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Students participating in Cornell's new ambassador program will volunteer to uphold guidelines, distribute PPE and identify potential risks for COVID-19 spread on campus.

August 3, 2020

Cornell Rolls Out COVID-19 Student Ambassador Program

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In about a month, Cornell students are expected to start classes. Much of the reopening plan is still up in the air, but Cornell is now calling on students to volunteer as ambassadors to advocate for Cornell’s yet-to-be-released behavioral compact.

Cornell launched the COVID-19 Student Peer Health Ambassadors Program Monday, a volunteer opportunity for Cornell students to increase public health awareness on campus through advocating for the University’s COVID-19 prevention guidelines.

The program calls on students to apply for two levels of ambassadorship. Level one ambassadors have a lesser time commitment and no required meetings, and level two ambassadors participate in a “student think tank” to discuss risks and brainstorm virus prevention measures.

A level one ambassador’s duties include handing out PPE, supporting the University’s public health campaign and serving as a role model in following the behavioral compact.

The behavioral compact is a set of guidelines all Cornell students must adhere to during the fall semester. According to an outline of the compact on students’ re-entry checklists, the compact details measures like complying with regular testing, making efforts to quarantine for 14 days before returning to campus and participating in social distancing policies.

This compact has not yet been made available to students, but according to Provost Michael Kotlikoff’s July 30 email, all students — including those who will not spend the semester in Ithaca — must agree to the compact before the semester starts. Kotlikoff wrote that it will become a part of the re-entry checklist some time this week and students will be informed via email once it is made available.

Level two ambassadors advocate for policies that prevent the spread of the virus within their own student organizations and participate in weekly meetings with public health fellows from the Skorton Center for Health Initiatives, a department within Cornell Health responsible for advancing campus health through education and research, according to its website.

Besides the ambassador program, Cornell has listed other measures to enforce the compact in its reactivation plan. According to the report, students who fail to comply with the compact “will face sanctions from limitations on their ability to access buildings or the university’s on-line systems to suspension or expulsion.”

In order to take part in the COVID-19 student ambassador program, students must fill out an application questionnaire that asks about their participation in student organizations: if they are a varsity athlete, a sorority or fraternity member and why they want to join the program.

All participating students will complete a virtual training administered by the Skorton Center.