Planning for the fall semester

June 28, 2021

Dear Cornell students,

We hope this note finds you doing well and enjoying a healthy and restful summer. We write today to provide a few updates related to the fall semester, as we currently envision it.

With low transmission rates and the anticipation that the number of individuals vaccinated against COVID-19 will grow substantially as our mandated student vaccination policy is implemented for the 2021-22 academic year, we are planning for a fully in-person fall semester. If you have already been vaccinated, but have not yet uploaded your proof of vaccination, please do so in the Daily Check today.

An in-person fall semester means that students can look forward to an on-campus experience with few public health restrictions. In-person clubs and activities will resume, and we anticipate that many of our public spaces, such as dining halls, gyms, recreation facilities and libraries, will resume normal operations. We anticipate that almost all classes will be taught fully in person, with classrooms configured normally and without physical distancing.

COVID-19 Vaccination Requirement

It is important for all students to get vaccinated as soon as possible, and ideally before arriving on campus this fall. The deadline to submit proof of COVID-19 vaccination for the fall semester is August 16.

Students are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving their final dose schedule of a Cornell-accepted vaccine. At this time, to meet the COVID-19 vaccine requirement, Cornell accepts COVID-19 vaccines approved by the following three organizations: the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Anticipated policies for students based on vaccination status are as follows:

  • Fully vaccinated students who have submitted proof of vaccination will be able to access campus with minimal restrictions. Fully vaccinated students will no longer be required to wear masks while on campus, though you can, of course, choose to do so. Participation in regular surveillance testing is not required.
  • Unvaccinated students will be required to wear a mask inside Cornell buildings and outdoors when in group settings or when physical distancing is not possible. In addition, unvaccinated students will be required to participate in arrival testing immediately upon arrival and may miss certain group campus activities until arrival test results are available. Unvaccinated students will also participate in regularly scheduled surveillance testing throughout the semester or until fully vaccinated.

Cornell Health anticipates being able to administer COVID-19 vaccine to Ithaca and Geneva-based students who are unable to obtain an approved vaccine prior to the August 16 deadline; however, students are strongly encouraged to obtain vaccination over the summer. Details will be available on the Cornell Health website in the coming weeks for students who may need assistance.

Daily Check Health Assessment

Regardless of vaccination status, students will no longer be required to complete the Daily Check health assessment each day before arriving on campus or accessing facilities. It is important, though, to be mindful of health symptoms. Once the semester starts, if you are ill, you should consult by phone with Cornell Health; Cornell Tech students should consult with Cornell Tech Wellness & Support.

While there are many encouraging signs that the start of the academic year will feel very much like a traditional fall semester, please keep in mind that our plans may need to be adapted should vaccination rates stall or virus transmission rates increase.

A town hall for international students will be held on Tuesday, July 20, at 8 a.m. ET (registration is required). Our team in Student and Campus Life will host a virtual forum for students and parents in early August. Please continue to look for emails throughout the summer with relevant updates.

We hope that you continue to enjoy the summer, and we look forward to seeing you (in person) in just a few short months!


Ryan Lombardi
Vice President for Student and Campus Life

Sharon McMullen, RN, MPH, FACHA
Assistant Vice President of Student and Campus Life for Health and Wellbeing