Thomas Commons Cornell College campus

Updated September 17, 2020

Returning to Cornell in Fall 2020

This is a historic moment in the life of Cornell College. There were already many uncertainties in our future, and then, on Monday, August 10, campus was in the path of an unprecedented wind storm, termed a derecho, that took us by surprise, yet again. We are emboldened to meet the challenges together as we provide the best education possible. We are embracing and making the most of our block plan to minimize disruption to our delivery of a world-class education.

Due to storm damage on campus, we will delay the start of classes by two weeks. 

The new academic schedule will be:
Sept. 2: New student move-in and orientation
Sept. 4: Transfer student move-in and orientation
Sept. 3–6: Returning student move-in
Sept. 7–30: Block 1
Oct. 5–28: Block 2
Nov. 2–25: Block 3
Nov. 30–Dec. 23: Block 4
Dec. 23–Jan. 10: Winter break

In response to COVID-19 we will welcome students back to campus 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.

We are realistic in acknowledging that pandemic-related variables and health-based responses will continue to evolve. With the block plan, we’re in a position to change our approach rapidly to respond to current health conditions (on campus, in our area, and nationally) and minimize disruption to your education. That could mean enhancing the safety precautions we have on campus to protect our community even further, or it could mean returning to online instruction during any block for everyone’s safety. How we care for each other, as a residential community, will play a significant part in determining what happens next. 

Fall plan and principles

Health and safety strategy

In order for our campus to remain residential at this time, all members of the Cornell community who are physically present on campus will need to work together and commit to following our safety guidelines to minimize the risks we collectively take. As you would expect, we will first take an educational approach to the Cornellian Commitment Pledge in asking those who are not honoring it to do so. Ultimately, if someone continues to not follow our Cornellian Commitment pledge, they will be asked to participate in courses remotely. In other words, they will not be allowed to be on campus.

Facilities updates and cleaning strategies

We have implemented several mitigation strategies throughout campus, reviewed and updated cleaning schedules in high-traffic areas, and our cleaning service personnel have all completed extensive training on updated cleaning methods in response to COVID-19.

Academic changes

In order to accommodate a variety of scenarios for students and faculty, we've modified course offerings on campus and online to minimize disruption whatever form your course of study takes.

Provost Crawford gives an overview of changes for fall.

Student life changes

We can all expect our interactions to change this fall. While the weather is nice, you’ll even see additional places to meet and eat outdoors and take advantage of our beautiful campus.

Working on campus

We will support the needs of students to earn income and gain employment experience as much as possible with our campus employment options.  Do expect modifications in how or where you work on campus.

Residence life changes

Life in the residence halls and other campus housing is definitely going to look different this year, and we've staggered schedules for our campus community to reduce congestion in commonly used spaces at key times of the day.

Campus dining and meal plans

Bon Appétit is committed to providing the same high quality and delicious meals to our campus community with modifications for safety and physical distancing. They have made extra effort to expand their service schedule to ensure that all students can safely utilize their meal plans.

Special Assistant to the President, John Harp, summarizes changes to dining services.

Returning to campus

We will start to welcome students back to campus as soon as possible if our phased plan continues to support doing so. Currently, we are holding on move-in dates pending assessment of storm damage and the availability of power and internet to campus.

Financial impact

Your decision about how you want to study for the fall semester will impact your student account charges for the semester based on your individual circumstances.

Still have questions?

Please email and we will follow up with you during regular business hours.