At the All Student and Family Gathering on March 25, La Jerne Cornish, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, announced that 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. President Shirley M. Collado reaffirmed this in a message to the campus community sent April 7.
After more than a year of fully and hybrid remote instruction, in-person classes sound too good to be true. While this is reassuring news — and a surely needed boost to make it through the end of this semester — we must remain cautiously optimistic.
This announcement sounds eerily familiar. Last fall, the college was communicating ambitiously for three months that it would be open for in-person instruction in Fall 2020. The college reversed its decision just 10 days before the first phase of students was set to move onto campus.
Now that we are further into the pandemic, it should be a given that all plans are subject to change. Even with a robust vaccine rollout across the nation and in New York state, COVID-19 remains a threat.
Though the United States has had one of the most successful vaccine rollouts of any nation, cases continue to increase nationally and globally. It would be unfortunate to see a similar fate to last fall. But ultimately, it is up to members of the campus community to continue to practice COVID-19 precautions to ensure that we can actually return in the fall. This means getting a mask, social distancing, and even more, getting a vaccine — which we all can, and should, do now.
COVID-19 Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines reduced risk of infection by 80% two weeks or more after the first of two shots, and the risk of infection fell 90% by two weeks after the second shot, according to a recent study. Students can make vaccine appointments through New York state at a state vaccination site or put their names on the Tompkins County Vaccine Registry to be notified of available appointments. Students can also look for appointments at Kinney Drugs, Wegmans, Walgreens or CVS Pharmacy.
It is reassuring that the college is requiring all students to be vaccinated in order to attend in Fall 2021 and shows a commitment to a successful reopening. To have another semester of remote or hybrid instruction would be detrimental to our education and well-being. The most we can do now is follow guidelines that were established to keep us safe and prevent the spread of the virus. If we want to return to our normal lives, we have to put in the work now.