COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Information for Faculty and Staff

COVID-19 Guidance
Guidance

Central COVID-19 resource including returning to campus information

Vaccination
Vaccination

How and where to get vaccinated in New York

Remote Working for HR Managers
Remote Working

Guidance for HR Managers on transactions and remote managing

Research and Coronavirus
Research Activities

FAQs on conducting research, research operations, and sponsored projects

Activities
Campus Events

Virtual events and University Events Policy

Travel and Coronavirus
Travel

All Columbia business travel is suspended for all affiliates. Risk Assessment By Country

Key Resources

Learn about the types of Leaves of Absence if you cannot work — and the required approval processes. 

Take a Leave of Absence
 

HR Managers: Go to Managing Leaves of Absence.

Updated:12/29/2020, 1:00 p.m.

If you have not already, sign up for direct deposit of your paycheck via My.Columbia.

Updated:12/29/2020, 1:00 p.m.

Columbia Together

  • Read faculty and staff original stories of resilience
  • See images of working during the pandemic
  • Give a shout-out to essential workers

Frequently Asked Questions

Campus Reopening

Review a consolidated list of the most frequently asked questions related to campus reopening.

Go to FAQs

Benefits

  • I lost a family member to Covid-19. He/she was a frontline healthcare worker. Are there resources available to me?
    The New York Life Foundation and the Cigna Foundation established the Brave of Heart Fund to offer monetary grants to families of frontline healthcare workers who lost their lives to COVID-19. Please find information about the program, including FAQs, at braveofheartfund.com
    (last updated 12/30/2020)

  • Is Columbia University modifying health and welfare plan provisions or deadlines as a result of COVID-19?
    Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, agency-issued guidance impacting Plan participants is constantly evolving. If you have concerns under the Plan with respect to your coverage or meeting an applicable deadline due to the national emergency concerning the COVID-19 outbreak, please contact the Plan Administrator at (212) 851-7012 to determine if relief may be available to you.  

    Active employees may also reference the Columbia University Group Benefit Plan COVID-19 Pandemic Summary of Material Modification (SMM). The SMM describes important changes being made to the Columbia University Group Benefit Plan, as amended and restated effective January 1, 2020.
    (last updated: 8/3/2020)
     
  • I have a medical or mental health concern; how can I speak with a professional while at home?
    • If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 (coronavirus), contact your primary care provider immediately.
    • Virtual Visits are ideal for asking questions of a medical professional while at home or if you don't have a primary care doctor. 
       
  • Will UnitedHealthcare cover the cost of COVID-19 care?
    • UHC will cover antibody detection tests (Serology - IGG/IGM/IGA for SARS-nCOV2 (COVID19). From April 10, 2020 through October 17, 2021, UnitedHealthcare will cover COVID-19 antibody tests ordered by a physician or health care provider to diagnose COVID-19 at no cost share to the member, In and Out of Network.  
      (last updated: 7/23/2021)
    • Your health benefits plan administered by UnitedHealthcare will cover the initial provider office visit and subsequent lab testing specifically related to COVID-19 testing at no cost to you from February 4, 2020 through October 17, 2021. Effective December 18, 2020 your pharmaceutical benefits administered by Optum Rx will cover the cost for FDA approved COVD-19 vaccines.
      (last updated: 7/23/2021)

      See UnitedHealthcare's COVID-19 FAQs for additional answers related to cost, coverage and support for faculty and staff affected by coronavirus.
      (last updated: 11/16/2020)
  • Are COVID-19-related medical items Healthcare FSA eligible?
    The CARES Act (COVID Stimulus Bill) that was recently passed by Congress permanently reinstates coverage of over-the-counter (OTC) drugs and medicines as eligible for reimbursement from FSAs and HSAs without need for a prescription. This change is effective for expenses incurred on or after January 1, 2020. For a list of eligible expenses, go to UHC’s website or IRS Publication 502.
    (last updated: 04/21/2020)

  • What happens if the spending card does not work on the OTC purchases?
    A member may use the accounts to purchase the products. However, when a person attempts to use the payment Mastercard it may not work at the moment. This is because individual pharmacies and convenience stores must update their systems to recognize these products as qualified medical expenses for FSA purchases.

    You should first try to use the card as you normally would to make the purchase. If the same does not process, you may pay out of pocket and then reimburse yourself with their account funds. Keep the itemized receipts, which are needed to verify the purchases.

    Reminder for HSAs, the debit card may be used as it normally is since no claim reimbursement process is required. As always the receipts should be kept for tax purposes.
    (last updated: 04/21/2020)

  • Can I increase, reduce or suspend contributions to my Transit/Parking Reimbursement Program (T/PRP)?
    You can make changes your T/PRP account at any time. 

    • Log in to CUBES; confirm access through multi-factor authentication (DUO).

    • Click the “Benefits” tab at the top of the screen, then “Update Your Transit/Parking Elections.”

    • Changes made on or before the 20th day of a month will be effective the first day of the following month (March 20 change effective April 1). Changes made on or after the 21st day of a month will be effective the first day of the second following month (March 21 change effective May 1). 

    • Click the “Change” button for either the Transit Reimbursement Program or the Parking Reimbursement Program. Enter a monthly contribution amount and “Add to Cart.”

    • View your cart and be sure to “Checkout” to save your election.
      (last updated: 3/19/2020)

  • I am anxious about the Coronavirus, who can I speak with?
    The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a free, confidential resource available 24/7 that gives you the opportunity to speak with a licensed mental health professional, who can direct you to additional resources as needed.

    If you're feeling nervous about the coronavirus, you're not alone. Being concerned and empathetic about this outbreak is normal. However, you may experience feelings of discomfort, impacting concentration, productivity and even disrupting sleep patterns. 
     

    Stick to the facts as communicated by public-health agencies or medical professionals. Instead of reading every article and going to every website, avoiding the web is probably a good idea. If you're concerned, sites that include accurate information include the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

    Try to keep it in perspective. Social media can amplify misinformation. Keep in mind that there's a concerted global effort to contain this virus, and the World Health Organization has answers to common questions.

    10 Tips to Enhance Well-Being When Working Remotely
    (last updated: 3/31/2020)

Telework

  • I am working remotely. What are the general expectations from the University on remote-work?
    While specific expectations and guidance is provided by your department and supervisor, the following are general guidelines and procedures that should be followed:

    • When working remotely you are required to be fully active and engaged in your work for the entire working period.  You must be available by phone, email or other appropriate communication methods at all times.
    • If you become ill during the course of working remotely, please follow the same time away from work procedure in place from your School and/or Department for sick days while working on-site.
    • To the extent possible, your performance and productivity should remain consistent with on-site expectations from your supervisor.
    • As much as possible, remote work environments should be quiet and separate from outside activities and distractions.
    • You may use your own equipment or equipment supplied by your School and/or Department.  Any equipment provided on a short-term basis by the University must be returned immediately after the remote work arrangement ends.  You should make every effort to ensure laptops, telephones and any other devices are in satisfactory working order, and work with your local IT resource to address any malfunctions.
    • Review and familiarize yourself with the University’s guidance on computer security.
    • You are responsible for maintaining the security of confidential and restricted files, data and other information.
    • Managers should schedule regular check-ins with you or your team to ensure necessary work is being completed.  In some situations, daily check-ins may be required.
      (last updated: 3/13/2020)
       
  • I am working remotely. What tools are available?
    The university has put together a list of resources and tools for working remotely.

    Go to the Working Remotely Toolkit
    (last updated: 5/4/2021)
     

Time Off/Flex-Time

  • What options do I have to take a leave of absence?
    Learn about the types of Leaves of Absence if you cannot work — and the required approval processes. Learn more.

    HR Managers: Go the Toolkit for help with managing leaves of absence.
    (last updated: 12/29/2020)

  • I am unable to report to work due to school closure, or another family situation related to COVID-19. How will I be paid?  
    Columbia offers full-time and regular part-time employees a one-time allotment of up to 10 paid work days of COVID-Absence in these situations, in addition to any other available leave benefits under our existing University policies (including up to 56 hours under the New York Safe and Sick Leave Policy). Employees should submit requests for COVID-Absence to their managers. 

    Learn more about other University leave policies.
    (last updated: 12/29/2020)

  • I would like to alter my work schedule to travel during off-peak hours. What should I do?
    At the discretion of your School/Department leadership and your supervisor, you may request a flex-time schedule. For example, staggering the start and end time of your day to assist our city officials in reducing the amount of traffic at peak times on public transportation. All time reporting policies and processes remain in place, even if working an alternate work schedule.

    All University staff who can telecommute should speak to their manager to discuss options to telecommute
    (last updated: 3/31/2020)

  • What resources are available to help me adjust to working remotely?

Child Care

What options/resources are available for child care?

  1. Bright Horizons can assist with backup care. Here are instructions for reserving care:

  2. Health AdvocateResources for parents supporting at-home children
    (last updated: 11/18/2020)
     
  3. Columbia's Office of Work/LifeResources for parents during COVID-19
    (last updated: 11/18/2020)