For the first time since fall 2019, the University will welcome all students’ families to campus for 2021 Family Weekend to explore campus and the Ithaca community.
Some students and families will have their first reunion on campus since move-in week this coming weekend. The annual tradition gives families the opportunity to meet Cornell staff members and engage in activities around campus with their students.
Many students, especially those who are in their first semester at Cornell, are looking forward to attending on-campus events with their families, such as the Cornell hockey game against University of Alaska at Lynah Rink on Friday night. Students are also looking forward to venturing off campus and exploring Ithaca.
“We’re catching a hockey game and I think we’re going apple picking,” said Emily Rodgers ’24. “We’re going to all of the good local restaurants, and we’re probably just going to hang out and walk around or go hiking with my parents.”
Many students noted the convergence of Family Weekend and Halloween this semester, saying the overlap makes for a busy schedule.
“The timing is not the best,” said Jolene Tsang ’24. “It will make it a lot harder to see [my family] because I feel like I will be tired from Halloween [activities]. It’s just a lot of things at once.”
As Rodgers sees it, the University might have planned Family Weekend to align with Halloween weekend — which usually consists of costume parties and festive gatherings — to discourage people from going out.
Still, most of the scheduled activities, such as a Fall Fest on the Arts Quad, end relatively early in the day, leaving students with time in the evening and night to join in on Halloween activities with their friends, like the Halloween Drag Bingo Night on Saturday evening.
Other students are still planning visits with their families this semester, just on different weekends, when campus is less busy.
Julia Bernstein ’23 has planned for her family to come to Ithaca next weekend. As someone who “takes Halloween very seriously,” she said she prefers that her parents are coming to visit next weekend instead.
“I think it’s the best of both worlds having [my parents] come the week after [Family Weekend] because I can spend more time with them and still get my Halloween weekend,” she said. She and her friends plan to celebrate their respective birthdays with their family members next weekend.
Bernstein added that because she is a junior and her family has been to Cornell to visit many times already, she does not feel the need to participate in on-campus Family Weekend activities because her family has already seen the campus and attended similar activities.
Despite safety measures in place to minimize the transmission of COVID-19 during Family Weekend, some students are worried about the risks associated with welcoming many families from outside the Ithaca area onto campus. Social gatherings during Halloween weekend add another layer to potential sources of transmission.
Attendees 12 and over must also demonstrate COVID-19 health compliance at the beginning of the weekend to participate in on-campus events — either by providing proof of vaccination, a negative PCR COVID-19 test result from within 72 hours of check in or a negative rapid test from within six hours of check in. Attendees under 12 are not required to provide documentation, but must remain masked when indoors and outdoors.
“The fact that it’s Halloween weekend in general stresses me out, but I definitely am worried about exposing my family [to COVID-19] more so than getting it myself,” Rodgers said. “Especially since my parents are going back home to my grandparents, I definitely want to be as safe as possible.”