The University will be eliminating all COVID-19 vaccination requirements as of May 20 for current and incoming students, faculty and staff, Provost Mike Kotlikoff wrote in a campus-wide email on Friday, April 28. This step indicates a potential end to Cornell’s COVID-19 policies, which have shaped the lives of students and staff for more than three years.
“Cornell is aligned with peer universities and employers in lifting this requirement,” the email said. “Analysis by the Cornell COVID-19 modeling team found that mandating vaccination for the fall 2023 semester would not result in a substantial reduction in the spread of infection.”
The email cited high existing vaccination rates on campus, recovery from previous infection and rapidly evolving variants as further justification for eliminating the vaccination requirement. Recently, Columbia University, Princeton University and Dartmouth College announced they were waiving their COVID-19 vaccination requirements.
The announcement comes after a series of efforts from the University to ease COVID-19 restrictions as cases have decreased. The safety protocols were relaxed already for the 2022-2023 academic year, eliminating some PCR test locations on campus and the masking requirement for students.
Data from the CDC indicate that Tompkins County is a low risk area for COVID-19 infections, with 16 cases reported the week of April 26. The CDC still recommends vaccinations to prevent future infections.
Antigen tests and masks will still be available for students, faculty and staff. The University still encourages vaccination and personal action to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on campus.
“We urge all students and employees to follow CDC guidelines and stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccination,” the email said. “Vaccination was an important element of our strategy to keep our campuses safe during the height of the pandemic and continues to provide protection against severe disease.”