Thomas Commons Cornell College campus

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

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.

Health and safety strategy

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

Facilities updates and cleaning strategies

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

Academic changes

In order to accommodate a variety of scenarios for students and faculty, we've 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.

Student life changes

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

Working on campus

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

Residence life changes

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

Campus dining and meal plans

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

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

Financial impact

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.

Still have questions?

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