As the Ithaca campus reactivates, a robust virus testing program will be critical to controlling the spread of COVID-19 in our community. The protocol will include screening students prior to and upon arrival to campus, and ongoing, frequent screening of the entire Cornell community, with isolation/quarantine/contact tracing as needed. Our goal will be to identify infected individuals and quickly isolate them and those with whom they had close contact. More details around this testing program will be provided over the coming weeks.
All students and employees will be required to participate in ongoing ‘surveillance testing’ throughout the fall semester. Compliance with the testing program will be an absolute requirement for all students, whether living in on-campus housing or in the local Ithaca community.
Any student in the Ithaca area who feels ill, or has a reason to suspect they may be at risk for having become infected with COVID-19, should contact Cornell Health at 607-255-5155 immediately for instructions.
A safer start to the semester
All students currently living in the greater Ithaca area, or planning to do so this fall, must take an 'arrival test.' Students in off-campus housing can sign up today using the Re-Entry Checklist.
Living on campus? You will be assigned a testing time as part of Move-In.
A preventive public health measure
All students will be required to participate in ongoing 'surveillance testing' throughout the fall semester. Because COVID-19 infection is often asymptomatic, early identification of individuals harboring the virus requires regular surveillance testing.
You will receive notifications through the Daily Check.
Feeling ill or experiencing COVID symptoms?
Testing for Cause
Immediate medical care
Any student who feels ill (e.g., fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath) or has reason to suspect they may be at risk for having become infected with COVID-19:
Arrival Testing for Students
- Students currently in the Ithaca area, living in either on- or off-campus housing, can schedule their 'arrival test' now. This test can be scheduled through the Re-Entry Checklist. We strongly encourage you to register for testing as soon as possible.
- Students not yet in Ithaca, who plan to live in off-campus housing, should register for their 'arrival test' before departing for Ithaca, as appointment availability is updated on a weekly basis. Students should schedule their test through the Re-Entry Checklist.
- Students not yet in Ithaca, who plan to live in on-campus housing, will receive additional information from Housing & Residential Life as part of move-in, whether they arrive prior to or during the regular move-in days. There is no need to schedule your 'arrival test' now.
After Sept. 2, all members of the Cornell community will be required to be tested on a regular basis. Because COVID-19 infection is often asymptomatic, identification of individuals harboring the virus requires regular surveillance testing of our community. All students and employees will be required to participate in ongoing 'surveillance testing' throughout the fall semester.
Students will be notified of their test through the Daily Check website with instructions on how to register at one of several locations on campus and when the test must be completed. Compliance with all testing, including surveillance testing, is required as part of the Cornell Behavioral Compact. In addition, any student who feels ill or has a reason to suspect they may be at risk for having become infected with COVID-19 should contact Cornell Health at 607-255-5155 for instructions.
Frequently Asked Questions
I’m feeling ill or was exposed to someone who may have COVID. What should I do?
Any student in the Ithaca area who feels ill, or has a reason to suspect they may be at risk for having become infected with COVID-19, should call Cornell Health at 607-255-5155 immediately; do not go to an arrival or surveillance testing sites.
All New York health plans – including Cornell's Student Health Plans (SHP and SHP+) – will cover COVID-19 testing at no cost to the plan member.
Employees are encouraged to visit the Cayuga Health Sampling Site at The Shops at Ithaca Mall.
What testing method is being used for arrival and surveillance testing?
Both arrival and surveillance testing are PCR-based tests that detect for the presence of virus. During ‘arrival testing’ a nasopharyngeal (NP) specimen is collected by a healthcare provider, whereas during ‘surveillance testing’ an anterior nares (nasal swab) specimen will be an observed, onsite self-collection.
Can I get tested for COVID without using a nasopharyngeal swab?
At this time, Cornell is using nasopharyngeal swabs for COVID testing, but we hope to have alternative testing options in the future.
How long does it take to get testing results? How do I access my results?
Results are available within 24 hours and will be posted to the Cayuga Health patient portal.
If you have a Patient Portal Login:
- Go to mycayugahealth.cayugamed.org
- Sign in with your portal account
- Click on Health Record and then Results
If you do not have a Patient Portal Login:
- Go to mycayugahealth.cayugamed.org
- Click on the Sigh up link and fill in the enrollment information
- Receive an immediate email confirmation and create your login/password
- Click on Health Record and then Results
If you need assistance with your patient portal account, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 607-319-5708.
If I am diagnosed with COVID, will I have to go into an isolation unit?
The purpose of isolation is to eliminate contagious disease exposure to others during the infectious period, which is the time period when a person can give the disease to others. If a student receives a positive test for COVID, the Tompkins County Health Department will collaborate with Cornell Health to evaluate the patient's housing environment. If it is deemed necessary, the student will be moved into an isolation unit. The Tompkins County Health Department has provided guidance on both quarantine and isolation.
What is the difference between being in quarantine and being in isolation?
While both isolation and quarantine refer to methods of preventing the spread of illness, they do not mean the same thing. Isolation refers to separating a sick person with a contagious disease like COVID-19 away from others. Quarantine means separating a healthy person or group of healthy people away from others due to exposure to a contagious disease like COVID-19. The Tompkins County Health Department has provided guidance on both quarantine and isolation.
What should I do to make sure I’m healthy before traveling to Ithaca?
Before you leave for Ithaca, you are strongly advised to:
- Seek testing for COVID-19 at your permanent or home location before traveling to the Ithaca area. It would be much better to know if you are infected while still at home, where you can recover in a familiar environment. Please note that testing before returning to Ithaca does not exempt you from the subsequent initial and ongoing testing requirements outlined above.
- Follow Cornell’s personal health guidelines; wear a face covering, wash hands frequently, avoid gatherings.
- Make every effort to quarantine in place for 14 days before your intended arrival in Ithaca.
What is the Cornell Behavioral Compact? Will all students have to agree to the Behavioral Compact?
In order to maintain a safe, educational and vibrant learning environment for all members of our community, all students who will be in the Ithaca area this fall will be required to abide by the Cornell Behavioral Compact, which includes a robust testing program. In addition, students who reside in on-campus housing will be subject to additional requirements under their housing contract. Once finalized, the Cornell Behavioral Compact will be added to the Re-Entry Checklist.
All students will have to review and attest to the Behavioral Compact, regardless of where they will reside during the fall semester.
What is the Re-entry Checklist? Can I update the checklist if my plans change?
The Re-entry Checklist is your guide to a safe start to the semester and your ticket to enrolling for classes whether you'll be on campus or remote.
Required information includes, among other items, a local address for the fall semester (if you will be living off campus in the Ithaca area) and emergency contact information. In addition, be sure to provide the address where you will be for the two weeks immediately preceding your travel to Ithaca. This will be important for students who may be traveling from areas other than their permanent address.
Students living off campus should also schedule their required arrival test through the re-entry checklist. If you are already living in the Ithaca area and have not done so already, schedule your test through the Re-entry Checklist today.
If your plans have changed, please update your fall housing and arrival information on the re-entry checklist. If you have not yet submitted your housing information as part of theRe-entry Checklist, please do as soon as possible.
For arrival testing, is parking available at Fischell Band Center?
Yes, reserved parking is available in the Crescent Lot for individuals who are driving to the testing site. Should the reserved spaces be occupied, you may park in any open space in the Crescent Lot.
Beginning Sept. 2, where will surveillance testing sites be located?
We are working to identify 5-6 surveillance site locations across campus that are within walking distance to serve students living in Collegetown and other areas close to campus, as well as being convenient for faculty and staff.
What testing options are available for employees?
Employees who are ill or have reason to believe they’ve been exposed, should be tested for cause at the Ithaca Mall sampling site. All employees who have been approved to return to work or study on campus through the Daily Check, will participate in on-going surveillance testing that is set to begin on September 2.