Preparing for Thanksgiving break, travel and testing

Oct. 14, 2020

Dear Cornell Faculty and Staff,

Your tremendous commitment to following Cornell’s public health requirements has allowed us to remain an open, safe community for those who are studying and working on the Ithaca and Geneva campuses. As the weather cools and we spend more time indoors, we must be aware of risks associated with travel and gatherings that may occur over Thanksgiving weekend or other winter holidays.

Personal travel

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, many faculty and staff may be considering travel to visit with family and friends or, possibly, entertaining guests. While we fully understand the desire to share time with friends and loved ones from whom we have been separated for so long, with COVID-19 cases rising in surrounding counties, as well as continued spikes in neighboring states and other areas across the country, personal travel remains strongly discouraged.

If you must travel, please be mindful of all public health guidance, including any quarantine restrictions that may be in place either while traveling or upon your return. The New York state travel advisory remains in effect, so anyone returning to the Ithaca area from states with significant rates of COVID-19 transmission will be required to register their travel with New York state and to quarantine for 14 days upon their return. Anyone traveling internationally must follow CDC guidance.

For those approved to work on campus, approved time off for more than a week should be logged through the Daily Check site by using the “time away from work” form to temporarily turn off alerts and notifications. If you are required to quarantine upon return, use the “time away from work” form and chose Quarantine – NYS Travel Advisory as the reason to continue to turn off alerts and notifications.

Holiday gatherings

Many of us look forward to gathering with family and friends around the holidays. It can be easy to let our guards down while in the comfort of our own homes or when surrounded by loved ones, but it is important to remain vigilant. Please be sure to follow all public health guidance – wear masks, limit the size and duration of gatherings, meet outdoors whenever possible, ensure that all indoors spaces have adequate ventilation, maintain physical distance and practice good hygiene. The CDC offers additional tips for safe holiday celebrations.

Testing following Thanksgiving break

The Ithaca campus will remain open after Thanksgiving break, and all members of the Cornell community will be expected to continue to abide by public health measures, both on and off campus.

Faculty and staff currently participating in Cornell’s surveillance testing program will be required to continue with their scheduled testing. Between Thanksgiving and winter break, faculty and staff who are not frequently on campus, or who are not currently approved to be on campus, will be given the opportunity to participate in “supplemental surveillance testing.” This optional offering is designed to increase our asymptomatic surveillance and maintain low virus prevalence. Information about how to access this testing opportunity will be forthcoming.

As always, faculty and staff who are experiencing symptoms, or who have been near an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 14 days, should only seek testing at the Shops at Ithaca Mall and not through the surveillance testing program.


Mike Kotlikoff

Mary Opperman
Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer