Returning to South Hill

By La Jerne Terry Cornish and Rosanna Ferro, October 27, 2020
Students, faculty, and staff gear up for spring semester on campus.

Dear students, faculty, and staff,

The first thing we would like to say is how pleased and excited we are in anticipation of an on-campus academic and residential experience for you for the spring 2021 semester. We have worked together to make our remote fall semester one that provided meaningful opportunities for students to stay engaged with each other and with their studies. We are so grateful to our students, families, faculty, and staff for all of their hard work to ensure that the student experience has been enriching.

We will try to keep this message from being too lengthy. We do know, from the questions you have submitted via email and in our virtual gatherings, that several areas of interest are most on your mind, and we would like to highlight those.

Spring Academic Calendar

As previously announced, we will begin the spring semester with remote instruction from January 25 through February 5. On Monday, February 8, instruction will expand from remote-only to remote, in-person, and hybrid formats.

We encourage you to schedule an appointment with your academic advisor to consider your spring course plans. You will be able to view the full schedule in Homer on October 30, and registration opens on November 10. Registration details can be found on the Office of the Registrar website.

The calendar does not include a Spring Break, in keeping with health guidance to help limit travel and the spread of COVID-19. We have, however, built in 5 “mini breaks” — single weekdays with no classes — over the course of February, March, and April, which we hope you will use as opportunities to refresh and recharge. We understand the desire you may have to visit family or friends back home or elsewhere during these breaks. However, we expect you to remain in Ithaca and that family and friends refrain from coming to Ithaca, for your health and the health of others.

Option for Remote Learning

Students who do not feel comfortable attending classes in person may elect to attend classes remotely for the entire spring semester. Students who wish to take classes fully remotely have the following housing options:

  • Study remotely while living in their spring residence hall assignment.
  • Study remotely while living at their permanent home address.
  • If already approved to reside off campus, study remotely while living at their local Ithaca address.

Every effort will be made to accommodate students who elect not to return to campus. However, some coursework may only be completed face-to-face (designated by the F2F modality in Homer) due to accreditation or other requirements. Remote students should consult carefully with advisors to design their spring 2021 schedule with this possibility in mind. Remote students enrolled in hybrid and online courses will be fully accommodated.

Residential Move-in Plan

For most of our returning students who will reside on campus, a phased residence hall move-in will be conducted over a two-week period from January 25 through February 5.

First-year and transfer students will arrive on campus January 19, 20, and 21 to allow them to participate in a spring welcome prior to the arrival of other students. Student-athletes may also arrive early depending on the decisions around winter intercollegiate sports. Students will receive an email by December 7 providing information about how/when to sign up for a move-in appointment.

Just a reminder that fulfilling the college’s residency requirement is expected for all students electing to return to campus in the spring who have not received a prior authorization to live off campus. We recognize, however, that some students may have had to sign a year-long lease when setting up alternative housing arrangements in Ithaca. As a result, a one-semester exception to the on-campus living requirement will be granted only for students who committed to a year-long off-campus lease (through the spring 2021 semester), if that lease was signed before October 1, 2020. You can learn more about this process and complete the form to request an exception to the on-campus living requirement.

Please refer to the Residential Life Move-In website for details and any updates on the move-in process.

Students from Restricted States and International Students

New York State requires anyone coming from a state with a high incidence of COVID-19 transmission or from Level 2 or 3 countries to quarantine for 14 days upon their arrival in New York. We want to be able to welcome as many of our students back to campus as possible. In order to do so, students who live in a restricted state or a Level 2 or 3 country but who can make arrangements to quarantine safely for two weeks either in New York or in another non-restricted state or country will be allowed to reside and/or study on campus in the spring.

We will be requiring students from the restricted states and international students from Level 2 or 3 countries to submit a form to the college demonstrating their compliance with the quarantine rules. For those students with extreme circumstances who do not have the resources to arrange for their quarantine, the college will have available on campus 50 rooms for that purpose. Within the next few weeks we will communicate detailed information on the process for demonstrating quarantine compliance and for applying to be approved for one of the limited number of available rooms.

Testing and other Health Protocols

Details on our health, safety, and prevention protocols can be found on the Return to Campus website, but we want to make sure you are aware of several key points.

  • Prior to coming to Ithaca, all students are being asked to voluntarily quarantine for 14 days at home, or in a “safe state” if their home is in a restricted state or a Level 2 or 3 country, and to be tested, if possible, for COVID-19. Any student who tests positive should stay home until released from isolation by the health department.
  • We strongly urge all students to receive the flu vaccine this fall. While it will not prevent you from becoming infected with the coronavirus, it will reduce your chance of getting the flu, which keeps your respiratory system strong and helps your body fight other respiratory disease like COVID-19.
  • All students will be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival. This initial testing will be conducted in coordination with the phased residence hall move-in, and both on- and off-campus students will be notified of their need to sign up for a testing/move-in date. Ongoing surveillance testing throughout the semester will also be required for any student, faculty, or staff member who will be studying or working on campus.

The Ithaca College Community Agreement, which all students, faculty, and staff must sign and observe, will remain in effect for the spring semester. Those who have not yet signed the agreement will be prompted to do so.

The Campus Experience

It is important for everyone to understand that the campus environment this spring will be very different from what you might be used to. Classrooms, dining halls, the library, and other indoor public spaces will be set up to facilitate physical distancing, and we will need to limit the number of people allowed at one time in those spaces. The spring course syllabi contain information and expectations for classroom health precautions.

It is also important for us to underscore that we will continue to provide students with an enriching on-campus academic and residential experience, along with all of the critical services you need and expect.

Ongoing Communications

We will be sending regular information updates over the coming weeks. We also hope that students and families will join us for an upcoming virtual gathering scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 5, at 6:00 p.m., focused on the Spring Move-In Plan and Health & Safety Expectations. Details and a link to register will be sent to you soon.

A separate gathering is also being planned for students currently on a leave of absence and those who have deferred their enrollment, and who are considering attending IC in the spring.

You are probably aware that many institutions that opened this fall for in-person instruction subsequently saw increasing numbers of positive COVID-19 cases which necessitated changes in their operational status. Should this occur during our spring semester, Ithaca College will respond as directed by government or public health officials. This could include shifting to a “shelter in place,” in which students remain but coursework is delivered remotely for a temporary period, or a campus shutdown, in which students must return to their permanent residence for remote instruction.

Our planning has been shaped by our sincere commitment to the student experience, and in accord with all appropriate health and safety guidelines. We will continue to partner with you throughout this unprecedented time, and urge you to remember that we are one IC community, with each of us needing to play a role in making sure to keep one another safe and in ensuring that we have a successful return to campus.

If you have any questions in the meantime, please feel free to contact us using the online feedback form.

We wish you a great conclusion to the fall semester, and confidently look forward to welcoming you to campus for the spring.


La Jerne Terry Cornish, Ph.D.
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

Rosanna Ferro, Ed.D.
Vice President for Student Affairs and Campus Life