All of us in the Division of Student Affairs are eagerly looking forward to your return to campus for the fall 2021 semester! Our teams in Graduate Student Life & Development, Student Health & Wellness, and TC NEXT are actively preparing to welcome you and celebrate our resumption of campus life. I write today with some important updates and reminders, as well as the College’s plans for a smooth and safe transition to campus.
COVID-19 Vaccination Documentation
Last week, the College shared an important message regarding the process for submitting your COVID-19 vaccination documentation.
We hope that you have completed TC’s proof of COVID-19 vaccination form, or that you are in the process of obtaining your vaccine so that you can upload it before August 1, 2021. You must upload documentation at least 10 days in advance of the date you plan to access campus. Your prompt completion of the vaccine requirement will help facilitate a smooth and safe return to campus this September. If you have not yet been vaccinated, Columbia is currently operating seven vaccination sites in New York state. Not in the area? Find a vaccine site in New York or elsewhere in the US.
Religious & Medical Exemption Requests
As communicated in yesterday’s College message, students who cannot be vaccinated for COVID-19 because of a medical reason or sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance may request an exemption through the College.
The Office of Student Health & Wellness will review student requests for exemptions. Each request will be carefully reviewed according to the established guidelines and contraindications for approved COVID-19 vaccinations. Requesting a medical or religious exemption does not equate to registration as an individual with a disability. If an accommodation outside the vaccination exemption process is required, students must register with the Office of Access and Services for Individuals with Disabilities (OASID) or contact email@example.com with specific questions.
By August 16, any student who has not uploaded proof of full vaccination, or who has not been approved for a Medical or Religious Exemption, will not have access to either the TC or Columbia main campus until the vaccination requirement is met.
We recognize that international students might have difficulty meeting the above deadline because they may be unable to access or complete a vaccine series before arriving in New York. We ask that international students continue to reach out to our Office of International Students and Scholars at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss the timing of arrival and any concerns regarding the vaccination timeline.
Our Frequently Asked Questions address many questions about the vaccine, particularly for our International Students, who have additional circumstances to navigate.
International Student Visas
If you are a Fall 2021 incoming student needing F-1 or J-1 visa sponsorship to start your studies at Teachers College, the deadline to submit your request for a Form I-20 or DS-2019 is July 15, 2021. If you are a Fall 2021 admitted student, make sure to submit the Initial I-20/DS-2019 Request via TC-Compass. More information regarding this process can be found on the Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) website under New Students here. If you encounter any issues or delays in obtaining your F-1 or J-1 visa at the U.S. consulate, be sure to stay in contact with the OISS so we can advise you on next steps as you consider your enrollment options.
Classes at Teachers College begin on Wednesday, September 8, 2021. All students who will be on campus are required to be fully vaccinated prior to the opening of the Fall semester. Classes coded as Main Campus Classes will take place in-person on the TC campus. Returning to in-person instruction is not a preference. It is the mode of instruction, unless otherwise noted in the course registration system. (Select classes will be coded as online courses).
Requests for Remote Learning
Teachers College is committed to supporting students who have a need to study remotely for the upcoming fall semester. We asked students to respond to an enrollment survey. Students must have a documented medical or health reason or a travel or visa restriction in order to study remotely. Other reasons will be considered on a case-by-case basis, and approval is at the discretion of the College. We are in the process of communicating with students who requested remote learning. Students approved for remote learning for the Fall 2021 semester will be notified by the end of June and the accommodation will be for the Fall 2021 semester only.
If you plan on residing with us in Teachers College residence halls, please keep in touch with staff members in the Office of Residential Services to coordinate your move-in date. We have arranged early move-in dates to support international students who may have partially completed the vaccination process, but who may not be fully vaccinated by the time they move in.
Student Town Hall Meetings
We will host a series of three Student Town Hall Meetings in June, July, and August to share information and answer your questions about returning to campus. On the agenda:
- Campus Health & Safety Protocols
- COVID-19 Vaccine Requirement
- Who to Contact for Support & Assistance in your Return to Campus
Stay tuned for an email invitation and event listings on our websites as details are confirmed later this month.
Throughout the past year and a half, you have helped to keep your communities safe, whether you were in New York or elsewhere. A vaccinated TC and greater Columbia community is the next step in our commitment to each other and keeping us healthy. We acknowledge that the pandemic has created many changes and sacrifices on your part, but our primary goal is to keep you and our entire campus community safe. We are excited that in just a few months, the College will begin to return to an in-person community, with new structures and policies in place to keep us all safe while enjoying the communal experience TC provides.
Thank you for your flexibility and willingness to support these efforts. For more information on the vaccine requirements, extensive FAQs, and additional resources, please visit the College’s preparedness site or send your questions to ReturnToCampus@tc.columbia.edu
Vice Provost for Student Affairs