Ithaca College is planning for all classes to be in person, for faculty to return to campus and to return to a normal schedule for Fall 2021.
At the All Student and Family Gathering on March 25, La Jerne Cornish, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, announced that the college is planning to be fully open for Fall 2021. Members of the administration also provided updates and answered questions about spring move–out, fall move-in, the Academic Program Prioritization (APP), health and wellness, and student life for Spring and Fall 2021.
After moving to fully remote instruction in March 2020 and staying remote for the fall semester, the college opened for hybrid instruction for Spring 2021. Classes are both in person and online, and students were given the option to return to campus or continue studying remotely.
Cornish said there will be some on-campus activities during summer 2021. She said occupational and physical therapy classes will occur, there will be some graduate and undergraduate classes, the Image Text and graduate music programs will hold workshops, the Summer Music Academy and Piano Institute will take place, Humanities and Sciences Summer Scholars will be on campus, the New York State Arthur O. Eve Higher Education Opportunity Program summer institute will be held and athletics will take place.
Cornish said there will be no overnight recruiting camps at the college for athletics. She also said limited admissions tours will occur over the summer.
Brian Petersen, director of the Center for Counseling and Psychological Services, said all services are taking place through telehealth for the spring semester, which will continue through the summer. There may be in-person counseling services for the fall, he said.
“A lot will happen between now and then, but it is our goal to return to in-person services because I do feel that counseling works best kind of when you’re in the same room as each other,” Petersen said.
In response to a question about study abroad programs, Cornish said the Ithaca College Los Angeles (ICLA) program is hoping to host students this summer and the Ithaca College London Center is hoping to open for the fall. She said the New York City program is suspended for the 2021–22 academic year. Students can still intern in New York City, but the center will be closed.
In response to a question about how the college will continue to offer a variety of classes after the APP process is complete, Cornish said the reduction of 116 full-time equivalent positions sounds larger than it is.
She said 41 faculty reductions are occurring through retirements and attrition. Out of the 41 reductions, 17 are faculty who have already retired, and 24 are faculty who are leaving the college voluntarily over the next three years. Cornish said 44 positions are being reduced because of a decrease in need for part-time faculty, a reduction in assigned time given to faculty and through overload given to faculty who teach beyond their regular workload. She said 23 long-term faculty positions and eight short-term positions have been eliminated.
In response to a question about Fall 2021 move-in, Marsha Dawson, director of the Office of Residential Life and the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards, said it will take place one week before classes start. She said freshmen will be prioritized because of orientation.
Dawson said students will sign up for a move-in appointment as they did for Spring 2021. The sign–ups will go live in July.
Rosanna Ferro, vice president for student affairs and campus life, said these plans are subject to change because of the ever-changing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dawson said housing selection for Fall 2021 will take place in late April. She said students will submit their housing preferences to the college and will then be assigned housing based on those preferences.
“With so many students that are remote and not here, it’s difficult to say that we’re going to have an in-person selection, really just being creative in how we can still honor and provide spaces or options that students are interested in, while still prioritizing safety,” Dawson said.
Dawson said for spring move–out, family members will not be allowed in buildings. Students will have to move their belongings out of their buildings by themselves, similarly to spring move-in.
She said students are expected to move out 24 hours after their last final, or by 3 p.m. May 15. There will be drop boxes for students to drop off their keys in residence halls.
Ferro said move–out will be phased and there will be sign-ups.
In response to a question about opening Muller Chapel, which is currently closed to the campus community, Hierald Osorto, director of the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life, said the college is considering a phased opening of the chapel, to have it open regularly, especially for the last week of classes and finals week.
“It is too beautiful to remain closed,” Osorto said.
In response to a question about the possibility of the college offering COVID-19 vaccines, Christina Moylan, director of public health emergency preparedness, said there are currently not enough vaccines for the college to have a vaccine clinic on campus, but the college has submitted the paperwork to do so.
“As soon as they make the vaccine available outside of the established vaccine clinics … once they make that available to institutions of higher education, we’re ready to set up a [point of distribution] to be able to provide that. Moylan said. “Not just to students, but to our employees as well.”
Ferro said there has been no official decision about whether students will be mandated to be vaccinated to return to campus in the fall.