Travel

To ensure the health and safety of Cornell’s campus and our surrounding community, faculty, staff, students and visitors must abide by the university’s travel and visitor policy (PDF).

The information on this page pertains to faculty and staff travel and to student travel during the spring semester. Students should visit the Arrival Testing page for details about arriving in Ithaca for the spring semester.

Student travel spring 2021

To curb potential spread of COVID-19, students residing in the Ithaca area this spring are expected to remain in Ithaca for the duration of the semester with limited-to-no personal travel outside of the greater Ithaca area. Student travel during this period will be subject to a strict approval process limiting any personal student travel to that which is deemed essential due to extenuating circumstances.

Students who choose to travel without approval—or who otherwise are granted approval but are subject to mandatory quarantine and testing requirements upon return to the Ithaca area—may not be permitted to return to campus, including on-campus housing. In addition, those students may not be able to attend in-person classes and exams (without an option to participate online per the Classes and Activities Agreement), and may lose additional privileges. Failure to abide by the university’s travel guidelines and directives is a violation of the Cornell Student Behavioral Compact.

If students are faced with an extenuating circumstance that they believe requires them to leave Ithaca, they must request travel approval through the Daily Check tool. ABSENT A TRUE EMERGENCY, TRAVEL REQUEST FORMS MUST BE SUBMITTED AT LEAST 48 HOURS IN ADVANCE OF ANTICIPATED TRAVEL.

Travel will generally be permitted under the following circumstances:

  • Commuting for graduate or professional students,
  • Death of an immediate family member,
  • Medically required care for you or a family member,
  • Required academic or
  • Career-related travel.

There will also be additional requirements and protocols for any approved personal travel for students residing on-campus.

Travel will generally not be permitted for the following reasons:

  • Religious observance
  • Family celebrations
  • Leisure travel/vacation
  • Routine medical care that can (and should) be scheduled outside the semester (e.g., dentist appointments, yearly physicals, etc.)
  • Social events
  • Non-academic trips to other universities

As was the case in the fall, due to ongoing travel, health, and safety concerns, travel for Cornell-related research or scholarship remains prohibited for undergraduate students. This also applies to spring 2021 study abroad opportunities, including virtual programs. 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. Graduate and professional students may submit a petition to travel domestically or internationally for Cornell-related research or scholarship purposes by first contacting their school or college regarding the process and should plan to submit a travel request through this process after speaking with their school or college.

Students who are permitted to travel will receive information about testing and quarantine procedures via email from the Daily Check. Testing and quarantine procedures are subject to change at any time in line with any supplemental health and safety responsibilities the university or public health authorities may establish. The following procedures are currently in place:

globe

Students arriving from

Noncontiguous states and all international locations

(States other than NY, PA, CT, NJ, VT and MA)

must:

  • Obtain a test within three days prior to arrival in New York state.
  • Complete the Traveler Health form upon arrival, per New York state law.
  • Carefully adhere to masking and distancing.
  • Quarantine off campus for a minimum of five days upon arrival in New York state, only leaving quarantine for COVID-19 testing. On-campus students will be reassigned to temporary housing during their 5-day quarantine.
  • Complete two COVID-19 tests, and await results.
    • Travel to and from testing should be by foot or private vehicle (not public transportation) and careful adherence to masking and distancing is required.
      • Take a first test on day one or day two after arrival in the Ithaca area.
      • Take a second test on day four after arrival.
      • If both test results are negative, access to campus will be restored on day five.

OR if unable to obtain a test prior to arrival:

  • Complete the Traveler Health form upon arrival, per New York state law.
  • Carefully adhere to masking and distancing.
  • Self-quarantine off campus for 10 days, completing a COVID-19 test on day nine of quarantine.
    • If the day 10 test result is negative, access to campus will be restored on day 10.

Note: Before boarding an international flight to the United States, all air travelers, including U.S. citizens, are required to present proof of a negative COVID-19 test within three days of departure. Alternately, travelers may provide proof of recovery from COVID-19 (a recent positive COVID-19 test and letter from a healthcare provider or health official approving travel).

map of New York and surrounding states

Students traveling to and arriving from

Outside the Ithaca area but within New York state, or traveling directly from contiguous states

(States including NY, PA, CT, NJ, VT and MA)

must:

  • Remain off campus for a minimum of five days upon return to the Ithaca area, only visiting campus for COVID-19 testing. On-campus students will be reassigned to temporary housing during this time.
  • Complete two COVID-19 tests, and await results
    • Travel to and from testing should be by foot or private vehicle (not public transportation) and careful adherence to masking and distancing is required.
      • Take a first test on day one or day two after arrival in the Ithaca area.
      • Take a second test on day four after arrival.
      • If both test results are negative, access to campus will be restored on day five.

COVID-19 test results may take 24 hours or longer to process. Under both travel scenarios listed above, students must remain off campus in quarantine (noncontiguous states/international travel) or off campus without quarantine (contiguous states/other regions of New York state) until the results of their second test appear in the Cayuga Health portal and are negative or undetected.

  • Students who live in on-campus housing and require a 5-day quarantine or loss of campus access will be able to be reassigned to another location during this time.
  • Students who live in on-campus housing and require a 10-day quarantine will not be reassigned and MUST self-quarantine off campus.

At the time of travel or departure, students who are in isolation must remain in isolation until cleared by the Tompkins County Health Department (TCHD). Depending on specific circumstances, students who are in quarantine may be able to complete their quarantine at home, and should consult TCHD or Cornell Health to determine if this is feasible. More information is also available on the Cornell Health website.

In many cases, international students who are departing the United States may be subject to testing requirements by airlines and the country of their destination. For detailed instructions on this process, visit the COVID-19 Support Center.

Frequently Asked Questions

Faculty & Staff Travel

Business travel

Non-essential business travel is prohibited, a restriction that has been extended through at least May 15, 2021. Essential business travel requires approval by the appropriate college dean, vice president or vice provost, and plans must follow existing university policies governing travel.

Personal travel

Personal travel that presents increased risk of virus transmission is strongly discouraged. If you choose to travel, you are expected to comply with all state, federal and international travel guidelines. Employees who travel internationally for personal reasons will be expected to follow CDC guidance upon their return.

Employee travel guidelines

All travelers returning from noncontiguous states (states other than NY, PA, NJ, VT, CT or MA) or any international location must quarantine for 10 days from the last day in a non-border state or another country, unless the traveler meets certain criteria as outlined below. This option does not eliminate the need for travelers to quarantine, but rather may reduce the amount of required time in quarantine.

Note: Before boarding an international flight to the United States, all air travelers, including U.S. citizens, are required to present proof of a negative COVID-19 test within three days of departure. Alternately, travelers may provide proof of recovery from COVID-19 (a recent positive COVID-19 test and letter from a healthcare provider or health official approving travel).

Faculty and staff who and are arriving from noncontiguous states (states other than NY, PA, NJ, VT, CT or MA) or any international location who wish to “test out” of the full 10-day quarantine must:

  • Obtain a COVID-19 test no more than three days before you arrive in New York. Ask for a receipt showing you've taken a test. You do not need the result before you travel.
  • Complete the New York State Traveler Health Form upon arrival, per New York state law.
  • Cornell Recommendation: Complete a supplemental COVID-19 test upon arrival in New York.*
  • Quarantine for three days upon arrival in New York.
  • On day four, obtain a supplemental COVID-19 test. Once you receive a negative (undetected) test result for both required COVID tests, you can end your travel related quarantine.*

Note: Employees, including those working fully remotely, who receive a positive test result are required to notify their local HR representative.

* Cornell COVID-19 Surveillance Testing facilities are available for these tests, for employees who are authorized and cleared to be on campus through the Daily Check process. Appointments are required. Employees who are not approved to be on campus  may schedule an appointment at one of the off-campus surveillance testing sites (East Hill Plaza, Collegetown or Downtown) or at the Shops at Ithaca Mall; be sure to identify as a Cornell employee and use your Cornell email address.

Important: Should you develop any symptoms related to COVID-19 or if you become aware that you have come into contact with someone with COVID-19 you are prohibited from obtaining a test at one of our surveillance sites. Instead, contact your doctor and seek testing at the Ithaca Mall site (or a designated testing site in your county).

Submit time away from work

If you are currently approved to work on campus and will not be able to adhere to your regularly scheduled surveillance testing frequency due to your travel and/or resulting NYS quarantine, it is important that you submit a Faculty Staff Time Away from Work form. This will remove you from surveillance testing notifications and alerts for the duration of your absence.

Faculty and staff arriving from contiguous states (PA, NJ, VT, CT or MA)

Travelers arriving directly from a contiguous state are excluded from New York state guidelines. However, any faculty or staff member returning from a contiguous state, or from another region within New York state, may choose to have a supplemental test.

International travel

For guidance and policy on when essential international travel may resume, for whom, and the process to seek approval, please visit the International Travel Guidelines, Policy, and Recommendations page. For questions or support regarding international travel, contact International Travel Health and Safety.

Standing Committee on Travel and Visitors

Exceptions to the COVID-19 Travel and Visitor Policy (PDF) (including more- and less-restrictive measures) for any reason (including for specific subsets of staff and faculty in a particular college or unit) will be considered by request to the Standing Committee on Travel and Visitors. Such requests can be made after they have been endorsed by the appropriate college dean, vice president or vice provost. 

Committee members include Kevin Hallock, Dean of the SC Johnson College of Business; Rick Burgess, Vice President for Facilities and Campus Services; Gary Koretzky, Vice Provost for Academic Integration;  Mary Opperman, Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer; Madelyn Wessel, University Counsel & Secretary of the Corporation; and Wendy Wolford, Vice Provost for International Affairs.

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