Cornell University scene

Cornell University

Cornell University's touted coronavirus testing program will debut Thursday, July 16, in collaboration with Cayuga Health, and continue to administer tests each Tuesday and Thursday until the school year begins. 

The facility will be in Fischell Band Center, in the parking lot of Schoellkopf Field, and operate from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the following dates: July 16, 21, 23, 28, 30, Aug. 4, 6, 11, 13, 18, 20, 25, 27 and Sept. 1. Testing is mandated as part of the "Cornell Behavioral Compact" the school is introducing this year. Any student who is either currently in Ithaca, in on- or off-campus housing, or coming to Ithaca from elsewhere should be tested at the sight. If someone is moving into on-campus housing from outside of Ithaca, they do not need to schedule testing now, but those moving to off-campus housing should register now. 

Students looking to register for testing can do so at this link: https://register.cayugahealth.com/patient-registration/employee?employer=Cornell-Student

Although the testing program is up and running, the school is still encouraging students coming from other areas to seek testing at their permanent home before coming to Ithaca. Students who do get tested in their hometowns are still required to take an initial test and adhere to the rules subsequent to arriving in Ithaca. It also requests that students moving to Ithaca self-quarantine for 14 days in their permanent homes before coming to the area. 

Whether this announcement will quell fears about students returning to Tompkins County or not remains to be seen and could largely be determined by how well it works in actual practice. Positive cases have spiked recently in Tompkins County, and residents have consistently expressed skepticism that any of the higher education institutions in the area will be able to sustain an in-person presence for students while avoiding a local outbreak. 

Once the summer testing program ends on Sept. 1, the next day will start a new school year testing program, though the details are a little less clear on how that will be carried out, though it does say the testing will take place on a "regular basis."

"Because COVID-19 infection is often asymptomatic, identification of individuals harboring the virus requires regular surveillance testing of our community," the announcement states. "All students (and employees) will be required to participate in ongoing surveillance testing throughout the fall semester." The Daily Check website will tell students when tests must be completed. Obviously, any student who feels ill or thinks they are at risk of having contracted the virus should contact Cornell Health at (607) 255-5155. 

The announcement also addressed people who are coming from states that have been added to Gov. Cuomo's quarantine list, which is up to 22 states that are experiencing rising coronavirus cases. 

"Individuals traveling from states of high virus prevalence will be expected to quarantine for 14 days upon entry into New York state," the note said. "Returning students are expected to comply with this restriction, and should plan to quarantine in place at their off-campus residence and contact Cornell Health at 607-255-5155 for specific instructions on how to seek their summer testing. Students who plan to live in on-campus housing will receive more guidance about travel and quarantine guidelines as part of their move-in instructions."

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