FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

We have consolidated the answers to most frequently asked questions on this page. If you cannot find an answer here, feel free to email your question to returntocampus@tc.columbia.edu.


Vaccination Requirements and Information

Yes, the College is mandating that all students be vaccinated. Read the COVID-19 Vaccine Requirements and Information for more details including acceptable exemption requests.

Yes, vaccination is required for any student or employee regardless of location.

Yes, beginning in early 2022, the College will require all eligible individuals to get a COVID-19 booster shot. More information about how to submit your booster shot documentation will be provided early in the year.

TC has a process for requesting vaccination exemptions for medical reasons, religious beliefs and pregnancy or breastfeeding status. See the Requesting a COVID-19 Vaccination Exemptions section of this page for more information.

Please seek vaccine availability through the city and state COVID-19 vaccination programs. Find more information about how to find your local vaccination site on the COVID-19 Vaccine Requirements and Information page.

Yes, it is important for everyone to continue using preventative measures to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Read TC’s Health and Safety Guidelines here.

You will not know who is and who is not vaccinated, however, TC has measures in place to keep the community safe from the spread of COVID-19. Students and employees will not be allowed on campus unless they have met the vaccine requirement or have received an approved exemption. Those who receive an exemption must comply with weekly testing protocols and all individuals on campus, whether vaccinated or not, must follow the health and safety protocols which includes wearing masks and maintaining physical distance.

Yes, all individuals, including those who are vaccinated, will need to complete a gateway PCR test to access campus for the first time. Visit the campus access requirements page for the most up to date procedure.

Yes. Please speak with your manager if you plan to get vaccinated during the workday.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has advised that employers may require COVID-19 vaccinations, provided that we offer exemptions to individuals with (i) disabilities that prevent COVID-19 vaccination and (ii) sincerely held religious beliefs that prevent COVID-19 vaccination. Employers may also request that an employee provide proof of receipt of a COVID-19 vaccination to ensure that employees have received the vaccine.

The EEOC guidance takes into account the fact that COVID-19 vaccines are currently subject to Emergency Use Authorization. Some COVID-19 vaccines may only be available to the public for the foreseeable future under Emergency Use Authorization granted by the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA requires vaccine providers to give each individual receiving the vaccine the information contained in the Fact Sheet for Recipients and Caregivers. Teachers College complies with these obligations.

The HIPAA privacy rule is not implicated in our process. Teachers College will follow best practices and comply with applicable laws in maintaining privacy and security with respect to vaccination status.

Visit this section of the Columbia University COVID-19 Resource Guide for more specific vaccine questions.

Random Testing Program

Regular, randomized PCR testing for individuals who are not experiencing COVID-19 symptoms can help detect and contain outbreaks of the virus. This program is being implemented at TC in an effort to maintain the health and wellbeing of our community members, whether they are on campus or elsewhere, and to protect against the spread of COVID-19.

Each Monday, those who have been randomly selected to participate in the COVID-19 Random Testing Program will receive an email with the subject line: “ACTION REQUIRED: You've Been Selected for TC's COVID-19 Random Testing Program.” The email will contain instructions on what your next steps should be to fulfill the requirements.

Yes. If selected, you are still required to get a new COVID-19 PCR test, even if you are fully vaccinated. You must also submit your test results through the PCR Test Results Form for review, within two weeks of receiving the random testing notification.

Because this testing program is randomized, it is possible you will be selected for testing multiple times, perhaps even two weeks in a row. Each time you are selected, you must submit new COVID-19 PCR test results.

You may get tested at Columbia University, or anywhere a CDC-approved COVID-19 PCR testing is available. Keep in mind, you must get a PCR test, rapid tests will not be accepted.

Yes, if you do not have access to a free PCR testing location and/or your insurance does not cover testing, TC will reimburse you for the cost. Please obtain a receipt from your test, complete the reimbursement form, and submit the form and a copy of your receipt (only include a copy of you receipt, not your test results). We encourage all individuals who are regularly accessing campus to seek a free test at CU Health or another free NYC testing location, such as the Manhattan School of Music.

Yes. If you are selected for the random testing program, you will be able to access campus without interruption while you follow the process to get tested, submit your results, and receive verification that your results have been reviewed by TC. Your access to campus will only be removed if you submit positive results (in which case, you will need to follow the steps for self-solation, as directed by the Environmental Health and Safety team) or if you fail to submit your results within the two week deadline.

Yes. Whether the test results of your COVID-19 PCR test is positive or negative, you must submit the results through the PCR Test Results Form for review, within two weeks of receiving the random testing notification.

Yes, all employees will receive one hour of paid time off to get tested during the work day. Please let your supervisor know when you plan to get tested.

Employees who are approved for telework as a disability-related accommodation through the Office of Access and Services for Individuals with Disabilities (OASID) may be eligible for a COVID-19 Random Testing exemption. Please email oasid@tc.edu if you receive a selection email and will not be entering campus and would like to request an exemption. If you are planning on entering campus for any reason, you are expected to comply with the random testing protocols.

No. If you have tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 90 days prior to receiving your testing selection email, do not submit a new PCR test result for this program. Instead, please send proof of your previous positive test result to the TC Environmental Health and Safety Team at tcrandomtesting@tc.columbia.edu. Once 90 days have passed since your positive test result, you will be eligible to be called upon for the random testing program again.

If your test results are negative, no further action is required. If your test results are positive, you will receive an email with the subject line “Positive COVID-19 PCR Test: Required Isolation and Next Steps” with instructions for isolating, and a member of the TC Environmental Health and Safety Team will contact you to conduct the appropriate contact tracing, per the CDC and NYC Department of Health guidelines, and advise you on next steps.

Test results may be rejected for the following reasons:

  • You submitted results for a COVID-19 rapid test, not a PCR test. Only COVID-19 PCR diagnostic test results will be accepted.
  • The date of your test and/or results of your test that you entered into the submission form do not match the information on the copy of your test results upload document.
  • Your test results upload document is not legible.

If you are unsure why your test result was rejected, please email tcrandomtesting@tc.columbia.edu.

If you do not submit your COVID-19 PCR test results within two weeks, you will receive a red “X” when you complete the Daily Health Screening and lose your access to campus. Students will not be allowed to access remote classes during this time, and employees may be placed on an unpaid leave of absence. Further disciplinary action may be taken if you remain noncompliant with the testing program. Read the Noncompliance section of this page for full details.

Still have questions about the Random Testing Program? Email tcrandomtesting@tc.columbia.edu.

Campus Life

At the start of each semester, you must submit a gateway PCR test, regardless of vaccination status. If that test is negative, you will be allowed to access campus, though you may need to get tested again throughout the semester if you are selected for the Random Testing Program. If your gateway PCR test is positive, you will be allowed to access campus once you have met the criteria for ending isolation. Find the deadline for the current semester’s gateway PCR test on the Campus Access Requirements Checklist.

If you receive a positive COVID-19 PCR test, please take the Daily Health Screening and answer to indicate that you have tested positive. A member of the Environmental Health and Safety Team will be in touch to provide information about next steps. You will not be permitted to return to campus until you receive clearance from a doctor and have completed 10 days of isolation. If you are a student or faculty member and would like to study or teach remotely during this time, find more information here. Staff members should review sick time and/or remote working options with the supervisor.

TC students, faculty or staff holding a valid TC ID card may access campus through the main entrance at the Zankel Building (525 West 120th Street) or the driveway entrance adjacent to the Public Safety Booth on West 120th Street. Please present your TC ID at the entrance reader, along with your green check Daily Health Screening (DHS) pass for the day of entry.

Visitors (non TC community members) must complete all campus access requirements detailed here

The Whittier Hall entrance remains restricted to Whittier Hall residents, and employees who work in Whittier Hall.

No. TC community members must take the Daily Health Screening located in the myTC Portal (either via your internet browser or the myTC App) in order to receive a “green check” to access both TC and CU campuses.

NYC public transit systems are operating regularly and Columbia University continues to provide a variety of Shuttle Bus options within the local Morningside. Find details about transportation options here. CU’s commuter shuttle is being discontinued and the last day of service will be December 30, 2021.

Public Safety will continue to maintain security vigilance throughout campus and the surrounding areas. Columbia University Public Safety will continue to provide visible vehicle patrols throughout the immediate campus community. Teachers College students, faculty and staff are eligible to use the free on-demand evening shuttle using the Via app. Find details about how to access the shuttle here.

Teachers College has developed a Campus Events Policy outlining the parameters for hosting both internal and external meetings, events and gatherings on campus for the ‘21-’22 academic year. This policy is subject to change if/when circumstances related to COVID-19 including updates in guidance from federal, New York State and City occur. Read the 2021-2022 Campus Events Policy.

Yes. Face coverings are required for all persons, regardless of vaccination status, and must be worn at all with limited exceptions (read about those exceptions here). The quality of the face covering must also meet a certain standard. Learn more about the College’s face covering policies here.

TC will not supply PPE for the general community. While all persons entering campus are required to wear a face covering, individuals should possess and maintain their own personal face coverings. In limited situations face coverings may be available from the Zankel Public Safety Desk for visitors who arrive on campus without a face covering.


PPE is being provided to students, faculty and staff involved in certain research functions, and for essential staff performing certain duties. PPE distribution is pursuant to a Job Safety Analysis performed by the TC Environmental Health and Safety Team. To request a Job Safety Analysis or to request PPE please submit a request to the attention of the EHS Team at ehs@tc.columbia.edu.

Physical distancing requirements are no longer mandated by New York State or the federal CDC, and as such are no longer mandated on campus. However, best practice recommendations include maintaining an awareness of social distancing in environments which may include individuals who are unvaccinated and/or without face coverings.

The College’s events policy takes density issues into account and has been developed to help promote the ability to physically distance on campus per best practices.

Please check the current visitor policy to see if the College is accepting visitors at this time.

Yes. Face coverings are required in almost all indoor settings, regardless of vaccination status. All individuals on campus are expected to comply with the health & safety measures established by the College, including the use of face coverings. Any violations of this face covering policy should be reported to the nearest Public Safety Officer.

If you are fully vaccinated, you do not need to quarantine unless you have symptoms of the virus. However, you should be tested three to five days after your exposure, even if you do not have symptoms, and should wear a face covering when indoors in public areas for 14 days following exposure or until receiving a negative COVID PCR test. If you test positive, you must take the Daily Health Screening to indicate you are positive for COVID-19 and then quarantine for 10 days. You will not be permitted back on campus until the 10 days have passed.

 

If you have received an approved vaccine exemption (thus, you are unvaccinated),and you have close contact with someone who is positive for COVID-19 you must (1) take the Daily Heath Screening and indicate you have had close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 and (2) self-quarantine for 14 days and limit you contact with others. You will not be allowed to come back on campus until you have been symptom-free for 14 days and have submitted either a clearance letter from your healthcare provider or a negative PCR test. Students should submit their letters or tests to the Office of the Vice Provost for Student Affairs, employees should submit to the Office Human Resources. 

Find more information on protocol for COVID-19 exposure and positive PCR tests here.

Students

Jump ahead for international student questions.

Yes, you will be able to register for classes prior to vaccination. However you will not be able to attend in-person classes if you are not fully vaccinated at least 10 days prior to the start of the semester.

Yes, as long as they comply with additional weekly Covid-19 PCR testing and other preventive requirements as specified in the exemption approval and as may be updated by later notification and/or posting of requirements on the TC website. In the event of an outbreak on or near campus, individuals holding exemptions may be excluded from all campus facilities and activities, for their protection, until the outbreak is declared to be over.

One vaccine submission is required per person. Staff members who are also students should indicate on their proof of vaccination form that they are an employee. When an employee is in their student role (ie, in class), they must follow the Student COVID-19 Protocols established for students who are attending in-person classes and they are subject to the Student Code of Conduct.

Remote access to class will only be permitted for COVID-19 related reasons. For temporary remote access (1-2 classes), please request permission from your faculty member to attend remotely. Long term remote access requires approval through the Division of Student Affairs and does not need to be reported to your professor as they will be made aware. Refer to the Remote Access to Classes page for more information.

Long-term Remote Access to classes is being considered for students who were approved for long-term Remote Access in the Fall 2021 semester only. In-person students from the Fall 2021 semester will not be eligible to request Long-term Remote access for the Spring 2022 semester. Remote access to Teachers College classes for COVID-related reasons for more than three consecutive classes or 10 days (whichever is shorter) requires approval through the Division of Student Affairs. Please email returntocampus@tc.columbia.edu with requests for approval to study remotely on a Long-term basis. As a reminder, failure to comply with vaccination requirements is not grounds for Long-term remote access. Long-term remote access will not be granted once the add/drop period has ended.

If a student is eligible to attend remote class, they will be able to access Zoom through Canvas course sites.

Computing requirements for students can be found here.

Faculty

Jump ahead for employees in international locations questions.

Prior to the start of the semester, instructors will receive class lists that identify the names and UNIs of any students who have permission to study remotely. These notifications will be sent weekly until the end of the Add/Drop period. Department chairs and DAAs will also receive a spreadsheet of all students with permission to study remotely each week.

Students will access Zoom through Canvas course sites. All Canvas course sites will be populated with Zoom links by the Digital Futures Institute. The meetings are password protected though any student who is enrolled in the class can access without a password. Due to security concerns, it is recommended that you don’t share the meeting link with students via email or post the link explicitly in the Canvas pages or syllabus. Please always instruct students to access the meetings through the Zoom tab in Canvas. Here is the instruction for students to join class meetings in Canvas. You can also learn tips to make Zoom meetings more secure at this link.

Yes, you will need to ask in-class students to access the meeting through the Zoom tab in Canvas and provide students the meeting password if they are not enrolled in the course.

This is not ideal but may be necessary if timezone differences do not allow synchronous interaction. If lecture capture recordings are used to support remote students' learning they should be accompanied by opportunities for synchronous participation or other forms of interaction. Please reach out to the Digital Futures Institute for best practices in recording asynchronous material and other instructional resources. As a reminder, using recordings of a class session from a previous semester that contains audio or images of students is prohibited.

Remote access to an in-person Teachers College course is restricted to those students who cannot attend for COVID-related reasons. Temporary access to remote instruction can be granted in the following cases: 

  • Positive COVID-19 test (please see contact tracing information also)
  • Quarantine requirements due to exposure to person(s) with a positive COVID-19 test
  • COVID-related child care or caretaker responsibilities (COVID-19 required school or work closures, family member quarantine requirements)
  • When the vaccination process has been initiated but not completed and the student has received special permission from the Vice Provost of Student Affairs

Students must receive permission from their instructor for remote access prior to class. Instructors are not expected to verify students’ requests, however, students with positive test results are obligated to notify the College in accordance with New York City and contact tracing requirements. Lack of vaccination without an approved medical or religious exemption is not grounds for remote instruction. An approved COVID-19 vaccination is a requirement to enroll in classes at Teachers College.

Additionally, the Digital Futures Institute will contact a random sample of instructors each week to estimate the utilization of remote access.

Converting an entire class from in-person to temporary remote instruction should be limited to the following COVID-related circumstances:

  • A College-wide decision to move instruction online in response to external circumstances
  • Other COVID-related circumstances such as:
    • Instructor has positive COVID-19 test (please see contact tracing information also)
    • Instructor is exposed to person(s) with a positive COVID-19 test
    • COVID-related child care or caretaker responsibilities ( COVID-19 required school or work closures, family member quarantine requirements)

Also, remote instruction should only be utilized when the following options have been exhausted:

  • A suitable substitute instructor cannot conduct the class in the instructor’s absence
  • The class cannot be rescheduled or made up in another way that maintains the requisite number of credit hours for the semester

In the case that a class is to be temporarily held remotely, students should still attend the classroom in person with a CA/TA if available. If there is no CA/TA please reach out to the Digital Futures Institute for assistance.

Also, please be sure to notify the college of any positive COVID-19 status.

If one student can attend a class in person, that class should be taught in person. The available technology, support and internet connection on the Teachers College campus makes it more suitable than individuals’ homes for running a class even for a sizeable number of remote learners.

Classrooms will not be sanitized between every class. Facilities and Operations have developed cleaning protocols in accordance with recommendations from the CDC and EPA.

If using the Honorlock system to administer an exam, remote completion can be offered as an option to students but the classroom must also be available to any student who needs a quiet space to perform the exam.

International Students and Employees in International Locations

TC will accept proof of any vaccination that has received authorization by the World Health Organization (WHO). All international students and employees currently in an international setting must be vaccinated, regardless of whether or not they plan to access campus.

According to the CDC, individuals who received a full series of a vaccine currently authorized for emergency use by the World Health Organization (WHO) can get a single booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after getting all recommended doses or completing a mix and match COVID-19 vaccine series.

For individuals who were partially vaccinated with a WHO-authorized vaccine or who were vaccinated with a vaccine not authorized for emergency use by the WHO, a full series of an FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine can be administered with a minimal interval of 28-days post vaccination with a non-FDA-authorized vaccine.

It is TC’s intention to follow CDC guidance regarding individuals who may need additional vaccination in order to meet the vaccination mandate.

Effective August 1, 2021, all new and returning students, staff, faculty, and TC housing affiliates must be fully vaccinated in order to access campus. All individuals who plan to access campus on or after August 1 must submit proof of vaccination no later than 10 days in advance of the date which they plan to access campus. In accordance with New York State public health laws, the College will accommodate religious and medical exemptions, as we do for other vaccines. The College will also allow exemptions for individuals who are pregnant or breastfeeding. See more information about vaccine requirements and approved exemptions here.

Yes, vaccination is required for any student or employee regardless of location.

No. Try to get vaccinated as soon as possible in your home country in order to protect yourself and your community from COVID-19.

We strongly urge you to get vaccinated as soon as possible, as there may be additional requirements you have to meet if you arrive on campus unvaccinated.

Students, faculty, and staff, are expected to complete the vaccination requirement at least 10 days prior to their return to campus, and will be restricted from accessing campus if they have not complied with the requirement. But this process must be timed and scheduled. We will assist international students in this situation so that they can access TC residences immediately, but will be required to comply with additional precautions (such as weekly testing) until they are fully vaccinated.

If you are an international student, contact the Office of International Students and Scholars at tcintl@tc.columbia.edu. They will be able to review options for your enrollment and visa status for the Fall semester.

Visitors

Please check the current visitor policy to see if the College is accepting visitors at this time.

Visitors to faculty and student residential buildings are allowed. These guests will be asked to provide proof of vaccination to the resident or Public Safety Officer if there is one present. Residential Services guest passes are available for 2 or more days with a maximum of 7 consecutive days and may be obtained from the Office of Residential Services. Guest passes are limited to individuals who provide proof of vaccination. Guests must comply with all College and residential policies. Family members who accompany admitted students for the purpose of move-in during the beginning of the Fall semester will be able to access residential halls for limited periods of time during these activities and do not need to register with Public Safety. All individuals assisting with the move-in and out of students during the year will need to comply with all visitor health and safety protocols, including the College’s facial coverings requirements.

Technology

If your question is not listed below, please email servicedesk@tc.columbia.edu to ask it.

Computers that have remained shut down during the campus closure may require system and security updates when turned on. Factor ample time for the installation of updates into your first day back at work. as your computers may require multiple reboots. If you have a laptop or Chromebook at your disposal, you may want to bring it to the office with you for the first few days while your office computers are updated.

If you will require a video camera at work to attend video conference meetings while on campus, please reach out to the Service Desk to order an appropriate device.

Instructions for updating and modifying your Ring Central profile can be found here. If needed, modify your RingCentral Call forwarding number so it no longer forwards all your calls to your home or cell phone during your work hours. If you need assistance with modifying your call forwarding, please contact the Service Desk. Also consider removing or modifying your Out of Office notice in your email message if needed.

Network passwords will have expired for your desktop/laptop login account. Please review the guide to update/reset your Network password here. WiFi access will also have expired. You can access guidance on how to reconnect to campus WiFi here.

All TC purchased equipment will need to be returned to campus. Ensure you give yourself ample time to set up your equipment when you return. If your TC-managed laptop ordered during the pandemic cannot access WiFi on campus, or if you have any additional questions about setting up TC-purchased equipment please contact the Service Desk.

General COVID-19 Questions

If you have more specific questions about the COVID-19 virus, please visit the CDC website or the Columbia University resource site.

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