Cornell Holds Virtual Meetings To Answer Reopening Questions

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Updated:  7/15/20 – 8:44 A.M.

TOMPKINS COUNTY, NY (WSKG) – Residents are getting the chance to question Cornell University and Tompkins County health officials about the school’s reopening plans.

The questions came during several virtual town hall meetings this week.

One recurring question was about students who are already returning to the area, especially if they come from communities seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases.

Celia Clarke/WSKG Public Radio

Joel Malina, Vice President for University Relations, Cornell University, speaking during a virtual town hall about the university’s reopening plans. (screen capture, Celia Clarke/WSKG Public Radio)

“Testing will begin. Very shortly there will be clinics available to our students off-campus. And those that will be beginning to live on campus, associated with move-in, registration for those tests, required tests will begin over the coming days,” said Joel Malina, Vice President of University Relations at Cornell.*

Malina said students are “encouraged” to quarantine for 14 days at home before returning to Ithaca.

In a different meeting lead by Cornell students, Tompkins County Health Director Frank Kruppa responded to another frequent question about compliance and enforcement.

“We do have a lot of tools available to us if folks are constantly or openly non-compliant and we’ll use those as necessary,” he said. He did not explain what those measures are, but said they are a last resort.

Kruppa said the health department is working with all area schools to educate students about what measures are necessary and why. A recent University of Connecticut study shows students are very concerned about that issue.

Kruppa also pointed out the county has already dealt successfully with non-compliant and full-time residents.

As approximately 30,000 students return to Tompkins County, Vice President Joel Malina said an increase in COVID-19 cases is inevitable  The university’s plans are designed to limit the number of cases and contain the spread of infection.*

Just before the Tuesday afternoon meeting began, the Tompkins County Health Department announced the county had ten new cases of COVID-19. It explained some are related to people who traveled out of town to places experiencing an increase in cases. The other cases were traced to a local Fourth of July celebration where people did not wear masks or practice safe distancing.

Full disclosure: Cornell University is a WSKG Underwriter.

* This article was updated to correct Joel Malina’s job title. He is Vice President of University Relations, not Vice Provost.