Update on campus activities and COVID-19 measures

March 16, 2021

Dear Cornellians,

We write today having just passed the one-year anniversary of Cornell’s decision to move to virtual instruction. The pandemic has forever changed so many lives, with many in the U.S. and abroad experiencing immeasurable loss. At the same time, we have seen communities – including ours – strengthen their commitment to the greater good by putting community ahead of self.

We recognize the emotional and physical toll that our public health guidelines are taking on everyone this semester. We are all ready for a break from these restrictions, and the good weather further entices us to gather with friends to celebrate the arrival of spring and – hopefully – the gradual fading of the pandemic. But our COVID-19 numbers at Cornell remain high enough to warrant ongoing concern: about the potential of someone becoming seriously ill, about those vulnerable friends and community members who are still at risk and not yet vaccinated, and about our ultimate ability to be able to continue our in-person semester. Our community has done an amazing job to date, but we have to remain laser-focused on continuing to follow our data-driven guidelines for the remaining nine weeks of the semester.

We have learned from the analysis of our surveillance testing data that transmission of the virus is spreading mostly from unsupervised gatherings which take place without masks or physical distancing. And, unlike in the fall semester, we are seeing new cases in our on-campus residential population on a daily basis. As such, we will be communicating directly with different campus populations requesting that students seek additional supplementary testing. Please be on the lookout for an email, as your compliance is critically important.

We also learned from last semester that structured and supervised activities that observe all public health guidelines present a very low risk of viral spread. To that end, and reflecting that most of our community continues to show diligence and adherence to our guidelines, we are announcing new opportunities for safe recreation and fitness activities, and in-person engagement with your student organizations. Please know that while we believe these opportunities are incredibly important for your well-being, it is critical that they be undertaken with strict adherence to all COVID-19 guidelines.

Recreation and Fitness

Effective today, all intramural, club sports, and group recreational and fitness activities involving 10 participants or fewer are allowed to take place outdoors pending space availability. Check the Club Sports website for details on policies and guidelines. All participants in any activity must maintain six feet of distance and wear a face covering at all times.

As the weather improves, we plan to open more opportunities outdoors, including Jessup Fields, Robinson Alumni Fields, outdoor tennis courts, and the Kane Sports Complex track. The Reis Tennis Center indoor courts will remain open with limited capacity. Group fitness classes will also be offered outside, and Cornell Fitness Centers will continue to operate under New York state guidelines. Please visit the Cornell Recreational Services website for details on hours of operations, making reservations, and class schedules.

As a reminder, all activities that were announced on February 22 will also continue to be permitted.

Student Organizations

Student organizations are now permitted to host in-person activities, programs, and meetings in groups of 10 or fewer. Tabling is not allowed at this time. All in-person gatherings must be registered in CampusGroups, attendance must be tracked, and food is not permitted. Student organizations must reserve space for meetings through the university events scheduling system. The Campus Events Office will review requests to confirm that your program meets all campus health and safety standards.

We hope that these changes will provide you with opportunities to engage safely with your fellow students in meaningful ways. To be clear: this is not an invitation to let your guard down. We have done a great job up to this point and we must continue to work together to keep our entire campus safe.

We can do this, Cornellians!

Martha E. Pollack

Ryan Lombardi
Vice President for Student and Campus Life