Preparing for the fall semester

August 20, 2020

Online Forum on Campus Life

Today at 2 p.m. EDT, Cornell is hosting an Online Forum on Student Life on Campus. Leaders across campus will address a range of topics, including dining, studying and building connections with other students. Students who will be living in Ithaca (on or off campus) and their families are encouraged to attend. Please register and submit questions in advance.

Q-Week & Orientation

To help you stay connected and engaged as you fulfill quarantine requirements, the Campus Activities Office has created Q-Week, with over 40 virtual events and informative programs leading up to the start of classes. All students are welcome to participate. You’ll find other events and opportunities to get involved on the Campus Activities website.

The university is also offering a virtual orientation for first-year and transfer students and their families. Visit the Student Orientation (NetID required) and Family Orientation websites to browse programs and create your schedule.


While both quarantine and isolation refer to methods of preventing the spread of illness, they do not mean the same thing. Students awaiting the results of their arrival test on campus, or those who have come to New York from a restricted travel state, are required to quarantine. Quarantine means:

  • Do not leave your quarantine location for any non-essential reason. Traveling alone to get a COVID test as directed or to pick up food from a central location near your building is permitted.
  • Do wear a face covering, practice physical distancing, wash hands frequently and sanitize high-touch areas if you share a living space.
  • Do not have visitors to your quarantine location, unless they have been approved by your health care provider.
  • Additional quarantine guidance and guidelines are available through the Tompkins County Health Department and Cornell Health.

Visit for more information.


Availability of Arrival Tests (Off-Campus Students): We understand that some off-campus students are experiencing issues scheduling their arrival testing. Please know that we are working to remedy this, and Cayuga Health System is increasing capacity, beginning this Friday, to accommodate additional students returning to the area. Appointments will be released on Monday, Aug. 24 at noon for clinics on Aug. 25-29 and Sept. 1. If your arrival plans have changed and you can no longer keep your scheduled appointment, please cancel it and plan to reschedule after Aug. 24. As a reminder, if you are moving into on-campus housing, your appointment has already been booked for you. Questions about testing may be sent to

You may be contacted with important information from a local (607 area code) phone number. Be sure to answer incoming local calls.

On your way here? Learn the rules. New York requires a 14 day quarantine upon arrival for travelers from many U.S. states.

Move-In, Housing & Dining

Move-In: If you will be living on campus, you should already have received your individual arrival time and testing time slot. For all students, the first step of your move-in process will be your COVID-19 arrival test. Other details vary for students arriving Aug. 23-24 and Aug. 25, 27 or 29. Carefully read the details that apply to your assigned arrival date. (Please note: If your state is added to New York state’s travel advisory list before your assigned arrival date, we will have to rescind your arrival assignment until your state is removed from the list.)

Students have until Aug. 31 to cancel housing contracts without penalty. Contact if you wish to cancel your contract.

Packing and Shipping: You will need to be able to transport your own belongings to your room, which is why you are limited to bringing the equivalent of two large suitcases and a backpack on move-in day. We have prepared suggestions of what to pack or ship to campus, and what to leave behind, including some items you're not permitted to have in your room.

Cornell Dining: Dining options on campus will look different this fall, with a focus on contactless payment and mobile ordering and reservations. Our essential dining halls will operate at a reduced density by using OpenTable for dine-in and takeout reservations, and we have added five satellite locations for to-go meal pickup. Visit Cornell Dining to learn more.


Enrollment: The Fall 2020 Course List has been updated with information about meeting times and credit hours. The Enrollment Guide will help you understand how courses will be delivered. Please look for an email later today about how to enroll in courses. As a reminder, only students who have completed the Re-entry Checklist are able to enroll in courses. If you have not completed the checklist already, please do so immediately.

Course Equipment: Laptops with Wi-Fi capability will be necessary, and noise-canceling headphones are highly recommended, for students who wish to take in-person or remote classes this semester. Select models of noise-canceling headphones can be purchased for 25% off at The Cornell Store (online or central campus location) through Sept. 12. If you are in need of assistance to purchase a laptop, please work directly with the Office of Financial Aid.