Frequently Asked Questions


About the Virus

A novel coronavirus is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified. The virus causing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), is not the same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold.

The latest research has determined an incubation period of five days, with a range of 2-14 days. Similar to influenza and other respiratory viruses, transmission of COVID-19 spreads from person-to-person through respiratory droplets exchanged among close contacts (those who interact with a person at a distance closer than about 6 feet).

Information about the virus and its spread continues to evolve rapidly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is updating its website regularly as new information becomes available. Visit the CDC to learn more about:

The New York State Department of Health and Tompkins County Health Department also have a wide range of resources and timely information specific to living and working in New York state and Tompkins County.


Symptoms & Preventative Measures

Recent studies have found that a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms (“asymptomatic”) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (“pre-symptomatic”) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms. In light of this new evidence, both New York state and the CDC recommend wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

The use of simple cloth face coverings can slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. The CDC recommends that cloth face coverings should:

  • fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
  • be secured with ties or ear loops
  • include multiple layers of fabric
  • allow for breathing without restriction
  • be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape

The CDC has instructions for making cloth face coverings at home.

Social distancing is deliberately increasing the physical space between people to avoid spreading illness. Staying (physically) at least six feet away from others decreases the opportunity for the virus to spread from person to person.

If you are experiencing fever, cough or shortness of breath and have traveled to an area where COVID-19 is spreading, or you have had close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 (or who is currently being tested), please do the following:

  • Ithaca students who have flu-like symptoms should call Cornell Health at 607-255-5155 (24/7) for consultation.
  • Cornell Tech students may call Weill Cornell Medicine at 646-962-7300 and identify yourself as a Cornell Tech student. The call center staff will schedule a virtual appointment for you with a doctor, which will be conducted on the Weill Cornell Medicine portal app via video phone conference.
  • Faculty and staff should contact their primary care provider.

Campus Operations & Safety

The university remains open; however, only students who have permission to remain in on-campus housing and essential personnel are allowed on campus. Cornell continues to follow guidance from state and federal public health officials, who will help to determine when it is safe for us to resume normal campus operations, including welcoming faculty, staff, students and visitors back to campus.

If the campus operating status were to change, the campus community would be notified through CornellALERT system. Operating status information is also available

The Cornell Store on central campus is closed until further notice. During this temporary closure, customers and departments may shop online and have items shipped (please note: in-store pickup is suspended). For questions about departmental orders, please contact The Cornell Store’s Customer Care team at Updates regarding Cornell Store operations, essential products and services and course materials will be posted on their website.

Cornell Print Services is following all of the recommended guidelines and taking extra precautions to protect the well-being of their staff, customers and community. You may submit print orders on the Cornell Print Services website or through email at As always, orders can be delivered on campus, shipped via UPS or picked up in their vestibule at 695 Dryden Rd. Please email with any questions.

Cornell Police officers are still on duty and conducting extra patrols of buildings on campus to ensure they are secure and to prevent criminal activity. All residential buildings owned by Cornell are locked 24 hours per day. We rely on occupants to help us by not propping doors open or letting unauthorized individuals inside. Students living in private residences off-campus should make sure that their doors and windows are locked.

Both the Cornell Police and Ithaca Police Departments continue to provide 24/7 patrols for our campus and the surrounding community, including Collegetown. If anyone on campus should need assistance, please contact us at 607-255-1111, through the Rave Guardian App or by calling 911. Our dispatch center is staffed 24/7 and in addition to sending police, medical or fire responders, they can assist connecting students to the many resources here at Cornell.

As a reminder, even with many of our faculty, staff and students remaining off campus, if a crime were to occur that meets the Clery guidelines, you may receive a Crime Alert email or text message. Crime Alerts are meant to inform the campus community of an immediate threat to the health or safety of those who may still be in the area. This is not only required by law, but also allows us to share guidance on measures that individuals can take to stay safe.


Visitors to Campus, Commencement & Reunion

All in-person summer programs or activities (e.g. summer classes, conferences and events) that were slated to begin prior to July 12 have been moved online or cancelled. It is too early to determine if in-person programming after July 12 will continue as planned.

Cornell’s commencement weekend scheduled for May 22-24, 2020 has been postponed. In a message to May 2020 graduates, President Pollack committed that a commencement ceremony will still be held in Ithaca for graduates and their families. A date and location will be announced at a later time, as that will be determined by the progression of the current public health crisis. While commencement will be delayed, graduates will receive their degrees on time.

Based on guidance from the Ithaca/Tompkins County Convention and Visitors Bureau, some hotels have indicated that they do plan to transfer commencement reservations to the rescheduled dates once announced or to process refunds for guests who are unable to return at a later date. Some hotels in the area have temporarily closed in order to comply with the New York State on Pause executive order that requires a 100% workforce reduction of non-essential personnel at this time. As such, refunds, cancellations or responses from many hotels may be delayed. Please check with your hotel to verify their policies related to commencement reservations.

The university’s annual Reunion Weekend for all alumni will be held as a virtual celebration, June 5-6. Planning for this virtual event has already begun and additional details will be shared in the coming weeks. We also hope to celebrate in-person with alumni of the 0s and 5s during Homecoming Weekend, September 25-26. Alumni are encouraged to contact with any questions.

Many alumni are looking forward to celebrating Reunion weekend on June 5-6. Some had planned to travel to Ithaca, while others planned to join remotely to participate in programming offered by Alumni Affairs, colleges, schools and units. During this unprecedented time, we believe it is important to move forward with a “virtual Reunion” as a means of connecting Cornellians from around the world and bolstering our Big Red spirits. We hope that as many alumni as possible will save the date and plan to attend one – or all – online sessions!

Under normal circumstances, campus is bustling with activity throughout the summer. The timing of summer events – Commencement, summer sessions, youth camps and conferences – does not allow for us to host two separate Reunion weekends. With nearly 8,000 people attending Reunion weekend annually, dorm space and facilities are already near capacity, so we are not able to host the 2020 and 2021 Reunions concurrently.

Yes! We will offer the opportunity for alumni to register for Reunion 2021 as Non-Reunion Year attendees, although on-campus housing for Non-Reunion Year alumni cannot be guaranteed.


Transportation & Parking


Athletics & Recreational Sports

All varsity athletics events, as well as recreational/intermural sports, have been cancelled. On March 11, the Ivy League Presidents announced their unanimous decision to cancel all spring athletics practice and competition through the remainder of the academic year, and the following day, the NCAA cancelled all winter and spring championship events.

As mandated by New York state, all fitness facilities closed, effective March 16. We will update the campus community when this restriction is lifted.

In the interim, Cornell Recreational Services Fitness Centers are offering live, reoccurring virtual group classes that are open to everyone, and the Cornell Faculty/Staff Wellness Program is offering a variety of virtual services.

Multiple studies have shown that spending time in nature can help reduce stress and anxiety and increase one’s sense of overall well-being. There are many ways to enjoy the outdoors while practicing social distancing. Cornell Outdoor Education has provided a guide for outdoor activities to help get you started. The grounds of the Cornell Botanic Gardens are also open every day, dawn to dusk, but please remember to stay six feet away from others, don’t gather in groups of any size, and refrain from interacting with staff.


Veterinary Services


Workplace Guidelines


Financial Matters for Staff


Travel Restrictions


Counseling & Support Services