Thousands of Columbia Students Return, and So Far the Positive Covid Rate is Low


The Columbia campus in calmer times.

Columbia University officially starts classes on Tuesday and thousands of students are already back in the city. About 1,000 are on campus, and about 13,000 are living off campus, with 4,400 living in Columbia-owned housing and the rest in other apartments, according to President Lee Bollinger. There are 15,400 students in remote-only classes.  About a quarter of classes will be in-person or hybrid, with the rest online-only. Undergraduate classes will be entirely online.

Columbia plans to test people who will be on campus. So far, they have run 13,000 tests and have a positivity rate of just 0.05%, Bollinger wrote.

“Under New York State rules governing colleges and universities, Columbia would immediately revert to universal virtual classroom instruction for at least two weeks if we experience an outbreak of 100 or more positive cases over a 14-day period,” he wrote.

Students are expected to adhere to New York’s rules, includig wearing masks and enrolling in the college’s contact tracing progam.

At other colleges including SUNY Oneonta, students returning to campus have sparked large Covid outbreaks. One Morningside Heights resident who lives in a building with Columbia students told us she’s concerned that students will spread Covid to local residents. About 20 have moved into the building in recent days, she wrote. “The rest of the building is families, elderly and professionals,” she wrote in a letter to the university that she sent to the Rag. “We are skeptical there will be any follow through from your students to adhere to the COVID regulations. They are wearing masks, but are not quarantining if they should be.”

Read Bollinger’s entire letter here.

NEWS, SCHOOLS | 13 comments | permalink
    1. Frank Spirito says:

      Let’s be careful not to blame kids for being kids. School is responsible to manage this with that in mind. We should also know by now that we have greatly over reacted to this virus and life needs to get back to normal before we do real damage to society

      • Agnes Frank says:

        Over reacted??? A thousand people a day die in the US alone!!! Where is the over reaction by being careful and protective of our “kids”?

        • your_neighbor says:

          When we are counting deaths such as Tom Seaver’s as a covid death you really cannot trust those numbers. Tom Seaver died of Lewy Body dimentia a horrible neurological disease that kills sufferers.

          Nobody is counting the number of people who have died or will die due to the continued lockdown and the under and unemployment caused by the lockdowns. Most readers of the WSR don’t have a clue about the suffering of the working poor and those who cannot work from home.

      • Wendi Lee says:

        Come live in my building with students from all over the country partying on the roof, Frank. Taking the elevator.

    2. UWSHebrew says:

      I think the students that came back from all over the country (world?), to Columbia and NYU is going to cause a resurgence of the virus in Manhattan. Really hope I’m wrong because we’ve been doing so unbelievably well.

    3. Mark Stone says:

      These are adults they should take responsibility during the pandemic.

      • Wendi Lee says:

        My experience with the students in my building last year is that they are entitled, self-serving kids. Nice sentiment though…I remember college and I didn’t always make the best choices…

    4. anmol says:

      These are adults they should take responsibility during the pandemic.

      • WLee says:

        Yes, one would hope that to be the case – have you read the news lately? College students across the countries are not making good choices. Columbia still has a responsibility to monitor its students off campus if they are avoiding the responsibility of opening dorms, and pushing them into the neighborhood.

    5. Sarah says:

      Man, the bot activity on our little WSR!

    6. Jacqueline C.Hodge says:

      There’s another worrisome source of Covid-19 in NYC, travelers. My girlfriend flew twice within the past ten days–to Texas, then Nevada. On both occasions, she simply walked out of JFK. So contrary to Cuomo’s plan to screen at airports, in reality, it’s business as usual. Wonder how long before Covid spikes again?