Ithaca College will be holding online classes for its first week of classes of Spring 2022, with in-person instruction beginning Jan. 31.
In a Jan. 7 email to the campus community, the college announced that there will be an extended move-in period for residential students in phases from Jan. 18 to 30. Students will receive an email Jan. 10 with their assigned move-in date and time, but students will have the option to change it. All students will have to check in at the Athletics and Events (A&E) Center during the Jan. 18 to 30 time period, the email stated. Students must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test — the email stated that polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests are preferred, but the college will accept antigen tests — prior to check-in. Students are also required to take a rapid antigen COVID-19 at the arrival check-in, according to the email.
The college previously announced that all students, unless they have received a prior exemption, are required to receive a booster vaccination. Students have until Feb. 15 to show proof that they have received the booster, unless their eligibility for obtaining a booster is within 30 days of the Feb. 15 deadline. In the Jan. 7 email, the college encouraged students to get vaccinated before they return to campus. Students can find options to receive vaccines here.
Individuals are not considered fully vaccinated unless they have received an original vaccine series and have received a booster if they are eligible, according to New York state health guidelines. The college stated that this will impact quarantine protocols for close contacts if they are not fully vaccinated — as per state guidelines, close contacts who are not fully vaccinated must quarantine for five days and wear a well-fitting mask around others for the next five days. Those who are fully vaccinated, or those who are not yet eligible for a booster, are not required to quarantine, but must wear a well-fitting mask around others for 10 days.
Students can submit proof of their booster dose in the MYICHealth Portal.
In the Jan. 7 email, the college stated that these changes are being made because of the spread of the Omicron variant and to offer flexibility for students. Cornell University announced Jan. 6 that it will be holding two weeks of online instruction in the beginning of the semester, along with an extended move-in period. At the end of the fall semester, Cornell experienced so many COVID-19 cases that it moved to a red COVID-19 alert level and shifted to online exams. Ithaca College also experienced a sharp uptick in COVID-19 cases and shifted to an orange COVID-19 alert level. Both Cornell and Ithaca College attributed these increases in cases to the Omicron variant, which is more contagious than the original SARS-CoV-2 virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In the Jan. 7 email, the college stated that the only exception to the transition to online instruction for the first week of classes is graduate-level coursework that takes place in early January. It is allowed to continue in-person instruction.
By beginning the semester virtually, students who test positive before they travel to Ithaca will be able to self-isolate at home. Both those students and students who test positive upon arrival in Ithaca will not have to miss classes, as they would have if the college had held solely in-person instruction for the first week, according to the email.
Residential students will receive an email from the Office of Residential Life with their assigned move-in date and time Jan. 10, but instructions for changing the pre-assigned move-in time and date will be available in the Housing Portal that will be included in the Jan. 10 email.
According to the email, students who submitted a break occupancy request form before the Dec. 13, 2021 deadline will be allowed to return to campus on their approved date, but students who did not submit a break occupancy request or those who are moving to new room assignments must move in during the Jan. 18 to 30 time period.
Upon check-in at the A&E Center, students will be required to show proof of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival, or a rapid antigen test taken within 24 hours prior to arrival. Additionally, students must take a rapid antigen test at check-in.
If a residential student tests positive at check-in, the college is encouraging them to return home to isolate, but if they are unable to do so, Emerson Hall is available for isolation. The college will work with students who test positive to find a new move-in time and date once their isolation period is over.
Off-campus students who test positive for COVID-19 at check-in will isolate at their off-campus residences and cannot access campus during their isolation period. Off-campus students who do not complete the check-in process will not be allowed to participate in in-person classes, which begin Jan. 31 and will not be able to access on-campus resources, the email stated.
Students who are approved to return to campus early should have received communication regarding the early arrival process. Any student who arrives early and has already gone through a testing and check-in process, does not need to check-in again between Jan. 18 to 30.
Students who test positive prior to arrival to campus should contact email@example.com for information on a delayed arrival process. Those students should not travel to Ithaca if they are still within their isolation period, or if they are mandated to quarantine following a close-contact exposure, which is in line with New York state guidelines.
Additionally, the college is encouraging those who feel unwell to refrain from traveling to Ithaca, regardless of COVID-19 test results and vaccination status.
“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,” the email stated.