Cornell is expanding in-person gatherings as the weather warms and surveillance testing data indicates that masked and distanced gatherings are not the main source of campus virus transmission, President Martha Pollack wrote in a Tuesday afternoon email.
Pollack wrote that the University’s testing data analysis attributed this semester’s virus transmission mostly to unsupervised gatherings that violate social distancing and mask-wearing protocols. This data has prompted Cornell to expand structured in-person activities, even as the University reports new cases on campus daily.
“We also learned from last semester that structured and supervised activities that observe all public health guidelines present a very low risk of viral spread,” Pollack wrote. “Please know that while we believe these opportunities are incredibly important for your well-being, it is critical that they be undertaken with strict adherence to all COVID-19 guidelines.”
Student organizations can now gather in groups of 10 or fewer and all meetings must be registered with CampusGroups and the Academic and Event Scheduling website. Clubs must also take attendance and no food will be allowed during these meetings.
Cornellians will now be able to resume club and intramural sports outdoors as well as group recreation and fitness activities. The University has capped these in-person activities at 10 masked and distanced students.
The University is also opening several indoor and outdoor facilities, including Jessup and Robinson Alumni Fields, the Kane Sports Complex Track and the Reis Tennis Center.
The email encouraged students to be responsible with these new policies. Pollack highlighted that although Cornell is expanding in-person campus activities, the virus remains a risk.
“Our COVID-19 numbers at Cornell remain high enough to warrant ongoing concern,” Pollack wrote. According to Cornell’s COVID-19 Tracking Dashboard as of Tuesday evening, there are 56 new positive cases between March 9 and March 15. As transmission continues, Cornell will increase the testing frequency for different campus groups, though the email did not mention specific groups.
Even as this latest announcement urged students to remain vigilant, it also paints a picture of a campus that could spring to life again.