ITHACA, N.Y. –– Earlier this week, Ithaca College announced greater details about its plans to reopen campus for in-person learning in 2021 and how the school envisions the spring semester playing out.

Dubbed “Returning to South Hill,” the plan states that classes will start on Jan. 25 with remote-only instruction, lasting until Feb. 8, when the school will introduce a hybrid learning model that will allow for remote learning, in-person classes and courses that incorporate both. There will be no spring break, though the school has instituted five off-days during the semester, weekdays that will serve as holidays and have no classes. Travel during those times is discouraged in accordance with “health guidance to help limit travel.”

“We understand the desire you may have to visit family or friends back home or elsewhere during these breaks,” wrote the school’s provost, La Jerne Cornish, and VP for Student Affairs and Campus Life Rosanna Ferro. “However, we expect you to remain in Ithaca and that family and friends refrain from coming to Ithaca, for your health and the health of others.”

Students will be given the option to attend classes in-person (provided classroom space allows), study remotely from their residence hall or permanent home address, or if already approved, study remotely while living at their Ithaca address off-campus. Students living on-campus must adhere to the school’s move-in schedule, which will take place over a two-week period while classes are being held online in late January. The school is also enacting a one-semester exception to the customary residency requirement if a student had to sign a year-long lease while pursuing alternative housing when IC closed its campus in March 2020.

Following federal and state guidelines, IC is asking students from certain states and countries with high infection rates to quarantine for 14 days upon arriving to New York, or alternatively to quarantine in a state that is not listed as a high-infection rate place by New York State. Additionally, the school is asking all students returning to campus to quarantine for two weeks or 14 days at their home or in a safe state. A compliance form will be required for those quarantining, and the school will have 50 rooms available for quarantine to be used by students with “extreme circumstances” (i.e.without the resources to make other arrangements.)

Returning students are also requested to be tested for COVID-19, and are urged to receive the flu vaccine. The school also acknowledged the ever-present chance of a re-closing because of an outbreak, saying that plans are in place in the event of such an occurrence.

“You are probably aware that many institutions that opened this fall for in-person instruction subsequently saw increasing numbers of positive COVID-19 cases which necessitated changes in their operational status,” the announcement stated. “Should this occur during our spring semester, Ithaca College will respond as directed by government or public health officials. This could include shifting to a ‘shelter in place,’ in which students remain but coursework is delivered remotely for a temporary period, or a campus shutdown, in which students must return to their permanent residence for remote instruction.”

More information will be made available in the coming weeks, including at a virtual gathering scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 5 at 6 p.m. which will focus on safety expectations and move-in procedures. The school said a link to register for the event will be sent soon.

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is the Education & Public Health Reporter at the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at mbutler@ithacavoice.com