End of semester planning, visitor and travel reminders

Oct. 21, 2020

Dear Cornellians,

I am grateful for the commitment you have shown in preventing the spread of COVID-19. Your actions have allowed Cornell to remain open and continue to offer a residential experience for those who are studying on the Ithaca and Geneva campuses. While our Ithaca campus remains at alert level green, the prevalence of COVID-19 cases has increased substantially within and around Tompkins County in recent weeks. It is more critical than ever that we remain diligent in following the Behavioral Compact, the Daily Check requirements, travel restrictions, and all university public health guidelines so that we may have a healthy and safe remainder of the semester.

As we navigate the next several weeks leading up to Thanksgiving recess, below are important reminders and key campus departure requirements:

Gatherings on and off campus

I know there is a temptation to gather with your friends, especially with Halloween approaching. However, we must continue to follow our guidelines — our policy restricts gatherings to no more than 10 individuals, physically distanced, and with face coverings. It is especially important to follow these guidelines as the weather starts to cool and we spend more time indoors. There are still a variety of ways to safely stay active, indoors or outside, and engage with each other through virtual events and programming.

Traveling to and from the Ithaca area

Yesterday, Governor Cuomo announced an expansion of locations that now meet the NYS travel advisory criteria and several states neighboring New York are limited to essential travel only. Travel poses a significant risk to our community and we continue to ask that all students limit personal travel to exceptional circumstances such as family emergencies, and cooperate fully with requirements upon return. As we approach the end of the semester, undergraduate students living on campus who choose to travel may be prohibited from returning to campus housing. Any student who must travel outside the greater Ithaca area is required to register with Cornell via the Daily Check system, adhere to all public health guidance, and abide by Cornell’s self-quarantine practices upon return as well as any restrictions imposed by NYS.

Semifinals; end of semester planning and departures

Students in the Ithaca area who are enrolled in classes that are giving in-person semifinal exams are expected to take their semifinal exams in person and should not assume they will be permitted to take a semifinal exam online. An exemption process for students who face extenuating circumstances and need to leave before they have completed required in-person academic activities is being developed and will be shared in the coming weeks. In the meantime, students are encouraged to consult with their college advising office.

As you make plans for the end of the semester, remember that you will need to notify Cornell of your departure date. Information on how to record your final semester departure will be shared in the coming weeks.

If you do not register your departure travel, you will continue to receive Daily Check reminders and will be responsible for your surveillance tests, and any subsequent warnings for missed tests for any time period you are believed to be in Ithaca. Please note that if, at the time of your intended departure, you are in quarantine or isolation you may be required by the Tompkins County Health Department to remain in isolation or quarantine and therefore would be unable to travel. We encourage you to be mindful of this potential disruption as you make your departure plans.

On-campus housing

Undergraduate students living on campus recently received end of semester housing instructions from the Housing office. Please carefully review those instructions, as well as any future communications, and be sure to schedule your departure time in the housing portal by Thursday, Oct. 22, at 11:59 p.m.

For undergraduate students who need to stay on campus beyond Nov. 29, you must apply to stay on campus through the housing portal and complete a special contract for housing and dining by Thursday, Oct. 22, at 11:59 p.m.

Students living in university-owned co-ops and/or sorority/fraternity housing will be provided with a similar process, both for departure and for staying in their current housing beyond Nov. 29. Instructions will be shared in the coming days.

Graduate students may remain in on-campus housing; however, if you plan to travel, you must register your travel through the Daily Check system and will be responsible for any quarantine protocols upon return.

For students remaining in the Ithaca area after Nov. 29

As long as you remain in the Ithaca area, quarantine, isolation, travel registration, public health requirements, and surveillance testing protocols will continue. Testing schedules are subject to change during this period. You must continue to complete the Daily Check every day, regardless of whether or not you plan to come to campus. Students who do not meet these requirements could lose access to campus and the ability to enroll in or access spring courses.

Visitors to Ithaca

As a reminder, visitors are still strongly discouraged on campus and are not allowed inside any campus buildings; this includes the end of semester departure period. Any visitors traveling to Ithaca are required to abide by NYS travel advisories. We are counting on you and your families to continue to keep the health of the Ithaca community in mind whether you are planning to stay or depart.

You have done an exceptional job so far this semester; now is not the time to let your guard down. Please continue to keep yourselves and our community safe for these final weeks of the semester. Let’s finish even stronger than when we started!


Ryan Lombardi
Vice President for Student and Campus Life