Facilities & Transportation
To provide a clean and safe atmosphere for our students, faculty and staff, Cornell uses Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved disinfectants and industry best practices, posts signage on public health requirements, and has implemented other controls to combat the spread of SARS-CoV-2. We continue to monitor the EPA, CDC, NYS DOH and public health organizations for best practices and updated regulations related to the virus.
Products & Procedures
Can I get COVID from contact with surfaces?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people can be infected with SARS-CoV-2 through contact with surfaces. However, based on available epidemiological data and studies of environmental transmission factors, surface transmission is not the main route by which SARS-CoV-2 spreads, and the risk is considered to be low. The principal mode by which people are infected with SARS-CoV-2 is through exposure to respiratory droplets carrying infectious virus. In most situations, cleaning surfaces using soap or detergent, and not disinfecting, is enough to reduce risk. Disinfection is recommended in indoor community settings where there has been a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 within the last 24 hours. The risk of surface contact transmission can be reduced by wearing masks consistently and correctly, practicing hand hygiene, cleaning, and taking other measures to maintain healthy facilities.
What is the recommended practice for disinfecting surfaces?
When using an EPA-registered disinfectant from List N, follow the label directions for safe, effective use. Check "use sites" and "surface types" to see where you can use the product. Read the "precautionary statements." Wash the surface with soap and water if the directions mention pre-cleaning or if the surface is visibly dirty. Wear gloves when applying disinfectant and follow the dwell time (contact time), which is the amount of time the surface should be visibly wet, to ensure the product is effective. Discard disposable gloves after each cleaning and wash hands after removing gloves.
What hand sanitizers are unsafe for use and have been recalled by the Food and Drug Administration?
Hand sanitizers that contain methanol (aka wood alcohol) are unsafe for use due to its toxic effects when absorbed through the skin or ingested. Methanol exposure can result in nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system or death. There are no hand sanitizers approved by the Food and Drug Administration, so do not use products that are fraudulently marketed as “FDA-approved.” A list of hand sanitizers that have been tested and known to contain methanol, labeled to contain methanol, or recalled by the manufacturer or distributor can be found on the FDA website.
Centrally procured products are being vetted prior to purchase; however, if you find a recalled product in your facility, discontinue use immediately and dispose of the product in the trash. If you have a large volume of stock contact EHS at AskEHS@cornell.edu.
How does the university manage indoor air quality?
The university has implemented a multifaceted approach to reduce the potential transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in classrooms and other workspaces. The implemented strategy of masking, vaccination and testing are extremely effective. Similar to last year, the university continues to operate mechanical ventilation systems with increased fresh air intake and extended flush out periods at the beginning and end of workdays. The university also continues to maintain enhanced filtration within compatible mechanical air systems. Buildings with natural ventilation are equipped with operable windows to allow ongoing fresh air into the building. Each of these measures (masks, vaccination, and testing) offers protection. Together, they multiply to provide protection far surpassing the safety of many environments outside the university.
Can COVID-19 be transmitted through HVAC (ventilation) systems?
The risk of spreading SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, through ventilation systems is not clear at this time. However, it is still widely documented that the primary route of transmission is direct person-to-person contact. While airflows within a particular space may help spread disease among people in that space, there is no definitive evidence to date that viable virus has been transmitted through an HVAC system to result in disease transmission to people in other spaces served by the same system.
John A. Lednicky, Michael Lauzardo, Z. Hugh Fan, Antarpreet Jutla, Et. Al., Viable SARS-CoV-2 in the air of a hospital room with COVID-19 patients, International Journal of Infectious Diseases, Volume 100, 2020, Pages 476-482, ISSN 1201-9712, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijid.2020.09.025.
My classroom/office has operable windows, should I use them?
Yes, operable windows should be opened whenever a space is occupied while maintaining comfortable indoor conditions. The use of windows is a highly effective way to improve ventilation within a space and is specifically recommended by the CDC and ASHRAE. CDC indicates even a slightly open widow can introduce beneficial outdoor fresh air.
If windows are open, please close them when you leave for the day. If you are working in a laboratory, space with mechanical ventilation, or a space with special environmental conditions, windows should remain closed to avoid impact on space pressurization and other conditions.
How is the university cleaning and disinfecting buildings across campus?
To provide a clean and safe atmosphere for our students, faculty and staff, Cornell Building Care staff uses only Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved disinfectants and industry best practices on an ongoing daily basis in our buildings. We also monitor the EPA, CDC and public health organizations and follow any new cleaning recommendations they have related to the virus.
We have enhanced our cleaning regimen whereby high touch point areas, such as door handles, light switches, and tables, are disinfected twice a day. Cleaning is performed using a cleaning agent approved by the EPA to kill SARS-COV2, the virus that causes COVID-19. There are also dedicated isolation and quarantine rooms on campus with a small, dedicated team of staff that are fully trained to clean and disinfect these rooms after any use, along with following CDC protocols to ensure that all materials that leave these areas are properly disposed of without endangering the welfare of others.
How will the university clean and disinfect an area exposed to COVID-19?
Category 3 Cleaning Protocol is activated upon notification from EHS or the Office of Emergency Management to Cornell Building Care that a case of COVID- 19 has been confirmed for a Cornell employee, student or contractor who performs work in a Cornell-owned or leased facility or space. If the space has not been occupied for 24 hours or more, disinfection actions by Building Care are not required, based on virus stability, and will not be performed.
How can I disinfect my workplace?
The university has implemented an enhanced cleaning frequency to clean and disinfect common areas and commonly touched surfaces in Cornell buildings; they are being cleaned at least once daily, five days a week by our custodial staff. Please assist us in maintaining a healthy environment by cleaning objects in your personal and shared workspaces throughout the day. Surfaces to clean include door handles and knobs, keyboards/mice, monitors, desktops, remotes, light switches, desk and cellphones, shared workstations, chair arms, etc.
- Use EPA-approved List N cleaning products (such as Lysol and Clorox wipes). Read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning products.
- Where surfaces are visibly dirty, clean with soap and water prior to disinfection.
- After cleaning, dispose of used cleaning materials, and immediately wash hands.
- Discard items used for cleaning, such as disposable towels, in trash cans.
- Disinfect frequently, at a minimum daily.
How can we promote effective handwashing in labs and offices?
Wash hands before eating, after using the restroom, after coughing or sneezing, after touching an item or surface that may be frequently touched, and before touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Additional hand washing guidance, including posters to promote effective handwashing, is available on the CDC website.
How do I request, or report a problem with, a hand sanitizer station?
Who can I ask about classroom setup, building signage or water and ventilation?
Contact your facility's Building Coordinator. If you don't know the coordinator for your building, visit the Facilities website and search for the building name, then click on "Building Coordinators."
Is the Campus-to-Campus bus in operation?
C2C will resume operations on August 6, 2021, with a reduced-frequency daily service limited to members of the Cornell University community. A CU NetID must be used at the time of booking, and an ID must be presented when boarding. Visit c2cbus.com for further service updates and notifications.
Will there be any changes to the TCAT schedule?
Find the most up-to-date information on service, routes and holiday scheduling changes on the TCAT website.
How often are TCAT buses cleaned and disinfected?
TCAT is taking as many precautions as possible to protect its riders and employees during the pandemic, and has provided details about their procedures on their COVID-19 webpage.