Cornell University shut down campus activities and moved final exams online starting Tuesday due to an increase in COVID-19 cases among the student body.
Cornell President Martha E. Pollack announced on Dec. 14 that the university is moving to Alert Level Red, which indicates "high risk" for COVID-19 transmission. Nearly all university facilities and university-sponsored events have been closed or canceled, Pollack wrote. All final exams, starting at noon on Tuesday, will be conducted online.
The announcement was made as active student cases reached a record high of 469 active cases on Monday, according to The Cornell Daily Sun. Pollack also wrote that recent testing data revealed that the Omicron variant could be present in "a significant number of Monday’s positive student samples."
A recognition ceremony for December graduates, scheduled for Dec. 18, as well as athletic competitions on the upcoming Sunday were all canceled. University libraries and fitness centers also closed. While dining halls remain open, students are encouraged to utilize “grab-and-go” options, the announcement read.
Pollack advised students to receive a negative test result for COVID-19 and to self-quarantine before any travel.
The switch to the Alert Level Red marks the first time in three semesters that Cornell has moved beyond the less risky green and yellow alerts, The Cornell Daily Sun reported.
Among Ivy League institutions, Cornell is the only so far to shut down all campus facilities in the fall 2021 semester. Princeton University announced that it would move all final exams beginning Dec. 16 to an online format.
On Dec. 9, Penn sent a UPennAlert to community members, canceling all indoor social events for the remainder of the semester. This Wednesday, Penn also announced that final exams during the week of Dec. 20 would be conducted online.
"It is obviously extremely dispiriting to have to take these steps," Pollack wrote. "However, since the start of the pandemic, our commitment has been to follow the science and do all we can to protect the health of our faculty, staff, and students."