Cornell prepares for a relatively “normal” fall semester, PCR testing sites will be removed
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 classrooms, although 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 classmates,” Provost Mike Kotlikoff and Vice President for student and campus life Ryan Lombardi.
Masks are still required at campus healthcare facilities, on public transportation and at testing sites until August 31.
Another major change will come from the University’s testing capabilities. However, after August 31, the University will discontinue its PCR testing sites, although antigen testing will still be available “for all students, faculty, and staff who wish to test after travel, attendance at large gatherings, illness or potential exposure”. People with symptoms can seek PCR testing at Cornell Health. More information on the availability of antigen testing after the August 31 deadline will be available later this summer.
All members of the campus community must always provide proof of vaccination – including a series of primary vaccinations and any recommended boosters – or a medical or religious exemption. Students will also be asked to take a home antigen test before going to campus.
“These tests are widely available at most outlets and should be taken as close to your departure date as possible,” the statement said.
According to the University’s COVID Dashboard, 97% of students and 94% of faculty and staff are vaccinated. Just under 92% of students and 89% of faculty and staff are stimulated.
During the semester, students who test positive for COVID-19 will receive a letter of temporary accommodation from Services for Students with Disabilities and will be asked to self-isolate in their residence or apartment. Roommates of COVID-19 positive students may choose to stay with a friend or go to a hotel at their own expense if they do not feel comfortable staying in their current living arrangements.
The announcement also explained that students who feel sick should not attend class, work or social gatherings and should follow Center for Disease Control guidelines.
The University cited the widespread availability of vaccines, boosters, antigen tests 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 around us. Although it is unrealistic to expect that we can eradicate COVID-19 as a disease, given its ease of transmission, there are special precautions to take,” the statement said.
If necessary, updates leave room for changes 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 on Fall 2022 Semester Projects on August 11 at 3:30 p.m.
Julia Nagel is a Cornell Daily Sun reporter who works on The Sun’s Summer Fellowship at The Ithaca Times.