We Must Be #ICInThisTogether for Our Spring Return to South Hill

By Christina Moylan, December 4, 2020
A message from Christina Moylan, Director of Public Health Emergency Preparedness.

Public Health Column introduction video.

One of the most common questions I’m asked is “What is Ithaca College going to do to make sure that I am safe when we return to campus in the spring?”  

I have spent the good part of the fall semester partially answering this question by building on the robust work of the Return to Campus Committee. I have revisited the framework they developed through the Public Health Columns, webinars, and meetings. Our website also reflects this content — the Health, Safety and Prevention page details everything from testing to disinfection to visitor guidelines. This information is further supplemented with guidance on our COVID-19 Employee Resources page.  

This week, I would like to complete the answer to this question by asking everyone reading this column a question, which is, what are you willing to do to make sure that campus is safe when we return in the spring?  

This virus is highly effective in transmitting from person-to-person. Its playbook is to prey on the healthy, relying on your lack of symptoms and perceived invincibility as a way to silently spread, to deliver devastating consequences to those with compromised health conditions. Let’s be honest — the numbers show that this strategy is working brilliantly for this virus.  

Our policies and procedures therefore have little chance of keeping campus safe if we are not willing to actually adhere to those guidelines, whether on campus or off, and make the collective sacrifices necessary to keep this virus at bay. Every - single - one of us must return to South Hill with the same mindset about the value of public-health-recommended behaviors and use actions that show a concern that extends beyond ourselves.  

IC classroom

The spring campus that we will return to is going to require sacrifice on all of our parts. It will not look the same and the expectations will be different. You will have to test frequently, wear face coverings, maintain distance, avoid gatherings, and sanitize regularly. At some point, you may also have to isolate or quarantine, completely eliminating contact with others for 10 to 14 days. But this spring is also bursting with opportunity for innovation, creativity, and a sense of resilience that we can do this, and do it well. It just requires an adjustment to our level of collective responsibility. 

One big lesson from this fall is that our policies and procedures work ...when they are followed. We held classes, fed people, opened the fitness center for a trial run, and piloted a few physically-distant social events without creating an explosion of positive cases from these activities. We’re about to build on these successes and hold a curbside food pantry pickup for the community on Dec. 14.  

A second big lesson from the fall was that our actions outside of the classroom or off campus are just as important as what we do when we’re in situations where “Ithaca College” is watching. It is in these spaces where the virus waits for familiarity to take over – where comfort leads us to take off our face coverings, attend that small dinner party or gathering, chip away at the six feet of distance between people, or fail to practice good hand hygiene. It is in these spaces where the virus is batting 1,000. 

We will rise or fall as a campus, and policies and procedures alone are not enough. When you pack your bags and hug your dogs and cats goodbye to return to campus, please bring with you a commitment to being #icinthistogether and being part of the solution.  

Let’s keep our numbers low, and our spirits high!           


Christina Moylan, Ph.D.          
Director of Public Health Emergency Preparedness