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You are here: Home Section Table Shout it Out College and COVID-19: What it’s Like to be a Student at Cornell University During the Pandemic
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College and COVID-19: What it’s Like to be a Student at Cornell University During the Pandemic

cornellIf someone had told me two months ago that I would still be living on campus almost four weeks after my move-in date, I would have never believed them. I am a sophomore at Cornell University who came to Ithaca this semester excited to learn and reunite with my friends, but apprehensive about the administration’s plans to handle the COVID-19 outbreak. I set my expectations quite low, preparing to be sent home earlier than the proposed end to the semester, and allowing myself to get comfortable with the idea that I would probably contract Covid at some point during my time on campus. However, my experience thus far has counteracted my initial concerns.

Life at Cornell is quite different from previous semesters. I take all of my classes remotely, so I rarely ever travel to central campus. This holds true for many students, but some have opted to take one or two classes in-person. Although I have yet to attend an in-person class, I have heard they comply with all safety guidelines.

My social life is different from last year, but not necessarily in a negative way. I live in a sorority house with thirty girls, which is much more lively than dorm life was last year. The freshmen living in dorms are struggling to socialize due to campus rules that limit gatherings to ten people or less. While my meal plan is provided by my house chef, the freshmen go to dining halls and must reserve eating times.

While I do miss the walks to class and studying at the library, I am making the most of the semester. I have been spending a lot more time outdoors, exploring venues around Ithaca, such as the nearby gorges, Ithaca Farmers’ Market, and a drive-in movie theater. I am holding onto the final warm weeks in Ithaca before it is too cold to do any outdoor activities.

Four weeks into my sophomore year, I am much more confident that I will be able to complete the semester in Ithaca. My school has a steady plan in place for containing Covid cases. I am tested for coronavirus twice a week, and anyone who tests positive is put into isolation immediately. As of yesterday, the administration announced that we are operating at a “green” status, which means “cases are rare and transmission is controlled.” That being said, every school is handling the virus differently. Other colleges and universities with a different system in place may be experiencing more cases. I can only speak for what I know from my own school’s plan, and my outlook on the virus should not be generalized for colleges and universities as a whole. Still, I feel safer that I thought I would on campus. My friends, classmates and I have been extremely safe and responsible, keeping gatherings to a minimum and practicing social distancing whenever possible. I am nervous to see how the semester will play out from here, but I am feeling more optimistic than ever before.

Sydney Albert is a 2018 graduate of Scarsdale High School and is now a sophomore in the School of Industrial Relations at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY.

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