ITHACA, N.Y.—Though there was a slight cloud looming over the proceedings, as the Cornell University campus community continued to reel after Sunday’s bomb threats, school officials held their monthly Greater Ithaca Town Hall Monday afternoon.
Since they began, the events have served primarily to update the community on Cornell’s COVID-19 response, and Monday’s event was largely the same. Very few questions were asked by the audience of VP of University Relations Joel Malina, and his address primarily had to do with Cornell’s vaccination progress.
The school announced a vaccination mandate for on-campus students in spring, which took effect for the Fall semester, it did not issue a vaccination mandate for all faculty and staff until October. Whether from the mandate or not, the school’s vaccination efforts have proven to be largely effective: 97 percent of the on-campus population is vaccinated, including 100 percent of professional faculty and 99 percent of both undergraduate and graduate students. However, other employees outside of professional faculty have lagged behind a bit, at 92 percent.
Malina said the school does hope to convince those hold-outs to get the shot before Dec. 8. Religious and medical exemptions are available for those who apply for them.
“There still remain individuals that we are working with to get them vaccinated before Dec. 8,” Malina said. “That is our hope. But those who are unable to receive a religious or medical exemption will be taken off the Cornell payroll, so we’re hoping we see that number dwindle.”
Malina said the school continues to be in close contact with the Tompkins County Health Department, and that the university maintains its mask mandate as well as the vaccination requirement.
Additionally, in his opening comments, Malina thanked various law enforcement agencies that assisted with the bomb threat situation, including Cornell University Police Department, Ithaca Police, Tompkins County Sheriffs Office and New York State Police, among others.
“It was a very heartwarming demonstration of partnerships that we talk about frequently but I had the privilege of seeing those partnerships in action,” Malina said.