COVID-19 Communications Timeline
Updated August 14, 2020
Recorded Events and Transcripts
- August 6 Q&A Zoom webinar for new students recording
- August 5 Q&A Zoom webinar for returning students recording
- July 14 Q&A Zoom webinar recording
- Transcript of the March 18 Phonecast with students and parents.
Informational Emails shared with the Cornell Community
Thank you for your patience in waiting for news about our fall semester start plan. Due to the damage on campus and our projected return of power, we have determined that we will need to delay the start of classes by two weeks. Because we still need to assess physical damage to buildings, and test security systems, fire alarms, and HVAC once power is restored, it is only prudent to have those students on campus who have an absolute need to be here. I hope that you’ll understand our need to ensure that everything is running properly before we have more students in residence.
Our revised fall semester calendar still allows us to complete blocks 1-4 before winter break. We will shift the start dates for each of these blocks by two weeks. We will also shift early move-in plans and drop and go appointments.
The calendar will now be:
September 2: New student move-in and orientation
September 4: Transfer student move-in and orientation
September 3-6: Returning student move-in
September 7-30: Block 1
October 5-28: Block 2
November 2-25: Block 3
November 25-29: Thanksgiving break
November 30-December 23: Block 4
You’ll see that Thanksgiving now falls on a block break. If you choose to go home for Thanksgiving, we will still ask that you stay home for online learning in Block 4. Nearly every course will be available for fully online learning.
We know that shifting the calendar will create difficulties for some of you who have travel plans or rental agreements that cannot be changed. We encourage those of you in that situation to contact firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss how we can assist you with housing. (Email is still the most reliable way to reach us on campus as we await the return of services.)
For others, you may be able to adjust your plans, but at a cost--we have set aside $100,000 in a new Derecho Disruption fund to assist you, and will be publishing an online form that will allow you to apply for assistance by early next week.
If you have general questions about the fall semester plan, please continue to reach out to us at email@example.com and we will get back to you as quickly as we can.
We cannot wait to see you! To start your transition to the fall semester while we complete campus repairs, you can expect your flock leaders, coaches, work study employers, faculty, advisors, peer mentors and others to reach out to you as soon as they have Internet access.
As always, we Cornellians will use our flexibility and creativity to recover from this natural disaster, on top of the COVID-19 situation, and make the most of our school year. And, with all of the great programs awaiting you, such as Ingenuity, Cornell College’s core curriculum, we are still very excited to welcome you to campus and to start our academic year together.
As you may know, our campus was greatly impacted by the major storms that swept through the Midwest on Monday, August 10. The Midwest Derecho, as it has been termed, sent hurricane force winds through a major swath of Iowa over the course of one hour, and Governor Kim Reynolds has announced a disaster declaration for 20 counties. Over 90,000 people in Eastern Iowa are still without power, and there is significant work to be done state-wide to restore services of power, internet, and cellular service.
I am writing to let you know that we are going to have to delay the start of Block 1 and ask you to hold on your plans to return to campus while we determine what our new start date will be. At this time, do not plan to arrive for move-in on the date you were originally scheduled. We are working hard to determine when we will be able to start our academic year and will communicate with you again tomorrow with those details.
Fortunately, our campus escaped major building damage and, in classic Cornell fashion, we have already made great progress in removing downed trees and debris from campus. Resilient is how I would characterize the Cornell community—an impressive attribute indeed. Simultaneously, we need to remain focused on making decisions that are in your best interest as well as of our faculty and staff. We are dedicated to creating the best experience possible this year for you.
To reassure campus families, we do have a few students who have arrived on campus safely over the past few days, and we have them housed in residence halls and taking advantage of campus food service. You may not hear from them often, however, because there is limited access to power to charge cell phones.
Once again, we will need to lean on the flexibility offered to us by the block plan. As we await word from the utility company about when we might expect power to be returned to campus we are assessing our options for a revised start date.
You’ll hear from me tomorrow.
It’s time to start a checklist for your fall semester, if you haven’t already done so. Yesterday we announced our move to phase 3 of our Plan to Resume On-Campus Operations effective August 10. Whether you are choosing to study from home or are returning to campus, we are on track to begin classes August 24 with many variations in class formats and physical locations or online solutions in place to accommodate our college community and we want the variation in formats to ensure little or no disruption to your path to graduation from the pandemic.
As I mentioned last week, fall athletes will not be moving in early this year, but rather moving in per a modified move-in schedule. The coaching staff are working hard on preparing to offer every student-athlete a meaningful athletic experience and building strong team bonds.
Please join us for our next Zoom Q&A webinar on Wednesday, August 5 at 7:30 p.m. to ask any questions you have about our plans for fall semester.
For those of you who have elected to study from home this block you’ll want to:
- Ensure your internet connection is secure and your computer system is ready to support your online studies. If you have challenges in this area, submit a helpdesk request or call the IT help desk at 319.895.4357 for assistance.
- Prepare a dedicated study space if at all possible.
- Order any books you may need to purchase from the Campus Bookstore for shipment or electronic delivery. Visit cornellcollegeshop.com and click on “textbooks” to get started.
- Connect with your professor to ensure you know course expectations and clear your schedule for course meeting times.
- Update your campus directory information, so that we have a good phone number and contact information for you.
- If you have not yet requested to live and learn remotely, you’ll need to complete our request for exemption form.
For those of you who are returning to campus, please prepare for the on-campus experience to be different than it has in the past as we employ methods to reduce exposure risks, including modifying our daily behaviors. Our expectations of you will include:
- Complete a daily symptom checker online every day that you are on campus. This helps us stay aware of our health, holds each of us accountable, and helps you identify when you should be tested for COVID-19. It is important that you start now, if you haven’t already done so. For the many students who have already been completing it regularly, thank you!
- Review and sign the Cornellian Commitment pledge. Over 300 students, faculty, and staff have already committed to uphold the guidelines of our Caring Community as you can see on the virtual wall.
- Update your campus directory information, so that we have a good phone number and contact information for you, in the event of contact tracing.
- Bring adequate face coverings to be worn every time you are in a classroom, academic building, Thomas Commons, Cole Library, residence hall common areas, campus offices, or within six feet of other people. If you haven’t been wearing one when you're outside your home now, we suggest you start now so it’s second nature when you arrive to move in.
- Practice physical distancing by keeping six feet or more from others whenever possible. If you are able to limit your exposure to situations where you cannot ensure physical distancing now to protect your health, that will help protect our entire campus community.
- Keep your hands washed, and use sanitizer when you can’t get to soap and water.
- Pack appropriate cleaning supplies to use in your residence hall room and on personal belongings, we suggest antibacterial spray, cleaning cloths or paper towels, and antibacterial wipes.
- Talk to your roommate about potentially purchasing a fan or HEPA air filtering unit for your residence hall room to help circulate and clean the air in your shared space. If you make a purchase be sure the device is appropriately sized for the square footage of your room.
- Pre-order your books from the Campus Bookstore now to pick up during their pop-up shop or have delivered to your campus mailbox. Visit cornellcollegeshop.com and click on “textbooks” to get started.
- If you will be using public transportation to travel to campus, be diligent in all the above safety measures throughout your journey. The same is true for each time you stop at restaurants or public restrooms for those driving in your own vehicle.
I hope that you can attend our webinar on Wednesday, and I look forward to the start of our academic year.Be well,
Dear Cornell Community,
I wanted to write to let you know that the next update regarding the fall semester will be sent to you on Tuesday, August 4. We continue to refine our plans as we learn new information and as external factors change. After the update is released, I invite you to take part in a Q&A Zoom webinar on August 5 at 7:30 p.m. Central Time. You can also continue to find detailed information on our COVID-19 microsite.
The other piece of information I would like to share today is that we will delay the early arrival of fall sport student-athletes.This is based on the decision of the Midwest Conference athletics body not to sponsor fall conference competitions. Men’s and Women’s Cross Country, Football, Volleyball, Women’s and Men’s Soccer, and Women’s Tennis athletes should stay in contact with their coaches for more information in terms of their arrival back to campus. We will know more specifics about fall sports early next week, and it will be included in the August 4 update.
Thanks for being engaged and staying on top of all of this information.
Be well, and we’ll talk soon,
Hello Cornell Community,
Since we announced our fall plans in early July, we continue to pay attention to the evolving conditions in Iowa and across the nation. Obviously, the numbers are not where we want them to be (although I will remain ever hopeful). Fortunately, thanks to the flexibility of the block plan, we can reduce the number of students on campus or pivot to an online learning model for only a block (or more), as necessary, without disrupting your path toward graduation. As we monitor case counts in our area, especially over the next 7-10 days, we will reach out to you promptly if we have to modify our plans in any way.
Since our recent question and answer session, we have made more progress in our planning, and we are now able to answer many of your questions. We have just launched a new microsite that pulls together the details of our planning and our response as it continues to evolve. We are also scheduling another Zoom Q &A webinar for August 4 at 7:30 p.m. to give you and your family a chance to ask additional questions. (If you missed the July 14 Zoom call, you can watch the recording.)
Announcing a change to our fall schedule
Based on the feedback you and your families provided, we decided to change our plan for Fall Break and Block 4. We are going to take a similar approach to other colleges and universities and give you the option to stay at home and learn remotely after Thanksgiving for the rest of the semester and thereby minimize the risk to you, your families, and the campus community that comes with travel and exposure to new circles of people for that short window of time.
For students who would prefer to stay on campus to study from their residence halls for Block 4, or who have a class that requires in-person coursework, we expect that you elect not to go home for Fall Break, spend that holiday with us, and return home at the end of Block 4.
That means the calendar will be
- Nov. 16-25: Block 4 begins in residence.
- Nov. 25-29: Fall Break with residence optional, you may choose to stay or leave campus.
- Nov. 30-Dec. 11: Block 4 continues with residence conditional on your Fall Break choice.
Commit to our Caring Community
If you’re coming back to campus in August we are asking you to commit to being a part of our Caring Community, and to follow the safety procedures we’ve laid out for that community. In order to stay in residence on campus, it’s important that we all agree to the pledge, and we follow the guidelines every day. Sign your name to the Cornellian Commitment and respect the Ramily.
It’s time to make a new habit: use the symptom checker daily
One of the first requirements of our Caring Community is that we all complete the online symptom checker every day. This helps us monitor our own health and can help us identify if we’re an asymptomatic carrier by monitoring for fever we might not realize we have. Watch this video for a simple guide to the symptom checker and start submitting it two weeks before you arrive on campus. (That’s basically tomorrow for some of you, so why not start tomorrow if you aren’t already doing it?)
We encourage you to feel confident about your health as you’re packing up to come back to the Hilltop. One way you can do that is to start limiting your interactions with people who aren’t following good social distancing practice for two weeks before you arrive. While we understand you may have commitments that make it impossible to self-isolate before coming to campus, we would encourage those of you who can to do so. Completing the symptom checker daily and limiting your opportunities for exposure will help to get us off to a healthier start.
Should you have COVID-19 symptoms, or if you are notified you are a positive contact prior to your arrival, please stay home and notify us so that we can help you make arrangements to take your Block 1 class online.
I hope you’re as excited to return to classes as we are to see you!
Starting July 27, we are moving to phase 2 of our Plan to Resume On-Campus Operations, which expands our campus population to open all offices on campus with safety measures in place, we recommend continuation of staggered schedules, and some employees may elect to continue to work from home. We encourage the entire campus to continue to hold meetings virtually. At this point, the earliest that students will begin to return to campus will be mid-August. Students will be notified of their particular time periods to return. We are currently welcoming small groups of prospective students for brief admission visits and campus tours with admission and athletics staff.
As we’ve noted before—depending on the virus we may move forwards or backwards on the schedule, as necessary. We are optimistic that we are moving in the right direction and we will reach phase 3 in time for fall move-in.
Here are the factors that led us to our decision to move into phase 2:
Structural mitigation is in place for offices who currently have staff on campus, and is continuing to be placed throughout campus.
Cleaning protocols are in place and being followed.
We have a plentiful supply of hand sanitizer and the supply chain is secure.
The Symptom Checker is up and running for employees who will be on campus each day. Some students are beginning to use it at home.
Less than 5% of employees on campus are reporting illness.
Isolation and quarantine spaces are ready.
Campus Safety is ready to transport students this fall, and protocols are in place.
Extent of spread in our area is within our green zone with only Johnson county bleeding into the yellow zone that we’ve identified is a pause and consider overall impact, yet still within our acceptable parameters overall.
Use of local resources to provide care for both COVID-19 patients and still support routine medical and emergency care is in our green zone.
The severity of the disease in our area is in our green zone.
Test Iowa is available for symptomatic people.
Area clinics are keeping up with routine appointments.
Based on the review of these triggers in our Crisis Management Team meeting on July 16, and a re-visit of the data again today, we will move ahead to phase 2. (Note: while the extent of spread has dipped in and out of the yellow zone for Johnson County the decision to move to the next phase is made by looking at all of the triggers holistically.)
If you have questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will answer or direct them to the appropriate staff member who can answer.
It is with great pleasure that I am able to tell you that our plan for fall 2020 is to welcome you back to campus for the fall academic term. We are excited to welcome you home to the Hilltop in August as a part of our Caring Community, and we have put a number of safety precautions in place to do everything we can to keep our campus healthy. Of course, depending on actual conditions in our surrounding area and state or national requirements, we will pivot and utilize an online learning model for one or more blocks if necessary.
What factored into our decision to return?
Media reports about how the virus is impacting the United States and our position in the world might make you question our optimism that it will be safe to return in a month’s time. We are basing our decision to return to campus on actual conditions in Linn and Johnson counties, as well as guidance from local and national government health agencies. A research team of Cornell faculty and students has been working hard this summer to review local COVID-19 testing and hospital data to create a comprehensive fact-based decision-making matrix for the college. This data is the backbone of our phased plan to resume on-campus operations, and we expect to reach Phase 3 by early August.
We are watching trends of the positivity rate—how many completed COVID-19 tests result in a positive diagnosis? The good news is the quantity and quality of testing is increasing, which makes us feel more confident in information and results. At the same time, the number of positive results is not increasing at the same rate, indicating the presence of the virus in our area is manageable. We know it will never fully disappear: that is a reality we’ll live with going forward.
Fortunately, the measures that we are regularly considering all fall within an acceptable range at this time. More specifically, we are reviewing the extent of spread of the virus in our community, the accessibility and consumption of available resources to treat patients, and the severity of cases in our area including the number of general hospitalizations vs. intensive care unit use as measures of how prepared we can be were someone to contract the virus.
Another significant factor for our decision is what safety precautions we are able to implement on campus to keep everyone here as healthy as possible. We’ve dedicated the summer to figuring this out, and will continue to implement safety precautions across campus before you arrive that will significantly modify how we safely learn, live, work, dine, socialize, and compete on campus.
In order to make all of this happen, everyone returning to campus must take responsibility to create a Caring Community, where each of us is as invested in the health of everyone else on campus as we are in our own. We know that caring is an integral part of the Cornell spirit, and we are counting on each of you to commit to consciously living it, every day, as we reconvene. In fact, we will ask each of you to sign our Cornellian Commitment pledge before you return. The pledge will be available in the coming weeks.
What are the expectations of our Caring Community?
Our goal is to minimize exposure and risk to one another as much as possible. This means monitoring our personal health to ensure we are aware of symptoms that might require a Health Center visit and COVID-19 test. It means, to the extent possible, reducing our exposure to the virus by staying closer to home on the Hilltop rather than leaving Mount Vernon for shopping, entertainment, and block breaks. It means full transparency with Health Services if we think we may have been exposed to the virus so we can be tested, self-isolate if necessary, and help implement thorough contact tracing to make others aware. It means keeping our in-person meetings and circle of friends smaller so we can easily implement contact tracing, while continuing to embrace the power of technology and the great outdoors to stay in touch with our broader circle of friends and family.
We will have the following expectations of everyone on campus; students, faculty, staff, and limited visitors:
Complete a daily symptom checker online every day that you are on campus. This helps us stay aware of our health, holds each of us accountable, and helps you identify when you should be tested for COVID-19. As a matter of fact, you can start reporting now if you want to get in the habit, and we ask that you start completing the tracker two weeks before your scheduled move-in day.
Wear a face covering any time you are in a classroom, academic building, Thomas Commons, Cole Library, residence hall common areas, campus offices, or within six feet of other people. We will have more specific guidelines about types of coverings and best practices for their use. A mantra to remember: my mask protects you; your mask protects me.
Practice physical distancing by trying to keep six feet or more from others whenever possible. (This is approximately two lengths of my dog Didi, from nose to tail.)
Keep your hands washed, and use sanitizer. You’ll see hand-washing guidelines and hand sanitizer stations across campus. Use them liberally. As much as we know we’re not supposed to touch our faces...it’s hard to refrain, clean hands help.
Help track COVID-19 on campus. Like me, you may be asked to take a randomized COVID-19 antigen test through the Health Center to monitor campus trends. We’ll keep it as quick and easy as possible and there will be no cost to you or use of your family’s insurance.
Be prepared to cooperate with a request to self-isolate away from your Residence Hall if you’re part of a contact trace for your safety and the safety of others. We will have self-isolation spaces available for you.
Be adaptable. Living together in community means we’re all going to have to consider changes to our daily schedules, where we walk, who we gather with, and how we do many normal, everyday things.
What will fall semester look like?
We are planning to implement a phased approach to move-in throughout August so that everyone who elects to return to campus will be moved in and ready for classes to begin on August 24, as scheduled. We are finalizing those plans now, and anticipate having specific information for each of you later this month.
Key dates for this fall are:
August 19-August 23: move-in and orientation sessions for new students
August 24-September 16: Block 1
September 21-October 14: Block 2
October 19-November 11: Block 3
November 16-20: Block 4
November 23-29: Fall break
November 30-December 16: Block 4 continues
December 17-January 8: Winter break
At any point that we identify a session as not in residence, students will have the option to remain on campus. We ask that if you do leave campus for fall break, that you consider the expectations of our Cornell Commitment before electing to return to campus.
What will specific classes and classrooms look like?
One of the benefits of attending Cornell is the individuality of every block and every course. This will be true as we begin fall as well. Some classes will be held fully in person in modified classrooms with appropriate physical distancing. Some classes will have a hybrid format of online and in-person sessions. Some classes will be offered fully online. Specifications for each class will be shared with you before the block begins.
What if you don’t feel comfortable returning to campus for Block 1?
If you suspect you might have been exposed to COVID-19, can’t make travel arrangements, or don’t feel safe returning to campus for Block 1 (or additional blocks) that’s ok. While the full course catalog will not be available for remote instruction, we have a wide range of classes available that will allow you to continue your course of study from home. We also have funds from the federal CARES Act to assist with COVID-related educational needs you may have, such as improved internet or technology, if you need to continue your education from home. To request accommodation to study from home, you can submit a request for an exception form to Residence Life.
If you do not reside on campus due to COVID-19 for one full block or more, we will refund room and board on a prorated basis, depending on your financial aid package.
What if COVID-19 factors require me to withdraw from a class or miss a block?
A number of situations could happen in our personal lives related to COVID-19. We could get sick, we could need to self-quarantine, we might need to take care of a loved one who has gotten sick. In the event that you need to withdraw from a class or miss a block due to a COVID-19 event, you will be able to use a Block 9 or Block 10 flex block to make up that credit.
If you must leave campus due to a COVID-19 event for one full block or more, we will refund room and board on a prorated basis, depending on a student’s financial aid package.
How will student life change in our Caring Community?
We can all expect our interactions to change this fall. The competition season for our student-athletes will follow a different model, one that still isn’t fully developed by our conference but is likely to be determined as early as this week. Our musicians will not be able to convene in large ensembles, so we are looking at smaller group interactions for them to practice and perform. The theatre and dance department will be exploring innovative ways to offer their performances. Some of our bigger events, like Homecoming for alumni, will be a virtual event this year. Student organizations will receive guidance on incorporating safety precautions into their activity ideas.
In our daily schedule we are looking at changes that may influence the hours we meet for class to improve physical distancing in our academic buildings, and how we use the residence hall shared spaces. Dining at the Hilltop will also likely follow a new schedule where we ask you to commit to a specific meal time so that fewer students are in Hilltop Café at the same time. Athletics teams will likely have staggered practices to allow for smaller groups. As I noted earlier, adaptability is going to be a key trait for us all to exhibit. While the weather is nice, you’ll even see additional places to meet and eat outdoors and take advantage of our beautiful campus—you may even see Didi walk past you on her daily strolls through campus.
What should you expect to hear from us next?
The usual flurry of fall semester emails that preface your return to campus will start soon, so remember to check your email regularly for those, as well as continued information about changes to policies and procedures in reaction to COVID-19 for this fall.
Later this week: we will know more about MWC athletics, our plan for fall athletic competition, and the move-in schedule for fall athletes. We will communicate with you the moment we receive this information.
July 15: fall semester student account statements will be available.
July 17-20: new students will get your housing assignment information.
August 3: I will check back in with you about our progress to Phase 3 for resuming on-campus operations and verify there are no changes to this plan.
By August 20: you will get information about the format of your Block 1 course.
While that seems like an exhaustive list of information, I’m sure there are more questions that will come up for all of us. To that end, we’re going to have a Zoom discussion on July 14 at 7:30 p.m. Central Time so that you can ask those questions of our campus experts from facilities, health promotion, student health services, student life, and dining services. If you can’t make that time, we will record the session and make it available for you to watch afterward.
I look forward to seeing you all on campus in August, smiling behind your face coverings. We’ve missed you as the attached video attests.
You did it. You made it through the final two blocks of the year—and you made history. You’ve shown everyone just how resilient and adaptable you could be. You’ve also acted as a model for other colleges across the nation, whether you realize it or not, as more schools are looking into the block plan as the future of education.
What we did in the last 10 weeks we did out of necessity, and an abundance of caution. As you look ahead to the rest of your college career, you might have questions about what comes next. I’m going to be the first to admit we don’t have all the answers yet. We do, however, have plans; and contingency plans if our forecast wasn’t conservative enough; with additional contingency ideas beyond that. And we are committed to supporting you and ensuring your college goals are met in a safe and secure teaching, learning, and living environment.
Here’s what we know:
Fall semester will start on August 24, 2020: in person, or via distance learning. We will be making the decision and share information about that in July.
We are dedicated to ensuring equal access to our academic experience for all—we have $225,000 we can apply to support you and other students if COVID-19 continues to impact your ability to pursue your Cornell education.
Your financial situation may have changed in the last few months. If so, we don’t want that to be a barrier to your education; reach out to the Financial Assistance office before making any big decisions. (Financial_assistance@cornellcollege.edu or 319.895.4216)
We are more adaptable than ever with our new flex blocks for the 2020-2021 academic year, and we encourage you to make the most of them.
We’re piloting 18 summer online courses this year if you want to get a step ahead, or make up a block you missed.
We’re more excited than ever about the advantage that One Course At A Time offers you in terms of flexibility and focused learning.
Here’s what we don’t know yet:
When we will allow groups of people on campus again, though we are now developing plans to gradually and safely permit people back onto campus at some point in a manner that is consistent with the advice from health and government officials.
What on-campus learning will look like this fall—as you would expect, there will likely be new health safety measures applied in our classrooms, labs, and common spaces for many months.
Whether our sports teams will be able to participate in fall athletics, though that is firmly our plan. The fall athletics schedule will largely depend on guidance from the NCAA and our athletic conference; your coaches and team will always be there to support you whatever happens.
Here’s what you can expect from your campus support team this summer:
Academic support: if your summer plans fell through, make the most of our summer online courses from home. If you have questions about the courses and how they’ll be applied, contact the Office of the Registrar.
Career and internship support: the staff of the Berry Career Institute has developed new resources to assist you in finding internships and exploring jobs for this time. And they’re on site for individual advising appointments. Schedule online at cornellcollege.edu/career-appointments.
We will stay in touch—with everything changing week by week, we will continue to update you via email as we implement programs and prepare for our fall term.
I fervently hope that we will be back together as a campus community this August. That remains our plan. And if we can’t, we’ll get you back to your home on the Hilltop as soon as we can. We’re going to minimize every possible disruption to your college career. After all, this isn’t our first time around the block.
Now that we’ve resolved the immediate issues related to distance learning and Blocks 7 & 8, our COVID-19 response committees have begun to look ahead to summer programs and events. While much is still uncertain, we have determined that it will not be feasible for any programming to occur on campus until June 13, 2020 at the earliest, and perhaps not at all. We will reassess that timeline again at the beginning of May to determine if we need to extend our delay further based on national and local health agency guidelines. Here’s what that will mean for us:
Residency on campus
Summer housing for students will not be offered before June 13 at the earliest. There is a chance that summer housing will not be available at all. If summer housing can be offered beginning June 13 or afterward, we will share registration details at the beginning of May or as soon as possible. Students currently sheltering on campus will be contacted directly about their plans and how the college can continue to provide support.
Residence halls move-out
Our move-out protocol follows social distancing and other safety guidelines. All move-outs must be scheduled in advance by visiting Residence Life’s online scheduling tool (if you previously scheduled via email those dates and times will still be honored). Students should make plans to remove their belongings from their rooms by 6 p.m. Sunday, May 17, 2020, if possible. This deadline may be extended due to travel restrictions.
Summer student employment
Summer on-campus employment for students will not be offered before June 13 at the earliest. There is a chance that summer on-campus employment will not be available at all. If on-campus employment can be offered beginning June 13 or afterward, opportunity details will be shared at the beginning of May or as soon as possible. The potential for remote student employment in several offices is being pursued and, if that is feasible, information will be shared as soon as possible.
The Cornell Summer Research Institute will not begin in May as originally scheduled. We are hoping to postpone it until later in the summer and are currently reviewing options for alternate dates. Faculty and students who intended to participate are being contacted directly.
Athletics summer camps
Summer athletics camps scheduled for May and early June are canceled. Athletics camps beginning June 13 are still planned at this time.
The One Course Summer Institute and the Flute and Clarinet camp scheduled for late June are still planned if registration remains strong for these events.
Campus rentals for personal and business events are similarly being canceled into June.
On other fronts, we are still working on plans for our virtual commencement ceremony, as well as the refund/credit policy for Block 7 & 8 room and board, and will update you once we have information to share.
Thank you for your efforts so far to help maintain the health and safety of our Cornell community. We continue to practice physical distancing across campus for the essential employees and students still here, and ask that you connect with campus staff and support services through phone, email, and online meetings rather than considering travel to campus.
How will the change to distance learning affect my ability to graduate?
If you are unable to complete courses due to changes to course options this spring, we will work with you, on a case-by-case basis, to find the right courses to ensure that you have the credits you need to qualify for graduation. Regardless of when Commencement is held, degrees will be conferred at the end of this semester and mailed to you.
Over the course of the last week, I have heard from a number of you who are seniors regarding Commencement. I know that many of you have been looking forward to the excitement that comes with culminating your Cornell experience--celebrating with your friends, walking the Ped Mall for that last time, gathering on the OC, and saying goodbye to those faculty and staff who made a difference in your life. The list goes on and on. And, I don’t blame you. Regrettably, at this time, we have decided to postpone the on-campus commencement ceremony scheduled for mid-May. I am not yet sure when it will occur, but we will continue to plan an in-person commencement ceremony at a later date, once the COVID-19 virus is in decline. We may also coordinate a virtual celebration at the end of this academic year.
Your move out of the residence halls and storage
There is no immediate need to move out of your residence halls; we will store your items in your room through the end of the semester. Ideally, we would like to monitor the situation through Block 7 and schedule time for you to pack up and move out of your residence halls in Block 8 or the end of the semester. If you need your belongings sooner, contact email@example.com to schedule a time to come to campus or have essential items shipped to you.
International students and others who can’t move off campus
If you are able to return home at this time, you should consider doing so. If you cannot return due to travel restrictions into your home country, or you have concerns about returning to campus for fall session, you have the option to remain on campus. If you have other circumstances that make returning home a hardship, consult with the Office of Residence Life.
Refunds/credits of room and board
We have been cautioned by financial aid governing bodies to wait for government guidance on how financial aid awards will be affected by refunds/credits. For this reason, we are waiting to finalize our process to ensure that you are not penalized in any way we can avoid. We will communicate the process for refunds (or credits) in Block 8 and begin processing them after the end of the semester.
We are scheduling a phone-based Q&A on Wednesday, March 18 at 6:45 p.m. Central (please note the time change from our communication last week) for you and your families. Please call in to 877-295-7701 to participate. We will be sending an additional message to invite your families (if we have permission to do so) to this phone conversation as well.
If you have questions, email Ovid-19response@
Ongoing engagement with the college community
We are working on methods to help keep you connected virtually for the rest of the academic year. Keep checking in to your student portal for new information and options. If you have suggestions for ways we can help you connect, email Ovidfirstname.lastname@example.org with your ideas.
After watching what has been happening with athletics teams in our conference, and across the nation, we have had to make the difficult decision to suspend our spring sports season until further notice. The student-athletes who have been on the road should make plans to return home, or request an exemption to stay on campus into Block 7 by Monday, March 16, at 11 a.m.
Fortunately, we are in a unique situation on the block plan to act swiftly and nimbly to change our plans, course by course, and support you to ensure that you get a quality education while minimizing the risks of virus exposure to you and the entire community.
With the spread of COVID-19 into Iowa, we need to move quickly to protect your well-being and that of our faculty and staff. While there are no confirmed cases at Cornell or in our local community, we have determined the need to shift our course model to distance learning via online classes for Block 7 to keep everyone safe. This will allow us to reduce exposure by limiting the size of the campus population.
While we hope to welcome everyone back to campus at that time, we are also facing the reality that Block 8 may need to happen via distance learning. We will make a decision about Block 8 by April 3, and I will communicate that to you.
This rapidly evolving situation means that we are making decisions with the information we have at the moment; our plans could change. Here is our current schedule for the remainder of the semester:
In order to prepare campus for distance learning initiatives, we are extending spring break by one week (through March 22) to allow faculty and Information Technology staff time to prepare course formats for distance learning.
If you are at home now, please stay at home. If you are off-campus on personal travel, please make arrangements to not return to campus at this time. If you are traveling with a college group or athletic team, your coach or team leader will communicate next steps to you this week. If you are currently on campus, please make arrangements to return to your permanent residence as soon as possible. All students will need to vacate campus by Wednesday, March 18 at 11 a.m. unless you will experience hardship and request an exemption by Monday, March 16 at 11 a.m.
Knowing that you left campus fully intending to return this weekend, you might have personal items in your rooms that are essential to continuing your coursework or to managing health conditions. Students who cannot return to campus can request that essential items be shipped to your permanent residence. Please email email@example.com with your request. Residence Life professional staff will also be making arrangements for students to return to their rooms to gather those items in a way that will minimize potential virus exposure risks.
As I mentioned above, we will be conducting Block 7 courses virtually, and the block will start on March 23. Additional communications and training for students and staff are being developed now to prepare you for distance learning. Your faculty member will be contacting you about course materials and plans.
Two courses, BIO205 and CHEM327 will continue to be held on campus during Block 7, and faculty members will be reaching out to you directly if you are scheduled to take one of those courses.
If you were scheduled to take a course that cannot, for one reason or another, be offered through distance learning, the Office of the Registrar will contact you next week to switch to a different course or make alternate arrangements to fulfill that course credit. We are focused on ensuring that this physical disruption of classes does not impact your ability to graduate on time, and we are dedicated to making sure that all of you can complete critical courses for your degrees.
We will continue to monitor the situation in the coming weeks and, by April 3, we will make a decision and communicate with you about whether Block 8 will be offered virtually or on campus.
We will make a decision regarding commencement by April 23 to allow for adjustments to travel plans. If commencement is held, we will offer a virtual experience for families that do not feel comfortable traveling to campus to celebrate with you.
All campus offices will remain open during our regular office hours. We remain ready to assist you in any way possible and suggest that the best ways to communicate are via email or phone call. Refer to the campus directory to find appropriate contact information.
Sheltering in place on campus
We realize that some of you do not have the ability to go home at this time for various reasons. You can request an exemption online, and we will contact you to discuss your situation. Those of you who remain on campus will also participate in distance learning from your residence hall rooms, abide by travel restriction guidelines, and realize that campus services will be limited.
There will be a financial impact on everyone related to the decisions that we are making. We are actively working through the logistics to refund room and board fees for Block 7 and will share that information with you once it is finalized.
We have suspended all non-essential travel in and out of campus at this time. Several of you are on semester-long study-abroad experiences. At this time we encourage you to continue your program until or unless the CDC travel threat level in your location increases. The Office of Off-Campus Studies will remain in communication with you related to any concerns about your situation. If you have any questions contact Anna Butz at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In order to reduce risk, we are canceling most, if not all, large campus events scheduled between now and the end of Block 7. We will also schedule fewer in-person meetings. Our goal is to decrease the number of instances that require community members to gather in large groups or spend extended periods of time in close proximity to each other. We encourage those remaining on campus to use phones and email to conduct business.
If you have questions, email email@example.com; please leave your phone number if you prefer a personal call back. We plan to monitor this email address during business hours. For ongoing updates and answers to frequently asked questions, visit the student web portal for additional information.
We are scheduling a phone-based Q&A on Wednesday, March 18 at 7:30 p.m. Central. Please call in to 877-295-7701 to participate. We will be sending an additional message to invite your parents (if we have permission to do so) to this phone conversation as well.
No doubt, none of this is ideal as we approach the end of what has been a very good academic year to date, and we regret any disappointment these decisions may cause you, particularly those of you who are seniors and who have been looking forward to a grand finale to your final year at Cornell.