Updated public health requirements for employees, effective June 1

May 24, 2021

Dear Cornell faculty and staff,

As discussed at Thursday’s faculty and staff town hall, Cornell continues to prepare for more employees to transition to on-campus work over the summer, in preparation for what we expect to be a fully in-person fall semester upon the start of classes in August.

Effective June 1, many of Cornell’s COVID-19 public health guidelines will be updated to more closely mirror those of New York state. There are important distinctions between guidelines for fully vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. Employees will be considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving their final dose schedule of an FDA-authorized vaccine as documented in the Daily Check.

On-campus requirements for fully vaccinated faculty and staff (effective June 1)

  • No longer required to wear masks indoors, though they may choose to do so.
  • May gather and meet indoors on Cornell property, unmasked, within capacity limits set by New York state (the current indoor restriction is 250 people).
  • No longer required to participate in surveillance testing, though supplemental testing remains available.
  • Must complete the Daily Check health assessment each day prior to reporting to campus or accessing facilities, until such time as this requirement is adjusted by New York state.

On-campus requirements for unvaccinated faculty and staff (effective June 1)

  • Required to wear masks indoors at all times, except when eating or when alone in a space.
  • May gather and meet indoors on Cornell property, masked, within capacity limits set by New York state; six feet of physical distance is required. Masking is also required when outdoors if unable to maintain six feet of physical distance from others.
  • Must adhere to university-required surveillance testing schedule.
  • Will be required to complete the Daily Check health assessment each day prior to reporting to campus or accessing facilities.

Proof of Vaccination and Enforcement

Getting vaccinated is the most effective method of ensuring individual and campus health and safety. At this time, Cornell does not require faculty and staff to be vaccinated; however, it is strongly encouraged. All Cornell community members who receive a COVID-19 vaccine are required to share proof of their vaccination status via the Daily Check. Even if you are not currently coming to campus and are not enrolled, please go to the site, log in as a Cornell employee, and register your vaccination status. Employees who have not received an FDA-authorized vaccine (or who fail to report their vaccination information via the Daily Check) will be considered to be unvaccinated.

In addition to documenting vaccination status with the university, employees are expected to act honestly and ethically and to observe required health and safety measures in all workplace settings. The university will not routinely check whether individuals not wearing masks on campus or in the workplace are vaccinated, absent credible complaints or in rare cases where precise documentation is needed to provide appropriate accommodations. However, the university retains the right to undertake compliance review as needed to protect the community, and any employee found to be falsely claiming to be vaccinated, or failing to properly mask, will be subject to discipline for violating New York state COVID-19 directives and university policies.

Providing Accommodations

As not all employees may be able to return to in-person work, scheduled business meetings on campus must be prepared to provide remote access options on a timely basis. Individuals seeking more information about the Disability Accommodation process or to request an accommodation on the basis of disability, should contact Medical Leaves Administration at 607-255-1177 or wcds@cornell.edu.

Returning to Campus and Research Reactivation Plans

With regard to campus repopulation, over the coming weeks, each college or unit will make a final determination on the unit’s overall work plans, in accordance with university principles. These plans, as well as research reactivation plans, no longer require central approval; however, it is important that all employees and affiliates who are approved to be on campus have their status reflected in our systems so that access to Daily Check and surveillance testing is triggered. Once a remote employee has been approved to return to campus by their supervisor, in accordance with college/unit guidelines, the supervisor should alert their local HR representative, who will guide the process to ensure that the employee’s/affiliate’s access is established so that they can complete the Daily Check health assessment each day before arriving on campus or accessing facilities and participate in surveillance testing, if unvaccinated.

Emeritus Faculty and Retired Staff

Beginning June 1, emeritus faculty and retired staff who wish to be on campus are eligible to do so, and are welcome to use campus recreational facilities. As is the case with other members of the Cornell community, mask wearing and distancing inside buildings remains required of those not yet fully vaccinated, while individuals who have been fully vaccinated are no longer subject to mask wearing or physical distancing restrictions.


Individuals coming to campus as part of recruitment visits or as guest speakers are subject to the same restrictions as faculty and staff – fully vaccinated individuals are not required to be masked when indoors, whereas unvaccinated guests must wear masks indoors and socially distance. Guidelines for conducting recruitment seminars will be forthcoming. Other visitors to campus who are not invited as part of Cornell business will be allowed to access campus facilities, as appropriate; however, they will be required to wear a mask and physically distance when indoors regardless of their vaccination status during this initial June reopening phase. Additional guidance related to protocols for campus visitors will be modified as appropriate during the summer.

Continuing to Follow Public Health Guidance

As more employees return to on-campus work and as state or CDC guidelines evolve, the university will continue to evaluate and, as needed, update requirements for vaccination, mask wearing, testing and campus density limits. Of note, student-specific public health guidance will be disseminated closer to the start of the fall semester.

We appreciate the efforts of our entire workforce to adapt and evolve your work practices during this past year, along with your ongoing consideration for health and safety policies that help to ensure the safety of our campus community and the surrounding area.


Michael Kotlikoff

Mary Opperman
Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer