Michelle Zhiqing Yang / Sun Staff Photographer

Students on campus on the last day of “in-person” classes on Nov. 13.

November 19, 2020

Pollack: Spring Semester to Be Similar to Fall, Commencement Up in the Air

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As the fall semester comes to a close, students can expect more of the same regulations and guidelines come spring.

Riding off the success of the fall semester, President Martha Pollack outlined that the spring semester would be relatively similar to the fall, in an email to the Cornell community on Thursday. 

“While many of us had hoped that the upcoming spring semester might offer a return to more familiar academic routines, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose a serious threat nationally and globally,” Pollack wrote. “If one thing is clear, it is that we can expect more unpredictability ahead, requiring us to draw upon the same flexibility and shared sense of responsibility that have served our campuses well this fall.”

Students will still be required to wear face masks, practice social distancing, complete the Daily Check and abide by the behavioral compact. Pollack said the behavioral compact could be updated for the spring. 

Spring move-in will also be similar to the fall. The University will assign students living in on-campus housing a move-in date and time that is in compliance with New York State quarantine and testing requirements.

Students living off campus are expected to quarantine for at least five days as they await two negative test results, and all students must complete testing requirements before they can access any campus facilities. Pollack said students will receive emails on move-in dates and testing requirements at the end of the fall semester. 

While Pollack first said in the summer that Cornell intends to have an in-person commencement for the Class of 2021, she now said it is uncertain. In Thursday’s email, Pollack said it was too early to determine if an in-person commencement is possible and expects to send more information on commencement early next year.

Currently, the spring semester is slated to start Feb. 8, and Pollack said the University is working to see if it can offer more in-person classes. Pre-enroll information is expected to be sent out in December. 

After the University released more stringent travel restrictions in compliance with New York State guidelines, Pollack wrote these travel restrictions will remain in the spring. Cornell strongly discourages all community members from traveling outside of the Ithaca area and plans to implement a “rigorous approval process” for all non-essential student travel. 

Undergraduate students are prohibited from traveling for Cornell-related research or scholarship, while graduate and professional students must submit a petition to travel domestically or internationally. Pollack also said students planning to return to campus in the spring should anticipate to remain in Ithaca for the whole semester, with limited-to-no personal travel outside of the Ithaca area. 

For campus activities, no in-person student events will take place at the beginning of the spring semester, another similarity to the fall. Pollack said once students complete quarantine and prevalence of COVID-19 remains low on campus, the University will then ease the restrictions to allow for small in-person gatherings to take place. 

In the email, Pollack also remarked on the success of the in-person fall semester. 

“I continue to be inspired each day by the way the Cornell community has come together throughout this challenging time, demonstrating what can be achieved when we follow the science, stay committed to best practices, and care for each other,” Pollack said.