Academic Policies, Instruction & Resources
The university plans to proceed with the instruction dates outlined in the 2021-22 academic calendar. Please be advised that this guidance could change pending the course of the pandemic, especially as it relates to spread of highly infectious virus variants.
Maintaining Public Health in the Classroom
Is it safe to hold classes in person this fall?
First, mandatory vaccination for students, mandatory masking (including while in classrooms), and a high vaccination rate for instructors together significantly reduce the chance of transmission (by 99.5% when everyone is vaccinated and all students wear masks). Even if the infectious individual is not vaccinated and only the exposed individual wears a mask, the reduction in transmission is high, at 96%.
Second, regular surveillance and contact tracing will find infections and allow isolation of positive cases.
Together, modeling performed by the Cornell COVID Modeling Team estimates roughly two secondary infections in total among students due to classroom transmission across the entire student body over the entire semester, if masking requirements are maintained. If prevalence among students falls after student-arrival as expected, it may also be possible to relax masking requirements for vaccinated students without significantly increasing risk.
What are the plans for physical distancing in the classroom?
When New York state and Cornell public health restrictions were lifted over the summer, physical distancing was no longer required, allowing classrooms to return to their normal configuration for the fall semester. We have done extensive modeling and are confident that with the large percentage of vaccinated individuals in the classrooms there would be little added benefit of imposing distancing requirements. And, for added safety, both unvaccinated and vaccinated individuals are required to wear masks in classrooms.
Can I eat or drink in class?
To every extent possible, students should eat before or after class, or during breaks in the middle of longer classes. Our campus classrooms, including lecture halls, studios and laboratories, are configured for full capacity this semester. According to current masking guidelines, students are expected to minimize the time they spend unmasked to take a sip or bite, and to re-mask immediately after drinking or eating.
If a student in class tests positive for COVID-19, will the class be moved online?
This is highly unlikely. To put things into context, there were only two instances last year, even with very few individuals vaccinated, when we temporarily moved classes online. In both cases, the Cornell COVID-19 Response Team worked very closely with the relevant faculty and academic leadership and examined all the data available before making the decision to temporarily move online out of an abundance of caution. In both cases, this was a collective decision made after our COVID-19 team examined the details of infections we observed. This year, too, we expect to operate in similar fashion to the extent that any decision to move a class online would be data driven and incorporate input from the team we have assembled. It’s not just a question of how many students in a class are positive at the same time, but what we know about whether the positives are linked because of the class or program, and whether our data indicate that transmission is contained.
If a student in my class tests positive, will I and other classmates be notified?
The process for responding to positive cases will be different this year compared to last year because the vast majority of instructors and students are vaccinated. Fully vaccinated individuals do not need to quarantine after contact with someone who tests positive unless they have symptoms. The CDC recommends that fully vaccinated people should get tested 3-5 days after their exposure even if they don’t have symptoms. We have embedded these precautions into our fall semester plan. We will be surveillance testing all fully vaccinated undergraduate students and students in professional programs with high levels of interaction once a week and unvaccinated students twice a week, not just those who are known close contacts. Remember, nearly all instructors and students are already fully vaccinated. The CDC also recommends that fully vaccinated individuals wear a mask indoors for 14 days following exposure or until their test result is negative. Our universal indoor masking policy incorporates this precaution, again not just for close contacts but for all individuals.
Fully vaccinated masters and doctoral students who are not in required surveillance testing (because of their lower levels of interaction through programmatic activities) can opt to participate in supplemental testing through Daily Check at their own pace, as can faculty and staff. In addition, instructors will have the opportunity to enter surveillance testing starting in early September as soon as our testing capacity allows.
For these reasons, the entire class will not be notified of positive student cases, only those students considered close contacts. As we did last year, we will continue daily and extensive monitoring of positive cases to understand how they are related (i.e., transmission patterns) and implement customized interventions as appropriate, such as additional testing, changes to classroom protocols, and/or a temporary move to online instruction in select contexts if the data indicate the need to do so.
I have a medical condition that makes me feel unsafe attending classes in person. Will there be remote options available for me?
Students requesting remote access due to a disability should register with Student Disability Services to develop an accommodation plan.
In-Person Instruction & Office Hours
Will classes be held in person and via Zoom again this fall?
Only classes that are listed in the course roster as online, hybrid, or distance learning instruction modes will be taught via Zoom. All other courses will be held in-person only, with no options for students to participate remotely.
Will classes be recorded this year?
Students should not expect courses to be recorded like they were last year. Only a subset of classrooms is equipped with the voice lift technology necessary to capture high quality sound suitable for recordings. Depending on the nature of the course, however, some instructors may be able to offer audio recordings (not audio and visual) to supplement other course materials, in order to support students who are in isolation or mandatory quarantine.
How can I find someone to study with?
Studying with peers is a great way to connect with other Cornell students and is a powerful tool for learning. Finding people to study with can be challenging, and Cornell’s Learning Strategies Center (LSC) can help you find study partners for specific courses. If you are looking for general motivation and peer support that is not tied to specific course, you can request an accountability buddy to help you meet your goals.
It was convenient to attend office hours online last semester. Will I be able to do that this fall too?
This is up to each individual instructor. Instructors are not required to provide online office hours. However, we have asked faculty who plan on holding online office hours to also offer an in-person option.
Due to travel and/or visa restrictions, I wasn’t able to make it to the Cornell campus in time for the start of classes. What should I do?
The deadline by which students were required to arrive to campus to participate in fall classes was September 9, the last day of the course add period. International students facing extenuating circumstances (including visa difficulties and delays or travel limitations) that prevented them from arriving before the start of classes are asked to contact the student services offices their home college to see whether it will be possible for them to stay on track with their courses until they arrive on campus or whether they will instead need to adjust their course schedule or fall semester plans altogether. Keep in mind that remote access to class may not always be the best solution, and that there are low-tech ways for students to stay on track with classes until they are able to attend in person, just as they would have prior to the pandemic.
Will there be a behavioral compact for the 2021-2022 academic year?
No, there is no behavior compact in place for the 2021–22 academic year, however, the university requires that students participate in surveillance testing as directed and follow all other campus health and safety rules (e.g. masking mandate). Failure to comply with the university’s health and safety requirements may result in the loss of campus privileges, including but not limited to engaging in on-campus activities (including research and in-person classes), accessing Cornell facilities and buildings, and utilizing campus services such as Wi-Fi, Canvas and enrollment. Failure to comply may also result in a referral to the Office of Student Conduct & Community Standards.
Am I allowed to physically attend courses I am interested in adding during the beginning of the semester?
Students interested in visiting a class during the course add/shopping period may do so provided there are open seats in which they can sit after all enrolled students are seated.
Will the course drop deadline be the last day of classes, as it was last semester?
No. The university has reverted back to the typical drop deadline schedule. For fall 2021, the last day to drop a course or change the grading option is October 21.
When will evening prelims be held this semester?
Evening prelims will be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays starting at 7:30 p.m.
Will I need to reserve a study space, as I did last semester?
As of now, you do not need to reserve a space to study in our various academic buildings as you did last semester. However, if you’d like to use a space specifically in one of the libraries for individual study/video calls or for group project work, you can reserve it ahead of time.
Please keep in mind, however, that study spaces, which are great to congregate for informal meetings or to studying with friends, are not designated dining areas. Unless you are alone in a private room, you must wear a mask whenever you are not actively eating or drinking (e.g., mask up between sips when drinking a coffee over an extended period of time).
I missed my scheduled surveillance test. What do I do?
Students are given a one-day grace period after their assigned testing day to schedule their surveillance test. After this grace period, student access may be restricted from Canvas, campus Wi-Fi networks, and from making course enrollment changes in Student Center. For access to be reinstated, students simply need to visit the Daily Check homepage, click on the link in the Missed Surveillance Test banner to schedule a test, and complete their test.
Please be aware that testing locations are have more limited days and hours this semester, which could make it more difficult for those who miss their grace period day at the end of the week to complete their test and be reinstated right away. Also note that it could take 12-24 hours to regain access to campus services once a student has completed their surveillance test.
Isolation & Quarantine
If I am placed in isolation or mandatory quarantine, how can I keep up with my coursework? Will I be able to attend by Zoom while in quarantine or isolation?
If you are placed in mandatory quarantine or isolation, you may request a temporary accommodation through Student Disability Services (SDS). SDS will, in turn, notify your instructors that you’ll need flexibility in attendance, and may need alternative arrangements for assignments and/or exams. However, faculty are not required to provide remote access to students who cannot attend class. In fact, for the majority of our classrooms, remote access is not be an option because classrooms are not Zoom-enabled. Instead, faculty may, for example, choose to use lapel mic recorders to capture audio recordings to accompany other course materials. Faculty want you to be successful in their class and will determine the most appropriate and feasible way to help you stay on track based on the nature of the course. Also, it’s always beneficial for students to stay in regular contact with their faculty, TAs, and their college student services office during their quarantine or isolation period so that they can get the support they need.
Will my instructors be notified if I’m placed in mandatory quarantine or isolation?
When a student is placed in isolation or quarantine, they may request a temporary accommodation through Student Disability Services (SDS). SDS will, in turn, notify instructors that the student will need flexibility in attendance, and may need alternative arrangements for assignments and/or exams. Faculty will use their discretion to determine the best way to support students based on the nature of their course. In the majority of classrooms, remote access will not be an option because classrooms are not Zoom-enabled. Instead, lapel mic recorders will be available to capture audio recordings to accompany other course materials.
What happens if my instructor goes into quarantine or isolation?
If your instructor becomes sick with COVID-19, the instructor or their department will communicate any alternative arrangements that may be put in place, such as such as substitute instructors or alternative lesson plans.
Holds & Graduation Requirements
I have a hold preventing me from adding or dropping classes. How can I get the hold removed?
There are several different types of holds. Your Holds are listed at the top right of the page when logged in to Student Center. Click on "more information" for complete details on the hold, including steps to resolve if necessary.
I was gated from Canvas and just took my surveillance test. Will I have my access turned back on immediately? If not, can I just show my instructor a screenshot of my appointment reservation for them to add me back to Canvas?
No, it could take as much as 12-24 hours for your access to Canvas to be restored. Instructors have no ability to add students back to Canvas. Only through regular system updates can you be reinstated back into Canvas.
I plan to graduate in December 2021 and have not completed my swim test PE requirement. Will I be able to graduate?
For seniors graduating in December 2021, the Cornell’s swim test is currently waived as a graduation requirement, and there will be no swim test clinics this fall. First-year students will have the delaying the swim test fee waived. Over 130 Physical Education classes are being offered this fall and there is no change to the university’s PE requirement.
Extracurriculars, Study Abroad & Breaks
Will we be having Wellness Days this semester?
Provided there is no need to make changes due to the evolving pandemic, the university has returned to its typical calendar for the 2021-21 academic year, which, for the fall semester includes Labor Day on September 6, Fall Break on October 9-12, and Thanksgiving Break on November 24-28.
Will there be events/extracurricular activities in-person?
Normal campus activities, student organization operations, service opportunities, career fairs and all other campus programs are planning for a mix of in-person and virtual options this fall. A list of campus events can be found in campus groups. Please review the events page for the latest guidance on events.
Will Cornell be offering study abroad options for spring 2022?
Will all dining be back to normal on campus?
Indoor dining options remain available in designated spots on campus. All faculty, staff and students are required to wear a mask in these spaces until seated and must put their mask back on as soon as they have finished eating or drinking.
Tents will be set up around campus to allow for outdoor dining. We encourage everyone to take advantage of outdoor seating while weather permits. If you are unvaccinated, you must maintain a 6-foot distance from others at all times, including while eating or drinking. A section of each dining hall will be set aside for unvaccinated students to be able to maintain distance. Vaccinated individuals are not required to distance while eating or drinking, but it is a good idea to distance as much as possible.
We recommend that you observe the following precautions to every extent possible:
- Minimize your time unmasked.
- Minimize unmasked conversations.
- If in groups, minimize the group size.
- Choose to eat outdoors whenever possible.
- After eating meals or drinking re-mask immediately.
Will student organizations be required to record attendance for contact tracing purposes?
Yes, student organization have been asked to record attendance this fall.
Are participants of student club events allowed to eat indoors? Will social distancing be required during meals?
For all indoor meetings and events, when being outside is not possible, food and drinks should be limited. Please follow our indoor masking guidance.
Meetings lasting only a few hours should not include food or beverages. This includes coffee, cookies or other snack items that might traditionally be served before, during or after meetings. Individuals who bring their own refreshments should take their masks down only when drinking and immediately replace it. If hosting a day-long event, meals can be provided, however, food and beverage should be pre-prepared/pre-packaged in order to avoid congregating around food stations. Individuals should wear masks until seated and put their mask back on directly after finishing eating or drinking. If possible, individuals should eat outside, distance while eating and avoid large groups.
If I have to travel away from Ithaca this fall, do I need to submit a travel form?
If you need to leave campus and pause your testing, be sure you let the university know by submitting a travel form. The form can be found in the Resources section of your Daily Check homepage. Submitting the dates of your travel will pause your surveillance testing while you are away. This will prevent loss of access to campus resources due to a missed surveillance test while you are gone.
When you return, you will be expected to complete a supplemental test which can be scheduled through Daily Check. You may return to class but should wait to resume any other on-campus activities until you receive a negative test result.