Dear IC Community,
After several focused weeks of diligent, thorough effort and collaboration, we are pleased to share the academic calendar for 2020-21.
As you know, creating a firm plan for the coming academic year has been difficult within the context of our ongoing public health crisis, the necessity of compliance with the recently released state guidelines, and challenges that are specific to Ithaca College, including the readiness of our physical plant.
Due to the incredible effort of our students, their families, and our student affairs and facilities teams, our delayed move-out has gone very well and we are able to prepare our physical plant earlier than expected. Additionally, the fantastic, perceptive work of our Return to Campus Task Force and the Academic Success and Student Engagement Coordinating Committee has meant that we are hitting the ground running on our compliance with state guidelines and regulations, even though this information was only recently made public.
We vowed to be nimble, iterative, and metrics-based in our decision-making as we respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, and this updated ’20-21 academic calendar reflects that commitment. We want to offer our sincere appreciation to Associate Provost Jeane Copenhaver-Johnson, who has been spearheading this massive effort, and the hundreds of faculty, staff, students, and parents who have provided feedback on this critical work and contributed constructively to carving out a path forward in a time of crisis.
Ithaca College is fortunate to have the benefit of the exceptional management of the pandemic within Tompkins County, where there are fewer than a handful of active cases. However, as we see COVID cases spike around the country, and within the context of the recent travel advisory from the governor’s office, we want to underscore that all plans for the ’20-21 academic year are necessarily subject to change.
Though the national situation around this pandemic evolves, we remain committed to delivering a signature IC experience to our students in the midst of it, and will continue to prioritize flexibility, safety, and the public good.
A Phased Approach to Students’ Return to Campus
On Tuesday, September 8, the college will begin dual instruction and a staggered return to campus for our students, with our original date of Monday, October 5, being the day by which all of our students will be on campus for in-person instruction.
To be clear, specific groups of students will be welcomed back to campus over the course of four weeks: the weeks of September 8, September 14, September 21, and September 28.
As we determine the specific move-in schedule, we will be giving strong consideration to the importance of ensuring our newest students have a solid early foundation on campus. Research indicates that building a strong sense of community in the first semester is critical to a successful transition to college, and we are taking this into account as we determine the order of students returning.
Details on the move-in plan and the order of the student cohorts for each phase of move-in will be shared no later than Friday, July 17.
By design, this phased approach will prevent a large, sudden influx of our students into the Ithaca area. We’ve been in close communication with Cornell University and Tompkins Cortland Community College to ensure that the arrival of all of our students back to Tompkins County – an estimated 28,000 people from around the globe – will be done responsibly and in a way that affirms our ongoing commitment to prioritizing the health and safety of our students, their families, our faculty and staff, and our Ithaca-area neighbors.
We encourage our students and families to continue to monitor your email for more detailed information as plans continue to unfold and solidify.
For faculty: Dual instruction will be coordinated with you directly via your departments and programs. Please reach out to your chair or dean with any concerns or questions.
Framework of Fall 2020 Semester
Once our students are fully returned to campus, in-person instruction will continue through Tuesday, November 24, two days prior to Thanksgiving. Instruction and coursework will be remote from Monday, November 30, through the last day of classes, Monday, December 14.
Finals will be held remotely beginning Tuesday, December 15.
Framework of Spring 2021
Understanding that concerns around COVID will likely continue into 2021, we are currently planning to begin our Spring 2021 semester on Monday, January 25. We will offer dual instruction and a phased repopulation of campus during the weeks of January 25 and February 1, with all students on campus for in-person instruction starting Monday, February 8.
While we will not schedule a one-week spring break, staff in academic affairs and in student affairs and campus life will be collaborating closely to ensure that “soft breaks” are integrated throughout the spring semester in order to support and prioritize student health and wellbeing.
Finals week for Spring 2021 will be the week of May 10. Senior week will be held the week of May 17.
Commencement for our Class of 2021 will be held on Sunday, May 23. This date was selected in consultation with Cornell University, to ensure that our institutions were not offering this major moment on the same day or weekend.
Health and Safety
The New York Forward plan offers very specific guidelines to colleges and universities around how to prevent the spread of COVID-19, testing for the virus, and what to do if a member of the campus community tests positive.
Our Health and Safety Advisory Group, a part of the Return to Campus Task Force steering committee, is working to ensure compliance with these state guidelines, and will be communicating processes, information, and IC-specific guidance to our campus community.
Within the next few weeks, the advisory group and the task force co-chairs will reach out to our IC community with a high-level framework and parameters around our health and safety guidelines for the coming academic year.
Associate Vice President Susan Bassett has been working closely with her colleagues at IC, including the team physician and head athletic trainer, and with the Liberty League to formulate a framework for intercollegiate athletics competition for the coming year. Any plan that will be put in place will prioritize the health and safety of our scholar-athletes, coaches and staff, and our local communities. For more details about the current status of Bombers athletics, please see Susan’s recent message.
We know you will have specific questions that go beyond the information we’ve just shared. We will continue to keep our community apprised of major news and planning as details become available. Also, please continue to use this form to share your feedback directly with the Return to Campus Task Force.
We look forward to a productive, strong academic year, and have been grateful for the level of investment that our community has demonstrated as we walk through this challenging time together.
Shirley M. Collado
La Jerne Terry Cornish
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs
Vice President and General Counsel
Chief of Staff
Vice President for Student Affairs and Campus Life
Vice President for Finance and Administration
Vice President for Human Resources and Planning
Vice President for Philanthropy and Engagement
Vice President for Marketing and Enrollment Strategy