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Following an unauthorized group trip abroad, 70 Business students have been temporarily detained on campus




After an unauthorized trip to Turk and Kaikos, 70 students from the Business School were barred from entering any campus premises until December 1st.

The trip was in direct violation of Columbia COVID-19 public health protocols and the Columbia Community Health Compact, which all Columbia campus students, faculty, and staff were required to sign at the beginning of the 2020-21 academic year. The protocol compacted and suspended most domestic and international trips related to Colombia and banned group meetings.

The news of the breach comes amid a nationwide resurgence in COVID-19 cases. New York City, which has seen significantly lower levels of positivity than other regions since the spring, has joined the rest of the country in a second wave that threatens to be more prevalent than the first. Nationally, there have been 2.9 million new infections since early November, while New York City has seen close to 28,000 cases.

If the policy is violated again, students may be subject to stricter discipline.

An important part of Columbia public health protocols is that there are consequences for community members violating the University Health Compact, a University spokesman said.

Community members have previously expressed concerns about the return of Colombian students because of the risk they pose in spreading the virus to the local community. In an August option, Dave Robinson and Harry Schwartz, members of the Morningside Heights Community Coalition, expressed skepticism that students returning to campus would practice social alienation while living in Morningside Heights and Hamilton Heights, where most residents are Black or Hispanic and at higher risk of contracting the virus.

In response to these concerns and the ongoing pandemic, Columbia limited housing accommodation this semester for students with mitigating circumstances and moved all university classes online for the duration of the semester. Still, 14,000 students returned to New York City, most of whom took refuge off-campus. Postgraduate schools created their own reopening plans and limited graduate search was allowed to resume in September.

[Read more: Columbia canceled housing contracts, so 14,000 students moved into the city. What does this mean for the local housing market? ]

For the fall 2020 semester, the School of Business is offering hybrid guidance with a combination of HyFlex and online classes. In the HyFlex model, students are offered a combination of personal and distance instruction, alternating daily between the two modes of learning. During distance learning, Business School students may be able to use the facilities at Warren Hall and Uris Hall. By December 1st, the 70 students who traveled to Turkey and Kaikos will have to attend classes virtually.

The positivity rate among Columbia associates living on and off campus has been around 0.11 percent for most of the semester but reached 0.34 percent this month, according to an email from Interim Exam Ira Katznelson. In the first two weeks of November, 11 students and 19 faculty and staff were tested positive. As of November 15, 24 students are in solitary confinement and 39 are in quarantine on campus.

In response to the rise in COVID-19 cases, New York City has begun to turn to blocking measures like those imposed in the spring when the city was the global epicenter of the pandemic. Last Thursday, Nov. 19, all New York City public schools closed and relocated to distance learning. Furthermore, after identifying gyms, alcohol-serving institutions and indoor meetings in private homes as the main sources of an increase in COVID-19 cases, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a 10:00 curfew for bars, gyms and restaurants.

Despite the recent increase in cases, the University recently announced plans to invite all seniors and some young people back to university accommodation for the spring semester. Columbia College and the School of Engineering and Applied Science plan to invite all seniors and some young people, while Barnard has been able to provide accommodation for all seniors and young people and some subclasses. All students of the School of General Studies can apply for accommodation in apartments at the University.

As Thanksgiving and the winter holidays are approaching, students making authorized trips are responsible for adhering to the Community Health Compact. Any breach can result in a loss of campus access, record keeping in student accounts, and removal from Columbia Housing.

Deputy News Editor Dia Gill can be contacted at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @_diagill.

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