Doing our part to prevent the spread of COVID-19

Oct. 16, 2020

Dear Cornell Faculty and Staff,

Despite the challenging circumstances of these past seven months, you have risen to the task of following public health precautions and adjusting to new routines and procedures. Your efforts – in particular by those faculty and staff who report to campus and those who interact most closely with students – have helped to ensure the health and safety of our campus community and of the greater Ithaca area.

In the past weeks we have seen a significant spike in positive cases in our surrounding counties. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, over the past several days we have also seen a growth in positive cases of COVID-19 among our employees. While positive cases among our students remain at or near zero, Wednesday revealed two positive cases among employees, and we expect to report two additional employee positive cases from Thursday when testing results are confirmed later today. This will bring the total number of positive cases among employees in two days to four.

While it is important to note that these cases are not due to any emerging cluster or on-campus activity, this is a reminder that each of us must remain vigilant. This includes wearing face coverings on campus and in public, maintaining physical distancing, and avoiding crowds and large gatherings, especially in indoor settings such as bars and restaurants, including those in neighboring counties where caseloads are rising. All employees who are approved to be on campus must complete the Daily Check every day before reporting to work, and everyone must comply with their surveillance testing schedules. And if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, contact your primary care provider and DO NOT report to campus for any reason, including surveillance testing.

As advised Wednesday, staff and faculty are strongly encouraged to avoid unnecessary travel outside the greater Ithaca region, as any such trips present additional opportunities for COVID-19 to enter our community. If you must travel outside the area, avoid crowds and public transportation.

Earlier in the semester, following a few positive clusters, our students rose to the challenge of strictly adhering to public health precautions as they protected themselves and others. Now we must all do our part and abide by all New York state and Cornell public health guidance. With your dedication and commitment, we can stem the rise of employee positive cases and continue to provide a safe, rewarding, in-person fall semester for students and our entire campus community.


Michael Kotlikoff

Mary Opperman
Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer