COVID-19 Testing for CUIMC Students

Updated January 12, 2022

Because of the increasing number of positive cases in New York City and elsewhere, we strongly encourage all students to get a PCR test from a local testing site 48 hours prior to returning to campus. You are required to report any off-site positive test results as soon as you receive them to covidtesttrace@columbia.edu, as required by the Columbia University Community Health Compact.

If you had a positive COVID-19 PCR test within the past 90 days and reported it to the University, you do not need to undergo gateway testing or surveillance testing during the three months since your positive test. 

Types of Testing Available to CUIMC Students

Columbia Gateway and Surveillance Testing for Spring 2022

Columbia Gateway Testing

All CUIMC students are required to get a PCR test from a Columbia gateway testing location within 72 hours after returning to campus. We do, however, strongly encourage you to complete gateway testing before February 4 to prevent any issues with accessing on-campus buildings.

  • Fully vaccinated students: Get a gateway COVID-19 PCR test from a Columbia testing location within 72 hours after your return to campus.
  • Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated students: Get a COVID-19 PCR gateway test from a Columbia testing location prior to accessing campus, and weekly thereafter if you have an approved exemption or until you are fully vaccinated.
  • Students who received a positive PCR Test within the past 90 days: You must report your positive test results to the University as required by the Columbia University Community Health Compact; doing so meets your compliance requirements for gateway testing. Please do not re-test unless directed to do so by a healthcare provider and refer to the University's testing FAQ on how to submit your documentation in case of a positive test result.

You may notice that the testing requirement box on the ReOpenCU app will be unchecked until after you have completed the requirement. Please allow up to 72 hours for the box to be checked following your University gateway test.

Surveillance Testing 

A random sample of Columbia affiliates will be required to re-test throughout the term. Testing is available at the William Black Building (CUIMC) and Lerner Hall (Morningside). 

  • The Columbia University testing program results are generally available in 24-36 hours, though it may take up to 72 hours for results to be reported and there is no option to expedite tests. 
  • The program does not offer antigen testing, commonly called rapid testing. 
  • Students will not incur out-of-pocket costs for COVID-19 PCR tests conducted through the Columbia Testing Program. These requirements may change based upon public health conditions and guidance. 
  • Students who received a positive PCR Test within the past 90 days: You must report your positive test results to the University as required by the Columbia University Community Health Compact; doing so exempts you from surveillance testing for 90 days from the date of the test. Please do not re-test unless directed to do so by a healthcare provider and refer to the University's testing FAQ on how to submit your documentation in case of a positive test result.

Read More about Columbia University's COVID-19 Testing Program

Diagnostic Testing (Symptomatic Students)

CUIMC students who have symptoms consistent with COVID-19 or concerns about an exposure should immediately self-isolate and schedule PCR testing at an off-campus site or with Medical Services through the Student Health portalIf you are experiencing symptoms, do NOT attempt to schedule testing at any of the Columbia University testing locations.

COVID-19 Testing at CUIMC Student Health on Haven

CUIMC students who are symptomatic may get tested for COVID-19 at Medical Services. See below for important information on what to expect following the appointment.

Awaiting Your Results:

  • Two COVID tests were conducted: a rapid PCR and a lab-based PCR. After the results of both tests become available, a medical provider will notify you about when you can end isolation. You must continue to isolate until your results are reviewed by Medical Services.
  • Your rapid PCR test results should be available by 7:00 p.m. on the evening the test was completed; your lab-based PCR test should be available in approximately 72 hours.

Accessing Your Results:

  • You will be notified of your test results either by secure message via the Student Health portal or by phone. Please be sure to check your secure messages in the Student Health portal to view your results.
  • If your rapid PCR test is negative, you must continue to isolate until we have your lab-based PCR results to confirm the negative results of the rapid test.
  • If either of your tests come back positive, we will provide you with instructions for isolation; Columbia Contact Tracing will contact you as well. Please be sure to answer the phone when they call. Learn more about how to isolate safely.

Off-Site Testing

Testing remains widely available in New York City and the metropolitan area; however, you should consider that the results may, in certain locations, not be available immediately. Additional resources for outside testing:

Students having difficulty obtaining a test should contact Student Health by calling 212-305-3400 for assistance. 

Testing After Recent Exposure for Close Contacts

For all close contacts, regardless of vaccination or booster status, PCR testing is recommended on days 5-7 after an exposure. For unvaccinated, partially vaccinated, or booster-eligible individuals who have not received a booster, a negative test will not shorten the length of quarantine. Read more about how to isolate or quarantine safely.

Supplemental Testing After Higher Risk Activity

Regardless of your vaccination or booster status, supplemental PCR testing is recommended 5 to 7 days after you participated in activities that may be associated with higher risk of COVID-19 transmission:

  • An indoor gathering where masks were not worn the entire time.
  • You are uncertain of the vaccination status of all the attendees at a gathering. 
  • You were at a very large and crowded outdoor gathering, especially if attendees were not masked. 

Students who are asymptomatic can schedule an appointment at any off-campus testing site that offers PCR testing or at the CUIMC or Morningide testing sites using the Columbia Health online testing portalDo not schedule testing at a University Testing site if you are experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19. Read more about diagnostic testing for CUIMC students with symptoms. 

Travel Testing

Domestic Travel Testing

PCR testing is recommended 3–5 days after: 

  • Domestic travel outside NYC via any form of public transportation (e.g., airplane, bus, train), excluding normal commuting travel from home and Columbia campuses. 
  • Travel to an area in the US with high COVID-19 incidence rates (defined as ≥50 cases per 100,000 population in latest week). 

International Travel Testing

Voluntary Testing (Asymptomatic Students Only)

In addition to the ongoing surveillance testing program, the University offers voluntary testing up to once a week for those accessing campus regularly. Asymptomatic voluntary testing is currently available at the William Black Building (CUIMC) and Lerner Hall (Morningside) locations. Do not schedule testing at a University Testing site if you are experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19Read more about diagnostic testing for CUIMC students with symptoms. 

  • Students who are asymptomatic can schedule an appointment at the CUIMC or Morningide testing site using the Columbia Health online testing portal.
  • Students should consider the anticipated time to receive the test result, particularly when making their plans for travel. For the Columbia University Testing sites, results take approximately 36 hours.
  • Students will not incur out-of-pocket costs for COVID-19 PCR tests conducted through the Columbia Testing Program. These requirements may change based upon public health conditions and guidance.