Ithaca College's president Shirley Collado announced Monday that the school would be re-opening for students and in-person classes on Oct. 5, 2020. Collado shared the news in a campus-wide email Monday morning as well.
Collado noted that though the schedule is moved back, it will be a full academic year starting on Oct. 5. The school had closed its campus to students in mid-March, shortly after Cornell University had done the same, a reaction to the COVID-19 public health crisis. Colleges nationwide have been closed for weeks, with Ithaca College and Cornell pivoting to online classes.
"This is a major decision for our IC family, one that aligns with our ongoing, deliberate, and methodical decision-making process throughout this public health crisis," Collado wrote. "We are continuing to prioritize the health and safety of our college and local communities while being nimble and responsive. In coming to the decision to open the fall semester on October 5, the senior leadership team and I listened to and collaborated with a variety of stakeholders and leaders, on campus and off. We’ve also clearly heard the voices of our students and their families."
Collado noted the announcement last week by Gov. Andrew Cuomo that New York would transition into a "Moving Forward" phased re-opening, the plans for which she said would provide guidance and clarity as the school moves forward.
Additionally, Collado said the school would be forming a Return to Campus Task Force, which would be "composed of members of the senior leadership team and our campus community." The task force, Collado wrote, would be charged with "ensuring that the appropriate health and safety guidelines are incorporated into all aspects of our college operations as we move ahead."
There was no information about how the announcement of a re-opening date would impact the school financially or a timetable for employees who were recently furloughed to be brought back. IC was one of several local institutions that had to cut employees during the last few weeks. Illustrating the impact the virus has had on academia, Cornell announced in late April that they were projecting losses around $200 million even if students were back for a full fall semester.
"The Return to Campus Task Force mentioned in the message from President Collado will be doing the hard work over the coming weeks of making plans and determining their impacts," said IC spokesperson David Maley.
There will also be an all-staff gathering later Monday and an all-faculty gathering held Wednesday, along with virtual student gatherings which will focus on the move-out process and the new academic year's plans.
Acknowledging that some institutions, perhaps even signaling Cornell, may announce that they will be re-opening sooner than Oct. 5, Collado said Ithaca College is "putting a stake in the ground" in order to give the school necessary time to properly formulate the best re-opening plan they can.
"Ithaca College has weathered many storms since we began as a small music conservatory in 1892, and survival in the face of significant challenge is in the DNA of this place," Collado concluded. "Throughout this particular storm, our community has continued to demonstrate creativity, grit, and solidarity as we’ve pushed forward and continued to serve our students. It’s this type of innovative, student-centered approach that makes us so distinctive as an academic institution. I thank all of you for being a part of the IC family, and I am proud to walk alongside you during this critical time as we build the future of Ithaca College."
Certainly, the next several weeks will be teeming with announcements from schools regarding the fall semester and in what manner it will be administered. While Ithaca College has now set a date to return, the University of South Carolina announced Monday the unorthodox approach of announcing that all classes after Thanksgiving in the fall semester would be held online, in anticipation of the "second wave" of the coronavirus that has been anticipated for autumn. In terms of area schools, Syracuse University has long held that it would hold its fall semester in-person and on a regular schedule unless otherwise instructed by public health officials.