Ithaca College released its plan for a return in the fall on July 17, highlighted by the exclusion of students coming from states on New York's travel advisory list.
The plan was shared in a campus-wide email that students coming from states listed on the New York Travel Advisory list would not be allowed to return to campus for in-person instruction until the state of their permanent address was removed from the list. The email specified that the rule would only apply to students who have not remained in Ithaca over the summer. However, students from states on the advisory list, regardless of whether they intended to move into on campus housing or live off campus, would not be permitted to attend classes in any other capacity except virtually.
“Students from these states will not be permitted to move into residence halls, or to engage in in-person instruction or other campus activities, regardless of whether they reside on or off campus,” said the college. “We know that this is greatly disappointing, and we hope that continued practicing of appropriate preventive measures will lower the spread of COVID-19 and allow these states to be removed from the list.”
The advisory list currently names 22 states: Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio, Wisconsin, Kansas, Oklahoma, California, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Utah.
The college said that its Return to Campus Taskforce considered many alternatives and options to implementing the governor's order, which requires anyone from one of the states listed in the advisory (or someone who has spent more than 24 hours in those states) to quarantine for 14 days after entering New York and to fill out a traveler form that says where they will be staying, but said “the college simply does not have the resources or infrastructure to manage quarantining either on campus or off campus for the large number of students affected by this order.”
Students who are permitted to return to campus starting Friday, August 28 are being asked to quarantine at home for 14 days prior to departing for the college and to be tested for COVID-19 prior to arriving in Ithaca, if possible. The college will test all students for COVID-19 using the Cayuga Health System when they arrive; as well as require them to sign a Ithaca College Community Agreement regarding COVID-19. Non-compliance with the agreement will have “tremendous negative consequences” the email stated, but it’s unclear what those consequences will be.
In June, the college announced plans to bring back students in a phased approach. Friday, the college revealed that students will begin moving in on a weekly basis, based on academic program need: Group 1: Aug. 26-29; Group 2: Sept. 4-6; Group 3: Sept. 11-12; Group 4: Sept. 17-19; with all others moving in Sept. 25-26 and Oct. 2. Testing and move-in are scheduled to occur between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Students will have the opportunity to schedule their move-in date, but are being asked to coordinate with their roommate to move in on different dates. Students have also been asked to limit the amount of luggage they bring with them to two suitcases and one backpack for traditional housing; and two suitcases, one backpack and two extra boxes or equivalent for apartment style housing. Guardians and visitors will not be permitted to enter the residence halls at any point.
The college did not address how it plans to handle meeting students' basic needs during the quarantine or what activities students will be allowed to participate in—and whether they’re allowed to leave campus—throughout the week. The email stated that they will refer each positive case and those possibly affected to Tompkins County Health Department. It did say that “high touch points," such as bathrooms, will be disinfected on an “enhanced schedule."
On Wednesday, Cornell held a forum unveiling its plans to reopen in the fall to nearly full-capacity, with move-in occurring over the course of several weeks. The university will begin moving students in starting Sept. 2. All students have been asked to sign up for arrival testing, with those currently residing in Ithaca being asked to begin testing this week.
Both institutions plan to suspend in-person instruction following Thanksgiving break and transfer all course instruction online until the completion of each semester.