As the last wave of Cornellians arrive on Ithaca’s snowy campus for the spring 2022 semester, students continue to adjust to the University’s updated COVID-19 policies.
Put into effect on Jan. 24, the modified guidelines included a take-out only dining policy until Feb. 7, a two week virtual start to classes with a scattered move-in period and a new booster shot requirement. With these policies in place, students were able to move in with ease, acquire an interactive learning environment and attain a sense of security over COVID-19 concerns.
In an announcement sent out Jan. 11, President Martha Pollack explained the underlying rationale behind the two week virtual start. By holding classes virtually, the University was able to maintain constant modality and minimize the spread of COVID-19.
According to Katlyn Moulia ’25, she found the campus less congested on her move in as compared to the fall semester because of scattered arrival times. Due to inclement weather during move-in, Moulia, who is originally from Florida, experienced her first snowfall. She stated that the ability to take her first classes online allowed her to adjust more easily to the weather shock.
While Moulia decided to keep her original move-in date, other students, such as Lily Young ’25, decided to delay their arrival by a few days when the University announced its virtual start.
“I wasn’t sure if we would go virtual longer, but since COVID seems to be getting better, I decided to move in while we had online classes,” Young said.
Because her professors were more interactive over Zoom, Young expressed that she felt more confident asking questions individually.
To limit student exposure, the University also implemented grab-and-go dining for the first two weeks of the semester. However, some students feel that the take-out only option would not be sustainable, supporting the return to hybrid in-person and take-out dining on Monday.
Moulia stated that she has seen a significant buildup of empty take-out boxes in the garbage disposal at Risley Hall, demonstrating the excessive waste caused by greater student use of throw-away containers.
To further protect students, the University implemented a booster shot mandate on Dec. 21.
Young supports the mandate and stated that it has helped her feel protected from the virus. “It’s nice to know that everyone is trying to support each other and trying to prevent COVID as much as possible,” Young said.
Some students expressed far less optimism about University policies. The University has updated the testing modality for on-campus residents until Feb. 7, requiring a bi-weekly antigen test instead of the standard PCR testing.
Shrutika Damle ’25 delayed her travel plans, as she believes the bi-weely antigen tests would not have been as beneficial as PCR tests due to their decreased sensitivity to the virus.
“Twice a week does make sense, but I feel like since we are doing at home testing, it’s not as valuable as doing it in-person,” Damle said.
For the first time since the Omicron outbreak last semester, the University moved back to alert level green on Feb. 1. Campus facilities, including dining halls and gyms, will operate normally, and gatherings both indoors and outdoors may resume. Visitors will also be allowed on campus under public health guidance.
Starting Feb. 7, testing reverted to once-a-week PCR tests for vaccinated and boosted student groups.