Cornell to start spring semester online and expand move in

Cornell will begin the spring semester online and extend the move-in period with an expanded testing schedule, as he expects a large number of cases in the first few weeks of the semester, the University said Thursday.

The University will begin the semester on January 24 as scheduled – but with two weeks of virtual teaching until February 4 to welcome lone students, President Martha Pollack, Rector Michael Kotlikoff and Vice President for Student Life and on campus Ryan Lombardi wrote in a Thursday afternoon email.

“Our modeling suggests that Cornell could see a large number of cases in the first few weeks, although given our almost fully vaccinated and heavily boosted population, the vast majority of these cases will be mild or asymptomatic,” the e- mail. “This expected peak at the start of the semester poses several challenges for universities, given the need to provide sufficient isolation space and vital support for isolated students, as well as to prevent students from falling behind in class.”

Beyond virtual training, Cornell is implementing pre-departure testing and improving arrival testing. The University will also start the semester at yellow alert level, indicating moderate risk. (Cornell started the last three semesters on Green Alert.)

The move comes as other universities across the country, including Columbia university, Yale University and the University of Pennsylvania, among the Ivy League – have announced their intention to move the first two weeks of the spring semester online, as they meet the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

During the week of December 30, Cornell is reporting 289 positive cases, weeks before most of the students return to Ithaca. January 6, Tompkins County reported 1,404 active cases with 15 active hospitalizations.

active county case peaked at 2,630 on December 22, before dipping for a few days, then starting to rise again in the new year. This spike was more than five times higher than the previous record of 488 active cases on September 5, and came as cases on campus skyrocketed at the end of the semester, putting the University on Red Alert. .

As Cornell seeks to minimize the health risks of the Omicron variant, here’s a breakdown of the University’s updated COVID policies less than three weeks before the semester begins.

Move-in guidelines

The online semester start will allow students to return to campus anywhere between Jan. 18 and Feb. 7 – a decision meant to accommodate new pre-arrival testing rules, changing plans for travel and the increased need for seclusion space, without disrupting lessons as much. as possible.

Precautions before arrival

All students who test positive for COVID in December and during the holidays must self-report their positive case on the Daily check website – exempting them from testing for 90 days.

Students living both on and off campus who have not tested positive in the past 90 days must test negative 24 hours before returning to Ithaca and uploading their test results to Daily Check.

According to the email, undergraduates who cannot get a COVID test before they return to Ithaca should contact the university by January 11 and Cornell will send them an antigen test by mail.

This is the first semester since fall 2020 that Cornell has required students to share pre-departure test scores with the University, and represents one of the biggest changes to arrival procedures from three previous semesters.

All students should update the Spring Checklist with their travel plans, including their expected arrival date.

Living on campus

When students arrive in Ithaca, those living in on-campus accommodation will take an on-campus antigen test and must upload their results to Daily Check within 24 hours of arrival.

After this first arrival test, students living on campus will receive four additional antigen tests for testing twice a week over the next two weeks and upload their results.

“If you have a roommate, you should consider coordinating return dates, so you don’t both arrive at the same time,” the email read. “This way, if the first to arrive is positive despite the pre-departure tests, that person can isolate themselves in the residence. “

Off-campus life

Undergraduates, graduate students and professional students living in off-campus accommodation will receive a link to schedule their arrival test at a Cornell PCR testing site closer to their arrival date – shown in the list of spring check. After off-campus students complete the arrival tests, they should schedule testing twice a week for two weeks at Cornell’s PCR testing sites.

Positive test

All students who test positive before returning to Ithaca should self-isolate and delay their trip to campus until they have completed the recommended CDC. five-day isolation period.

Those who test positive on an arrival test will self-isolate if they live off campus, including in co-op housing, fraternities and sororities.

Students who test positive and live in dorms will isolate themselves in their rooms if they live single – or if their roommates have not yet arrived or have also tested positive. The University will provide hotel rooms “where possible,” the email said, to students in campus housing who need seclusion space.

Semester activities

Campus life

Cornell severely limits in-person student activities until in-person classes begin on February 7. The University is also asking students to avoid informal social gatherings to minimize the spread of the virus early in the semester.

Please help us keep Cornell safe and healthy by limiting social activities during these crucial two weeks, ”the email read.

Dining halls will be open with take-out meals during these first two weeks, and recreational facilities and campus libraries will remain open. Sporting events will continue as planned.

Masking

The University is phasing out cloth masks for the spring semester – under the latest COVID guidelines, these masks “no longer meet Cornell’s protective standards,” the administrators wrote.

All faculty, staff, and students should wear high quality masks, such as the N95 and KN95 masks, recommended as the most effective against the Omicron variant. The University plans to distribute these masks to members of the campus community who need them.

Reminders and vaccination

Cornell demanded in December that all eligible students, faculty and staff receive the booster (and upload their results to Daily Check) in addition to the COVID vaccine. Administrators wrote that the Cornellians should be given a reminder before returning to campus, with supplies limited in Tompkins County.


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