Columbia University will continue holding classes virtually through the Fall 2020 Semester, as announced by President Bollinger on the University website earlier this morning. Bollinger’s decision comes during a time of national crisis, as coronavirus rates continue to rise in the United States at large, with New York at the center of the pandemic.
“This was an incredibly hard decision to make,” Bollinger’s letter reads. “But, ultimately, we decided to lean towards caution. It’s better to be safe than sorry.”
Bollinger cited several reasons for making this decision, including the top priority of maintaining the health of all students and faculty; the uncertain timing of when COVID-19 will run its course; and a desire to be fair to international students who may have trouble returning to the U. S. due to ongoing travel restrictions. He also expressed a desire to regain the trust of the Columbia community after the many difficulties of prior weeks.
“I take full responsibility for the fact that our university procedures were not up to the task of dealing with this pandemic,” lamented Bollinger. “We wanted to avoid shutting down university functions until we absolutely had to do so. But the ever-shifting policies during the first weeks of March led to a great deal of confusion, uncertainty, and even panic among the student body. We have learned from these mistakes and would like to offer our students a sense of stability going forward. Stay where you are, get comfortable, and continue to study hard. We’ll be here until December.”
As of press time, Dean James Valentini of Columbia College has sent a follow-up email confirming that mandatory pass-fail grading “may or may not continue” and that students should “stay tuned”.