COVID-19 Update: Continued spike in cases, additional restrictions

Dec. 11, 2021

Dear students on the Ithaca campus:

The number of new COVID-19 cases among the Cornell student body continues to climb at concerning rates. Testing from Friday and Saturday, which is still in the process of being finalized, has already identified nearly 300 additional student cases on the Ithaca campus. In addition, we have now confirmed cases of the Omicron variant within our Cornell community.

The vast majority of cases are linked to off-campus student social gatherings where masking and other public health measures were not followed. Being vaccinated, even with a booster shot, is not a license to let down our guards. Students testing positive for COVID-19 now, and in coming days, risk being required to isolate, away from family and friends, during the upcoming winter break.

We are sharing three critical updates related to the end of semester:

  • All in-person student gatherings, formal or informal, are cancelled. This applies to undergraduate, graduate and professional students, and includes events with members of the local community.
  • In-person exams will continue as planned, as there has been no evidence of classroom virus transmission. All exams are already de-densified (50% capacity). Students in isolation due to COVID-19 should contact instructors about academic accommodations, especially regarding exams. Additional information, including an FAQ, is available on Cornell’s COVID-19 website.
  • The December Recognition ceremony in Ithaca will continue as planned. Additional information will be shared by the Commencement Office soon.

If you are leaving campus for the break, please depart as soon as you complete your last in-person final. Don’t risk getting COVID-19, which could require you to isolate until cleared by the Tompkins County Health Department for travel. If you are currently COVID-19 positive, you will need to discuss departure plans with the Cornell COVID Concierge Team (607-254-5600 or

Please, let’s work together to stop COVID-19 transmission now:

  • Masks must be worn indoors at all times, unless in a private, non-shared space (e.g., dorm room or office); we strongly recommend masking outdoors when physical distancing is not possible.
  • Use grab and go food options if available. Otherwise, try to spread out from others and do not linger. Put your mask back on as soon as you are done eating or drinking.
  • When studying with others, keep group sizes small, wear masks and maintain your distance.
  • Adhere to your surveillance testing schedule and take advantage of supplemental testing.

Again, we cannot stress strongly enough the importance of wearing masks indoors, avoiding social gatherings, and getting a booster as soon as you are able to do so. You have done an amazing job this semester. Let’s do our part to help finish the semester as safely as possible.


Mike Kotlikoff

Ryan Lombardi
Vice President for Student and Campus Life