Fall Semester Q&A
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
Students, faculty, and staff will return to campus in a phased approach dictated by our guiding principles and the current status of the COVID-19 virus in Iowa, with specific attention to Linn and Johnson counties. A research team of Cornell faculty and students has been working hard to review local COVID-19 testing and hospital data to create a comprehensive fact-based decision-making matrix for the college.
Our guiding principles for responding to the pandemic are these:
- We value the Cornell community and the life, safety, and dignity of each of its members.
- Our goal remains to facilitate learning in an immersive environment, with a preference for in-person classes and interactions.
- We strive to work with individual needs, when feasible.
- We take into consideration our impact on the wider Mount Vernon-Lisbon, Cedar Rapids, and Iowa City community.
- We base decisions on scientific and medical data and public health recommendations.
- Like the block plan, our solutions may be distinctive, creative, and informed by the unique needs of Cornell.
Associate Professor Jai Shanata explains how we look at the data.
We take a holistic view of multiple data points when considering the progress of the virus in an area specific to Cornell College. We have elected to focus our attention on the areas of campus, and the two counties where faculty, staff, and off-campus students reside and work. Those triggers include internal and external triggers.
- What structural mitigation is in place?
- Are cleaning protocols in place and implemented?
- Do we have the PPE we need and is the supply chain more secure?
- Are community members using the college symptom checker?
- Are we below a 5% threshold of reported cases on campus?
- Are isolation and quarantine spaces ready if we need them?
- Are procedures in place to transport people identified as symptomatic?
- What is the extent of spread in our identified community?
- Are local resources to provide care for both COVID-19 patients and routine medical and emergency care easily available?
- Is the severity of the disease in our area within our acceptable range?
- Is testing in place for symptomatic people through Test Iowa?
- Can area clinics keep up with routine appointments?
The campus community, and parents who are enabled via student information sharing, will receive an email each time we change phases. A green bar on the top of the website home page will indicate our current phase, and the current phase will be indicated on our COVID-19 Plan to Resume On-Campus Operations in a green bar with bold text.
A team of two students, a chemistry faculty member, and a statistician have worked exhaustively together through the Cornell Summer Research Institute to build our body of data and triggers that inform our decision making. They pull data from COVID-19 in Iowa and the Linn County Coronavirus website and use guidance from the World Health Organization guidelines to determine our metrics.
Professor Jai Shanata is the research advisor; Brandi Shanata is the statistics consultant; Cornell senior Robyn Luchesi is a biochemistry and molecular biology and philosophy major and is a student researcher; and Cornell sophomore Gwen Paule is majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology and Spanish and is a student researcher.
The college has a phased plan which includes a number of internal triggers such as percentage of employee and/or student illness, our ability to order more supplies related to health and safety (secure supply chain), general compliance on campus with the wearing of face coverings, etc. External triggers include such metrics as the extent of spread in the area, the number of hospital admissions vs. discharges, the use of hospital resources, etc. So we will certainly be watching the number of ill people on campus, but that is just one of many triggers that we will keep an eye on.
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.
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 health. 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. Every member of the campus community will be asked to sign the Cornellian Commitment pledge before returning to campus to study or work.
- Complete a daily symptom checker online every day that you are on campus (and starting two weeks before you arrive on-campus).
- 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 others.
- Practice physical distancing by trying to keep six feet or more from others.
- Keep your hands washed and use sanitizer.
- Help track COVID-19 on campus. You may be asked to take a randomized COVID-19 antigen test through the Health Center to monitor campus trends. There will be no cost to you or use of your family’s insurance for our randomized testing.
- Be prepared to cooperate with a request to self-isolate away from your residence hall if you’re part of a contact trace. 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.
- Everyone will be required to wear a face covering and complete the symptom checker daily.
- Cleaning procedures and materials are enhanced.
- Hand sanitizer and surface cleaning materials are available at the main entrance of every building.
- COVID-19 testing will be conducted.
- Self-isolation and quarantine spaces are available.
- Structural mitigation is in place (plexiglass shields, one-way staircases, closed common spaces, airflow and filtering modifications, drinking fountains turned off, etc.).
- Dining modifications are in place.
- Classroom modifications are in place (specific morning start times, six feet distancing, seating charts, no food or beverage allowed).
- Office procedure modifications are in place (make appointments before going to an office, more transactions will be conducted virtually).
- Changes to the daily schedule to reduce the volume of students in shared spaces (including residence hall bathrooms, dining areas, and academic building hallways).
- Outdoor locations are designated for periodic class sessions or small group meetings (bring your own folding chair).
- Limits on the numbers of people who can gather in various locations.
- Monitoring of internal and external conditions will be done daily to determine if the campus can advance to the next phase safely or needs to go back to a previous phase to safeguard the health of the campus.
Remaining at home or living off campus and taking classes online is the option you may choose until we are able to move to phase 4 of our campus plan.
You are expected to bring face coverings with you to campus. If you cannot obtain a face covering, we will have a limited supply available to ensure everyone is able to comply with the face-covering requirement. If you leave your residence hall room and forget your mask, stop by the Campus Safety Office, Thomas Commons Info Desk, or Cole Library's main desk to ask for a disposable mask.
If you are part of the random sample being tested (there will be tests happening at least twice per week), you’ll be contacted via email and given information about reporting to our testing facility in Ebersole Hall.
Community members will be contacted via phone or email if they are part of a contact tracing event. If a student is a positive contact, they will be asked to isolate for 14 days and will be tested, monitored for symptoms, and continue to complete the symptom tracker daily.
If you develop symptoms over the weekend, please stay in your room, report your symptoms on the Symptom Checker, and contact the Student Health Center first thing Monday morning at 319-895-4292. To order meals to be delivered check the Bon Appetit online menu, then email your selections to email@example.com.
We will have a number of spaces available for isolation and quarantine. In some cases, you may be asked to isolate in your residence hall room; in other cases, we’ll use one of our quarantine spaces for you to isolate. We’ll help provide a packing list and work with you in contacting your faculty member to be able to continue coursework and help provide meals to you during this time.
You’ll work with our staff in the Health Center to determine the need to quarantine. During this time, you can expect to complete the daily symptom tracker, have daily telehealth meetings with the health center staff until you have no fever for at least three full days, verify your symptoms have improved, and it’s been at least 10 days since symptoms arose. We’ll help with a packing list of things to take with you, working with your faculty member to continue in the course or pursue a health withdrawal, and help provide you meals while you are quarantined. If you remain on campus you will check in with Health Services at least twice daily.
We will not have any additional costs at this time if you need to be isolated or quarantined
We are not. We think that could provide a false sense of security. We will do randomized testing on a daily basis of students, faculty, and staff to get a sense of whether we have any community spread. We also didn't think that it would be fair to ask students to be tested before they arrive on campus because, in some parts of the country, it has been very challenging to get access to tests.
The rapid test option we have implemented on campus is 100% with positive results, but false negatives may occasionally occur. If they are symptomatic, we will ask the student to self-isolate and retest in 72 hours.
Initially, testing will be limited to randomized screening participants and those who have symptoms or are positive contacts. We hope to open it up to anyone who wants it when we become more established.
We have four hospitals within a 30-minute radius of Mount Vernon; St. Luke's and Mercy in Cedar Rapids, and the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and Mercy Hospital in Iowa City. Our data team is keeping a close eye on the number of hospital beds and ventilators available in these hospitals, and all of them have an excellent capacity for patients at this time.
We know that some students will need to leave campus for work, family commitments, and health appointments. Faculty and staff will be commuting to and from their homes. We ask each resident of campus to consider whether a trip off campus is truly necessary right now (and we hope this ask will be short term).
If you deem it is necessary, we ask that you take extra caution while you are away by wearing your face covering in public, washing or sanitizing your hands and property like cell phones and wallets regularly, maintaining physical distance whenever possible, and electing to avoid situations of potential exposure whenever possible and to avoid businesses where physical distancing is difficult to maintain, such as restaurants and bars. You may consider showering and laundering clothes more regularly, based on your interactions with others.
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.
Cleaning products, equipment, techniques, and frequency will be enhanced to mitigate surface-based exposure risks. Restrooms and residence hall kitchens will be cleaned and sanitized three times per day. Surfaces in classrooms will be cleaned daily. A cleaning staff member will work during all operational hours of Thomas Commons. Bon Appétit staff will clean dining surfaces during and in-between cohort meal periods.
Classrooms will be cleaned overnight unless there is a different class in the classroom from morning to afternoon. Then it will be cleaned between.
Yes. There is a protocol with CDC guidelines that will be followed including ventilating the space for 24 hours followed by a wipe down and electrostatic sanitization. If it is a common space it gets wiped down and electrostatic sanitization as soon as possible.
Yes. We have looked at all spaces and maximizing outdoor air and improving filtration. We are focusing on air changes per hour to minimize the risk of virus spread. We are also using portable units where we need to improve those air changes.
Submit a work order any time night or day.
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.
Professor of Sociology Erin Davis explains how hybrid courses may be formatted.
We are offering courses in a variety of formats this fall to support our campus safety precautions. These new designations will be reflected in Self Service as hybrid, in-person, or online by the end of July.
Hybrid courses: Hybrid courses may include required in-person as well as required synchronous and/or asynchronous online instruction. The balance of in-person and online learning will depend upon the course. Students approved to live and learn off-campus for reasons related to COVID-19 may enroll and participate in the course remotely through required synchronous and asynchronous online instruction. Students enrolled in hybrid courses who are symptomatic or who must isolate or quarantine and cannot attend class in person will have the opportunity to participate in the course remotely.
In-person-only: While in-person-only courses may involve some online learning components, substantive instruction occurs on-campus and requires in-person attendance. Not open to students who have been approved to live and learn off-campus for reasons related to COVID-19.
Online-only: Instruction occurs remotely through required synchronous and asynchronous online instruction. Open to students living on- or off-campus.
All students should expect some online learning components in their courses. If a course you are registered for receives a designation that won’t work for your learning situation please contact your academic advisor right away to talk about options.
Like block courses, adjunct courses are being offered in a variety of formats (hybrid, in-person, and online). See Self-Service and/or reach out to the faculty member for more information.
Some classes will be held in person in modified classrooms with appropriate physical distancing with online elements. 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 each block begins.
Some hybrid courses may include substantive in-person instruction. While accommodations will be made for those approved to live off-campus, in-person attendance may be required for students living on campus. The balance of in-person and online activity is set by the instructor and varies by course. Course meetings schedules will be posted in the syllabus and students can contact the faculty member for more information about in-person expectations and requirements.
Classrooms will contain fewer tables and chairs so that everyone in the classroom maintains six feet between each other. Faculty, staff, and students will be required to wear face coverings (masks and/or shields that cover both nose and mouth). Due to the requirement to wear face coverings when in the classroom, no food or drink will be allowed in the classroom.
There may be good reasons to come to campus even if you have hybrid and online courses in the fall. Some hybrid courses may include substantive in-person instruction for students living on campus. It may be easier for some students, even those who are in online courses, to study and learn online from campus. However, students choosing not to be on campus due to concerns about COVID-19, may request to live and learn off-campus and may enroll in hybrid and online courses.
Faculty, staff, and students are required to wear face coverings (masks and/or shields) appropriately during in-person class sessions and in all spaces, including bathrooms, when in an academic building. To mitigate the risk faced by others in the classroom, those who do not comply will not be allowed to remain in class. Some faculty may require that both a mask and shield be worn in the classroom.
Students should not attend class if they have a fever, are symptomatic, or indicate they have had contact with someone who has COVID-19. If a student shows up to class after indicating that they have a fever, are symptomatic, or have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19 then they should return to their residence and contact the Student Health Center (319.895.4292).
No. Due to the requirement to wear face coverings when in public spaces, no food or drink is allowed in the physical classroom. Faculty should allow opportunities for students to leave the classroom to take a beverage break.
Yes. To assist in facilitating contact tracing, seating arrangements will be used.
Yes. For fall 2020, in order to facilitate social distancing happening on campus, block courses will have staggered morning and afternoon start times and designated lunch periods. Not all classes will meet both morning and afternoon, but you will have a 1.5 hour designated break between morning and afternoon classes. During each mid-daybreak, students will have an assigned shorter amount of time to pick up food from Hilltop Cafe or Zamora’s Market.
Yes. Some class meetings may be held outdoors; a six-foot physical distance will be expected and face coverings may continue to be required. Students are encouraged to pack a camping chair or outdoor blanket to sit on while class is held outdoors.
The bookstore is open and stocked with books. Many more books are now available as an ebook to facilitate distance/online learning and provide better pricing. You can choose from new, used, rentals, or digital titles. Visit www.cornellcollegeshop.com and click on textbooks to get started.
If you place an online order, you will have the option of choosing "free shipping to the bookstore." You can also request delivery to your mailbox on campus in the special instructions or pick up your order at our pop-up location on the Orange Carpet in Thomas Commons on Sept. 6. Hours are yet to be determined.
At this time, the maximum occupancy in the bookstore is 20 people. With physical distancing in place, you may be asked to wait to enter the bookstore until other folks finish their shopping and leave the space. We have facemasks for sale on our website, and we are expecting Cornell branded masks to arrive soon.
If you don’t feel safe returning to campus, can’t make travel arrangements, or suspect you might have been exposed to COVID-19, 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 an accommodation to study from home, you can submit a request for an exemption form to Residence Life.
Unless a student is enrolled in an in-person-only course, they will be able to continue to participate in their course remotely from their room (if they are self-isolating) or their quarantine space.
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 for one full block or more, we will refund room and board on a prorated basis, depending on a student’s financial aid package.
Last spring some students had internet connectivity issues, so if you are planning to live and learn off-campus and you tend to have problems with your internet connection or do not have an internet connection, contact IT for support. Problem-solving can take time, so please contact them as soon as possible, ideally before August 15th.
Even if you are on campus, there may be online components to your learning in the fall and you may need to contact IT for assistance; the best ways to do that are to enter a work order request, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 319.895.3457.
Campus services support
The Cole Library Center for Teaching and Learning studios and consultants will provide face-to-face and virtual consultation and assistance options to suit all needs.
Rather than convening in large ensembles, our musicians will collaborate and perform in smaller groups. The theatre and dance departments will rehearse and prepare for performances in ways that observe social distancing and offer their performances remotely.
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.
You can contribute to our Caring Community by being a positive role model and adhering to Cornell safety guidelines and precautions; encouraging classmates, community members and friends to follow safety guidelines and procedures to keep others safe; modeling Cornell’s culture of caring; considering the safety of not just yourself but others at Cornell and the wider Mount Vernon community; assessing your health and staying home when feeling ill; keeping a positive "glass half full not half empty" attitude even in these unprecedented times; being patient, kind, and respectful to your Ramily; realizing that we all have a mutual responsibility to keep our community safe and acting on that responsibility; practicing inclusivity, so that ALL feel welcomed, respected, and included; advocating for the underrepresented, marginalized, and underserved; being a voice for those who don't have a voice, or whose voice goes unheard; and striving each day to make Cornell a wonderful place to live, learn, work, and play.
There are a number of resources available on and off-campus for you to find positive and meaningful messages. We encourage you to follow the Health Promotion Instagram account and Facebook page to find positive messaging. Beyond this, Reverend Catherine Quehl-Engel has put together some calming and breathing techniques. This may also be a time when you connect with a religious or spiritual group. We encourage you to find a quote that provides meaning for you and use this to reflect on regularly.
There are numerous open and reservable spaces in the following campus buildings:
Cole Library: Operating hours
Law Hall: Students can access this building in the evening with their Cornell ID card until 11 p.m.
Russell Science Center: Students can access this building in the evening with their Cornell ID card until 11 p.m.
Thomas Commons: Operating hours
West Hall: Students can access this building 24/7 with their Cornell ID card.
- Classrooms that have specialized technology equipment are not available for use as evening study spaces.
- An open-use computer lab is not available due to exposure risks. Students who need access to a computer should contact Information Technology to obtain a laptop on loan.
- Students who need access to an academic building after it is locked for the evening can obtain passes in advance from their faculty members.
- Students are encouraged to help wipe down study spaces before and after use with materials from the centrally-located sanitizing stations.
Student groups can meet virtually or in indoor locations while remaining under the maximum occupancy of the room. Student groups can plan virtual, indoor or outdoor gatherings, where social distancing continues. Through virtual events, whether students are on-campus or studying remotely, this will allow everyone to connect with one another and continue to find their Ramily. All groups will be expected to continue to follow our expectations as identified in our community expectations, respecting the dignity of all persons.
- Classrooms and meeting rooms will have door signs indicating the maximum capacity for physical distancing.
- Common spaces that are open will have signs indicating maximum capacity for physical distancing.
- Residence hall rooms, campus apartments, and houses will have a limit of twice the number of occupants (this will mean a maximum of 4 people can be in a double room at one time). Gathering size restrictions for common areas in Armstrong House and The Cottage are to be determined.
- Student organizations are encouraged to hold meetings and events either virtually or outdoors whenever possible. In-person meetings are limited to the number allowable in the chosen space.
- Outdoor gatherings will be maximized at 50 people per state of Iowa guidelines, face coverings will be worn, and social distancing will be observed.
- Parties are prohibited at this time and hosting or participation in a party will result in conduct action.
- Any mass meeting of faculty, staff, and students should be held virtually or physically distanced outdoors until we reach phase 4.
All student organizations and groups will have access to Zoom technology. While we await the steps that need to happen for your student organization to get its own Zoom account, Cindy Krob (x4234) can help create Zoom meetings/events for you. Please contact her to set up your needs.
We will be unveiling a new room management system soon. We are anticipating the first couple of weeks might be limited as we all adjust to our new campus expectations. As we are assured that we have follow-through, we'll allow for booking rooms. We are limiting the capacity for each of these spaces.
Yes. We will have disposable and cloth masks to give away for students who forgot theirs or could not obtain them. Cloth masks will also be available for sale in the bookstore. The new grocery program in Zamora's Market will include wipes and hand sanitizer.
We have a team of staff who will be working on offering virtual programs, outdoor events and events with limited in-person participation where social distancing is possible. Student groups and organizations will also continue to meet virtually and provide online programs.
Fillable water bottle stations will be available; drinking fountains will not be available this fall.
At this time The Midwest Conference President’s Council has agreed to continue to move forward on the plans for a fall athletic season—prohibiting non-conference competition for the fall season—so our athletic events will be Midwest Conference only. This means that team schedules will be different than planned and your coach will reach out to you with more information. There will also be strict testing protocols to ensure safety on our campus. All competing athletes will be tested to ensure they aren’t asymptomatic carriers prior to every competition in addition to the testing already in our campus plan.
On campus we will implement physical distancing for training and practice areas, and may institute staggered schedules for different groups within one team to minimize gathering sizes.
Please note the Midwest Conference and college-based decisions about fall athletics are still being finalized and details will be communicated as soon as possible.
For intramurals, we’ll be doing events at a distance for the time being. There are great resources online for yoga, ongoing meditative practices, and you can take advantage of being outside exploring Mount Vernon. We’ll be expanding intramural opportunities as we move into Phase 4.
Yes. We will have appointment opportunities for trainers and treatment times.
At the start of the year, our gym and weight room will be used only when athletes are working out with coaching staff. That being said, a number of outdoor activities will be available, including yoga, perhaps outdoor zumba (we're working on the details), and a number of walking paths, jogging trails, two different disc golf courses, and other options are available on or near campus.
Yes. Note that masks are required in Mount Vernon for non-athletic pursuits and in all indoor business spaces.
To reduce exposure risks, you should make an appointment before going to a campus office, and you may be asked to meet virtually. If meeting in person, you’ll be asked to wear a face covering.
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.
Yes, eligible students can work on campus this fall. There will be adjustments to jobs, schedules, and protocols. Your supervisor will contact you about work schedules when you get back to campus.
Cornell is set up to pay employees working remotely if they are working in one of these five states: Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Colorado, and Florida. If you will be taking classes online and live in one of those states, you may contact your supervisor to see if it is possible that you can work remotely.
Offices and workstations will be cleaned on a regular basis. In addition, supervisors and student employees will be provided with cleaning supplies and instructions so that spaces can be cleaned in between use by different student employees.
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.
You should request an exemption to live off campus and study remotely.
We are anticipating that residence halls will be at 85-90% capacity in Block 1.
With the shift in start time for the semester and fall break due to the derecho storm, we are reconsidering our policy about travel home between Block 3 and Block 4. We will send updated information to our campus community shortly.
Yes, masks are required in any common spaces in your residence hall, including hallways and bathrooms except when showering, applying makeup, shaving, brushing teeth. (Masks are not required in individual rooms.)
No. At this time, we are restricting students to enter only their own residence hall.
No, except on move-in day when two guests can assist a student for a short period of time.
We have few of those spaces (3 quads and 14 triples) and all students in triples and quads have been invited to move into doubles. Students may choose to remain in the double or triple room because the square footage per person is similar to that of double rooms.
Yes. This will allow students to take extra to-go meals from campus dining and prepare them in their residence halls. Specific safety precautions will be posted in every kitchen, including cleaning plans. Storage will be available in the refrigerators and freezer; other storage will not be available. Equipment including pots, pans, and silverware will not be available.
No. Stoner House kitchen will be closed.
Microwaves are not allowed in student rooms, but there are microwaves in each residence hall kitchen, and most buildings also have microwave nooks, with a device on each floor or within a floor or two from where students are living.
Yes. Students will need to wear masks when in the laundry room. To reduce traffic in the laundry room, each floor in a residence hall will be assigned specific days on which they can use the laundry room. Some days will be open for any building resident to use.
Yes. Students will be encouraged to “skip a stall or sink”, leaving an empty toilet or shower stall or sink between them and another resident. Additionally, morning class start times will be staggered to reduce same-time traffic in residence hall bathrooms. Masks will be expected, except when actively showering, shaving, brushing teeth, washing face, or applying make-up.
Cleaning routines and materials have been adjusted in response to COVID-19 concerns, toilet lids have been added to each toilet stool and foot pulls have been installed on the back of each restroom door.
There will be custodial teams assigned to each residence hall to do cleaning throughout the day. There will be multiple cleanings each day. We will adjust cleaning schedules as needs arise.
No. Hopefully these spaces can be reopened during a later phase.
No. Hopefully these spaces can be reopened in a later phase.
You should start a conversation with your roommate about your expectations and the college’s rules before you arrive on campus. If your roommate continues to ignore your expectations and the college’s rules, then you should involve your RA or another member of the Residence Life staff.
After the first couple of weeks on campus, when we are assured people are practicing social distancing and have become adept at wearing face coverings, we'll be opening up more reservable spaces for study. In the meantime, we recommend people bring headphones with a microphone to be able to attend class from your room or in a number of our outdoor locations with wifi available.
Our current card access system allows us to only provide access to students who live in the building. We also have RAs on each floor who will be having conversations with any visitors they see who don't live in the building.
If they are planning to return after Block 1 we will hold the room for them. If they don't return for Block 2 it's possible you could get a new roommate, depending on what your roommate has communicated to Residence Life. We don't anticipate administratively assigning folks unless there is a pressing need, but that bed would appear on our list of available spaces if we need to move someone.
If the symptom checker tells you not to go to class, you should contact the Health Center (319.895.4292) for next steps. You’ll also want to email your faculty member about not being physically present in class. You should continue to participate in the class remotely.
We are holding 2 suite-style buildings for isolation or quarantine. Both provide bathrooms and kitchens, but food will be available from the Hilltop Café and will be delivered to your isolation or quarantine space.
Residence halls will close at 2 p.m. Dec. 23. Limited exceptions may be allowed to stay over winter break; contact Residence Life if you need to make arrangements to stay.
No. There are no restrictions on mail at this time. Send away! (And a tip: include an item that your student doesn't really like. Then they will give it away and make a new friend.)
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.
The following safety measures are being taken for your safety as well as the safety of professional and student staff in Bon Appétit:
- Daily COVID screenings for staff before arriving at work.
- Distancing at work stations and in the kitchens.
- Staggered work schedules and separate teams.
- Freshly prepared food will be packaged for pick-up; there will be no self-serve food stations.
- Enhanced cleaning protocols with anti-viral products.
- Extensive staff orientation on new protocols.
- Everyone must wear face covering to enter and proceed through Hilltop Café and in Zamora’s Market.
In the Hilltop Café and dining rooms:
- Student staff will help inform and guide students from queueing through the food stations and to the exit.
- No touch entry.
- No cash transactions.
- Only students and essential staff will be allowed in Hilltop Café during lunch and dinner periods.
- 1-way traffic pattern.
- Face coverings required – students may remove their face covering while sitting in the limited seating which will be distanced.
- No personal beverage containers allowed.
- No reusable containers because the freshly prepared food will be pre-packaged.
- Extended hours of operation will be offered to spread out the population.
- Very limited seating, physically distanced, likely around 120 total seats (typically there are 600+ total), with about 40 seats in each of the three dining rooms (for example, two seats per large size table).
- Limited number of students in Hilltop Café at the same time. For example, cohort times will provide a 30-minute window for approximately 225 students during each time to pick up their meals. Once inside Hilltop Café, meal pick-up will take less than 5 minutes.
- Mainly to-go / fresh cooked, pre-packaged food.
- Disposable dishware.
- Surfaces will be sanitized frequently. For example, there is a 15-minute period in between each lunch and dinner cohort to allow staff the opportunity to clean.
The Hilltop Café will feature expanded hours of near-continuous dining for 8.5 hours straight seven days a week from 10:30 a.m.-7 p.m.
In order to reduce exposure risks, a limited number of students will be admitted to Hilltop Café at one time. All food will be pre-packaged. There will be very limited seating.
For daily lunch and dinner times, a cohort system will be used.
Lunch 10:30am–1:15pm (cohorts based on class times)
Mid-day open 1:15–4:30pm (open to all students / no seating at all / pick-up only)
Dinner 4:15–7pm (cohorts based on student sign-ups)
Open for continuous dining from 10:30 a.m.–7 p.m.
A limited number of students will be allowed in Hilltop Café at one time. Cohorts will not be used on weekends (at least at first). If it is determined that a weekend cohort system is necessary, it will be initiated.
Where will breakfast be offered and when?
Breakfast will be available any time Zamora’s Market is open: 8 a.m.–7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 12 p.m.– 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Students can use a meal swipe from their meal plan to take breakfast items from Zamora’s.
Breakfast will also be offered in Hilltop Café on Sundays beginning at 10:30 a.m.
The goal and intent of staggered class times is to better protect our campus community by reducing morning congestion in bathrooms and common areas in residence halls, academic buildings, Hilltop Café, and Thomas Commons.
For fall 2020, in order to facilitate social distancing on campus, block courses will be organized into four cohorts with staggered morning and afternoon start times and designated lunch periods. Classes may not meet during both the morning and afternoon sessions, however, synchronous class sessions must follow cohort guidelines for scheduling.
For lunch, students will pick up meals during their cohort time based on their course schedule (very limited seating).
For dinner, students will sign up for times to pick up meals based on their personal preferences (very limited seating).
Fall 2020 Cohort Schedules
|Schedule||Cohort 1||Cohort 2||Cohort 3||Cohort 4|
|Morning Class||8:30–10:30 a.m.||9–11 a.m.||9:30–11:45 a.m.||10 a.m.–12:30 p.m.|
|Hilltop Café will be open for cohort food pickup||10:30–11 a.m.||11:15–11:45 a.m.||12–12:30 p.m.||12:45–1:15 p.m.|
|Cohort A||Cohort B||Cohort C||Cohort D|
|Hilltop Café will be open for cohort food pickup||4:15–4:45 p.m.||5–5:30 p.m.||5:45–6:15 p.m.||6:30–7 p.m.|
Reminder, students may also pick up meals between 1:15–4:30 p.m. (there will be no seating during this time period).
On weekends, students may use their meal swipes any time between 10:30 a.m.–7 p.m. A limited number of students will be allowed in the Hilltop Café at one time. Cohorts will not be used on weekends (at least at first). If it is determined that a weekend cohort system is necessary, it will be initiated.
If you know in advance that you can’t attend lunch during your cohort time, you can pick up a meal in advance. You can also explain the reason at the Hilltop Café check-in station and enter with a different cohort.
Changes have been made to reduce exposure and provide safe distancing. Zamora’s will be open from 8 a.m.–7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 12-7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Students can use their meal plan to take breakfast from Zamora’s during those hours.
Zamora’s will feature breakfast items that will be available all day/every day. Menu favorites including fair food (chicken strips, mozzarella sticks, etc.), breakfast sandwiches, lattes, coffees, and packaged drinks and snacks will continue to be available. Pre-packaged salads and the to-go a la carte items will also be available.
A new feature this year—Zamora’s grocery program. To reduce your exposure off-campus, Zamora’s will offer grocery items so you can avoid a trip to Target or Wal-Mart. Prices will be as low as possible (covering product costs and labor).
Zamora’s will accept credit cards or you can use a declining balance on your Cornell ID. Flex dollars are not part of 20-meal plans, and all students will be on 20-meal plans to reduce congestion and increase access to full meals in Hilltop Café.
In order to decrease exposure risks, we must reduce the traffic in our small food outlet Zamora’s Market by eliminating the flex dollar program this year. There is simply not enough space for cue lines nor seating as people wait for food purchased with flex dollars. By moving this traffic upstairs to the Hilltop Café, it can be managed with health and safety in mind. This also allows Bon Appétit to expand Hilltop Café hours giving students greater access to use their meal plans and wider menus to choose from.
All students will have 20 meal swipes per week that they can use in Hilltop Café. With each swipe, you can take a couple of food containers from any station, a side salad from the salad bar/deli station, a beverage, and a dessert. You can use as many swipes per day as you like.
This approach also allows students to get more than they would have gotten through the 14-meal and flex dollar program (which had cost students the same amount as a 20-meal plan). Greater flexibility is built-in to this approach by allowing students to use meal swipes during more hours of operation in the Hilltop Café.
Students can still use a declining balance or credit card in Zamora’s Market. Coffees, lattes, and your favorite items from the grill will continue to be available.
So, through this approach:
- Students will have more swipes on their cards.
- Students will have more hours to get a full meal or meals.
- Students will have the flexibility of using more swipes per day and a mid-afternoon meal period.
- Cornell reduces exposure risks.
Yes. Meal plans will be effective every day from the time you arrive on campus through lunch on Wed., Dec. 23.
Each cohort group will have a 30-minute window to pass through Hilltop Café. There will be approximately 225 students in each cohort. It will take only a few minutes to pick up food from the stations in the Hilltop Café.
There will be physically distanced queueing in the lobby of Thomas Commons. A limited number of students will be allowed in Hilltop Café’s servery at the same time.
Entry in Hilltop Café will be through the east entrance (near the pizza station) and there will be one-way traffic through the servery, past the dessert and beverages areas, and to an exit in Smith Dining Room.
Daily menus will be posted in Thomas Commons lobby and promoted by student staff so you can decide which stations you want to take food from before entering Hilltop Café.
Each station will have its freshly made food pre-packaged for you. You can take food from more than one station.
With each swipe (at the door upon your initial entry), you can take a couple of food containers from any station, a side salad from the salad bar/deli station, a beverage, and a dessert. You can use as many swipes per day as you like.
There will be very limited seating (approximately 40 seats per dining room). Most students will likely return to their rooms to eat. Also, extra outdoor seating near Thomas Commons will be available. Please bring your own camp chair so you can choose where you would like to enjoy your meal outdoors. Remember, you will be expected to practice physical distancing while sitting outdoors.
With each swipe (at the door upon your initial entry), you can take a couple of food containers from any station, a side salad from the salad bar and deli station, a beverage, and a dessert. You can use as many swipes per day as you like.
There will be no seating during the mid-afternoon period.
Gluten-free options will still be available. Students with special dietary needs should continue to work directly with Bon Appétit staff to make their arrangements.
Meals will be delivered to students in self-isolation or quarantine spaces on campus.
No. Unfortunately, allowing all students to bring in bags to carry food out would create logistical, health, and cost problems. If you need individual assistance, Bon Appétit staff will provide it.
Yes, just bring their ID.
Cohort groups for weekday lunches are based on class meeting times. These may change each block. Cohort groups for weekday dinners are based on student sign-ups. These can be changed periodically by students, as long as the numbers in each cohort time remain close to equal. Weekend meals will not have cohort times, at least not at the beginning of the semester.
Students will learn of their class meeting times (and cohort lunch times) from their faculty members before each block.
There will be approximately 225 students per cohort.
No. These are both closed to the public for the time being.
At least as we start Block 1, faculty and staff will not be allowed in the Hilltop Café unless they have a role to play related to dining. We may be able to allow faculty and staff to enter the Hilltop Café between 1:30–4 p.m. after we get the operation smoothed out (a couple of weeks into Block 1). Employees can use Zamora’s Market which will be open from 8 a.m.–7 p.m. weekdays and 12 p.m.–7 p.m. weekends. Both the Hilltop Café and Zamora’s will be cashless. Employees can use a credit card or declining balance on their College ID.
Prospective students and families may enter the Hilltop Café during the 1:30–4 p.m. period, although there is no seating during this time period.
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.
If you are a returning student, you will need to make an appointment to move in. Returning students will have one hour with up to two guests to help move in and will sign up for time periods. This sign up will be available soon. New students will have two hours with their guests to move in and will be assigned a time window to move in.
Yes. Any student can use the “drop and go” plan. You will have 30 minutes to drop things off in your room. You will be expected to leave campus at the end of your 30 minutes and not return until your scheduled move-in day and time. Sign up for the "drop and go" will be made available soon.
- Thermometer (and start using the symptom checker two weeks before move-in).
- Face coverings—two or three-ply cloth face masks (bring enough masks to wear a clean one daily until you do laundry) and/or face shields are preferred. Face shields should wrap around your face from ear to ear, have a foam layer over your forehead, and cover your chin.
- Folding chair for outdoor class times and gatherings.
- Cleaning supplies like disinfecting wipes.
- Earbuds with a mic for when you are in a Zoom meeting at the same time as your roommate.
- Hand sanitizer for your personal space and when you're on the go.
- A USB charger to keep your phone, laptop, or tablet charged.
- Small overnight bag in case you need to self-isolate away from your room.
- Water bottle to fill up and carry with you (drinking fountains have been turned off; bottle filling stations remain available).
If you suspect you might have been exposed to COVID-19 within two weeks of move-in, or have been contacted as part of a contact tracing event, please consider studying remotely for Block 1.
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 an accommodation to study from home, you can submit a request for an exemption form to Residence Life.
No. At this time we do not feel restrictions or quarantine is necessary; however, students who wish to arrive early and isolate on-campus can work with Residence Life to request this at a minimal cost.
If it is possible for a student to self-isolate at home for two weeks prior to returning to campus, we would encourage them to do so. All returning students are required to do the Symptom Tracker each day for two weeks prior to return.
For first-year students, we'll provide time before the day is over for roommates to connect with one another. We're starting with helping you each move separately in to not have as many people in the room at one time. We will start the orientation session for new students in the afternoon while their roommate will be moving in.
Reach out to your admission counselor if you're a new student, and they can try and help you get in touch.
We encourage you to try to visit your storage units before arriving. We're also asking that you unload first before unpacking or organizing the room to make sure you can get all of your things in place before your guest helpers need to leave.
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.
At the beginning of the semester, you will need to commit to one of three options for room and board (meal plan).
- I will reside on campus for the fall semester.
- I will study from home for the fall semester and have completed a request for exemption.
- I want to reside at home for Block 1 but reside on campus for Blocks 2–4.
Based on your choice you will be charged accordingly for the semester. If you must leave campus due to a COVID-19 event during the course of the semester, you will be refunded room and board consistent with our policy for Blocks 7 and 8 of 2020 at the end of the fall semester (December-January timeframe).
If you are approved for a housing exemption to live at home for the fall semester, you will not be charged room and board for the semester and your Cornell funding will be reduced by 18%.
Yes. If you elect to move on campus beginning Block 2 or after, you will be charged room and board for the number of blocks you are on campus and your Cornell funding will be reinstated proportionally.
No. If you move into the residence halls and then choose to leave campus to take an online course at home, your room and board charges will not be adjusted. There is an appeal process if you feel there are extenuating circumstances.
If you are enrolled at Cornell using either tuition remission or tuition exchange, your tuition exchange benefit will not be adjusted if you choose to reside at home for the full semester. If we send the student body home for any reason during the semester, you will also not have your room and board refund reduced.
Students that are living at home for the full semester, and are not commuting to campus for classes, will not be charged the student activity fee.
If you take fewer than three courses during a semester, you will receive a tuition refund. If you take two courses in a semester, you will be moved to part-time status, and you will be charged two-thirds of the semester tuition, receive two-thirds of your Cornell aid, and any federal and state grants will be reduced per federal and state regulations. If you take one course during a semester, you will be charged one-third of your semester tuition, receive one-third of your Cornell funding, and any federal and state grants will be reduced per federal and state regulations.
The following scenarios qualify:
- A course you are scheduled to take is canceled due to COVID-19 reasons.
- You cannot complete a course because you or a parent or guardian, spouse, domestic partner, or child are diagnosed with COVID-19, an individual with whom you currently reside is diagnosed with COVID-19, or you have familial caregiving responsibilities related to COVID-19.
- You are enrolled in an in-person-only course and cannot complete the course because you are required to quarantine or self-isolate.
We are making these adjustments as quickly as we can once we are notified you are approved to learn from home. If you are not moving in Block 1, your charges and aid will be adjusted as if you were not on campus for the full semester. Once you move on campus, you will be charged room and board for the number of blocks you will be on campus and your aid will be reinstated proportionally.
If your family has had a change in financial circumstances please complete the special circumstance form and reach out to the Financial Assistance office to discuss how we may be able to help you. Contact Financial Assistance at 319.895.4176 or email email@example.com to speak with a counselor.
Still have questions?
Please email COVIDfirstname.lastname@example.org and we will follow up with you during regular business hours.