Important information for the fall semester

Aug. 31, 2020

Dear Students,

With classes about to start on Wednesday, September 2, I’m sharing some important information about:

  • Course registration.
  • What to expect if you’re attending classes in person.
  • Fall 2020 technology needs.
  • A new tool to reserve a space for studying.

Course registration notes

  1. In the past, if you were interested in visiting a course during the “shopping” or add period, you could physically sit in on a class. Due to public health and safety concerns, you cannot do that this year. Instead, you can “shop” by attending a class session via Zoom, where permitted by the course instructor. More information about how to request a Zoom link for courses of interest will be posted on the University Registrar’s website this week.
  2. You’ll be able to 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’ll be able to use an online add/drop form instead. It will be available sometime during the first week of classes through the college registrar websites, the University Registrar’s website, and Student Essentials.
  3. I’m happy to report that, overall, this fall’s process for course registration went reasonably well. We know that some students hit bumps along the way. We’re grateful for your patience and understanding as we work together to get all students enrolled in their classes. We did notice that some students enrolled in an instruction mode that isn’t possible for them (for example, registered for an in-person mode but won’t be located in the Ithaca area for the fall 2020 semester). College registrars will contact affected individuals about switching course sections.

What to expect if you’re attending classes in person

  1. You will have a seat assignment in each classroom to ensure that social distancing requirements are being met. Your instructor will provide details before your first class meeting.
  2. Contact your instructor promptly if you can’t attend classes in person at the beginning of the semester – for example, because your arrival has been delayed by travel restrictions or you have been placed in quarantine or isolation. Your instructor will provide the Zoom link for you to participate remotely, which you are encouraged to do if your health permits. Once classes begin, instructors will automatically be notified when Ithaca-based students enrolled in their courses have been placed in quarantine or isolation.
  3. Exams may be held in person, at the instructor’s discretion. If you require an alternative way to take exams that are held in person, promptly register with Student Disability Services.

Fall 2020 technology needs

  1. To participate in courses this semester, all students should have a laptop with Wi-Fi capability, and noise-canceling headphones are highly recommended. If you need assistance to purchase a laptop, please contact the Office of Financial Aid. Select models of noise-canceling headphones can be purchased for 25% off at The Cornell Store (online or central campus location) through Sept. 12.
  2. In-person students: If you’re planning to be on campus for extended periods of time, a power bank for your laptop is highly recommended given the limited number of power outlets. The Cornell Store will have power banks in stock soon.

Reserve a study space

A new app, called Book a Study Space, will be available by the end of this week to let students reserve space in a room designated for studying. The app will be available in Cornell Chatter (website and app). We anticipate significant student desire for study spaces and therefore the inventory of spaces included in the app will grow over the first several weeks of the semester; it will initially have spaces in some college/school buildings, then expand to include the Cornell libraries.

Students can filter by building or by room type (quiet spaces for reading, writing, listening; interactive spaces to use Zoom or other videoconferencing; and small group spaces). The colleges, schools, and libraries will set hours and monitor use. Each space will have a cleaning station, and Cornell’s custodial staff will clean the spaces once a day.

In the interim, if you opt to participate in an online class from on campus – for example in a quiet spot outdoors – please be sure you maintain at least 6’ distancing from others and wear a face mask.

Helpful resources

With all best wishes for an excellent start to your semester,

Lisa Nishii
Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education