Cornell expands travel protocols due to coronavirus

Vice President for Student and Campus Life Ryan Lombardi and Assistant Vice President of Student and Campus Life for Health and Wellbeing Sharon McMullen sent the following message March 2:

As you are aware, guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) related to the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) is evolving rapidly. 

Recently, the U.S. government issued new warnings against travel to Italy and Iran, as well as new screening protocols for travelers returning to the United States from affected areas (CDC Level 3 – Avoid Nonessential Travel, currently mainland China, South Korea, Italy and Iran). In an abundance of caution for the health and safety of our faculty, staff and students, the university has suspended Architecture, Art and Planning’s Cornell in Rome program and is working with the remaining students abroad in Italy and South Korea.

In addition, the university has updated its travel policies, consistent with direction from the New York State Department of Health, to require that all students, faculty and staff returning from a CDC Level 3 affected area, as well as from Japan, undergo quarantine of at least 14 days. Many returning community members have chosen (with strong encouragement from the university) to quarantine at their permanent home residence or with other family members. Students with extraordinary, extenuating circumstances who must return to Ithaca immediately will be quarantined in Ithaca, off-campus, for the 14-day period. All quarantined employees will receive paid leave. More information about self-quarantine is available on Cornell’s coronavirus webpage

Visitors to campus from CDC Level 3 affected areas and Japan should postpone their travel at this time. 

These policies will apply to any campus community member returning from a CDC Level 3 affected area or in response to guidance from public health authorities.

We are mindful of the academic burdens that students, faculty and staff face as more travel destinations and study abroad programs are affected by the spread of the virus. Cornell colleges and schools, in coordination with the provost’s office, will make their best efforts to support those whose semesters may be disrupted due to coronavirus concerns such that they can complete their semesters online or on campus. 

Students abroad with concerns should contact the Education Abroad team at Note that if you are in a country designated (now or in the future) as a Level 2 or 3 affected area, you are required to get in touch with International Travel Safety (at or Education Abroad ( as quickly as possible.

As you may be aware, late yesterday the first confirmed case of COVID-19 was reported in New York state. The patient is in isolation in New York City, and both state and local health officials have stated that the risk to the Cornell community – both in New York City and in Ithaca – remains low.

While there is currently no vaccine to protect against COVID-19, the CDC recommends these preventive actions to reduce the risk of developing influenza and other respiratory illnesses:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

We understand that this is an extremely stressful time for many of you, including those who are being displaced from study abroad programs and those with family and friends in affected areas. We hope that you will all strive to remain compassionate and understanding and to be supportive of one another. 

Should you need additional assistance, please don’t hesitate to reach out to any of the offices listed below. You can also visit Cornell’s coronavirus webpage for ongoing updates and related information.


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John Carberry