Calendar Options and Ideas for 2020-21

Faculty can still  review the following calendar options and post their  thoughts here

We would like to thank all those who posted comments below. Although there  is no substitue for reading through each and every posting (which we did),  we have taken the liberty of producing a pair of abbreviated synopses for the busy reader:

6-pager with short excerpts essentially sorted by calendar option
16-pager with longer excerpts randomly arranged

A few comments on things we could have made clearer at the outset. (a) The early start calendar was duly considered even though it was not officially listed as an option. (b) It is understood that on-campus instruction will accommodate faculty and students who are in the vulnerable population.  (c) The spring semester calendar will be decided in the fall some time so what you see on the various option pages is very tentative.


To be fully informed, it is important to appreciate the constraints and principles that underlie the calendar discussion as well as how to think about on-line vs on-campus instruction.

A very important attribute of a calendar is how class days are distributed over the five weekdays; you want roughly the same  number of Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday class days. Learn more about how to achieve weekday balance.

Two final points:

  1. Nothing has been decided. Chances are, the chosen calendar will likely involve some mix of the ideas that are portrayed across the library of options below. Moreover, the online fraction of a given semester may be adjusted if there are local  hotspot developments or breakthroughs on the medical front.
  2. This is not a disguised referendum. It is a search for good calendar ideas and insights  that can be used to inform  the Committee on Teaching Reactivation Options before they submit recommendations to the President and Provost on June 15.


Essential Features

Option 0 Normal calendar with everything online.
Option 1 Fall starts at the regular time on-campus and then wraps up online after Thanksgiving. Spring starts online at the regular time and switches to on-campus early March.
Option 2 Fall starts four weeks later on-campus, then switches to online after Thanksgiving, and wraps up in January. Spring starts end of January online and switches to on-campus mid-March.
Option 3 Fall starts two weeks later on-campus, stages an “final-exam-like” week just before Thanksgiving, then switches to online after Thanksgiving, and wraps up in December. Spring starts at the regular time online, then switches to on-campus early March, and wraps up in usual way one week later than normal
Option 4 Same as Option 3 except  the Fall semester is split into a pair of half-semesters. The first starts just after Labor Day, is entirely on-campus, and ends with an exam period late October. The second half-semester  begins shortly thereafter and switches to online after Thanksgiving.
Option 5 Same as Option 3 except the Fall semester is split into an 11-week module and a 5-week module. The former has on-campus final exams. The latter is online after a 2-day on-campus start. Students would take 3 or 4 courses in the first module and just one course in the second. A course offered in either module must be taught at an accelerated pace so that it “looks like” the normal  14-week version.

In deference to the many posters who brought it up, this is what an  early start fall semester would look like. The idea is to have campus instruction the whole way through wrapping up final exams before Thanksgiving. No breaks. The first day of class would be August 12 instead of August 27.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

908 thoughts on “Calendar Options and Ideas for 2020-21

  1. I have a feeling that what we (as faculty) feel safe and appropriate for public health will juxtapose with what students want. Lots of undergrads have already returned to Ithaca now, with the expectation that there will be something going on over the summer-even though we have been pretty explicit. I favor Option 1, with an opt-out to any faculty who wants to teach completely online during the fall or spring semesters. Teaching faculty should not be placed in an unsafe or uncomfortable position by being forced to teach in person.

    1. I agree with this. The students are paying for the opportunity to interact and learn with their peer community. They are much easier to protect the faculty/staff from rather than from each other, and the faculty/staff are much more likely to follow guidance. Anyone (faculty/staff/student) that has any apprehension and/or risk can opt online. It’s pretty easy to keep faculty 6 feet away from students when they don’t use the first 1-2 rows of the class anyway.

      1. But how do you easily protect staff who are in charge of taking care of students on campus? Yes, faculty are easy to separate but staff who would work in dining halls, libraries and resident halls would be relying on the students to properly social distance from them. That’s extremely hard with thousands of students back on campus. Plus would you expect the students to clean up common spaces on their own or have staff do that?

      2. Yes it’s easy to keep faculty safe, but what about staff? Especially in student areas like dining and residence halls. And who’s responsible for cleaning classrooms after use? Any staff member that has to clean up after students or be surrounded by students would be at high risk.

      3. As others point out, what about staff who cannot keep six feet away? Also how would TAs, who may be expected to walk around the room helping students (especially when proctoring exams), keep their distance? Same goes for office hours. TA office hours are often busy, crowded and held in cramped, shared offices, or small conference rooms. Unless entire classrooms were offered to hold all office hours, I would not feel safe holding these on campus. On the same note, for the most part I think Cornell students are thoughtful and respectful, but what happens if a student won’t follow safety protocols? I’m worried that the University will set safety standards for in-person instruction but then instructors, staff, and grad students will be the ones in the stressful position of enforcing these potentially unpopular rules.

      4. These are extraordinary times. Students can understand they need to comply with safety protocols. It’s time for the next generation of Cornelians to rise to the challenges of our time. We need to reopen for the fall semester with strict commitment from those who return – no traveling for the whole semester, frequent testing, masks and etc. It can be done if everyone becomes part of the solution for the safety and success of Cornell.

      5. Any of the options with in-person instructions raises the risk of exposure for faculty, staff and students. There are also students who are at higher risk for complications. Testing should be done 2x/week for those students, faculty and staff who have an increased risk due to exposure as well as a robust contact tracing like a phone app that does not collect personal information but alerts the iphone user that they have been exposed and to self quarantine and get tested. Over the memorial break I saw several “beer pong” parties with groups of students-no masks or social distancing(!) in the surrounding neighborhoods of Cornell! Students will party, travel and not understand the consequences to others so very specific instructions need to be spelled out over and over.

      6. Teaching in person is most effective for student that is what we pay Cornell for. Very easy to keep distance 6ft or longer than 6ft is a must.

      7. I think students should be given the option of online only or going back. Online only should be a discounted tuition being the facilities will not be used as well as all the other on campus experiences. The jumbling back an forth is not good for many. Ask yourself would you like your job switching? Majority of people like structure for optimum productivity. Housing is another area that costs, it’s bad enough many landlords take advantage by not using a Academic calendar leases vs. a 12 month. The added costs for not using is a hardship for many given the loss of jobs from Covid. For me it’s simple you give the option of either online only or commit to on campus. Nobody knows what will happen but families need to have an option that they are comfortable with not to mention Students/parents are paying Cornell, not the other way around.

      8. I favor option 1. It takes into account most people’s concerns relating to social distancing (assuming measures are taken while classes are happening on campus) while also taking into account any pushback by having an online portion.

    2. Undergrads have returned because we all signed 12-month leases off-campus and have to pay the outrageous amount of Ithaca rent regardless of what Cornell decides.
      Cornell needs to take this under consideration, or help all of us get out of our leases!

      1. Completely agree. The university needs to understand that a very large portion of students is not living in university housing and will have to deal with extreme repercussions if we are forced to leave campus.

      2. I agree. The off-campus rental prices are a problem within itself, but with the current situation, students will be paying 12 months of inflated off-campus rent just to be on campus for 6 months. Cornell needs to provide better financial assistance and support to students regarding this matter.

      3. Yes, but faculty and staff, especially staff that work with students (dining hall, janitorial staff, resident halls, etc.) would have to put themselves in high risk positions that could hurt them and their families, and possibly be fatal if we have a full reopening. Yes, rent is expensive, but you can replace money. You can’t replace people.

      4. Yes, but remember the staff that will have to be available for students to be back fully. These staff would have to be taking high risks to make sure classrooms are clean, food is available, etc. Those risks could then hurt their families as well and possibly be fatal.

      5. How is Cornell supposed to get you out of your legal contract with another party?

        A lot of the concern expressed here is about the behavior of students not keeping to CDC guidelines- any ideas on how to help with that? Individual behavior and responsibility are key here.

    3. I think it is insane for Cornell not to even consider starting a week or two early and finishing before Thanksgiving. Starting late is the most unhelpful proposal Cornell could make. Also, I think Cornell should survey it’s students about whether they are open to the idea of not going home for Thanksgiving and understanding that if they do, then they can’t come back. Additionally, I agree teachers should be able to go entirely online for their lecture to meet their level of comfort with students being on campus. While labs, discussions, and office hours could be in person, which is more valuable. More so, I think it is far too early to dictate what Spring Semester will look like. If any of the options for Spring become reality which involve spending over half the semester online with the preemptive knowledge of doing so. Cornell will face thousands of students taking a gap semester, which will cause incredible overpopulation problems on campus for the Fall 2021, causing far fewer students to be accepted. Finally, it is ethically wrong for Cornell to pretend that online classes are worth over 70k a year. Shame on Cornell for not reimbursing tuition for Spring 2020, but more so if they continue to do so for Fall 2020 and Spring 2021.

      1. I understand that students are frustrated by this and want their time on campus, but Cornell has to consider its entire population (not just students) and the community that it is a part of. Given the fluctuations in new cases, there is almost no way that Cornell can consider opening earlier than usual. Ithaca will not be ready for a huge bump in population in early August. The other thing that Cornell needs to take into consideration in regards to opening is the large number of Faculty and Staff with children. Many of the largest summer day camps have now cancelled for the entire summer, and, best case scenario, the kids don’t go back to school until after Labor Day. If Cornell were to reopen in early August, it would mean that many families would be without childcare for a month or more, because we start ramping up a couple of weeks before students return, while trying to manage the increased workload of preparing for the semester.

    4. I agree with this, further graduate student workers (on TA or RA) can be “encouraged” to comply with any calendar and associated policies that the university decides upon or risk a loss of funding. On the other hand, one only need drive through Collegetown as finals ended this past weekend to know how difficult enforcement among the undergraduate community will be.

    5. We agree with many of the comments below.

      We also think it is important to understand what the data is telling us. Risk of infection between most students and risk of bad outcomes for infected students and most faculty is low. The overall R is <2 – much less than originally reported, meaning that in most settings the virus is only ‘moderately transmissible’. However, the k is also very low, meaning that the overwhelming number of infections come from superspreader events. 10-20% of people are responsible for 80-90% of cases. This means that most interactions between undergraduate are low risk but sustained large crowds in confined places can be problematic. (Very large lecture halls, concerts, etc). Travel is also problematic as it can allow seepage of cases from one hotspot to less affected areas, and mix high and low risk groups.

      Faculty need to feel safe, but students need to have the opportunity to have a real campus life experience.

      We favor a model similar to The one UVA has developed where classes are given on campus – except for Very large lectures that are given remotely. International students or those with health concerns should have an online option.

      Faculty should be encouraged to attend class in person but also be able to explore opportunities to interact with students (who are on campus) remotely..

      As much as possible, breaks and Weekend travel for students should be eliminated or discouraged. Students should also be discouraged from large gatherings and parties and should limit all gatherings off campus.

      The fall semester should start On campus as soon as the community can be ready to welcome students and end on campus at thanksgiving. An online inter session between thanksgiving and New Years could be considered but would probably be Logistically challenging.. Of the above choices, option 1 seems best, but early start would be even better.

      We agree that it is probably too early to make decisions about spring semester.

      Michael Bloch, MD
      Melissa Bloch, MD
      Theo Bloch ‘24

    1. I Suggest you study the Polio vaccine development or the HIV vaccine, which has been under development for 20 years. Looks like you will be teaching online for a While. Vaccines are not easy to develop.

    2. So in the meantime the majority of people that have other jobs on campus (ie food service, Statler) just lose their livelihoods? That hardly seems fair.

    3. There may never be an effective vaccine. Essential workers and healthcare professionals protect themselves properly so they can do their job. We all need to use what we have learned to minimize the spread of COVID-19. Wear masks, wash hands constantly, stay 6 ft away. We NEED to try to move forward or we are going to lose our young to depression.

  2. Hi! I think option 0 and option 1 are more ideal.

    However, as a Chinese student, I am worried about the possibility of not being able to be on campus this fall. Right now, the earliest appointment I can make to obtain my visa is in October, and it is almost impossible for me to book a flight between China and the US. Thus, it would be really nice if the university could take international students who might not be able to travel to campus into consideration. For example, NYU has its “Go Local” program where students can take classes from other campuses, and UIUC provides an option for Chinese students to study at Zhejiang University in China. I noticed that Cornell has a Cornell China Center in Beijing, and CASL offers an opportunity to spend a semester in SJTU in China. I would be really grateful if the university could consider the possibility of this kind of “studying in local” program for internationals if the difficulty of traveling continues.
    Thank you so much for all the help at this special time!

    1. Yes, I agree with you. For anyone who can return to campus, option 0 or 1 seems safe and reasonable. However, the school should also take Chinese students into consideration since they still cannot make their visa appiontment or book a flight. For them, having online classes in China is impossible. In that case, studying in a partner university campus would be a good choice.

    2. I agree with this option. Most of the choices here don’t consider the plight of International students and the current visa restrictions. Flying also requires booking early, like 2 months and we don’t have cash lying around. A lot has been said about rent already. Maybe, they can make it optional for students to decide whether they can take online or in person classes.

    3. I also totally agree with your suggestion! A problem with online classes (especially the smaller ones) is that some of them are more discussion based and therefor need to be taken in real-time. However, it is extremely challenging to stay up late or get up very early and be clear-headed in classes. A “studying in local” program would be very helpful as then we will be able to take classes in real-time without worrying about staying up very late or getting up very early.

      However, option 0 could also work well if the university could figure out some ways to deal with the time-difference for smaller classes.

    4. This is the best plan for a Chinese student so far. Or most of us will consider to gap for this year.

  3. Given that travel is traditionally heavy around Thanksgiving, would it be reasonable to consider having the transition point isn’t he various options be the week before Thanksgiving?

    1. This is an excellent point. Releasing students a bit earlier than the high-traffic period of Thanksgiving break would be better – maybe a week ahead?. Sending students home/off into the Thanksgiving rush only increases risks of being infected while in transit – offloading risk elsewhere. I am sure parents would appreciate not having to quarantine their kids for 2 weeks during the Thanksgiving Holiday; or risk having a recently high-risk child/traveler at home, at the proverbial table..

  4. Thank you for the opportunity to understand options are and to register preferences and ideas. Since I do not know the various epidemiological considerations related to starting the fall term at the usual time versus two weeks out or four weeks out (seems like the closer we get to flu season to start the more risky it is. Regular starting time might be preferable –thought with so much summertime mixing, we could be looking at really high rates again when we come back. Without testing and tracing this is going to be very difficult to navigate no matter when we start), so I feel unprepared to address that one. I do, however, have a strong preference for ending the semester on time, regardless of when we start, and starting the spring semester at the usual time, but with an online component at first. As for the various fall semester splits being considered, I don’t have a strong feeling. I do wonder if, from a teaching perspective, it would be easier to not have to modify classes to fit new time formats and constraints. So, overall, I like option 1 & 3 (and maybe 4 or 5, but seems like this may require significantly more syllabus jiggering. I don’t teach in the fall so this doesn’t really affect me, but I am sure others have feelings about this).

    1. While I am very excited about the opportunity to begin classes at Cornell, and would of course prefer that everything be in person, it makes me very nervous to think about anything being in person right now, without a vaccine discovered. Being from New Jersey, in the center of the biggest outbreak, makes returning to normal life or any semblance of normal life right now, seem impossibly scary. Therefore, I’m in favor of option zero. Thanks!

  5. Option 3 would be best for me and the students of my courses. Option 4 could be an alternative I could work with as well.

  6. If I understand what is known about transmission in enclosed spaces, option 0 is safest, at least for fall unless there is a seismic change in the medical situation.

    Online fall and a later start to an on-campus Spring may be workable, depending on the epidemiology.

    Option 2 seems the like the least cumbersome of the mixed options. In any case, starting later in the Spring, esp. in this climate, seems sensible.

    A beefed up summer schedule, as Penn is considering, might help to address revenue concerns.


  7. I suppose I prefer option 2 or 3, but it’s impossible to know what the pandemic will be doing in the fall. I’m fairly confident there will be a vaccine in January, as my son is on the team that developed it (the one with Moderna now, although the science was done at NIH, where he is) and seems very confident it’s for real. But the Fall is a joker, especially if people start going crazy this summer and restrictions get relaxed too soon.

    1. The vaccine needs development, then clinical trials , then production , then distribution if there is enough and then and only then you need 80-90 % of people in the state of New York to actually become vaccinated.
      Unfortunately the influenza vaccination rates are only 40 % of the population at best. And the influenza vaccine is 80% effective only.
      Many of your students come from NYC the # 1 city with most cases in the country or world. Ithaca is not an island. People come and go constantly.
      This is an aspirational plan which will take all the time of the rest of college of every student to be successful,….
      The answer to your dilemma immediately is to wear your mask and wash your hands all the time. Don’t hug don’t kiss and don’t shake hands.

  8. Here are some of the things that I feel are important.

    * First, I feel that we much better try to stick to a normal course (that is that we do not change the structure like in option 4 and 5).

    * As of the other options, I feel trying to keep the same academic calendar seems the best as we might in fact be able to be back to normal.

    * We should try to be on campus as much as possible.

    Given all that I feel that option 1 is the best and then option 3.

    1. I feel that it is important to consider the gravity of the situation, and that making a decision for the spring semester this early would jeopardize making the correct decision on behalf of the students, faculty and staff.
      I also believe that the on campus experience is important for students and disrupting this even more would be more harmful than good.
      None of these options consider starting earlier than normal time, which I believe would be beneficial for fast tracking classes in the fall. I suggest seeing the petition that was started for a new option that has over a thousand signatures which supports starting earlier.

  9. It seems that option 4 makes most sense.
    1. We want to avoid the period Nov-Feb. This is the usual flu season, and this is when most of us believe that there would be a coronavirus peak if it becomes a seasonal thing or we have a second wave.
    2. By going to half-semester we have the best structure and we can prepare to go online in the second part, with more projects etc.
    We could also teach more intensively in the first Fall half-semester depending on the situation.

  10. I like Option 1, 3, and 4. Option 4 does not indicate what happens in the spring, which leaves an opening to figure out how things went in the Fall. I think that pushing the class start four weeks later and reducing the January time we have off cuts too much into faculty research time, which is already being curtailed by the extended Spring 2020 semester. Yes, we would start later, but it’s not great research time, as we’d be spending most of the that time worrying about the class and attending trainings, and everything would bleed over into our research time (especially those of us with administrative responsibilities who are still research active with grant management responsibilities).

    I do not at all like Option 5, as it would require completely retooling classes, shortening them, or having them be intensive. While one might think you could work any kind of class that way, it is just not true that it works well for all topics. Classes with data labs, or a lot of reading, may require more time for digesting . . . and I”m not sure how we’d assign the five week class (who gets that one? Do we incentivize offering it?).

    Preparing on-line classes that work well is enough of a challenge. Asking us to radically modify our teaching time (to an 11 week class) will require us to rethink what gets covered and what not, may leave holes in what students learn that comes back to bite them in their next sequence. So I’d rather we stick with our standard semester, rather than shifting to a quarter system (10 weeks) and exams.

    I do not envy the committee making these decisions. Good luck trying to keep us all happy, or at least satisfied!

    1. I agree that Option 5 seems very convoluted. In addition, with anyone trying to take more than 4 classes for the semester, they either have to overload the first 11 week portion more than they expected, or overload extremely hard on the 4 week portion, and unless every course is offered for both sections (which would be practically impossible for faculty to do), there is a high chance that many students wouldn’t be able to take the classes they need because of the extreme overloading of credits required.

  11. Starting after Labor Day (option 3) is better than starting at regular time as I’m sure students will still travel over the 3 day weekend. Going remote at Thanksgiving will hopefully prevent a lot of students returning after they have travelled but might not – how many will have apartment leases, rentals, etc and be willing to continue to pay rent when remote in fall and spring semesters? If Cornell leans towards one of this hybrid models (which I believe is the correct way to go) they need to talk to local landlords who might prefer to get some rent if students are allowed to return to in person (I.e. only charging for months they are on site) versus no rent (if we have to go 100% online). Same holds true for spring – great idea to stay remote/online for first half when possible resurgence and flu on top of that but again with the rent issues.

    Also of thought is what about IC who has said they aren’t coming back until October? How will that in rush of students affect us?

  12. If start date gets pushed back until September, consider a 2-week session starting the end of August for in- person field classes. These are entirely out of doors, safe and students could get an entire course done. Many field classes are offered this way already so it’s a tried and true format. These students could be part of the first wave of returning students if this is happening. They could be virtual in parallel or have a virtual identical class offered during the regular session.

  13. I would be in favor of option 0- or Option 1 if all testing, tracing, and isolation provisions are in place. One of the principles is keeping “vulnerable” populations away- this would affect many faculty members, so online teaching, however unsatisfactory, seems to be the only recourse.

  14. Most of the options offered have merit and the committee has obviously put considerable thought into them.
    I favor options 1, 3, 4 and 5.
    Option 0 fails in that it does not sufficiently bring faculty and students together.
    Option 2 starts too late.

  15. All these options seriously compromise the level of excellence in teaching and learning we have endeavored to sustain at Cornell. Options 0, 4, and 5 are the worst. Options 2 or 3 cause these least damage. Both could be improved by NOT starting the spring semester online. The first few weeks are essential for creating a course culture, which cannot be emulated online.

    1. I agree. Note Dame and other schools are starting early and recognizing the importance of in-person learning. The options here do not include any attempt to value students or community. Start early and end early in the Fall and start late and end late in the Spring. Wait before drastic plans are made for Spring on the basis of incomplete information.

      1. I totally agree, this virtual semester was not easy for students. Despite our coursework, the pandemic has affected many students and their families greatly. Many students have spoken about the desire to back on campus and continue their undergrand in a safe and productive learning environment. Starting the semester earlier and ending earlier seems more ideal for all. Then let time tell what will happen in the spring

      2. Exactly. It’s frustrating to see that there is no option that starts early in the fall, cancels all holidays and fall break, and ends before Thanksgiving, giving everyone the ability to go home and practice social distancing again when the worst of the flu season will begin, complicating things with COVID. And then maybe start spring semester a couple of weeks later and end later?

      3. Most Ithaca area day camps have closed for the summer. If Cornell were to reopen earlier, many Faculty and Staff would be unable to find appropriate childcare for a month or more as school will not be in session until after Labor Day, at the earliest. Believe me, we all want to be back on campus too. We miss interacting with both students and colleagues, but there are many more things at play here than just student experience. We are all making sacrifices during this time, and I am convinced that Cornell will do the best that they can to take all these things into consideration.

    2. I prefer option 0 because i value my health and the health of other’s. even though we will lose out on personal interaction, but I think at the end of the day, the well-being of our students, particularly our international students, is the most important. being on campus and forcing our students to come back isn’t the best option.

    3. I completely agree. The spring semester should not start online. A lot of the enthusiasm/interest in a new subject is fostered in the first few weeks. I think that starting online would set a different atmosphere for the rest of the semester that may not be beneficial.

  16. Considering the great uncertainty about the coronavirus, Option 0 appears to be the safest calendar for all stakeholders. However, if the administration decides to hold any in-person classes, particularly this academic year, then it needs to determine how to allow high-risk faculty, staff, and students, especially underrepresented minorities (African Americans and Latinos), to opt-out since the research clearly shows that these racial groups have disproportionately higher rates of contracting and dying from the coronavirus. Ignoring these disparities seems unethical and inhumane.

    1. I agree that given the uncertainty about Covid-19, Option O is the safest for faculty, staff, and students. The California University system is already taking this safe route. I understand that the other options are being offered based on economics to insure more students return to Cornell and that the dorms are full. But should we be making choices based on economics rather than safety for people? Don’t we also have an obligation to think about what an outbreak may mean to the citizens in Tompkins and not just to the Cornell community? If we choose one of the other options I think faculty should be given the choice to teach on-line or in person. In the last request for faculty information, many faculty of all ages voiced their concerns about getting Covid-19 because of their own health, taking care of aged parents, a partner or children with compromised health. We should not force faculty to teach in-person this fall or spring. If some faculty are comfortable teaching in person, that is fine but it should be a choice. Also, what about the students. Are they being given an either/or choice — come back to Cornell or take the
      semester off?

      1. I completely agree. I would prefer Option 0, as that is the only one that completely allows for social distancing. Additionally, it limits travel and expenses associated with travel, especially around Thanksgiving.

    2. I agree that given the uncertainty about Covid-19, Option O is the safest for faculty, staff, and students. The California University system is already taking this safe route. I understand that the other options are being offered based on economics to insure more students return to Cornell and that the dorms are full. But should we be making choices based on economics rather than safety for people? Don’t we also have an obligation to think about what an outbreak may mean to the citizens in Tompkins and not just to the Cornell community? If we choose one of the other options I think faculty should be given the choice to teach on-line or in person. In the last request for faculty information, many faculty of all ages voiced their concerns about getting Covid-19 because of their own health, taking care of aged parents, a partner or children with compromised health. We should not force faculty to teach in-person this fall or spring. If some faculty are comfortable teaching in person, that is fine but it should be a choice. Also, what about the students. Are they being given an either/or choice — come back to Cornell or take the
      semester off?

    3. Coming from NYC is the highest risk for Ithaca : should they be considered for opt out?

  17. Options 4 or 5. Should resist going entirely online if at all possible. But business as usual for fall seems naive. A term that extends until late January seems grueling for students and faculty both.

  18. Thank you for these thoughtful plans. I think option 0 is the simplest and best idea for now.
    I enjoyed teaching online in Spring 2020 and can easily convert the lecture portion of my Fall 2020 course, BioEE 4760, to online. The course enrolls about 24 students; I teach a parallel course, BioEE 4761, which is a teaching laboratory designed to accompany the lectures and limited to 12 students because of field trips. I do not think that it will not be possible to socially distance for the teaching laboratory if we taught the course here on campus because we need to use vans to transport students to field sites. I can imagine developing a “virtual lab” for students as long as I can get into the teaching laboratory in Stimson Hall so that I can personally demonstrate specimens via Zoom to students during the lab period.
    My course for Spring 2021 is BioEE 2740, and I already have online content ready to go that worked well in Spring 2020. The teaching laboratory for that course is required, but because I provide students with a detailed lab manual that I wrote, I can easily work through the laboratory material online together as we did in Spring 2020.

  19. Option 2 is best but it seems too early to commit to rule out an on-campus start in January.

  20. I think many students might not enroll if it’s option 0. Compared to the other options (2-5), option 1 is better because: 1) it has the in-person component and give the students a sense of normal campus life, but also avoids having packed dorms during the heavy-flu winter season. 2) it doesn’t have the final exams dragging into January (like in option 2), which will make many students worry about the exams during the holiday season. 3) it is not as complicated as option 3-5, which sound OK, but will be a nightmare for instructors who have to drastically re-organize their courses. Moreover, packing course materials into a short period of time is not helpful for students to learn, especially for many of the introductory classes. Making students just come to campus for a month or so may also deter many students from attending l because it is not worth the trouble to move here for a little over a month and then move back home again.

  21. Vote for Option 0
    I would be quite disappointed if school continues to open in September, risking everyone’s (students, faculties, staffs) lives. I would rather stay at home and study safely than wear mask and avoid everyone at school.

    1. I agree, we don’t want emergency evacuation again (was horrible from dorms and studios with no help, broken elevators, lack of bins, throwing out many items)! The semester will be terrible on campus, no events, students in their rooms most of time. Students can’t bring as much in case of emergency changes, so dorm life will not be cozy. No sports likely. If no breaks there will be such stress in condensed schedule students will be calling home in a daze. Normal online schedule option 0 is best option.

      And the Isolation alone in isolation dorm maybe if they get sick will be scary for many without their families. Wearing masks will be incorrectly done. Not washing cloth masks daily because they are working longer hours in a condensed schedule with 5 classes on average and intense hours. Touching doorknobs that can’t be cleaned constantly. UV light would be dangerous, could cause cancer. Studio for AAP students sharing equipment and crits in social distance space will be a challenge, note that online worked well. The campus will be a petri dish, buses full – with students not knowing if they are just exhausted from regular all nighters or sick. Can they get an appointment at the health center to be checked with no time for that with academic stress and lack of normal schedules. Scared if they come in contact with a case they will be put in isolation dorm, they will pretend they are well until they can’t anymore. Teachers scared and suggests to isolate a student if they have a sniffle. Not to mention if they arrive home sick or not a systematic carrier they can make the family sick, some parents are in their 60s with grandparents at home, and then there goes the parental support for the rest of their lives if the parents health is permanently impacted or worse .

      At least at home with a full semester pace it will be much better for student health and I realize everyone is different, but I would like to have an online option – students are young and long term health is most important rather than getting sick or having long term health impact or worse forever. This is not a regular flu. This virus might weaken your heart, cause blood clots and and some symptoms like toxic shock syndrome in tie age group up until 21.

      One semester is not that long and students need options – there is no one size solution for all students or families. Hopefully what I am felling could happen here is the worst case, and the second wave will have a vaccine or better treatment option. A better option could be for online fall and Spring semester to go into summer after the vaccine Is found.

      Tuition paid should also have insurance whether online or in person in case a student gets sick and can not complete the coursework. The insurance option must be continued otherwise there should be an option for a refund or make-up semester provided by the school in case a student gets the virus and can not finish.

      Asa tiny small family with a single parent with no support nearby in NY, safety is the highest concern. Online studio went great and even at home online I am very proud of the education with the great teachers – online was stellar at Cornell AAP and for humanity classes ! So I don’t mind option 0 for these reasons. And the savings will be in room and board for those in dorms and it is fair to pay for the great teachers and the Cornell education I am receiving. The beautiful campus needs upkeep, workers need to be safe, and we all want to have Cornell survive. There should be some discussion on tuition changes only if the cost and endowments to run the institution are less than normal, which is unlikely with all necessary costs to keep students safer.

      In the fall on campus there will be no safe social life guarantee even with masks, social distance is hard and staying in dorm room is going to be the norm for many with the intense workloads. Not eating right. Not sleeping right. Stress. All a cocktail for Illness to increase in a campus environment and add to that disinfecting dorms, libraries, studios, equipment, washrooms, classrooms, dining halls and maintaining social distance from staff and students and on busses and in town … Online at home is a better option for many of us. Sorry for all that this pandemic had to happen at this time, but it won’t last forever. After 1918 flu remember the roaring 20s! I’m sure we have something to look forward to if we can all avoid getting this virus that is much worse than a normal flu. Stay safe! Thank you!

      1. I agree with this on every level! Option 0 is simply the best because it prioritizes the health and safety of everyone. I’m really hoping for option 0.

      2. Completely agree with this. Additional campus housing should be given to those who have uncertain or perilous at-home situations, but resuming in-person classes would be beyond irresponsible, as much as I hate to say it. I would much rather take classes online than have to go about my life on campus having to avoid everyone and constantly be worried about whatever symptoms I think I may be showing. Moreover, the amount of the student body that would completely disregard all social distancing protocols is probably concerningly large. Young people will socialize and attend large events if placed on a college campus, which could jeopardize everyone’s safety.

    2. The issue for some is that they don’t have a safe home to stay at. Students cant be expected to find a job and support themselves at a new, safe home either. I rely on financial aid to cover my housing and dinning. I will be unable to study for a whole semester away from campus.

  22. Strongly and unreservedly endorse Option 1 for the Fall. This is the one that makes the most sense and involves the least disruption. It is simply untenable to continue online instruction except for short periods–it shortchanges students, faculty, and the entire educational experience. Equally importantly, not being on campus hurts the ability to get creative research done–talking to one’s faculty colleagues and undergrduate/graduate students (in person, not via Zoom) is critical for generating new ideas and supporting our students in their own creative endeavors.
    The focus from here on ought to be on operationalizing Option 1. It can be done, if we have the will (and we have the ability–although it will take a lot of planning and effort).
    Even under Option 1, would vote for a start to on-campus Spring semester after 1-2 weeks of online instruction rather than starting in early March.

    Fall starts at the regular time on-campus and then wraps up online after Thanksgiving. Spring starts online at the regular time and switches to on-campus early March.

    1. I completely agree with you. I believe option 1 is the obvious best choice for the reasons you stated. We start at the normal time and have an on-campus experience as long as possible in the safest way possible. There will be no breaks for people to be tempted to go home and return with the virus. The only online part is after Thanksgiving, which is very short and students are pretty checked out anyways. This option is less complicated than 4 and 5, which would be hard on students and faculty. Pushing back the start time is definitely not an option we should pursue because it gets us closer to cold & flu season. We need to enjoy Ithaca in the brief window of nice weather and health.

      Although I feel it’s too early to make a decision about the spring, it makes sense to me that we return to campus later to avoid cold & flu season, enjoy the best parts of the spring (especially for seniors), which will hopefully include in-person graduation as well.

      1. I think online option 0 is the safer one until there is a vaccine. However it would require first rate classes and use of various technologies to involve the students. The cost should reflect that facilities are not used.
        Many responses for option 1 refer to the overlap with the flu season but if everything is being disinfected, masks are used and distancing is practiced, the flu season should be mild. If option 1 is used, it would be advisable to keep students in as small groups as possible; for example all engineering students in one resident and dining hall. All students would need to be tested before the start of the semester. There would need to be quarantine rooms and doctors to check staff and students that don’t feel well.

  23. Option 0 seems like the only feasible one because: 1. We need to know asap what the fall will be like so we can prepare. 2. We do not know how many infections there will be in the fall. 3. The local hospital does not have the capacity to handle sick students, faculty, and staff. They only have 8 ICU beds ( 4. We would need high volume regular testing if the students are on campus for any duration. This will take time and resources to implement. 5. We would need a quarantine dorm with trained medical professionals (again time and resources to implement).
    If we are going to be online for all or a portion of the next semester please make internet vouchers and laptop rentals (you can ship them) available to students in need.

    1. I’ve been following how UNC is reopening its fall semester for an on-campus experience, and it does seem that they are planning for a dorm specific for quarantine purposes. They are also providing specific instructions on how to self-report symptoms. (I do realize that UNC does have a large on-campus hospital/med school and more resources.)

    2. I am strongly in agreement with this. In addition to the logistical nightmare of keeping things safe, the mere existence of in-person classes will have students feeling pressured to attend, putting those with health concerns in a compromised position. I see some arguments that students would not want to pay tuition for online courses– but this year’s version of life on campus is not going to be what they imagined they paid for, regardless.

  24. At first glance I was really intrigued by Option 5, but on second thought my reservation pertains to sustaining focus. If students complete the sub-semester on campus and then need to do a full course in one month, that sounds like a lot of time in Zoom after finishing what may seem full term– even with a week in between.
    Of these options, I’d lean toward Option 4 at this point.
    (My role = RTE faculty)

    1. It is absolutely imperative that Cornell students return to campus this fall in some capacity. Other high profile universities have outlined clear, safe, and achievable plans to return to campus, and our university must follow suit. It is incredibly unreasonable to expect students to continue to learn via these online methods, which have been proven to be widely ineffective. Also, the reality of Cornell’s living situation is that they are unable to accommodate most students on campus, which results in a large population of students living in off-campus housing. Many of these students have and will continue to return to Ithaca regardless of whether classes are online or not, and it makes much more sense for Cornell to implement achievable social distancing guidlines through in person classes, rather than leaving students who are living in Ithaca with free reign over their schedules, which will inevitably result in a higher risk of students not social distancing. With that said, I fully support options any of the on campus options (1-5).

      Additionally, I think it’s important to note that the data is incredibly incomplete and it is far too early to be making decisions for spring semester. The reality is that the science and accompanying recommendations for COVID-19 can change at a moment’s notice, as we have seen, and there is no reason to be making decisions about the spring semester for next year when this spring semester has barely wrapped up.

      1. I completely agree with this comment. And as a student, I would like to emphasize that my family and families of my peers will not pay tuition for an online education.

      2. Why no choice for opening normally? This age group is low risk and in the fall the Flu was running rampant and the school stayed open. In reality, there will always be some reason to shut down. Young people need to be taught resilience and not to live in fear. However, I understand the fear of older and less healthy individuals. I propose a compromise. Whoever wants to come to campus does so and who is uncomfortable takes a leave or goes online. This would be true for faculty and students.
        Some majors do not just sit in a classroom. Many are hands on and the students chose to attend the university to get hands-on experience to improve their capabilities and get opportunities they would not get anywhere else. Going to online learning greatly diminishes the value of the school itself and it is ridiculous to expect people in these types of majors to learn how to actually do things online as there is no substitute to the real thing. For example, I missed out on many opportunities to work with animals and even perform procedures under the guidance of a professor and teaching assistants as a pre-vet student. Some of us really need to have in person classes for practical purposes.
        If I must choose, I guess option 1. It allows students to get what they are paying for. There is no replacement for teaching in person. I would remind the staff if we embrace online teaching too much it also makes it easier to reduce the faculty size. And likewise, tuition would be less, reducing the universities sustainability to pay salaries.
        We have no idea what will happen in the spring. I think many people are panicking and over responding before they know what will actually happen. In the meantime, why not social distance as most other universities plan on doing and continue life as it was. Cornell is also entrusted to teach young people how to face overcome obstacles head on not to hide.

      3. We should not opt out on-campus learning in the fall. Students pay thousands and thousands of dollars for an elite education. Some families cannot even afford it, but looked at Cornell’s resources and prestige, and sacrificed time and money to send their children there (sending your kids to earn an elite education is so transformative for minorities, first generation students, etc.). If students wanted to go to school from home, they would have chosen a school closer then in Ithaca. Environments at home may not be at all equivalent or conducive to proper learning when compared to in Ithaca.

        Social distancing regulations in NYC have proven to decline the number of positive cases and hospitalizations over the two months of state quarantine. If we are able to regulate class size, class times, class locations, then we can practice social distancing on campus. There needs to be balance made. It is the responsibility of the school and its faculty and students to keep each other safe. However, it is still the duty of an institution to give students what they came here to do.

        Regardless, many students who live off-campus are still going to go back to Ithaca because they have leases which they are committed to. It is not so convenient for particular cohorts of students to be removed of the opportunity to attend school. Getting reimbursed for our resources is not sufficient. There is a larger value that students are losing which can never repaid with money.

Comments are closed.