ITHACA, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Colleges and universities have used this time being closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic to brainstorm the best plan for continuing instruction for the upcoming fall semester.
A new model conducted by a group of experts at Cornell University found that the risk of COVID-19 infection is two to 10 times greater if the college were to go 100 percent online, which is why research has led to Cornell’s decision to have its students come back to campus for the fall.
“Admittedly, surprising results but really important to leading us to this decision,” said Joel Malina, vice president of University Relations at Cornell University.
We found that about 50 percent of our undergraduate students would come back and live in Ithaca, even if we were wholly online, and recognizing under those circumstances our ability to mandate testing, our ability to mandate and pose strict behavioral requirements would be somewhat limited.Joel Malina, Vice President of University Relations, Cornell University
Having in-person instruction allows the university to have some control to track students’ health and behavior, and a critical factor is mandating testing.
“We envision before students arrive on campus they will be tested. They will then be tested before they’re allowed to actually go onto our campus, and move into their dormitories for those who will be living on campus. And then, regularly having that testing done again,” Malina explained.
The university is in the process of having on-campus COVID-19 testing approved at the Veterinary Medicine lab for the fall semester.
Other safety precautions Cornell is taking include:
- Rotation for some classes to have online and in-person instruction to limit capacity
- Masks will be worn by students and faculty in class at all times
- Students will be required to sign a behavioral agreement form
If students choose to regularly not comply with the rules, the university has the power to lock them out of their email system or keep them physically outside of any buildings on campus with their ID cards.
“We’re going to give this all the right thought and be absolutely diligent in its implementation,” Malina said.
The university has been working with the Tompkins County Health Department and Cayuga Health systems to come up with this plan.
Classes are scheduled to start on Wednesday, September 2.
The university will release more information on move-in at a later date.
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