RYAN LOMBARDI: Well, good afternoon, Cornellians. Great to be with you this afternoon, or this evening, or this morning depending on where you're tuning in from. My name is Ryan Lombardi. And I'm the vice president for student and campus life at Cornell. Really pleased that you're able to join us for this meeting-- this panel right now.
| hope to have a lot of good information to share with you as we prepare for the fall semester and do all we can to set up a great educational experience. I want to thank you for taking the time out of your schedule to join us. I also want to thank my colleagues who I will introduce in just a moment for being with us this evening as it is in Ithaca, New York.
I do want to take a moment to acknowledge right now while we're talking tonight about how we can look forward to a fall semester at Cornell, I do want to acknowledge the tremendous challenge and hardship this global pandemic has had on so many families, individuals across the globe, across our nation.
I want to also just take a moment to thank all of those who work in the service industries and have continued to provide services to our country, to the world, also to those who work in the health and the medical industry and everything that you've done to support your colleagues, your peers, and others through this pandemic. I just want to acknowledge that personal impact, because while we're talking about exciting things as we think towards the fall at Cornell, we still need to acknowledge the tremendous impact this is having on so many.
We know you have a lot of questions. And we're excited to answer many of them tonight. We are working hard to provide the answers. As you know, the institution and President Pollack just made the decision to proceed with the fall semester a little over two weeks ago. And so we've been working feverishly to prepare for that.
We're not interactive right now, as you know. And that's simply because of the sheer size of people tuning in right now. But we did look. And thank you for every single question that was submitted. We had nearly 2,000 questions submitted in the last couple of days. And so we're going to do our very best over the next hour or so with my colleagues to answer as many of those as possible through our remarks.
The format is not going to be an active Q&A but rather myself and each one of my colleagues are going to take a few minutes on the screen to share with you some remarks that hopefully will address many of the questions that came in. But I do want to acknowledge upfront that we will not be able to cover everything tonight in this format.
So there's a couple of ways that we'll be able to do that as we move forward. One is that we are committed to hosting additional fora just like this and panels just like this in the future. I'll share more about that at the end of this webcast-- more information.
But I would also point you, if you haven't become familiar with the COVID website on Cornell University's home page, I would strongly encourage you to do so. If you go to cornell.edu, you can find it. There's a banner, very easy to see. If you want to type it in directly, it is covid.cornell.edu. There's lots of information on that website, very robust, including a frequently asked questions section that we're updating on a daily basis.
We are also providing weekly email updates to specific audiences. We have one for undergraduates and their parents. We know that the graduate professional students get regular updates from Dean Knuth and the graduate school. And as we make major institutional decisions, of course, we will continue to send emails as we did, for example, today around the testing program when you received an email from Vice Provost Koretzky and myself with that information.
And like I said, we'll continue to schedule these on a regular basis as well. And these will be recorded tonight. And subsequent panels will be recorded and available on the Cornell COVID site that I referenced before.
I do want to acknowledge not only will we not have time to address every question tonight or provide every answer tonight, but we may not have them, in some cases, as we're still working actively to prepare for the fall. So I appreciate your patience and understanding. I just want to say how heartened I've been by the many emails I've engaged with you and your acknowledgment of the massive undertaking that's in front of us to try to get ready for a successful fall semester. So we appreciate your patience. And we're going to continue to do the best we can to be as informative as possible and transparent as possible in the coming weeks.
I want to take a brief minute to introduce my colleagues who are joining us. And like I said, we'll each take a turn providing information to you tonight. So I'm going to just introduce them briefly, allow them to say hello to you so you can recognize them, and then I'll come back around to some opening remarks for some of the questions that I'm going to address.
So first of all, I want to introduce Zebadiah Hall, who's our director of student disability services.
ZEBADIAH HALL: Thank you, Ryan, for an introduction. And I'm pleased to be here and welcome to join everybody today and engage.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Thanks, Zebadiah. Next I want to introduce Barbara Knuth, who is Dean of the Graduate School and a professor of natural resource policy and management in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
ZEBADIAH HALL: Thank you very much, Ryan. And I hope many of you graduate and professional students will join the upcoming town halls specific to your student communities. So again, welcome. And thank you, Ryan.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Thanks, Barb. Next I would like to introduce Gary Koretzky. Gary is the vice provost for academic integration and also a professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medical School.
GARY KORETZKY: Great. Well, thanks, Ryan, and also thank all of you for taking the time to join. We'll try to answer as many questions as we can.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Thanks, Gary. Next, I would like to introduce Lisa Nishii. Lisa is the vice provost for undergraduate education at Cornell and also a professor of human resource studies in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations.
LISA NISHII: Hello. Good afternoon. Good evening. Good morning, everybody. Nice to see you.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Thanks, Lisa. Next, I'd like to introduce Jenny Loeffelman who is an assistant vice president in student and campus life.
JENNY LOEFFELMAN: Hello, everyone. Excited to be working to bring everyone back to campus in the fall. Thanks for having me, Ryan.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Thanks, Jenny. I'd like to next introduce Vijay Pendakur, who is the Robert W. And Elizabeth C. Staley Dean of Students at Cornell.
VIJAY PENDAKUR: Hi, everybody. It's a pleasure to be with you tonight. And I'm really looking forward to us having a great discussion.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Thanks, Vijay. And last but most certainly not least, Pat Wynn, who is also assistant vice president in student and campus life. Pat.
PAT WYNN: Hi, everyone. Am I up?
RYAN LOMBARDI: You are.
PAT WYNN: Hi, everyone. So nice to see you. So nice to meet all of you. And I can't wait to see you in person on campus this fall.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Great. Thank you, Pat. All right. So I have a few-- I'm going to take a few of the questions that came in and try and start us off. And then I'll kick off to some of my colleagues. Again, we couldn't answer all of them. We're going to try and hit the most time sensitive ones.
I do want to emphasize as we've worked towards this opening plan that as you're following the updates day by day, there is continued great uncertainty around the fall and what this pandemic looks like in the US and beyond. So we're working very hard to prepare for the fall that we have outlined but also want to always make sure that we're providing the best educational and developmental experience for our students.
I also want to acknowledge there's a lot of comparison taking place right now around the country about what different institutions are doing. This institution decided this. Cornell decided that. And we all fall into that. We all make those comparisons.
But I also want to be clear that institutions are making these decisions within the context of their institutional characteristics and attributes. That could include where the institution is located geographically, how many students they have, how many students live on campus versus off campus, the overall size of the enrollment, the nature of the faculty and the staff at those campuses.
These variables are quite different at different institutions. They're variables. And therefore it's very difficult to make these comparisons. So I just want to discourage you-- and I've gotten a lot of emails that said well, hey, I saw X school is doing this. Why isn't Cornell doing that? And we're making decisions that seem right for Ithaca, and for Tompkins County, and for Cornell University given our context. And so I do want to make that clear.
I also want to speak and just emphasize that the success of our fall semester is really going to rely on all of us. It's going to be a community responsibility. We all have to be great. We all have to be exceptional. We're all going to have to do our part to make this work.
You'll hear a little bit later from Dean Pendakur about our behavioral compact and some of the information and how we're going to be enforcing that. But we are going to take that very seriously. And we do need all Cornellians to step up and do their very best to engage in the proper public health guidelines so that we can be successful this fall. It's a shared responsibility. And I also am going to ask for your continued flexibility. Things are going to change as plans unfold as the pandemic continues to evolve around us.
This has been an enormous undertaking for Cornell and for so many institutions across the country as we outline our plans, as we support our staff, our faculty, our students, and all the things that we're balancing as well. So again, thank you for your graciousness and your patience.
So I'm going to start by addressing a few questions. There were a lot of questions about financial issues. And we're still working on a lot of information around financial aid. And you'll get-- I think we'll have a subsequent session specifically on this. But I did want to take a couple of moments to talk about tuition, and housing, and dining rates, and a few things along those lines.
There were a lot of questions about whether or not tuition would be reduced for this coming year. But as you've already seen, the tuition rates for this coming year are going to remain what were previously established. We'll be offering a residential semester with a combination of course modalities. You'll hear that from Vice Provost Nishii shortly.
And with that said though, I want to make sure and emphasize that we remain as an institution fully committed to our students with financial need and to continue our commitment to meet full need for our students. So I want to emphasize that should you have the desire to have your financial aid package reviewed, please be in touch with the financial aid office about that. They're certainly expecting that in many cases, understanding that family circumstances have changed as a result of this, and doing all they can to support you.
I also want to say that we're working to again establish an additional emergency fund to support unexpected needs for students in the campus experience as we look forward to the fall, things that may have changed as a result of COVID-19.
On the topic of housing and dining rates, I do want to be clear as we look to the fall semester that we will be reducing housing and dining rates for the fall semester by approximately 15% over the previously announced rates. This rate reduction acknowledges the shorter on campus time frame that we will have this fall.
But I also want to address because this question has come in, there will be an option for those that have to remain on campus that have no way to get home, either because of travel restrictions or other limitations. We did this in the spring for continuing students. You're aware of this. We did this in the spring. We'll do this again this fall.
We'll have a petition and exception process for those that need to stay after Thanksgiving. I do want to note in full, again to be fully transparent, that for those that falls into the category, there will be a full charge for room and board for the fall semester for housing and dining for the fall semester if you are granted the exception to stay for the entire semester. But for those that leave at Thanksgiving, as has been requested, those rates will be lower as I've indicated.
I want to just say-- and I'm going to turn it over to Lisa Nishii in a moment to talk about the academic experience. But I do want to say as you hear some of the detail that you're going to hear tonight, it's really critical for you to understand that all of this has been developed in a way to promote the best possible educational experience for our students while also always keeping the health and the safety of our campus and community paramount. Simply put, we wouldn't be proceeding in this manner if we didn't think that it was the safest possible way to proceed, and also that it's really critical for us in all decisions that we make to maintain Cornell's academic excellence for both current and future generations of Cornellians.
So with that, we're going to start working through a lot of these questions. I want to start by turning this over to Vice Provost Lisa Nishii who is going to talk about the academic experience.
As she gets ready to go here, I do want to acknowledge that there were a lot of questions about specific programs in your school or your college or related to your major. Doctor Nishii's not going to be able to hit all of those tonight, but I do encourage you to make sure to check in with the student services office in your school or college if you have those specific questions. So with that, I'll turn it over to you, Lisa.
LISA NISHII: Great. Thank you. Thank you, Ryan. So I'm going to begin by talking a little bit about the way that we will teach this fall. There will be a number of different modalities-- we're offering to them as modalities-- in the way that we teach. And there are really three basic types. The first is in-person instruction in the way that people I think are most accustomed to where students are in the classroom.
In these in-person classes, there will be some that we will refer to as hybrid. That is there is a rotational attendance model. And this is because we've got constrained classroom space after accounting for six foot distancing. So the largest classes that we can hold will be capped at 50 in person.
So courses that are larger than that would either be taught online or we might have, depending on the size and the nature of the course, a rotational kind of attendance structure where imagine if the course were split in two. Half of the students would attend on the first day and the other half on the second day and in this alternating pattern throughout the course of the semester.
I know that some students have questions about whether or not they can choose when they go to class or how they attend. And the answer to that is no. We will have a very clear understanding about how students will be engaging. And students will be expected to participate accordingly. So we've got the in-person.
And for those in-person courses, there will also be an opportunity for students to participate remotely. So for students, for example, who are unable to return to Ithaca or may decide not to do that for whatever reasons, can enroll in these courses. And essentially, you're remoting into what's happening in the classroom.
And then the third kind is a fully online course where all the students and instructors are engaging, interacting in an online environment. So these are the main types. And when the course roster is published, each course will indicate the modality in which it is being taught.
So if you enroll in an in-person course, the expectation is that you will be attending in person. We don't want people to take up seats that they won't be using so that we can make room for all students who may be interested in enrolling in person.
We've also been asked questions related to whether or not you can take all online courses from anywhere. And the answer to that is, well, if you're outside of the Ithaca area, you would necessarily be taking your courses online or through this remote access into the classroom.
I think the question is about whether or not you can do that from Ithaca. And the answer to that is yes, but the expectation is that you will register your presence here in Ithaca and, of course, agree to the terms of the Cornell Compact, which we'll talk a little bit more about.
So in terms of the safety precautions in the classroom, we are taking this very seriously. We have over 3,000 different rooms that will be used for various academic activities. And each one of them is being assessed right now to revise the occupancy of the rooms after accounting for a minimum of six feet between seats that students will be occupying.
And students will have assigned seats so that we always know exactly where students are sitting and who may be in certain parts of the classroom and closer to what classmates. So we've got the assigned seats, the distancing. All students and instructors will wear masks, of course, in the classroom. And there will be enhanced cleaning protocols in the classrooms. And we're also doing assessment of HVAC systems.
OK. Let's see. In terms of the timeline, I know this is a big question that is on everyone's minds. You know, when will enrollment begin? And so I just want to give you a sense of what we're doing right now because it's an incredibly complex process to rebuild the roster. So as you know, at the end of June, the university made the decision to reopen for residential instruction but with these hybrid teaching modalities.
And so what we're in the process of doing right now-- we've been at it for a little over two weeks. We've made incredible progress. But there's still, to be honest, quite a lot to do. So for each course, we are determining-- the faculty and the graduate TAs are deciding the modality in which they will teach.
We are also having-- we have to rescale, in some instances, the enrollment that is the in-person enrollment based on the space constraints that we face this year and thinking-- so putting it all together, there are all these pieces of information for thousands of courses and thousands of spaces that then need to kind of be glued together to make a roster that makes sense and is a mix of the in-person experience and the online courses.
And so it's a painstaking process. We're literally working around the clock to put this roster together. Our hope is to have a list of courses and their modalities by the end of July and about a week later to have an indication of the times in which the courses would be offered so that students can see possible conflicts between classes.
But the actual enrollment process will happen a little while after that, because each of the courses then needs to be manually programmed back into the system. People have asked about the whether seniors will-- or whether there'll be a seniority system in the enrollment process, which is usually the case with seniors enrolling in classes first, and then juniors, and sophomores, and so forth.
And you know, we've thought a lot about this. And what we are thinking about doing-- and of course, this hasn't been done before either so we have to reconfigure their systems in order to be able to do this-- but is to have seniors enroll in some of their credits first, their in-person courses in particular first, and then juniors, and sophomores, and so on, and then in a second round enroll in the remainder of courses.
And the reason for that is so that you don't have students who have priority in the enrollment process taking up all the seats in the in-person courses. We want to try to distribute those seats as much as possible. So that is our plan for that.
We've also gotten a lot of questions about the maximum number of credits in which students will be allowed to enroll. The reopening planning committee did recommend that we consider capping the number of credits in which students can enroll this year-- there's always a cap but for there to be a more stringent cap on the number of credits.
And the reason is because, you know, this year's going to be different. And we anticipate that there are going to be new multiple strains or stressors that we are all going through and encountering so things like, you know, the different modalities and getting used to the mix of modalities in which you may be taking classes or possible disruptions if you were to be put into quarantine or isolation for COVID and also because this year we have eliminated breaks in the calendar to minimize travel because of the risks associated with travel. And so we wanted to be proactive in reducing the overall level of stress that students experienced. And that's the main reason for this decision.
Last year, we did an extensive amount of outreach with students as part of a comprehensive review of mental health. And what we heard from students over and over again is that students who don't take an overabundance of credits often feel inadequate compared to their peers-- that is if they take a normal load.
And we want to get rid of that feeling for students and also, of course, the more courses you're enrolled in, the more homework and prelims that just stack up on top of each other. And so that's the rationale underlying that we really want to be mindful of the stress that students experience and be proactive about it.
There will be an opportunity for students, in particular seniors, to petition to be able to take more credits. We want to make sure that seniors are able to graduate and stay on track towards graduation.
And under some unusual cases, we will also, at the college level, there will be a petition process to grant permission to students to enroll in one additional learning opportunity beyond the 18 credits that would be related to courses. So that might be supplemental courses. It might be a project team, a research experience, a teaching assistantship, so those kinds of learning opportunities. Students may be granted permission to enroll in extra credits for those.
Exams. So we've gotten a number of questions about exams. And this year, the fall we're doing something a little bit different. And you may have seen this in various classes. But prior to the Thanksgiving break when students will go home and then we'll transition to finish out the semester online, there will be a period where we have exams.
We're calling them semi-finals just because we won't be at the very end of the exam. But these are in-person final exams or close to it, semi-finals. And exams can be given even in courses that are taught online. And this was really important to our faculty to be able to do that-- to be able to give in-person exams even if they teach their course online.
And then the last question issue that I'll address has to do with grading, so questions about whether what the grading policy will be in the fall. As some of you may know, in the spring, we changed our grading policy as did a lot of universities across the country in response to the major disruption that everybody experienced, that is where we had to all of a sudden switch to online instruction-- remote instruction.
This fall, and this is the case across universities in the US, we will be returning to normal grading practices. And what that means is when you look at your courses in the course roster, it will indicate the grading basis of the course. And so if an SU, for example, is allowed in the course, then it's possible. But it will not be the case that all courses are necessarily offering that option. And the thinking behind that is that it would really make Cornell an outlier and put students at a disadvantage when they apply to graduate school if they don't have grades for the semester, barring any major disruptions, when our peer institutions are also returning to normal operating practices.
So I think that that covers the bulk of the questions, Ryan.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Great. Thanks, Lisa. Yep. Sounds good. And I know there were also some questions about the spring semester. So we're going to hold on those. Certainly there is a lot of work going on there as you heard to prepare for fall. And we'll certainly come back around and update spring as we get closer to that.
Great. So next, I am going to turn to the Director of Student Disability Services, Zebadiah Hall. There were a number of questions around this. And Zebadiah is going to talk a bit about access, and accommodations, and the support that his office provides, and also just generally how they think about providing accommodations with a holistic and inclusive approach to that work. Zebadiah.
ZEBADIAH HALL: Thank you for that, Ryan, and appreciative to be here once again. I hope that people that are watching understand the importance that the university is taking by allowing student disability service to be present right now. I think one of the things that I want to try to do is give trust.
The opposite of anxiety is trust. And I know Provost Nishii just talked a little bit about all the different modalities. And I think that can be confusing and hard to take in. But the reason there's so many modalities, because it's any person, any study here. And we want to make sure we can try to give access to the appropriate people when necessary. And so I want to put that out there.
And being able to do that-- one of the things Ryan alluded to is the holistic approach. We do accommodations from a civil rights social justice approach because we understand that there are systematic injustices that are at play and everybody don't have the same access to health care. And so what we try to do is make sure that we don't medicalize a process.
I know that COVID has highlighted a lot of disparities. But those same disparities for certain underrepresented groups were at play prior to COVID, during COVID, and they'll be there post-COVID. And so prior to COVID, we started to make this shift towards social justice for civil rights to make sure that we're giving access to all students that actually needed accommodations.
In doing so, I think it's really important at this point in time to understand that the student voice is the most important voice and that we're going to take those observations of what the student is telling us as the second line of documentation and then, if needed, we will act for medical documentation. But it's not always needed to receive accommodation and so we're not going to medicalize a process. We also know that some people can't get access to that documentation. So I want to make that very clear that we're not doing that.
I know there are some questions about underlining conditions and things like that. Not to call out specific conditions versus other conditions. There can be so many different things at play that affect our mind, body, and soul. And so I want to be mindful of that. But when we engage once again, it's the student voice. And we are not going to medicalize a process.
I know that some people feel like even going through disability services is medicalizing a process. And I want to make sure that I confirm that and I don't shy away from that conversation. But we understood intersectionality, racism and other isms. And so we're going to be very clear to make sure that we are making sure that we're not putting up barriers for students to access our office.
We will collaborate with the faculty, which will collaborate with staff. The modalities are really giving us an opportunity to engage in a way that can take care of the most vulnerable students even though it doesn't seem like that. And so really appreciative to be in this space.
Once again, want to send the message to the students and the parents that we're not going to medicalize the process. If students are worried about conditions, please reach out to SDS. If you look at our website at Student Disability Service, it talks a little bit about ableism and some of the other injustices that are at play so you can see that we take those into account in this holistic approach.
I will turn it back over to Ryan and just leave with that. We're here to support and service everybody that we can that qualifies for accommodations.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Zebadiah, thank you for that. Thank you also for your leadership and the way that you're framing the work of your office-- the important work of your office. We appreciate it very much.
All right. We are going to turn now to Gary Koretzky, who I mentioned before is our vice provost for academic integration and also a professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine. Gary's going to talk tonight about health and safety in our testing program and issues around the way that we're approaching the opening of campus in regards to the health of our student, and faculty, and staff population. Gary.
GARY KORETZKY: Yeah. So thanks so much, Ryan. And thank all of you for really thoughtful questions. There were too many to answer in 10 minutes. So what I thought I would do is give you a flavor for what it is that we're hoping and planning to do as the campus reactivates in the fall. And by going through the process and our thought process, I'm hopefully giving you answers to many of the questions that you posed.
We took a look at what it was that we would be able to do in opening this semester for the fall with the lens towards public safety as Ryan and Lisa both mentioned. And it is going to be a different semester than any that we've experienced at Cornell. But we feel like we've put a number of things in place that will really maximize the opportunity for our students to come, to thrive, but also to be in the safest possible environment.
So the way I think about it, there really are four pillars to this. The first is to provide education. And there will be a public health campaign that it's ongoing. It's being developed. And the important things to note is that there'll be lots of information for you. And we feel this is incredibly important, because the decisions that we're making are evidence-based, that we are doing whatever we can to scour the literature to find the right modifications that we can make give the right guidance so that this will really be impactful.
And one of the things to remember about the coronavirus is that it's often invisible to you, that there are individuals who are infected with the virus. They're asymptomatic. They are able to transmit the virus but they'll never feel ill themselves. And that creates a lot of problems. That's one of the most vexing issues for us. So we really thought very hard about ways to help everybody in the community realize that this is truly a shared responsibility.
We want individuals to do things to protect themselves but also to protect others. So that will be part of the-- that will be the focus of the education campaign. And it will provide information on the next three parts of our approach.
The first is to mitigate viral spread. And unfortunately, we know that it is inevitable that there will be people on campus that are infected with the virus. And so how does one prevent transmission of the virus? So it's through things that you've read about, that you've heard about, but they're really true and they work, like hand hygiene. Washing your hands makes a big difference. There'll be stations on campus where there'll be hand sanitizer.
One of the most impactful things that one can do is wearing masks. And there is a mask policy now at Cornell. I'll tell you briefly what it is. If you're inside a building and you're not in your dorm room or you're not in your private office, you should be wearing a mask. So students who are on campus now, you should be wearing a mask. And if people are coming into buildings, they should be wearing masks.
On the outside, if you're in a group, you should be wearing a mask. If you're on the outside and not in a group, you don't necessarily have to wear a mask but it should be visible and ready for you to wear when you encounter others. And the data are incontrovertible that this will really make a difference.
Other things that Lisa talked about, keeping distance. That will be in the classroom. But also in your own lives outside of the classroom, limiting gatherings, and then also making sure that you think very carefully about any sort of travel. We really don't want you to leave campus when you come. And the reason for that is not to be punitive.
The reason is is that if you leave the Ithaca area, you go somewhere else, you then become part of that local ecosystem. And if the prevalence of the virus is higher, you're more likely to bring it back than if you were to stay in Ithaca. And the same thing with visitors. There won't be visitors that we'll be bringing to campus. And it's really for public health protection.
The next aspect of the strategy is testing. And this becomes a really important cornerstone for our strategy. We've worked this out now. We're doing this in collaboration with Cayuga Medical Center. They've been tremendous partners. We will be testing individuals for the presence of the virus.
There were questions about antibodies. That's a very long conversation but just to briefly state that we don't feel that antibody testing right now will be informative for individual health. We do think, however, that knowing whether or not you're infected with the virus is absolutely critical, because you're infected with the virus, then you know to be away from others.
So the way we're going to do this is that we're going to ask everybody to very carefully self-assess every day. There'll be a daily check in. We'll be asking you to tell us whether or not you've got a fever, whether you're feeling ill in some way. By us, of course, you'll be telling Cornell Health.
And Cornell Health will give you advice on what to do. And that advice might be to get tested. That will be at no additional cost to you. That will be available that day. And we'll ask you to wait until you get the result before you enter the Cornell community.
For those of you who are now in Ithaca, you might have-- I'm sure you got the email today. We've started a testing program for all students who are in Ithaca and for all students as you come to Ithaca. We'll be testing you once. We think that it will be really important for you to know the result. It's also very important for us to know.
There'll be testing clinics twice a week. And you'll be able to register for those about a week in advance. So if you're planning to come at the end of August, you won't be able to schedule your test quite yet. This testing is for people that are going to be living off campus.
Those who will be living on campus will also be tested but we'll be arranging that through the move in process. So it'll be very, very important both to recognize if you're symptomatic to seek testing but also we'll test individuals as they come to campus.
That also brings up another piece of advice. And that is that if you're listening and not now in Ithaca, wear a mask. Do all of the things that you're going to be doing once you're in Ithaca. The other thing to do is try to quarantine at home for two weeks before you come.
And also if in your location you can be tested, we urge you to do that. And the reason why is that if you are positive for the virus but asymptomatic, you want to know that now so you can convalesce at home rather than wait until you discover that you're positive when you come to Ithaca. So there was an email that Vice President Lombardi sent out with a number of suggestions. And we really urge you to think about those very carefully.
And then once the semester starts, we're going to be testing people on a regular basis. This is what we are calling surveillance testing. And it's just to keep eyes on what's going on and to make sure we really understand the prevalence of virus in the community. So mitigation of spread by different activities, by wearing masks, washing your hands, keeping distance. In the possibility that someday becomes virally infected, we want to know that very early on so that we can-- through testing so that we can prevent spread.
And then the last thing that we're doing is that we're collecting data. We're trying to watch what's going on. We've got a dashboard of things that we're looking at just so that we can keep eyes on the situation. We feel like this is really, really important because the cadence of this virus infection in Ithaca, around the country, is going to change. And so we really want to know what's happening on campus.
We want to know what's happening in our community. We want to know what's happening nationally so that we can continue to evolve our plans as we watch the evolution of the pandemic. So there are many, many things in place. We feel that we have taken the best that practices that we can from the literature and experience of others.
But importantly, we're not going to be static with this. This will continue to evolve as we watch what's happening. But my most important message again is that this is a shared responsibility. We really need everybody's help. So this is help to keep yourself from becoming infected. But it's also to keep others from becoming infected. And we think with combining all of these things that we'll be able to open the campus in a safe fashion.
So I really appreciate your taking the time to listen. I'll turn this back to Ryan. And there'll be more to come.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Thanks so much, Gary. Gary mentioned this, but I just emphasize again a message that came out today with details about this testing program. Encourage you to review that closely and make sure you're familiar with all the components, especially those of you that are here or soon to arrive in Ithaca.
All right. Next we're going to go to Pat Wynn. Pat is going to talk a bit about the move-in experience and what to expect in residential life and housing. There were many questions about this so she's going to hit as much as she can and walk through this.
Rest assured Pat and her team are marvelous at what they do. And we'll get this all done even if not every question is able to be answered tonight. So with that, Pat, I'll turn it over to you. Make sure to unmute.
PAT WYNN: Am I on?
RYAN LOMBARDI: There you go. You're good.
PAT WYNN: Thanks. Thanks, Ryan. So as several people have said now, this year will be very different. And certainly from a move in, and housing, and dining perspective, it will be very different. So let's just start with housing assignments. We expect to inform you about your housing assignments if you're living with us on campus on or about July 24. If you want to cancel your housing contract without penalty, you do have until August 10 to do that. Since the time period for the housing contract and the cost has changed, upper level students who have already been given a housing assignment will need to recontract with us. You'll receive an email soon about this. And if any changes are needed in your housing assignment, you'll be notified at that time.
We will be asking you to quarantine at home if you can for 14 days before arriving on campus, as Gary noted. And we will also be giving you an actual move-in time and location for move-in. And I'll get into that in a minute.
If you're living off campus, we would ask you to work with your landlords to stagger your arrival time so there's not a whole bunch of people moving into College Town Terrace at one point. West Campus House System residents will be assigned move-in dates and times. And we realize that international students will have limited and constrained travel options. And we'll do our best to accommodate those needs. And please work with the office of global learning.
So how will the move-in work? Well, students living in residence halls will, as I said, be scheduled to arrive in Ithaca on a certain day. And that date is August 23, which is a Sunday. When students arrive, they will be tested, as Gary said, and then will either move in directly to a residence hall or a local hotel to await the test results. We are hoping to get the test results back within 24 hours. So anyone who does test positive will then be put into isolation. If you test negative, you can stay within your residence hall. There will be limits on the amount of items you can bring with you because there are going to be a lot of moving parts on this. So when you arrive, as noted, you will go through a testing site. At that point, after you're tested, the person administering the test will give you a stamp or some item that proves you have been tested. And then you will go to your assigned location.
Parents and siblings and guests will not be permitted in the residence buildings for the reasons that Gary noted. COVID is invisible. And we have to limit the number of people that are in the residence halls as much as possible. So you'll be limited to two suitcases and a backpack. Students coming to us from the states that are under the travel ban, as determined by New York state-- and this list does change almost weekly, you will be asked to move to Ithaca on August 17.
When you get here, at that point, you will be put into the mandatory New York state 14 day quarantine in hotels. We will bear the brunt of that cost. We will also provide you with food options. So you will not be left alone but you will be put in quarantine in hotels for those 14 days. It's also good to know that TCAT bus service is fare free through September the 5th for all riders. And first year students can ride TCAT for free throughout the academic year.
So moving along, I want to highlight a few more things. As I noted, the parents will not be allowed to enter the residence halls. And we are really encouraging parents to drop off their students after they've been tested and actually to leave Ithaca. We are really constrained in the number of hotel rooms that we can reserve. There just aren't enough hotel rooms in Ithaca and Tompkins County to accommodate all of our needs for the move-in process. The moving process for students coming from the non-hot zone states, as I said, will start on 8/23. But that's actually an eight day process where a group moves in, tested. They either go into isolation or they go into the residence hall and then the next day another group comes in, another group comes in, and that cadence is through this eight days. So that's taking up a lot of hotel real estate. So we really are asking parents to this time, this semester, and I know this is going to be hard, you say your goodbyes as you let the students out of the car and you head back home.
The test results, as I said, we're hoping that they can come in within that 24 hour period. And we're still working very closely with many, many partners on campus as to where this testing will occur and the cadence of it.
One thing to note is that on day one, for the students coming in on August 23, when you do go into your residence hall, you'll be put into the residence as a single. So even if you're in a double room, or a triple, or a quad, you will go in that first night as a single. And you will be in quarantine for that first night. So you'll be able to use the bathroom, but you will not be able to leave the building. And you will have to stay in the room until you are cleared either to go permanently in that room or to go into isolation.
Some other questions that were asked a lot were about just resident hall safety in general. And one of the big questions was how much of personal protective equipment is available in Ithaca right now. Actually, the availability isn't bad. But we will be giving every student upon check in when they get tested, we'll be giving every student a welcome kit that contains two reusable face masks, a thermometer, a personal hand sanitizer, and a touchless stylus key ring tool.
In addition, I purchased, with Ryan's approval a month ago, or maybe it was a year ago, 50,000 additional reusable masks that we will then place strategically across the campus that students can access as needed-- actually, students, faculty, and staff can access as needed. So between the 30,000 welcome gifts that we're giving out and the 50,000 additional masks, we should be in pretty good shape as far as the ability to wear masks as required by Cornell and New York state. And the Cornell store will also be well stocked on these items.
Also we are really working diligently with building care to increase the frequency of the cleaning of the bathrooms and the common areas. Everything they're using is-- the chemicals are EPA approved. And they're the disinfectants that we know are really effective against COVID.
In addition to that, since we don't have enough bathrooms per se as one on one, we will be monitoring them as far as the number of students that are entering at one time. So we'll have some sort of placard process. we're still developing it. It says, you know, right now there are three students in this restroom. As a student leaves, two students, another one can come in based on the number of stalls that are in that bathroom. So we're working on that very, very closely.
Students who left their items behind when they moved out in the spring, all those items have been in storage. And as students move back, those items will be brought back into your respective rooms.
For those students who wish to have other items that they can't bring in those two suitcases and backpack, you are more than welcome to ship items. And there's two processes. You can ship them using a third party who will then put them in the room for you before you get here or you can just use a common carrier and then you could pick them up in the community center once you get moved in and you've tested negative.
Just a reminder that the housing contract is a full year contract. So students who leave at Thanksgiving, you won't have to take your belongings out of your room. We're assuming that you're coming back. And as Ryan mentioned, those who need to stay over that break will be allowed to stay. We'll go through a vetting process. And we'll provide all the residents support and dining support that is required.
Dining will be really doing a two phased approach. In the residence hall dining units, we will be using an open tables reservation system so that at any given point we're not overloading the amount of students that are in that dining hall. And we'll also be doing a lot of takeout.
So one of the things that we're working on right now is providing every room with some sort of a micro fridge or refrigerator, because with all the takeout that we're going to be asking students to do, and just with the way the semester is going to work, we feel it's really necessary that every student have access to that.
Lastly, if you're moving off campus, just a reminder that any lease that you have signed or will be signing is really a legal contract between the student and the landlord. We cannot assist in breaking the lease, but our off campus housing office can certainly assist you with posting a sublet. And we are more than happy to do that.
So that's it for me right now. I'm going to turn this back over to Ryan. Thank you.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Thanks, Pat. I know that there were lots and lots of questions about housing, and move-in, and all these things. So thanks for being so thorough. And I'll just mentioned to all of our viewers this evening and listeners that the housing office will be sending repeated emails to those who are signed up for on campus housing with lots and lots of details so please wait for those and follow those closely. A lot of information.
I want to just draw attention to one other point that Pat shared and that's with the 14 day quarantine imposed by the state of New York right now. We are talking to the state government to make sure we understand that because, as Pat indicated, it's changing almost daily. So we would advise you to hold on making travel plans as long as possible until we have total clarity on what that's going to look like as we get into August.
I realize that's difficult. We have Cornellians that come from all over the country and the world. But to the extent that you can delay making those arrangements to avoid change costs and things like that, we would advise that as that continues to evolve. So thanks again, Pat, for that great information.
Next I'm going to transition to Jenny Loeffelman who is going to talk a little bit about the orientation experience and some of the other first year programs to expect, especially for our new Cornellians. We recognize for new Cornellians coming in, undergraduate, graduate, professional, this is a unique circumstance by which you'll be starting your Cornell experience. It will certainly be memorable. But Jenny is going to talk a little bit, specifically going to focus in on the undergraduate orientation and first year experience for those undergraduate students that are with us on this tonight.
JENNY LOEFFELMAN: Good evening. And thank you again, Ryan, for having me here tonight. I want to just touch on a couple of things with orientation. We are planning a traditional first year orientation. It will start on August 26. And it will run through September 2. We will be having ongoing programs through the whole first month of September so it will not just be that first traditional weekend. But do know you will be getting a lot of information about this if you are a first year student.
All programs are going to be intentionally designed virtually in an asynchronous way so that everybody has accessibility to these programs at all times. So you may take some of them before orientation actually starts. You may take some of them after orientation starts.
Campus partners, new student programs, and the orientation steering committee, which is full of Cornell students, are busy planning social and virtual engagement opportunities and events for each of you. They'll be a combination of webinars and zoom events, courses, and a series of interactive programs also, presentations and activities that will be offered from departments all over campus, including campus activities, Greek life, Cornell Chimes, the Johnson Art Museum, university libraries, botanic gardens, and many, many more. We do hope to have a few small in-group gatherings as long as we can keep them small and safe. But as you all know, that is going to be determined as we know more about the expectations of small groups gathering in person on campus.
The detailed orientation schedule will be available for new students and families to browse in early August, so students will be able to build their own schedule online once that schedule goes live. So you will get your own itinerary builder. You will get details about which programs you'd like to attend, which programs are required for you to attend by your college and by student campus life. And you'll be able to build that schedule out and do it in your own time.
In addition to the student orientation program, we're very excited this year. We're going to be offering a virtual family orientation program as well. As a part of our virtual family orientation, we'll release six virtual information sessions. And each information session will be based on a critical part of your student's involvement at Cornell. This video series will include topics such as health and safety, the residential experience, Cornell facts and history, belonging at Cornell, and, most importantly, being a Cornell parent and how you will support your Cornell student.
Between now and orientation, there's a lot to look forward to. Alumni Affairs and Development is working with Cornell Clubs across the country and around the globe to offer virtual send-off events. These will take place in August. And students will receive contact from your local Cornell Club chapter about your participation in that. Also, all new incoming students will be assigned to an upperclassman student leader.
So this is probably the most critical piece of all of orientation. It's that one on one connection that you as a first year student will get with a current student here at Cornell. Orientation leaders will be reaching out to you the first week of August. And they will be in touch with you, hold virtual meetups with small groups of students, and will be in touch with you through your whole transition to campus that first week of September.
Please refer, if you haven't already, to newstudents.cornell.edu. That is the checklist that all first year students need to complete before campus. Many of the orientation modules are already baked into that newstudents.cornell.edu.
I'm also excited to let you all know that our student engagement opportunities are focused beyond just first year students. We are excited this year to launch what we're calling the first 30 days program. And it'll be 30 days focused on engaging students on campus, both virtually and, if we can swing it, in person. But the first 30 days will be programming tailored to students to engage with each other outside the classroom in all different ways throughout the first month back at school.
So I know much more we will be sending to you by way of emails to students, by way of updates on our websites. Please know our team is working tirelessly to make sure that we have great campus events for you when you do return, both virtually and hopefully, like I said, a few in-person. So thank you for having me, Ryan. I'll turn it back to you.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Thanks very much, Jenny. We appreciate all you're doing. Next I'm going to turn to our Dean of Students, Vijay Pendakur, who is going to give you some updates. He's our last speaker before I wrap it up. But these are some very important updates about student responsibilities and accountability that we'll be asking of you when you're back on campus. So Vijay, all yours.
VIJAY PENDAKUR: Thanks so much, Ryan, for the chance to share some thoughts on how we plan on managing safety and risk this fall. We've been working really hard to build the Cornell Behavioral Compact for our students. This is a set of expectations that we have of students on and off campus, in and out of the classroom, and for individuals and organizations.
The required behaviors from the compact will be enforced through an online reporting tool where students, staff, faculty, and community members will have the ability to submit reports to the university. The Dean of Students office will be leading the Cornell Compact Compliance team, which is a team of administrators who will ensure that all violations are addressed.
We take this very seriously. Major violations can result in interim suspension. And repeat offenses of a serious nature can result in the suspension from campus or expulsion for individuals or organizations.
As the behavioral compact gets finalized in the upcoming weeks, so will our expectations of student organizations and sorority and fraternity life we will not be allowing large social events to take place at all, on or off campus. Student organizations that host smaller meetings and events must register their events and have attendance lists of students who are present for contact tracing purposes. Some student organizations-- sorry. Student organizations, including fraternities and sororities, that violate the Cornell Behavioral Compact will risk loss of recognition on our campus.
One of the most powerful tools for enforcement is going to be a group of peer ambassadors that will be trained and empowered to educate and norm these new guidelines amongst their fellow students. The research consistently shows that peer influence and social norms are powerful tools for shaping culture and behavior. And we plan on using them extensively.
That's all I've got for now. And I look forward to sharing more with you all in the weeks to come. Ryan, I'll turn it back to you.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Thanks so much, Vijay. And I want to thank all of our panelists. I've got a few more important points I want to make here as we wrap up. I know we've thrown an awful lot of information your way this evening. You've by now perused the COVID website. There's lots of information there and our emails, which are long and filled with great information, I know continue to come to you as well.
I just want to take a minute to acknowledge. I recognize the challenge this presents to all of our students, both new and continuing students, graduate, undergraduate, professional students. This is really without compare in terms of the challenges presented all of us in some way, shape, or form. A number of our panelists tonight have referenced that. But to our students, I just want you to hear me loud and clear how much we recognize that challenge that you face and how much we want to support you.
We are asking a lot of you as we reenter the semester. But what I want to emphasize is that myself and my colleagues here on the screen this evening, but also hundreds and thousands of other staff and faculty on this campus, are here to support your success, support your ability to thrive and be your whole self as a part of our transition back to campus. So I did want to say that. And especially again to our new students, undergraduate, graduate, professional, this is a very unique and exceptional way to begin your Cornell experience. It will be memorable but I know that we can make it very positive for you.
I do want to draw your attention to a few additional fora that will be coming up in the near future that I think can be very helpful to you. First of all, this Friday the 17th at 8:00 AM, there is a forum for international graduate and professional students to get answers specific to that population. Also a broader graduate and professional panel that will be held next Wednesday the 22nd at 4:00 PM. And we are planning another all student and parent panel like this next Wednesday same time, same place Wednesday the 22nd, 5:30 PM eastern time.
We'll offer an opportunity to submit additional questions. And certainly we will have additional information by that time to share with you. We will dig deeper next time into some specific topics about what life on campus will look like this fall, other more detailed questions about student health and support services, other services like the libraries, and dining, and student organizations, so we will dig into that a little bit more deeply.
As I mentioned once before, many times before actually, I want to just continue to reinforce my encouragement for you to go to Cornell's COVID website, available either off of the home page or by typing covid.cornell.edu, an excellent resource. We will have this recording from tonight there and all of our updated FAQs.
So with that, we are going to close tonight. Again, Cornellians, I want to thank you. My colleagues, my fellow panelists, I want to thank all of you for your time, and your energy, and your effort. I want to thank the team behind the scenes that's helped put this program together tonight. Our captioner, our team from CIT, thank you for your efforts as well.
I look forward to being back on a panel with all of you very soon. And in the meantime, we continue to welcome your questions via email or any other mechanism we can to help you prepare for the fall. Thank you very much. And everybody have a wonderful evening.
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Note: The information shared in this video is accurate as of July 15, 2020 but continues to develop. Please visit covid.cornell.edu for current updates and for links to the most recent recordings.
Ryan Lombardi, Vice President for Student & Campus Life, moderated a July 15 forum for students about campus reactivation. Panelists: Gary Koretzky, Vice Provost for Academic Integration; Lisa Nishii, Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education; Barbara Knuth, Dean of the Graduate School; Jenny Loeffelman, Assistant Vice President for Student & Campus Life; Pat Wynn, Assistant Vice President for Student & Campus Life; Vijay Pendakur, Robert W. and Elizabeth C. Staley Dean of Students; and Zebadiah Hall, Director of Student Disability Services.