Julia Nagel/Sun Assistant Photography Editor

Students will be required to participate in surveillance testing at the beginning of the fall semester.

August 4, 2021

Surveillance Testing Initially Required for All Students

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Regardless of vaccination status, all students returning for the fall semester will be required to participate in surveillance testing according to a University announcement on Tuesday afternoon.

The University has mandated the vaccine for all students returning to in-person learning. All employees are also mandated to get vaccinated or participate in regular testing.

The Tuesday afternoon announcement from Provost Michael Kotlikoff and Vice President of Student Life Ryan Lombardi provided more details on the plan to reopen this fall, including the initial requirement that everyone participate in surveillance testing until the University is able to determine the prevalence of the virus on campus.

“Given our evolving understanding of the delta variant, all vaccinated undergraduate students, as well as students enrolled in Cornell’s three professional schools, will initially be required to participate in some level of surveillance testing for a period of time,” the University statement read.

This decision came with the concern of the rise of infections throughout the Tompkins County area, as well as the presence of the delta variant. According to the University’s email, one issue that testing could help mitigate is the possibility that vaccinated people could transmit COVID-19 to others even if they were asymptomatic.

“We’ve been deeply concerned to see the increase in infections and disease occurring in many unvaccinated individuals associated with rapid spread of this virus strain,” Kotlikoff and Lombardi said in their email. 

Upon arrival, students who are not fully vaccinated will be required to get tested before moving into their on-campus housing. According to the University, it is not currently requiring fully vaccinated students to be tested at the time of arrival, but may do so based on “prevailing circumstances.”

According to the University vaccination data, 95 percent of the on-campus population is vaccinated and have submitted their proof of vaccination. All students who are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated will be required to participate in regular surveillance testing, until they submit proof of full vaccination. Those with a medical or religious exemption will participate in continual surveillance testing.

The University stated that they believe these policies will facilitate safe conditions for in-person learning and social activity. 

These updates come after the University also announced on Friday that masks are to be worn indoors in accordance with the TCHD guidance.

The University is encouraging students to get vaccinated before arriving. However, those unable to will have the opportunity to do so at Cornell Health through the on-campus vaccination clinics on Aug. 19, 20, 21 and 25. 

Students who are not vaccinated with a University recognized vaccine will also be expected to get vaccinated after arrival. The University currently only recognizes the Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Sinovac, Sinopharm and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.