Ithaca College will hold all its classes online this semester, a significant reversal from its initial plans to bring students on-campus for classes starting Oct. 8.
The announcement came in a campus-wide email from IC President Shirley Collado on Tuesday morning, and Collado said she had made the decision herself.
Collado said in her letter that she'd had "tremendous" hope that the school would be able to have students back during the Fall semester when it first closed down in March, but that the coronavirus' continued presence in the country represented too great of a risk to the school's community.
"With this tremendous responsibility front of mind, I am announcing today that Ithaca College will be extending remote instruction for students through the fall semester. This means that we will not be welcoming all students back to campus this fall as we had hoped," Collado wrote. "This was an agonizing decision that I made in consultation with the members of my senior leadership team, informed by the best thinking of so many members of our college community and data around the evolution of this pandemic. Personally, this saddens me greatly, and I have sincerely missed seeing our campus activated with our students’ energy and their zest for learning and for life. I also know how very much our students want to return to IC—we have heard your voices so clearly."
Collado further pleaded with students to remain vigilant and careful in the hopes that a Spring semester can still be held with students on campus, which she said is the plan.
"It is imperative for all of us to collectively act responsibly across the country while we are apart so that we can get to the other side of this pandemic crisis and be together again on a vibrant and healthy campus," she wrote. "I also want to state clearly that the continuation of remote instruction applies to our fall semester only. We fully intend to invite all students back to campus for the spring semester, as long as circumstances around COVID shift to enable us to do so in a reasonably safe manner."
Ithaca College's announcement comes one day after Ithaca City School District announced that it would be voting on whether or not to postpone in-person classes for its K-12 students until the first week of October at least in order to upgrade building equipment. Cornell University is still scheduled to come back in a hybrid fashion, with move-in starting this week, and Tompkins Cortland Community College classes is slated to return to classes at the end of the month. Cornell's infection rate model has shown that bringing its students back to campus will lead to 1,200 new coronavirus cases, though they have argued that it is safer to have students on campus than it is to have students move back to Ithaca without coming to campus for monitoring or testing.
There are currently five active coronavirus cases in Tompkins County, though that number has declined precipitously from a few weeks ago when active cases had climbed to nearly 40.