May 4, 2020

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Re: ‘Cornell Needs to Postpone the Fall Semester’

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To the Editor: 

As a resident of Ithaca, as well as a Cornell alum and retiree, I strongly second the suggestion of postponing the fall semester, in spite of the financial repercussions to the University and Ithaca.

Bottom line, the return of students to campus could jeopardize the hard-won safety of the local resident population. Ithaca and county residents along with local officials have done an exemplary job in containing the spread of COVID-19. Cases have been quite low, even in the face of aggressive testing rates, because the area’s permanent residents have been diligent in complying with all restrictions and safety measures.

I do not have the same faith in the thousands of students who would be returning here from all over the country and the world. While it may be true that a majority of them will comply, among all those thousands there will be enough who won’t — as evidenced by student partying and gatherings in March before the students left town. And even for those with the best of intentions, the temptation to test the boundaries will be hard to resist once students are back on campus, wanting to socialize with friends and participate in various activities and campus events. There is also the risk that some students, especially those coming from virus hot spots, might inadvertently bring COVID-19 to Ithaca with them.

Let’s at least wait and see if the predicted “second wave” materializes before we risk losing all the progress that has been made in Tompkins County regarding COVID-19.

Paula Amols ’75