Public health changes, effective July 1

June 21, 2021

Dear Cornell faculty and staff,

To date, more than 87% of our Ithaca, Geneva and Cornell Tech campus populations are vaccinated, which includes more than 9,839 faculty and staff. We anticipate that this number will grow substantially as our mandated student vaccination policy is implemented. Moreover, only one case of COVID-19 infection has been identified in our campus surveillance in the month of June. This is a tremendous achievement, and one that helps to ensure that we can continue to make progress toward more normal operations. However, for those of you who are vaccinated but have not yet uploaded your information to the Daily Check, please do so as soon as possible (see instructions below), and if you are not yet vaccinated, we encourage you to schedule your vaccination as soon as possible.

Last week, New York state achieved a major milestone with 70% of adult New Yorkers having received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and announced the termination of most COVID-19 restrictions. With high vaccination rates and very low prevalence at both local and state levels, Cornell will lift or modify additional public health restrictions, effective July 1.

These changes will allow fully vaccinated faculty, staff and students who have submitted proof of vaccination to access campus with minimal restrictions. However, several restrictions will remain in place for unvaccinated individuals.

Of note, unvaccinated individuals are required to:

  • Wear a mask when inside Cornell’s buildings (except in a private office) or outside in a group setting;
  • When outside maintain six feet of physical distance from others when possible or wear a mask when unable to distance; and
  • Participate in regularly scheduled surveillance testing (once a week for faculty, staff and graduate and professional students; twice a week for undergraduate students).
  • Obtain a supplemental test upon return from travel (strongly encouraged).

Proof of Vaccination

Many of our decisions are made based on knowing the extent of immunization achieved by our community. Therefore, as students, faculty and staff become fully vaccinated, they are required to upload proof of vaccination to the Daily Check, regardless of whether they are currently accessing campus. The Daily Check is accessible to all faculty, staff and students who are based on the Ithaca, Geneva and Cornell Tech campuses. To upload your proof of vaccination, just log in using your NetID. For those not yet vaccinated, we continue to encourage you to seek vaccination as soon as possible.

Daily Check Website and Daily Check Health Assessment

The Daily Check website will remain an important tool to upload proof of vaccination, and for those who still need access to surveillance testing and those who desire supplemental testing. However, beginning July 1, faculty, staff and students no longer need to complete the Daily Check health assessment each day before arriving on campus or accessing facilities, regardless of vaccination status. It is important, though, to be mindful of how you are feeling. If you are ill, do not come to campus. Instead, take steps to seek care with your primary care physician. Students may also seek care with Cornell Health.

Events, Meetings, Symposia and Other Gatherings

Faculty and staff who wish to meet for academic- or business-related events, unit gatherings, symposia or other similar gatherings are able to do so. Rooms can be filled to capacity and there are no special seating arrangements necessary. Unvaccinated faculty, staff or guests are required to wear masks and maintain six feet of physical distance, and a Zoom option must always be available for business-related meetings to accommodate those who would otherwise be at risk.

Summer: Student Classroom Experiences

All unvaccinated participants in summer classroom experiences should be tested upon arrival and begin surveillance testing. Surveillance testing will continue for participants until they are fully vaccinated. Classrooms will be configured normally, but unvaccinated students must continue to wear masks until fully vaccinated.


As of June 1, essential and non-essential travel for Cornell-related business and research are again permitted, provided that all employees follow the necessary public health guidance, including the process for petitioning for international travel, and ensure that all financial expenditures have been approved prior to travel. We encourage all employees to continue to be mindful of the risks of travel, albeit reduced, in certain locations or venues and advise that appropriate precautions are taken in accordance with all public health guidelines. Supplemental testing is strongly encouraged for unvaccinated individuals upon return from travel and prior to the resumption of surveillance testing. Vaccinated employees and students are also able to access supplemental testing upon return from travel.


Guidance has also been updated for campus visitors, and varies depending on whether a visitor has been invited to campus (e.g., faculty or staff recruitment visit or guest speaker), is a visiting researcher, or is visiting campus on their own. Additional guidance for visitors can be found on the Ithaca and Cornell Tech COVID-19 websites.

As we navigate through this transition period, we ask that all members of our community continue to act respectfully and reserve judgement regarding an individual’s decision to wear a mask; there are a variety of reasons that individuals may continue to wear masks and practice physical distancing.

As always, we appreciate the dedication shown by all members of our community in keeping COVID-19 infection rates on our campuses low over the past year. It is encouraging to see both the number of Cornellians who have already received at least one dose of the vaccine, and the modeling from Peter Frazier’s team that shows that we can safely move forward with an in-person fall semester, provided that transmission rates remain low and our community continues to get vaccinated.

Thank you for your attention to these important matters, and we will share additional guidance for the fall semester later this summer.


Michael Kotlikoff

Mary Opperman
Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer