Cornell’s virus testing program for students in the Ithaca area

July 15, 2020

Dear Students,

We are writing to provide information about Cornell's COVID-19 testing program, which will begin Thursday, July 16 for Ithaca campus students. As you read in Vice President Lombardi's July 2 message, Cornell is engaging in extensive planning to welcome you back to campus for residential instruction in the fall. The health and safety of our community will require each of us to follow a set of evidence-based guidelines, including minimizing gatherings and maintaining physical distancing, wearing facial coverings in all university buildings and outside if you cannot maintain distance from others, and scrupulous hand hygiene.

In addition to adopting these measures to control the spread of the virus, a cornerstone of our public health plan is a comprehensive testing program in collaboration with Cayuga Health System. All undergraduate, graduate and professional students who reside in or return to the greater Ithaca area and/or the Cornell University campus community for the 2020-21 academic year are required to participate in the testing program as part of the Cornell Behavioral Compact. To that end, we are providing you with the following important instructions:

  1. Students currently in the Ithaca area should schedule their ‘Arrival Test’ today. This test can be scheduled through the Cayuga Health portal now; students will also be able to register through the student Re-entry Checklist, which will be communicated in the coming days. The first available testing clinic will be held on July 16. We strongly encourage you to register as soon as possible.
  2. 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, which will be communicated soon.

    Arrival Testing will be available on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

    • Location: Fischell Band Center (141 Kite Hill Dr. in the parking lot of Schoellkopf Stadium)
    • Time: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Times may be adjusted throughout summer.)
    • Dates: July 16, 21, 23, 28, 30; Aug. 4, 6, 11, 13, 18, 20, 25, 27; Sept. 1
    • Who should be tested?
      • Any student currently living in the Ithaca area, either in on- or off-campus housing.
      • Any student returning to the Ithaca area who will be living in off-campus housing.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Once in Ithaca, 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.

Before you leave for Ithaca, we wish to remind you of important elements from Vice President Lombardi’s July 2 message:

  • 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.

Please Note: New York State Travel and Quarantine Guidelines
Travel restrictions have been established per the executive order of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Individuals traveling from states of high virus prevalence will be expected to quarantine for 14 days upon entry into New York state. Returning students are expected to comply with this restriction, and should plan to quarantine in place at their off-campus residence and contact Cornell Health at 607-255-5155 for specific instructions on how to seek their ‘arrival test’. Students who plan to live in on-campus housing will receive more guidance about travel and quarantine guidelines as part of their move-in instructions.

Questions about the COVID Testing Program may be sent to


Gary Koretzky
Vice Provost for Academic Integration

Ryan Lombardi
Vice President for Student and Campus Life