President Martha E. Pollack and Provost Michael Kotlikoff sent the following message Feb. 5:
As noted in the CornellALERT sent moments ago, the university has identified a cluster of at least 12 positive COVID-19 cases within our student body. The cases are related to a party in Collegetown, which many members of Greek life organizations attended and where face covering and physical distancing requirements were not followed. As contacts from this event continue to be quarantined and tested, it is likely that the number of positive cases will continue to grow over the coming days. Even beyond this one cluster, the great majority of students who have tested positive since Monday in surveillance (non-arrival) testing are fraternity or sorority members.
The disregard of public health guidelines, all of which are requirements of the student behavioral compact, by some of our students represents a significant risk to the health and safety of our community. It is essential that all students, including those in the fraternity and sorority system, abide by the compact, which includes cooperating with contact investigations.
The pandemic is not over. We’re faced with increased virus prevalence locally and in the nation, and, most recently, the emergence of one of the virus variants in our community. The stakes for ourselves and for our in-person semester are real. Due to the potential of these cases to increase on-campus transmission of the virus, we have decided to move the campus to alert status Yellow: Low to Moderate Risk.
Moving to COVID-19 alert level yellow prior to the first day of classes is not the start to the semester that we had hoped for. And with Super Bowl weekend upon us, it is imperative that we each lead by example by following all public health and safety guidelines, including avoiding gatherings of any size.
We have already proven that we have the ability to keep the virus in check on our campus, but that only remains possible through our collective actions.