your roommate’s positive test or when they began experiencing symptoms, whichever came first.

If you test positive, you may email covidtesttrace@columbia.edu for further guidance and help navigating resources.
 

Can I move to separate housing if I have health concerns?

Only students with documented health risks (i.e. immunosuppressed or other complications) may relocate to dedicated isolation housing if a roommate is required to isolate in-place. You should contact Columbia Health at 212-854-7426 (available 24/7) if you need to be relocated for health reasons.
 

Do I need to wear a mask all the time?

Whenever you are in a shared indoor space with someone in isolation, you and your roommate(s) should wear approved masks (i.e. not cloth) at all times. 

Yes, this means you should wear a mask while sleeping if you share a room.

You should ideally stagger eating times to avoid being unmasked together for any period of time. Those living in suites with shared spaces should develop a similar schedule for the use of any shared spaces to avoid contact whenever possible.
 

Who can I contact for support?

Email the CC/SEAS Covid Support Team at ccseas-covidsupport@columbia.edu with any general questions or issues related to a roommate’s required isolation.
 

I’m worried about my roommate’s symptoms. What should I do?

If you are concerned about your roommate’s symptoms, or if they need medical help while in isolation, please call Columbia Health at 212-854-7426 (available 24/7). A nurse will determine if they should leave the premises to seek medical attention. 

Symptoms related to COVID-19 include:

  • Fever (above 100.4°F)
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

For urgent medical emergencies, Public Safety is available 24/7 at 212-854-5555, or call 9-1-1.
 

Contacts for Support & Information

Health & Wellness

If you are concerned about your symptoms, or those of a friend or roommate, please call Columbia Health 24/7 at 212-854-7426.

Please contact Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS) at 212-854-2878 if you need mental health support.

For urgent medical emergenciesPublic Safety is available 24/7 at 212-854-5555 or call 9-1-1.
 

Academics

Berick Center for Student Advising

Center for the Core Curriculum:

Directors of Undergraduate Studies
 

General Issues

Email the CC/SEAS Covid Support Team at ccseas-covidsupport@columbia.edu with any general questions or issues related to your required isolation.
 

Undergraduate Student Life

Visit

505-515 Alfred Lerner Hall
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Call: 212-854-3612

Fax: 212-854-9801

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