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Students return to classes at Cornell Sept. 2.

Cornell opens Fall 2020 semester

The first day of fall classes found students returning to a new kind of campus, one that is quieter, less crowded and very different from the one they last set foot on back in March.

But as strange as the “new normal” felt, simply being back on campus was a tremendous relief.

Students chat along East Avenue near the Physical Sciences Building during the first day of classes.

“It’s weird to come in here, into this building, into this space, at this time of day and have it be this quiet. This is what it’s like Sunday at 10 a.m. But at the same time, I’m so relieved that we are here.”

Marne Decker ’23, sitting in the Klarman Hall atrium

Students attend a class, Civil Disobedience, in Sibley Hall on the first day classes at Cornell.

“There’s a lot of relearning how to do things. You have to relearn how to get food from the dining hall because it’s basically only takeout. Or you have to reserve on Open Table if you want to seat yourself, but it’s only one person seating. … But I love seeing everyone outdoors. I’m in Keeton House and we have a courtyard and there’s more tables there. There’s a lot of people outside, playing games, hanging out. And that’s where a lot of people eat now.”

Victoria Bal ’22

A student attends a lecture in the course Civil Disobedience in Sibley Hall.

“I just hope that people find ways to have the interactions they so need while being safe and making sure they’re thinking about how Cornell isn’t just one person but it’s everyone.”

Maddie Sand ‘23

Students work together outside Goldwin Smith Hall during the first day of classes.

“As I was driving back to campus, I was just like, things are going to be different. You just need to be able to adapt to different conditions. And if you’re able to adapt pretty well to it, then things should be fine. … I used to be really anxious and afraid. But I just kind of adapted and learned that these are tough times. You’ve got to just roll with it.”

Greg Livingstone ’22

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Abby Butler