Sabrina Xie / Sun Staff Designer

Campus returned to its green alert level as cases decreased over the past two weeks.

February 26, 2021

COVID Weekly Update: A Look Past East Hill as Campus Returns to ‘New Normal’

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As students began to settle into their second week of classes, so did campus COVID-19 cases. 

The COVID alert level returned to green, what the University calls the “new normal” on Feb. 22. According to the Cornell COVID dashboard, this alert indicates that “cases are rare and transmission is controlled,” marking the reopening of campus fitness centers and recreational facilities. 

This status change is the result of decreasing cases on campus — a shift from early February, when Cornell reported a large spike as students traveled to Ithaca from across the country. In the first week of February alone, campus reported 100 new cases — nearly a third of the number of cases tallied last semester. Throughout the week of Feb. 14, the campus saw a total of 20 cases. 

As case counts have dropped, the University’s quarantine and isolation capacity has been steadily increasing, with 285 out of 360 rooms available as of Feb. 25. 

The initial case spike during move-in this spring, and the following case decline as students were tested and quarantined, parallels the pattern seen in the fall. But Cornell is not the only school with coronavirus concerns this semester — Ithaca College welcomed students back to campus for the spring, and the Ithaca City School District has recently increased its in-person activities. 

Ithaca College decided to hold the entire fall semester virtually. But this spring, the college welcomed 2,460 students back to campus — around 41 percent of its student body.  

Classes started at IC on Jan. 25, but in-person instruction did not begin until Feb. 8. Students on campus are tested at a similar frequency to most Cornell students: twice a week. 

Since Jan. 20, Ithaca College ran just under 50,000 tests and found 22 positive cases of COVID-19

Ithaca College staggered student move-in over the course of four Thursdays in January, which may have allowed the college to prevent a spike in cases following a mass influx of students. 

In a Faculty Senate meeting on Feb. 24, Prof. Peter Frazier, operations research and information engineering, claimed Cornell had found no evidence of viral spread from the University to the greater Ithaca population — despite a trend nationwide of COVID cases in college towns increasing as students returned to campus..