Spring Semester Q&A
Updated March 8, 2021
Spring Semester 2021
Whether you are returning to campus from Winter Break, or this is the first semester that you’ll be living and learning as a part of the Cornell Community this information should act as a resource to help you navigate the expectations of our Caring Community. Please note that we have prepared a list of rules vs. recommendations for Block 5 return that gives you a more succinct run-down of protocols.
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.
Spring plan and principles
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?
- Added for spring semester: availability of COVID-19 vaccine for the campus community
- 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.
Looking ahead to vaccination
As we are seeing vaccines cleared by the FDA for emergency use, and distribution throughout the country is getting started we realize you may have questions about what that means for Cornell students, faculty, and staff. At this time we are not able to predict when the vaccine will be available in our area or to our campus populations. The CDC is making COVID-19 vaccine recommendations, including recommendations if there is a limited supply, based on input from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.
The vaccine is safe and effective and is an important tool in significantly reducing the spread of COVID-19, helping us get back to more normal routines. We are certainly in favor of everyone on campus receiving the vaccine in order to protect our community and we intend to institute a vaccination clinic on campus to make this as easy as possible when the vaccine becomes available. Additional decisions about requirements for vaccination are pending discussion and advice from the CDC and we will update you as we learn more.
As of now anyone who has been vaccinated should continue to be tested. There are three reasons for this. The first is that none of the vaccines are 100% effective. The second reason is that we don't know for sure if a vaccinated person can still be asymptomatic and pass the disease to others. The third reason is we don't know yet about the effectiveness of the vaccines against the new strains that are now circulating. It is important to know that vaccines do not cause a person to test positive on either an antigen or a PCR test. A vaccine will cause someone to test positive on an antibody test (but we do not test for antibodies on campus.)
At the present time, there are no separate protocols for vaccinated persons on campus. They need to continue to distance, mask, and test. Of course, we hope that vaccines will be widely available soon. but right now Iowa has only vaccinated a small percentage of its population and vaccine rollout continues to be slow. We continue to monitor recommendations from the CDC as more and more people get vaccinated, and will base future protocols on CDC guidance.
The only difference between Phase 3 and 3.5 is that people need to fill out the Symptom Checker only if they have symptoms in Phase 3.5. There is a Data Team that examines external and internal factors every week, such as positivity rate, hospitalizations, use of resources such as ventilators, campus compliance of COVID guidelines, etc. This group makes recommendations to the COVID-19 Core Group, who makes the final decision to move from one phase to another. With spring break upon us, it's unlikely that any recommendation will be made to move out of Phase 3, at least until everyone has returned and we have a week or two of testing to make sure that new variants haven't made their way to our campus.
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 on campus 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.
- Randomized and stratified COVID-19 testing will be conducted weekly.
- Isolation and spaces are available in the event you test positive.
- Structural mitigation is in place (Plexiglas 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).
- We hope to have outdoor locations designated for periodic class sessions or small group meetings available again as the weather warms.
- 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.
Snugly fitting masks with ear loops and at least two layers of fabric that completely cover the nose and chin are the minimum requirement whenever indoors. Single layer neck gaiters, open triangle bandanas, and masks with one-way valves do not provide adequate protection indoors and are not accepted forms of face coverings
With the new strains of the virus prevalent in our area we have also determined that face shields alone are not adequate protection indoors and we request that anyone indoors wear a mask with their face shield.
Current CDC recommendations would expand on the fabric mask requirement and indicate that best protection would be wearing a tightly fitting surgical mask under your fabric mask to protect from the more virulent strains of COVID-19.
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 and will be tested, monitored for symptoms, and continue to complete the symptom tracker daily. If, by day 10 you test negative, you may end isolation.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
You will be expected to quarantine in your residence hall room or at home if you were exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 and complete the symptom checker daily. Quarantine will last 10 days if you test negative on day 10, or 14 days if you are not tested. If you have a positive test you will be asked to isolate while you recover. While in quarantine you will be able to attend class online and meals will be delivered to your residence hall room by Bon Appetit.
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 did two rounds of testing for student who chose to return early to campus to prepare for Block 5. As of January 17 we will resume our randomized and stratified testing for the remainder of the campus community as we did fall semester.
If the antigen test is negative but the symptoms are consistent with COVID-19, a PCR test will be sent to the State Hygienic Lab. The student will need to quarantine until results are received.
Testing is primarily limited to randomized screening participants and those who have symptoms or are positive contacts. We open testing for wider participation prior to travel before major academic breaks. If anyone has reason to believe they need testing in addition to these parameters, they should contact the Student Health Center.
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.
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.
In our instances of community spread via travel in cars with others has been one of the highest vectors of transmission. Please limit trips off campus in cars with others if at all possible and continue to wear masks in vehicles 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 we are continuing our course policies from the fall into the spring, including offering courses 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 spring to support our campus safety precautions. These 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, substantial 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 substantial 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 meeting 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 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 substantial 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).
Drinking beverages through a straw is allowed in public indoor locations (e.g., classrooms, hallways, offices, fitness center, library). Face masks should not be removed while drinking, to the extent possible. Faculty have the discretion to limit or prohibit beverage drinking in the classroom.
Yes. To assist in facilitating contact tracing, seating arrangements will be used.
Yes. For spring 2021, 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. In most cases, you can choose from new, used, rentals, or digital titles. Visit www.cornellcollegeshop.com and click on textbooks to get started.
When you place an online order, you will have the option of choosing "free shipping to the bookstore" - just pick up your order from the Bookstore when you arrive on campus. You can request delivery to your Campus Mailbox instead of picking it up, by listing your mailbox number in the special instructions. If your order will be shipped off campus, please allow enough time for the delivery companies to get the package to you.
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, including Cornell branded masks.
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.
If you are planning to study remotely 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.
Even if you are on campus, there may be online components to your learning and you may need to contact IT for assistance; the best ways to do that are to enter a work order request, email email@example.com, 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.
When we are in Phase 3 of our campus re-population plan 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, 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 a 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 participating 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. Student organizations can request a Zoom account or Cindy Krob (x4234) can help create Zoom meetings/events for you. Please contact her to set up your needs.
Our current phase does not allow for group meetings; however, if you need to book a room for individual meetings, appointments, or study space, contact Rebecca Sullens.
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 includes wipes and hand sanitizer.
Fillable water bottle stations will be available; drinking fountains will not be available.
For spring semester we are looking forward to a limited athletics schedule. Athletic competitions are regularly reconsidered based on existing conditions, more information is available on the Cornell Rams website.
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.
The gym and fitness center are available by appointment, you can find the scheduling pages on the student portal of the Cornell website.
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.
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 a 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.
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 depends 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 the 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. on 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 a 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).
- A limited number of students in the 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 10:30 am–1:15 pm (cohorts based on class times)
Mid-day open 1:15–4:30 pm (open to all students / no seating at all / pick-up only)
Dinner 4:15–7 pm (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 are 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 spring 2021, 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.
Breakfast is available without cohort.
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).
Spring 2021 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|
|Hilltop Café will be open for cohort food pickup||5–6:15 p.m.||6:15–7:30 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 8-10 a.m. and 2-4 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 2-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
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 the 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 lunchtimes) 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.
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.–10 a.m. weekdays and 2-4 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.
Your decision about how you want to study for the spring semester will impact your student account charges for the semester based on your individual circumstances.
To be eligible to receive funding from the $422,781 Emergency Relief fundng Cornell was awarded for students you must be a U.S. citizens and enrolled as a degree seeking student at least half-time during the spring semester as of February 17, 2021.
The college is required to prioritize students with exceptional need when distributing the funds. Cornell met this requirement by awarding all Pell eligible students first and awarding Pell eligible students the largest awards. Remaining awards were determined after considering student financial need based on the FAFSA.
Student Accounts will process payments to eligible students over the next two to three weeks. If you have provided Student Accounts with your completed ACH Authorization form (your banking information), you should expect to receive your funding through EFT to the bank account we have on file for you. Otherwise, a check will be sent to your campus mailbox.
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 spring semester.
- I will study from home for the spring semester and have completed a request for exemption.
- I want to reside at home for Block 5 but reside on campus for Blocks 6-8.
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 6 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.
We anticipate additional funding for students through the federal CARES Act grants that we will be able to distribute to you this semester. Timing for those funds has not yet been finalized.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org to speak with a counselor.
Still have questions?
Please email COVIDemail@example.com and we will follow up with you during regular business hours.