cornell university campus

ITHACA, NY -- In early April, Cornell announced that the fall semester would likely mark a return to in-person classes. Now, the University is moving toward pre-pandemic norms, releasing fully vaccinated students and faculty from most COVID physical distancing and mask requirements. 

Fully vaccinated students can stop six-foot distancing and mask wearing in most on-campus spaces as of June 1. Fully vaccinated faculty and staff are also no longer required to wear masks indoors and can gather unmasked. The University will not enforce weekly surveillance tests or COVID testing following travel. Unvaccinated students and faculty, however, must adhere to these public health measures. 

According to the Cornell COVID website, this guidance is for the summer, and Cornell will release updated guidelines for next semester closer to the fall. 

Still, the University will expect vaccinated students to wear masks in classrooms and residence hall common areas this summer and to maintain a six foot distance in classes and dining halls. 

The move toward more lax precautions follows weeks of declining cases on campus and in the surrounding community. Throughout May, Cornell reported 21 cases, with 10 from students. Since May 16, the University hasn’t reported any cases among students.   

Tompkins County has also seen low cases over the past two months, with the seven day running average of cases staying below 10 cases a day since April 6. These case counts represent a fraction of the county’s peak of 62 cases in a single day in January, according to Tompkins County Health Department.

With most of the on-campus population vaccinated at Cornell, the University loosened public health measures in May for the first time since reopening, allowing vaccinated students to gather in maskless groups of 10 or fewer people. 

Since this change, 81 percent of the on-campus population has been partially or fully vaccinated. In total, more than 15,000 students and 9,000 faculty and staff have received vaccinations.

This article originally ran in the Cornell Daily Sun on June 2.

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