Revised Plans for Spring 2022 Semester Opening

By La Jerne Terry Cornish, Melanie Stein, Hayley Harris, Bonnie Prunty and Samm Swarts, January 7, 2022
A message to the campus community.

  • Spring 2022 semester will begin with online academic instruction for the week of January 24-28.
  • Move-in for residential students will be extended an additional week and will now take place in phases January 18-30.
  • Residential students will receive an email from the Office of Residential Life on January 10 notifying them of their move-in date and time (option to change will be available).
  • All students, regardless of on-campus or off-campus residential status, are REQUIRED to go through check-in procedures at the A&E Center during the January 18-30 period.
  • Students will be required to show proof of a negative test (PCR test preferred, but antigen tests will now be accepted) taken prior to arrival at check-in. Students will also need to take a rapid antigen COVID-19 test at arrival check-in.
  • All students, unless they have already received a previous college-approved exemption, are REQUIRED to receive a COVID-19 vaccine booster, and are strongly encouraged to obtain one prior to returning to campus if possible.

Dear Campus Community,

We hope you have enjoyed a restorative Winter Break thus far and that the dawn of the new year finds you in good health and happy spirits. As we communicated prior to the college closure at the end of December, we share this important message with you today to provide key reminders and some significant updates pertaining to the college’s opening plan for the Spring 2022 semester necessitated by the latest changes in the information available to us. 

Ithaca College’s Health and Safety Advisory Group (HSAG) has continued to analyze the growing amount of data available on the Omicron variant and its impact on the direction of the pandemic, while also monitoring the latest updates in both federal and New York state public health guidance. With the paramount goals of prioritizing the health and well-being of our Ithaca College and greater Ithaca communities as well as preserving the integrity of the upcoming semester from significant disruption, Ithaca College will be adopting the following recommendations from HSAG for the Spring 2022 semester.

Spring Semester Will Begin with Online Instruction for Week of January 24-28
In order to accommodate an extended move-in period and offer greater flexibility for our students, Ithaca College will begin the Spring 2022 semester with fully virtual instruction for the week of Monday, January 24 – Friday, January 28. In-person instruction will begin Monday, January 31. Graduate-level coursework that is already underway in courses with an early January start date is an exception and may continue in-person. 

Beginning the semester with a week of virtual instruction is designed to alleviate the potential for significant academic disruption. Students who test positive shortly before their planned travel to Ithaca will be able to complete their isolation at home, while students who may become positive during travel, or shortly after their arrival to campus, will also avoid missed classes due to isolation. This also will provide greater flexibility for students whose travel to campus may be impacted by inclement weather, airline cancellations, and/or other circumstances.

Faculty are being asked to be flexible with students who may require accommodation during this time.

Move-In Extended Additional Week: January 18 – 30
In order to de-densify our return to campus and take a meticulous approach to the check-in and arrival testing process, Ithaca College will be extending the move-in period by an additional week. Staggering our move-in period over an extended week also alleviates the college’s ability to manage quarantine and isolation space as per updated New York state public health guidance. Move-in for residential students and arrival testing for all students will take place Tuesday, January 18 – Sunday, January 30.

All students living in residence halls and/or the Gardens/Circles Apartments will receive a direct email from the Office of Residential Life on Monday, January 10, with detailed information about the Spring 2022 move-in process including their assigned check-in date and time. This pre-assigned time slot is flexible and students will have the option to change it based on date/time availability. Instructions for changing your check-in date and time in the Housing Portal will be included in the message.

Please note that students with an on-campus fall room assignment who submitted a break occupancy request form prior to the December 13, 2021, deadline WILL BE permitted to return to campus on their previously approved return date. Students who are moving to new room assignments for Spring 2022 or who did not submit a break occupancy request form will be required to move in during the January 18-30 period.

Updates to the Arrival Check-In Process
As was previously communicated, all students will be REQUIRED to complete a check-in process at the Athletics & Events Center prior to the January 30 conclusion of the move-in period.

In order to successfully complete the check-in process, all students will be REQUIRED and should be prepared to display proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours prior to their arrival at the A&E Center for check-in. If you are a student experiencing issues in accessing testing please contact caremanager@ithaca.edu for further support on how to proceed. The preferred testing method continues to be a PCR lab test; however, due to accessibility to testing in certain areas, Ithaca College will now accept the following as proof of a negative test:

  • PCR test performed by a licensed pharmacy or testing site within 72 hours of arrival
  • Rapid antigen test performed by a licensed pharmacy or testing site within 24 hours of arrival
  • COVID-19 home testing kit completed day of travel to campus and prior to arrival

In addition to displaying proof of a negative COVID-19 test, students must also complete a rapid antigen COVID-19 test at check-in. 

Residential Students
Residential students are expected to complete their arrival check-in process at the specified date and time shared with them by the Office of Residential Life. If a residential student tests positive for COVID-19 at arrival testing they will be encouraged to return home to their permanent residence to complete their mandatory isolation period if they are reasonably able to do so as not to overload the college’s quarantine and isolation capacity. Ithaca College will work with these students on identifying a new move-in time once their isolation period has concluded. Students who are not able to return home will be housed in Emerson Hall, or other suitable on-campus locations, and provided full wrap-around care during their isolation period. Please note that space in Emerson Hall is limited and this capacity can fill quickly. You can track current capacity of quarantine and isolation space in Emerson Hall via the COVID-19 Dashboard.

Off-Campus Students
Students residing in off-campus residences will be required to complete arrival check-in at any time during the January 18-30 period. We encourage students to complete this process as early as possible upon return to the Ithaca area and not wait until the last minute. Off-campus students who do not complete arrival check-in and testing will have their IC Health Badge status impacted and will be unable to access campus resources and participate in in-person instruction once resumed on January 31.

Off-campus students who test positive at arrival testing will complete isolation at their off-campus residence and must refrain from accessing campus until their isolation period has ended.

Early-Arrival Students
Students who have arrived in the Ithaca area early due to participation in the Winter 2022 term, intercollegiate athletics, essential student employment, and/or other academic programs should have received specific instructions regarding their early arrival process. If you are an early-arrival student, residing either on campus or off campus, who has already gone through a check-in and testing process, you DO NOT need to complete a new arrival process during the January 18-30 period. 

Info for Students Who Test Positive for COVID-19 During Their Pre-Arrival Test
Students who test positive for COVID-19 during their pre-travel test are encouraged to contact caremanager@ithaca.edu for additional guidance and support regarding a delayed arrival process. Students SHOULD NOT travel to Ithaca if they have tested positive for COVID-19 and are still within their mandatory isolation period or if they are within a mandatory quarantine period due to close-contact exposure per updated New York state guidance

For the general health and wellness of our campus and greater Ithaca communities, we ask all individuals, regardless of COVID-19 pre-arrival test result, to refrain from traveling to Ithaca if they are feeling unwell in any way. A negative COVID-19 test is only a snapshot in time and not indicative of a potential early-stage COVID-19 infection or other contagious illness. Ithaca College will work with these students on an adjusted return to campus plan once illness symptoms have subsided.

REMINDER: Vaccine Booster Required for Students for Spring 2022
As was previously announced on December 22, Ithaca College will REQUIRE a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine for all active students enrolled for the Spring 2022 semester, unless that student has previously received a documented college-approved exemption to the vaccine requirement due to medical reasons or sincerely held religious beliefs. The deadline to complete this requirement is Tuesday, February 15, or within 30 days of becoming eligible for a booster dose if that date falls after the February 15 deadline. There are lengthy wait times for booster doses in the Ithaca area, so students are STRONGLY ENCOURAGED to obtain their booster prior to returning to campus if eligible. Please visit this link to find vaccine opportunities near you

In addition, students should be aware that updated New York state guidance notes that individuals are not considered “fully vaccinated” unless they have completed an original vaccine series AND a booster dose if they are eligible. This designation has a significant impact on quarantine protocols, meaning that if you are identified as a close contact, and you are not fully vaccinated and boosted, you will be required to quarantine per updated New York state public health guidance. This is a change from earlier protocol. With these details in mind, obtaining your booster as soon as eligible is critical to help you avoid significant disruption to your Spring 2022 semester.

Students should follow the steps listed on Ithaca College’s vaccine webpage to submit proof of their booster dose to their MYICHealth Portal administered by the Hammond Health Center. 

For more information on booster doses and eligibility criteria, please visit this link.

Ithaca College to Open Spring 2022 Semester in Yellow Operating Status
Ithaca College is continuing to monitor our current number of confirmed positive COVID-19 cases and will make appropriate updates to the college’s COVID-19 operating status. Based on current available data, the college is now operating and will open the Spring 2022 term at Yellow: Low to Moderate Risk operating status

This status allows for much of the traditional Ithaca College experience to remain intact including face-to-face instruction beginning January 31, intercollegiate athletics, and normal operations for campus resources such as the Library, Fitness Center, and Wellness Clinic. Limitations will include continued restrictions on non-academic social functions and discouraging visitation between residence hall communities. Additionally, Ithaca College strongly discourages outside visitors from coming to campus unless they are dropping off their student for move-in or participating in a structured campus tour through the Office of Admission.

Ithaca College will continue to adjust its operating status accordingly based on available data throughout the semester.

Students and Families Virtual Gathering to be Held on Tuesday, January 11
Ithaca College's Division of Student Affairs and Campus Life will be hosting a pre-semester Students and Families Virtual Gathering from 6:00-7:00 p.m. EST on Tuesday, January 11, 2022. All students and families should have received an invitation to this virtual gathering on Tuesday, January 4. This meeting can also be accessed via the IC Events Calendar. We encourage all students and families to plan to attend this event to learn more about spring opening protocols and ask related questions. 

If you have urgent questions regarding the spring opening process, we encourage you to direct inquiries to returntocampus@ithaca.edu.  

We ask that our campus community continue to make their personal health a priority during the final weeks of Winter Break. Good public health practices and responsible behaviors during this time will be pivotal in helping us reduce our number of positive cases as we near the start of the spring semester later this month. Proper use of face coverings, physical distancing, regular self-monitoring of potential virus symptoms, and frequent good hand hygiene are small actions that will make a big impact on our efforts to start the spring semester successfully.

Thank you for your commitment to keeping Ithaca College healthy and well.

Sincerely,

La Jerne Terry Cornish
Interim President

Melanie Stein
Interim Provost

Hayley Harris
Vice President for Human Resources and Planning

Bonnie Prunty
Dean of Students

Samm Swarts
Assistant Director of Emergency Preparedness and Response