Ithaca campus moving to COVID alert level green

Dear Cornell community,

As the fall semester progresses, it is heartening to see the collective efforts of students, faculty and staff to act safely and responsibly as we go about classes, research and other activities. Your choices are making a crucial difference as we strive to limit the spread of COVID-19.

We are writing to announce that, effective Sept. 16, the university will move back to COVID-19 Alert Level Green (“New Normal”). However, based on what we have learned over the past two weeks, the university will keep the limit on student gatherings, with the exception of classes, to 10 people or fewer. The decision to go to Green is based on a variety of factors, many of which you will see reflected on the COVID-19 Tracking Dashboard. At this stage, our positivity rate remains low, and our program for surveillance testing has succeeded in providing early identification of cases – the majority of which have been asymptomatic.

While it is encouraging to return to Alert Level Green, do not mistake this as an indicator that we can let our guards down. If we have learned anything during the pandemic, the virus can spread quickly, easily, and within very small groups. Each one of us must continue to take every precaution to keep both our campus and local community safe.

  • Face Coverings and Physical Distancing: Wear your mask or face covering diligently, inside and outside, except when alone or eating. Maintain physical distancing of at least six feet, even when outdoors and eating.
  • Limiting the Size of Student Gatherings: When socializing, studying or working collaboratively, maintain small groups. As noted above, the university will continue to limit in-person student gatherings to 10 people or fewer.
  • Behavioral Compact: Students must continue to follow the Cornell Student Behavioral Compact and heed the advice and directions of behavioral compact monitors, residential staff and advisers, faculty members and other university officials when reminded about compliance.
  • Daily Check: Students must complete the Daily Check every day, including weekends, and regardless of whether they plan to come to campus. Faculty and staff who are cleared to report to campus must complete the Daily Check prior to arrival on campus or before accessing Cornell facilities.
  • Surveillance Testing: Those cleared to live, research, teach or work on the Ithaca campus are required to participate in testing, which is critical for early detection of positive cases.
  • Travel and Visitor Policy: Other than for exceptional circumstances, such as a family emergency, do not travel beyond the greater Ithaca area, per the university travel policy. Visitors are not permitted on campus at this time.

Though, as expected, we saw isolated COVID-19 clusters in the semester’s early going, our community has taken remarkable steps to keep everyone safe and healthy. In particular, we commend our student athletes for – once these clusters were identified – cooperating in contact tracing efforts and effectively recommitting to required health and safety protocols for physical distancing and limiting gatherings, all of which are essential to contain the spread of COVID-19. We have also seen exceptional leadership from student organizations, including our COVID-19 Peer Ambassadors.

No one said this semester would be without its challenges, but we are rising to those challenges. Thank you for your continued vigilance, as well as patience with new policies and procedures, in an effort to keep this semester going.


Michael Kotlikoff

Ryan Lombardi
Vice President for Student and Campus Life