Preparing for the fall semester

July 22, 2020

Fall semester Re-entry Checklist:

The Re-entry Checklist is your guide to a safe start to the semester. All students must complete the checklist. Required information includes a local address for the fall semester (if you will be living off campus in the Ithaca area) and emergency contact information.

Student Town Halls

Cornell is hosting a series of town hall information sessions for students and their families. We hope you will attend to ask questions about the fall semester and receive important updates.

Travel Guidelines

New York Travel Advisory: Travel restrictions have been established by an executive order from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, requiring individuals traveling from states of high virus prevalence to quarantine for 14 days upon entry into New York state. Students should review the locations for which New York state requires a 14-day quarantine, as additional states were recently added to the travel advisory. International students must also plan to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.

We are working closely with state officials to understand how this may impact our move-in process for students residing on campus and will communicate updates broadly as we become aware of them.

Returning students in off-campus housing should plan to quarantine in place at their off-campus residence and follow the testing protocols. For questions or concerns about complying with the New York state quarantine requirements, please contact the Off-Campus Living office

Virus Testing

All students residing in the greater Ithaca area this fall are required to be screened for COVID-19 upon arrival and to participate in ongoing 'surveillance testing' throughout the fall semester. Compliance with all testing is required as part of the Cornell Behavioral Compact.

  • Arrival testing: Students living off campus can schedule their required 'arrival test' now through the Re-Entry Checklist. Students living on campus will receive details on testing in their move-in materials.

  • Surveillance testing: After Sept. 2, surveillance testing will be conducted on a regular basis. You will be notified of your test through the Daily Check website with instructions on how to register at one of several locations on campus and when the test must be completed.
Any student in the Ithaca area who feels ill, or has a reason to suspect that they may be at risk for having become infected with COVID-19, should call Cornell Health immediately for instructions at 607-255-5155.

Campus Life

Housing and Dining Contracts: The contract periods and rates for meal plans and on-campus housing have changed based on adjustments to the academic calendar. Returning students who have already signed housing contracts have received an email with updated contract information and a deadline to re-sign housing contracts by midnight tonight, July 22. Incoming students who have applied for housing will receive their housing assignments and contracts on or around July 24.

Move-In: Different from past years, the move-in process for on-campus residential students will occur over a series of days. Students will receive move-in instructions with an assigned date and time slot between Aug. 23 and Sept. 1 for when to arrive on campus. Students are limited in the number of personal belongings they can bring with them, as they will be responsible for moving in on their own. Parents and family members will NOT be permitted in campus facilities, including the residence halls. Additional details on move-in will be communicated to students during the week of July 27.

Shipping & Storage: You may use any vendor to ship to your on-campus address, and packages will be held in the service center for retrieval after you receive a negative virus test result. To have packages shipped and waiting in your residence hall room before move-in, you may contract with Big Red Shipping and Storage once you have received your room assignment. There are also retailers shipping directly to your on-campus address, including a service provided by The Cornell Store and DormCo. If your items were stored by the university over the summer, they will be placed in your residence hall room prior to Aug. 22.


Course Credit Limit: We are aware that many students feel competitive pressure to take an overload of credits and that many changes required for the fall semester may introduce additional new sources of stress. Accordingly, we have decided to proactively limit the number of course credits in which undergraduate students can enroll to 18. In certain cases, students will be able to seek permission to enroll in additional credits, especially credits that are needed for seniors to graduate. Contact your college advising office if you have questions.

Please continue to monitor your email for important updates about enrollment.

Athletics & Fitness

Swim Test: The swim test will be waived as a graduation requirement for seniors who are graduating in fall 2020 or spring 2021. We will not conduct swim test clinics this fall. First-year students will have the fee normally charged for delaying the swim test waived.

Club Sports: In line with the Ivy League’s decision to cancel all varsity competition for the fall semester, club sports competition will also be canceled. We understand how important club sports are to many students and their Cornell experience, and we hope to create a plan for practices to continue. We will have more guidance in the coming weeks and will share once plans have been drafted.