Supplemental testing updates, quarantine guidelines, and holiday gatherings

November 3, 2020

Dear Cornell Faculty and Staff,

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise across our region and the nation, the university has sought to expedite our new supplemental testing program, an optional offering that is designed to increase surveillance of asymptomatic cases and maintain low virus prevalence.

Importantly, supplemental testing does not replace surveillance testing for those who are required to do so. Rather, this is a voluntary testing program that will enable faculty and staff to increase their testing frequency – or gain access to testing – beginning November 4 or November 28, respectively.

Faculty and staff currently enrolled in surveillance testing (offered starting Nov. 4)

Beginning on November 4, faculty and staff who are currently approved to be on campus and enrolled in surveillance testing may elect to increase their testing frequency. As with all testing, supplemental tests require an appointment and may be scheduled by logging into the Daily Check tool and selecting “Supplemental Testing” and a time and location. Again, if you choose to do so, this option is in addition to your regularly scheduled surveillance testing.

Faculty and staff not currently enrolled in surveillance testing (offered starting Nov. 30)

Beginning on November 30, faculty and staff who are not currently approved to be on campus, and therefore not part of surveillance testing, may choose to participate in supplemental testing. To do so, log into the Daily Check tool and click on “Supplemental Testing.” This will allow you to schedule a time at an off-campus location: Collegetown, downtown Ithaca or East Hill Plaza.

Similar to regular surveillance testing, this is for asymptomatic individuals only

Anyone who is ill, believes that they may have been exposed to someone who has tested positive to COVID-19 or is currently in quarantine should seek testing at the Cayuga Health sampling site at the Ithaca Mall.

Safely welcoming family and visitors to the region

Just as many Cornell students are preparing to leave campus later this month to return to their permanent home addresses, many faculty and staff and their families may be welcoming college-aged students back to the region. For family and visitors who may need access to testing, Cayuga Health System offers testing at the Ithaca Mall. There is no charge for Tompkins County residents; for others the fee is $99 per test. All travelers must continue to fill out the state’s Traveler Health form.

Please be advised that, over the weekend, Governor Cuomo announced new quarantine and testing guidelines that will allow out-of-state travelers to “test out” of the mandatory 14-day quarantine, thereby reducing the quarantine period, pending negative test results. We are currently evaluating these new guidelines to determine how this may impact Cornell’s travel and visitor policy. Any decisions to change Cornell’s travel policy or requirements will be shared with the campus community.

Quarantine guidelines

Faculty and staff with someone in their household in quarantine are permitted to report to work, provided that they have not been directed by the health department to self-quarantine, are approved to be on campus, continue to complete the Daily Check health assessment prior to arriving on campus and comply with surveillance testing requirements. As a reminder, if you are directed by the health department to self-quarantine or isolate, please notify your local Human Resources representative immediately.

Holiday gatherings

The holiday season is often a time to visit with family and friends. The increase in COVID-19 cases locally and nationally poses risks not only to your personal wellness, but also to the Cornell and greater Ithaca communities. We urge you to avoid unnecessary travel and to continue to follow all public health guidance, including wearing masks (even while visiting with family or friends), practicing physical distancing, avoiding large groups and limiting time spent indoors. The CDC has additional tips about holiday travel and celebrations.


Mike Kotlikoff

Mary Opperman
Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer