On Wednesday, in preparation for the upcoming Fall 2022 semester, Cornell announced changes to some of its COVID-19 policies, rolling back most of its remaining restrictions but encouraging good COVID-19 etiquette.
Masks will no longer be required in classroom settings, though they are “strongly encouraged,” according to Wednesday’s announcement.
“We ask that you consider and respect the vulnerabilities of others by wearing a mask in the classroom if requested by an instructor and/or fellow classmates,” wrote Provost Mike Kotlikoff and Vice President for Student and Campus Life Ryan Lombardi.
Masks are still required at campus healthcare facilities, on public transit and at test sites through Aug. 31.
Another major change will come from the University’s testing capabilities. After Aug. 31, the University will discontinue its PCR test sites, though antigen tests will still be available “to all students, faculty and staff who may wish to test following travel, attendance at large gatherings, illness or potential exposure.” Symptomatic individuals can seek out PCR tests at Cornell Health. More information about antigen test availability past the Aug. 31 cutoff will be available later this summer.
All campus community members are still required to provide proof of vaccination — including a primary vaccination series and all recommended boosters — or a medical or religious exemption. Students will also be asked to take an at-home antigen test before traveling to campus.
“These tests are widely available at most retail locations and should be taken as close to your departure date as possible,” the statement read.
According to the University’s COVID dashboard, 97 percent of students and 94 percent of faculty and staff are vaccinated. A slightly lower 92 percent of students and 89 percent of faculty and staff are boosted.
During the semester, students that test positive for COVID-19 will be granted a temporary Student Disability Services accommodation letter and asked to isolate themselves in their residence hall or apartment. Roommates of COVID-19 positive students can choose to stay with a friend or go to a hotel at their own expense if they feel uncomfortable staying in their current living facilities.
The announcement also explained that students who feel sick shouldn’t attend class, work or social gatherings and should follow guidelines from the Center for Disease Control.
The University cited the widespread availability of vaccines, boosters, antigen testing and high-quality masks as the reason for its COVID-19 policy changes.
“As the pandemic has evolved, it is clear that SARS-CoV-2 is becoming one of many viruses that surround us. Even though it is unrealistic to expect that we will be able to eradicate COVID-19 as a disease, given its ease of transmission, there are special precautions that should be taken,” said the announcement.
If necessary, the updates leave room for change as the COVID-19 situation evolves or if CDC, New York State or Tompkins County guidelines change.
Student and Campus Life will host a virtual community forum about plans for the Fall 2022 semester on Aug. 11 at 3:30 p.m.
Julia Nagel is a reporter from The Cornell Daily Sun working on The Sun’s summer fellowship at the Ithaca Times.