For the fall 2020 semester, we have modified our approach to classroom teaching to offer a hybrid approach to a residential semester with in-person, online and hybrid teaching modalities. The Fall 2020 Course Roster contains information about the modality of each course. The semifinal exam schedule can be found on the University Registrar website.
Modifications to Academic Activities: Undergraduate Students
What are the rules surrounding semifinal exams? Can I take my semifinal exams from anywhere?
If you are enrolled in a course that is giving an in-person semifinal exam and you are registered as being in the Ithaca area, you will be expected to take your exam in person. Any class – regardless of its instruction mode – was given the option of giving an in-person semifinal exam. Therefore, even if you are enrolled in all online courses, it is possible that you have an in-person semifinal and will be expected to take it in person, here in Ithaca. For planning purposes, faculty have received information about which of their students are registered as being in Ithaca and therefore available to take exams in person.
Students are not permitted to leave early or engage in non-essential travel that would necessitate quarantine that would make it impossible for them to take their exam(s) in person. Students should not expect to be able to take in-person semifinals remotely unless formally granted an exception. Without approval, students risk facing a grade penalty. Students facing extenuating circumstances should contact their college advising office prior to planning any travel.
Will my transcript reflect whether my class was in-person or online?
No, it will not.
If I am located in the Ithaca area but enrolled only in online/remote classes, do I have access to campus facilities?
Yes, as long as the university is aware that you are in Ithaca and you have attested to the Behavioral Compact.
Are students able (or expected to) continue with their studies even while in quarantine/isolation?
In most cases, we expect that the answer is yes. Many individuals who are quarantined because they have been identified as a close contact of an individual who has tested positive do not develop symptoms, and similarly some people who are isolated because they have tested positive remain asymptomatic. Other individuals who have tested positive experience a range of symptoms. Cornell Health staff will monitor the symptoms of students who have been quarantined/isolated.
Provided students feel well, the expectation is that they continue with their studies so that they do not fall behind. Not only are online courses accessible from anywhere, in-person courses will also provide remote access into the classroom for students who are in quarantine/isolation so that they can keep up with their coursework.
Faculty have been advised to plan ahead to support students who are unable to attend in-person classes for 14 days, including hands-on lab, studio and performance classes.
Will the course drop, withdraw, and grade option change deadlines be the last day of classes, as it was last semester?
No. The extension during the spring 2020 semester was a temporary change adopted in response to the exigent circumstances of unexpectedly having to transition to fully remote instruction. In the fall, the last day to drop or change the grading basis of a class was Oct. 28 and the last day to add classes was Sept. 16. More information on key academic dates can be found on the University Registrar's website.
How do I add or drop a class?
You may add and drop courses through Student Center as usual. For the scenarios that used to require submitting a paper form (for example, instructor permission is required or you missed the deadline), you may use the online add/drop form available through the college registrar websites, the University Registrar’s website, and Student Essentials.
How have classrooms, studios, and labs been modified to ensure physical distancing?
Classrooms, teaching labs, studios, and other academic use spaces have been de-densified according to New York state and Tompkins County Health Department guidelines. In classrooms, students have assigned seats that are at least six feet apart, and to every extent possible, faculty remain further than six feet from the first row of students. Both instructors and students are required to wear face coverings in class. In labs and makers spaces where the norm is for students to move around the room as they interact with equipment, modified workflows and protocols are in place to facilitate physical distancing.
What is the grading policy regarding S/U grades?
There is no university-wide policy (unlike spring 2020). Individual instructors may choose to offer S/U or not. Individual majors, minors and colleges may create their own policies about accepting S/U grades for requirements. Note that some colleges have a minimum number of credits that must be taken for letter grades.
What happens if my instructor goes into quarantine or isolation?
If in quarantine, most faculty should be able to teach remotely. If the instructor becomes sick with COVID-19, the department will respond with a pre-determined back-up plan, such as substitute instructors or alternative lesson plans.
Are physical education courses available?
Yes, physical education courses have resumed for fall 2020 with modifications. As with all of our COVID-19 planning and reactivation, this is subject to change. Courses are being offered virtual and in-person. Virtual courses are conducted over Zoom and through free phone apps. In-person classes are held outdoors and in larger facilities to provide for physical distancing, and all spaces have disinfecting procedures. PE is also offering more courses focused on meditation, relaxation, and mental health in both formats. More information on specific classes is available on the Physical Education department website.
Will the swim test be required for graduation this year?
The swim test will be waived as a graduation requirement for seniors who are graduating in Fall 2020 or Spring 2021. We will not conduct swim test clinics this fall. First year students will have the fee normally charged for delaying the swim test waived.
How are community-engaged learning courses being handled? Are there specific restrictions or guidelines?
To every extent possible, community-engaged learning courses and activities that ordinarily involve travel and/or interaction with individuals outside of the Cornell community should take place virtually. Courses that require travel must be reviewed and approved by the relevant college leadership. Any courses that involve travel outside of the Ithaca area must comply with the university's travel policy. Instructors should also provide alternative accommodations for students who are not comfortable with, or unable to participate in, this experience and want to engage remotely. The Office of Engagement Initiatives can offer additional support in planning your community-engaged course or activity during this period.
What changes have been made to the spring 2021 academic calendar?
Spring 2021 will begin on February 8, 2021 and end on May 25. Study days and final exams are noted on the academic calendar. While we will not have a traditional spring break, two separate two-day wellness breaks are planned.
- Johnson MBA programs, Law, and Veterinary Medicine programs have different academic calendars; check with your program for specifics.
- Cornell Tech will follow the Ithaca spring 2021 calendar but will be following a different calendar for summer 2021.
When will pre-enrollment open for spring 2021?
The class roster will be available after Thanksgiving and we expect to hold pre-enrollment before the end of the fall 2020 semester. Students can expect to receive more detailed information on pre-enrollment and course listings in December.
Will Cornell offer study abroad opportunities for spring 2021?
Due to ongoing travel, health and safety concerns, the university has cancelled its spring 2021 study abroad programs, including virtual opportunities. Once conditions allow for students to safely and effectively participate in programming abroad, students who applied for study abroad in spring 2021 will be contacted about submitting a new application for the next available term. Education Abroad advisors remain available to consult with students on planning for future opportunities, as are study abroad advisors within Cornell’s colleges and schools. For further information, students may contact email@example.com.
I plan to graduate in December 2020 and have not completed my swim test or my PE requirement. Will I be able to graduate?
Your swim test requirement will be waived, but you should enroll in a PE course to fulfill your PE requirement. A range of virtual PE classes are available.
How will my instructors be notified if I am placed in quarantine/isolation?
When a student is placed into quarantine or isolation, Student Disability Services can send a Temporary Accommodation Letter to the instructors of the student's courses. The letter will specify that academic flexibility and remote participation are needed for 14 days. Students can communicate with Student Disability Services if they require accommodations beyond the initial 14-day period.
How can I order my textbooks and other course materials?
To maintain physical distancing and reduce contact, textbooks and course materials should be ordered online at cornellstore.com for store pickup, curbside pickup or shipment. In-person textbook shopping and browsing at the Main Store is not available at this time. In-store shopping in other departments is available. Visit The Cornell Store website for additional textbook information.
Are digital textbooks available?
The Cornell Store has worked closely with the Office of the Provost and university faculty to significantly increase the digital textbook options for courses, allowing for instant and contactless delivery. This semester, many faculty are using digital textbooks in place of physical books.
Many courses are participating in the Cornell Store’s Instant Access Program which provides automatic access to digital course materials directly in Canvas by the start of the course. No advance purchase is necessary. Students have two weeks from start of class to decide whether to keep access to the digital textbook or to opt-out. Access materials are billed to the student’s bursar account.
How can students help with sanitizing classrooms?
In addition to scheduled cleanings by Building Care staff, self-service disinfectant supplies have been provided for students’ use. Disinfectant bottles are provided based on a ratio of eight students per bottle. The following procedures are recommended:
- Students use the disinfectants and towels provided to sanitize classroom surfaces.
- One student sprays multiple towels for others to use.
- Students use their moistened towel to wipe the bottle and spray trigger after use.
- Students use hand sanitizer to clean their hands after touching the spray bottle.
At the end of class students can wipe their seats and writing surfaces. Students may also arrive a few minutes early if they would like to clean before class.
The inventory of cleaning supplies is routinely checked; however, faculty can also request more cleaning supplies by submitting a maintenance request.
What spaces on campus will be available to me for quiet study or online class participation?
You can now reserve space in rooms designated for studying through the “Book a Study Space” feature, available in Cornell Chatter (website and app). Learn how to use the feature to reserve a quiet space for reading, writing, listening; an interactive space to use Zoom or other videoconferencing; or a small group space. The colleges, schools, and libraries set the hours and monitor use of the spaces. Each space has a cleaning station, and Cornell’s custodial staff clean the spaces once a day.