Two of the local higher education institutes have released official plans for how they will resume instruction this fall.

Cornell University will offer a mix of in-person and online instruction for the fall semester, reports The Cornell Daily Sun. President Martha Pollack announced this afternoon that reopening in the fall is the safest option because of the university’s strict health precautions and plans for widespread COVID-19 testing.

Classes will begin on September 2, instead of the original start date of August 29. Students will leave campus for the semester by Thanksgiving break and finish the semester online. The spring semester is expected to start sometime in February, with more details on the phased move-in in the near future.

Additionally, students will be tested for COVID-19 before or when they arrive to Ithaca. Students will be frequently screened throughout the semester, and they will be required to complete a daily online questionnaire about their symptoms. According to the Ithaca voice, the testing plan is still being solidified. Cayuga Health System told the Voice that they’ve been working with Cornell to help with their reopening — including testing.

While on campus, students must wear a mask, and classrooms will adjust to adhere to social distancing guidelines, including restricting large social gatherings. Additionally, residential housing will be limited to singles and doubles, and dining halls will offer take-out only or online reservations.

Ithaca College has also released a revised 2020-2021 Academic Calendar, just hours after Cornell released its plan for the fall.

According to a statement from the school, IC’s fall semester will begin on September 8 with online instruction and a staggered return to campus for students over four weeks. Monday, October 5th is still the date that all students will begin in-person instruction on-campus. Details for student move in will be released no later than July 17th.

In-person instruction will continue through Tuesday, November 24th and remote learning will continue from Monday, November 30th until the end of the fall semester. The Spring semester is expected to begin on January 25th with dual instruction and a phased return to campus until the start of in-person instruction on Monday, February 8th.

Tompkins Cortland Community college, or TC3, has not yet announced its reopening plans for the fall semester.

A number of local eateries are closing their doors permanently due to economic fallout from the pandemic.

John Thomas Steakhouse is closing after 26 years of business. Owner Michael Kelly said that coronavirus has made it too dangerous to continue operating, but the restaurant will sell its steak inventory online or curbside pick-up until the supply is gone, reports Ithaca Times.

Ten Forward Cafe, the Star Trek-themed vegan eatery on the second floor of Autumn Leaves Bookstore will also not reopen due to COVID-19. 14850 magazine reports the cafe is offering refunds to outstanding gift cards for 30 days. Those with e-gift cards can request a refund online and others can email

And, Sweet Melissa’s co-owner announced earlier this week that the shop’s Press Bay Alley location has permanently closed down. The shop has been closed since April as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, but co-owner Melissa Kenny told the Ithaca Voice that they recently lost out on the Press Bay space.

Kenny also said she is unsure how she will continue to produce hard ice cream without this retail source, as the second location allowed her to maintain pasteurization equipment to make the hard ice cream from scratch. Sweet Melissa’s original location at the Shortstop Deli on West Seneca Street was originally only soft-serve ice cream, and the production of hard ice cream relies on soft serve sales to be able to sell both kinds.

Kenny started a fundraiser in March to make up for lost funds after the shop had to close, but donations have ceased since the Shortstop location reopened. Apparently, the response from the community has been positive, but sales are far lower than in previous years.

Immaculate Conception Food Pantry has reopened after being closed since January from asbestos abatement and coronavirus. The pantry is located in the basement, where asbestos was found, according to the Ithaca Voice.

Visitors to the pantry are asked to wear a mask, bring a reusable bag if possible, wait outside the pantry and fill out a form in order to prevent crowding and the spread of COVID-19. Immaculate Conception Food Pantry is open every Tuesday from 1 pm - 2 pm, and located at 113 North Geneva St in Ithaca.

The Masters Historic Racing Weekend that was scheduled for July 10-12 at the Watkins Glen international speedway has been cancelled. According to, this follows the mandatory quarantine imposed this week in New York on visitors from out of state. With nearly 120 entries in the race, too many were from states on the mandatory quarantine list to make the event viable. As well, the management staff for Historic Racing is located in Florida.

The weekend was a new event at Watkins Glen and was supposed to include the Masters Endurance Legends series, and a full schedule of HSR races.

New York GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy is asking state legislators to reduce Governor Andrew Cuomo’s executive powers that he’s had since the state of emergency that was enabled in the face of COVID-19. According to New York Upstate, Republican state legislators have called for Cuomo’s authority to be reduced. Other lawmakers approve of the executive authority that expires next year, stating that it allows for quick action for public health.

Langworthy says that the executive power was appropriate during the height of the virus, but there should now be a quote “diversity in thought” unquote and involvement of representatives who understand their constituents best.

Looking to the local COVID-19 caseload, In Tompkins County 165 of the 168 people infected with the virus in Tompkins have recovered as of yesterday, according to the county health department. There are no new or active cases of the virus in Schuyler County, according to their health department. All 14 people infected with the virus have recovered.

Contributing writing by WRFI News Interns Tessie Devlin, Phoebe Harms, and Jon Donville