Travel poses considerable risk during an infectious disease outbreak as individuals visiting locations with higher prevalence of disease may return to their homes with the pathogen. This has been demonstrated to be the case with COVID-19 as some of the spread of the disease around the globe came as a result of infected travelers passing on the virus in their local communities. Additionally, during travel it is often more difficult to maintain strict physical distancing for activities of daily living, especially if travel makes use of public transportation. Activities of daily living are also riskier during travel (for example, using shared restrooms, eating in restaurants, etc.). It is due to these issues that we combine the issues of “travel” and “visitors” in a singular policy since the fundamental concern is that someone whose workplace is external to the Cornell Tech Campus may have contracted the virus during travel or by spending time in a place with a high incidence of the virus and may, therefore, upon return to or visiting Cornell Tech, pose a risk to those already on our campus and to our community where prevalence has been controlled.

Although travel poses risk, some travel may be essential for work, and individuals may feel it necessary to travel for personal reasons. This policy does not restrict personal travel but does offer guidance and references governmental restrictions that should be considered when planning personal travel.

Not all travel poses the same level of increased risk. For example, a local camping trip and a cross-country train ride poses different risks. Although there are obviously others, examples of high risk travel include (a) travel to cities or regions with a high number of COVID-19 cases; and (b) travel using public modes of transportation, particularly through airport hubs, in planes, trains, subways, boats, ships and buses. (Note: regular commuting to and from campus is not included in higher risk travel activities).

This policy has three main areas that cover: (a) all Cornell Tech Campus staff and faculty, (b) visitors to our campus, and (c) a process for exceptions.

Cornell Tech Campus Staff and Faculty:

  • All travel should follow state, federal, and international guidelines.
  • Cornell’s international travel guidelines must be followed.
  • Non-essential business travel is prohibited. Essential business travel requires approval by the dean of the college, appropriate vice president, or vice provost, and must follow current Cornell University Policies governing travel generally.
  • Personal travel that presents increased risk at this time is strongly discouraged. Nevertheless, members of our community may find it necessary to undertake such travel, and it is not prohibited by Cornell.
  • Prior to committing to any travel, all employees should carefully review the most current CDC safety guidelines as well as any New York State guidance.
  • As always, employees must seek approval in advance from their supervisor for any time off.
  • Employees who undertake personal travel should anticipate potential governmental quarantine restrictions if they will be traveling out of state. Advance guidance is important to anticipate the potential need for testing and possible additional time away from campus upon return. Such time should be built into employee planning, and shared with the relevant supervisor, department chair, or college dean as might be applicable.
  • Leave must be requested with any known return quarantine restrictions incorporated. Given the length (14 days) of quarantine, upon return to New York from certain states, leave time may not be able to be approved for individuals who cannot remote work from home. Any leave required to cover required quarantine will need to be covered by the employee or taken as unpaid leave. [1]
  • All travelers who have undertaken high risk travel are encouraged to obtain COVID-19 testing upon their return to NYC. Even if not subject to state quarantine requirements, travelers returning from high risk travel should make every effort to remote work until it is clear that no infection has occurred.

Visitors to the Cornell Tech Campus:

Cornell Tech is accustomed to being an open and welcoming community with minor restrictions on who visits and travels through our campus. Given the need to de-densify the campus to facilitate physical distancing, and the fact that visitors may unknowingly bring COVID-19 into the community, this policy imposes significant restrictions on visitors during the 2020-2021 academic year.

  • No individual may enter Cornell Tech Campus academic facilities unless they are (a) approved current students, staff, or faculty; (b) essential visitors as defined below; or (c) approved in writing by the dean, chief administrative officer, or a delegate from one of those individuals.
  • Individuals with a need to frequently visit the Cornell Tech Campus to provide services, teaching (non-faculty), or other in-person consultation may be proposed for recurring approval by the dean, chief administrative officer, or a delegate from one of those individuals.
  • Essential visitors such as food and delivery workers, construction and service providers all covered under New York state regulations are allowed. [2]
  • Certain facilities may be open to the public (for example, the Cafe @ Cornell Tech), but prevailing NYS guidelines must be strictly enforced in regard to such operations.
  • Long-term visitors must be approved in writing by the dean, chief administrative officer, or a delegate of one of those individuals and will be subject to the daily check-in and will be expected to follow the guidance in the section above on “Cornell Tech Campus Staff and Faculty.”
  • Outdoor spaces (e.g. tech walk, campus plaza, campus lawn) currently remain open, but Cornell’s mask and physical distancing policy must be followed. [3]
  • All residents of The House @ Cornell Tech must comply with all visitor policies and restrictions imposed by residential housing management.
  • As a result of the above visitor restrictions, in person events involving non-approved faculty, staff, or students, will not be permitted on campus during the Fall 2020 semester. Wherever possible, events should be conducted virtually.

Process for Exceptions

Exceptions to this policy (including more- and less-restrictive measures) for any reason will be considered by request in writing to the Cornell Tech Dean and Vice Provost. Such requests can be made after they have been endorsed by the appropriate department supervisor. All decisions are final.

[1] In exceptional circumstances, a request for paid leave should be made to the individual’s HR representative and must be approved by the Vice President for HR. If the government mandated quarantine is imposed on a state after an individual has left for (or is in or returning from) that state, that individual will be paid during the time of the individual’s quarantine.