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Students no longer need to notify college if they test positive for COVID

Abra Richardson
Columbia themed masks are still available for purchase at SHOP Columbia located at 619 S. Wabash Ave., on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2023. The masks remain for sale despite the college no longer requiring students and employees to mask up or report positive test results.

Students no longer have to notify the college if they test positive for COVID-19 under new guidelines announced this week.

Students also do not have to be vaccinated to attend Columbia, according to an email sent to the campus community on Wednesday, Sept. 6. The new guidelines went into effect on Sept. 1.

Students should still isolate under CDC guidelines and coordinate missed classes or assignments. Instructors were asked to be flexible with students who are sick.

Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 should isolate for five days and wear a mask until day 11, according to the CDC.

Students living in the dorms will no longer be isolated in separate housing, said Michelle Hunter-Lancaster, director of Housing & Residential Experience. “I know in past years we had specific isolation/quarantine housing at the UC, but that is no longer the case,” she told the Chronicle in an email.

Students are being asked to isolate in their personal living spaces.

At Columbia, masks will continue to be an optional policy for students and staff, although the colleges advised that anyone with COVID-like symptoms, even if they have not tested positive, to wear one indoors.

Columbia lifted its classroom mask requirement in February 2023.

Cole Joseph, a junior film and television major, approves of masks continuing to be optional.

“The pandemic is now four years in, so I think definitely making the masking optional was the right thing to do,” Joseph said, although he added that he wished the vaccine were required.

Taji Julius, a first-year audio arts major, doesn’t want to go back to remote learning.

“I’m a little nervous about going back to virtual classes because I didn’t really retain much,” Julius said.

Abygail Garcia, a junior film and television major, still has some anxiety about COVID-19.

“Personally, I just stopped wearing a mask like two weeks ago, so I’m definitely still kind of nervous,” Garcia said. “I remember everyone was so excited when you didn’t have to wear a mask.”

The college also has disbanded its Campus Reopening Task Force, which met regularly throughout the pandemic.

Matthew Rillie, coordinator of Student Support and Engagement, was on the Campus Reopening Task Force representing The United Staff of Columbia College.

“The task force was structured with a very specific task which was meant to reopen campus. That very specific reason is done, the campus is open, and the world is operating like it used to,” Rillie said. “However, we must have conversations about how to respond to the impacts of the pandemic. Covid is not over. The conversations about how to respond to the impacts of Covid-19 are conversations we all need to have both in and out of Columbia’s campus. Absent the ‘Reopening Taskforce’ does not mean the Columbia community is not thinking about Covid still.”

Columbia will update precautions based on CDC guidelines, COVID-19 trends and campus stakeholders, according to the email.

Additional reporting by Copy Editor Jordan Dawson.

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About the Contributors
Connor Dore
Connor Dore, Former Reporter
cdore@columbiachronicle.com   Connor Dore is a senior journalism major, concentrating in broadcast journalism. Dore primarily reports on Columbia's School of Liberal Arts and Sciences, but has also written about the college's financial deficit, Chicago protests and course changes. He joined the Chronicle in May 2023.   Hometown: Hickory Hills, Illinois
Abra Richardson
Abra Richardson, Former Senior Photojournalist
arichardson@columbiachronicle.com   Abra Richardson is a senior photojournalism major and has covered Chicago music festivals, fashion and metro protests. She joined the Chronicle in August 2021.   Hometown: Palatine, Illinois