Cornell University revealed a change in plans Thursday night which will impact the turn-out for a greater number of its students who intended to return to Ithaca this coming Fall.
In a letter to its students, the university said that it will no longer be providing accommodations for students in need of a 14-day isolated quarantine. The rule applies to students coming from one of the 34 locations listed on the New York travel advisory list, plus Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico, which is updated each Tuesday by Governor Andrew Cuomo and is based on a infection rate-based formula. The change is a hard reversal of the university's original plan to invite all students back in phases, housing students from travel advisory states in hotels and isolated parts of campus during the quarantine period.
The university didn't specify a reason behind the change of mind, except that the list of locations on the list continues to increase. Students who are unable to remain at their permanent location for whatever reason at the start of the semester may request a hardship exception.
The university said it still intends to hold a residential, in-person semester in the Fall, meaning students not from advisory states, students who request a hardship exception, students who quarantine for 14 in states not on the advisory list prior to arriving in Ithaca and international students will be allowed to return to campus and stay on campus at the start of the semester. Predictably, student reaction has been negative.
Locals have complained about the university's reopening plan, saying that it invites the virus and the spread of the virus into the community. The college has stated that bringing students back will result in 1,200 COVID-19 cases among Cornell students and staff, but has not released their model showing what the impact on Tompkins County would be.
In the letter, the university advised students who intend to live off-campus to still quarantine 14 days prior to returning to Ithaca, as well as schedule a COVID-19 test provided by the school. In a forum July 15, administrators urged students living off campus to work with their landlords to stagger move-in dates, it's unclear whether or not anything will come of that suggestion.
A 14-night stay at Statler Hotel currently averages approx. $2,500. International students will be provided accommodation so long as they quarantine 14-days prior to arriving, preferably in New York state, stated the letter.
Course registration has also been effected, slated to begin next week, Aug. 7, with information about the modality of each course, then later with given times, then finally enrollment will take place during the final week of August.
Vice-President Ryan Lombardi will host a forum for students on Friday, July 31 at 12:30 p.m. EDT to address new and continuing concerns about move-in and quarantine.