Coronavirus Update, August 13, 2020

Ithaca College has released its long-awaited official reactivation plan, outlining protocols the school will follow as it welcomes students back later this month.

The students will be asked back to campus in waves starting at the end of the month, confirming an early notice released in late June. According to the Ithaca Voice, the first wave of the students’ return begins August 28th, and the rest of the students will be brought back in waves throughout September. The plan details that students will have to be tested for COVID-19 when they are checking into housing, and will be required to quarantine, alone, while waiting for the results. 

Additionally, students coming from the Governor Cuomo’s list of 30+ restricted states are not allowed to return to campus for classes and housing.

The semester is set to start on October 5, with courses wrapping up on November 24th. During that time, the college plans on making staff and students participate in electronic daily screenings to detect COVID-19 as soon as possible. Testing of employees with on-campus duties this fall will be tested for the virus beginning this week. Students who are found to be non-compliant with virtual testing will have some student privileges suspended. 

The college also says that they will carry out surveillance testing for the virus, but according to the Ithaca Voice, few details have been given. 

While Cornell University continues to refine its plans for this fall’s in-person reopening, an increasing number of Ivy League schools are going the opposite direction --  and only opening online. 

According to the Cornell Daily Sun, the University of Pennsylvania and Brown University both announced Tuesday that they would be abandoning plans to do a mix of in-person and online classes — in favor of entirely online semesters. These two institutions are joining other Ivy league schools in the decision, notably Harvard, Columbia, Yale, Dartmouth and Princeton. This leaves Cornell alone in preparing for the return of its students, some of which have already begun returning to the city. Last week, Pollack affirmed that not having classes in person, would lead to more students contracting the virus, according to modeling conducted by the school. 

Looking at the local COVID-19 caseload, there are no new cases of the virus confirmed in Tompkins as of Wednesday, and 3 additional recoveries. According to the County Health Department, that leaves 8 active cases of COVID-19 in Tompkins.

In Schuyler County, again there are no new cases of COVID-19 reported as of Thursday, according to their Health Department. All active cases have recovered.

Lansing school superintendent Chris Pettograsso outlined her school district’s re-opening plans at a Board of Education meeting on Monday, reports the Ithaca Times.

Like some local school districts, the Lansing Central School District is providing families with a choice of having their children attend a hybrid mixture of in-person and remote learning, or remote learning only. 

Pettograsso says the health screening system that will be used for students attending in-person includes using a smartphone app developed by Cayuga Medical Center.  At an upcoming meeting, Lansing schools will provide a presentation on how families can use the app properly.

Superintendent Pettograsso adds that depending on how many students choose to participate in the hybrid plan, the school district could increase the number of days that students attend in person. In any case, there will be no in-person classes on Friday, which will be used for professional development and planning.

The Tompkins County Department of Recycling and Materials Management, or TCRMM, wants to know what the public thinks about its facility.

Towards that goal, the agency has set up a new survey for county residents, according to the Ithaca Voice.  The group hopes to collect feedback and ideas on how to make the facility safer and more easily accessible. 

Jeremy Betterley, the communications coordinator for TCRMM says that the survey results will also be used to learn more about how residents get information from his office.

The business is using an online civic engagement platform to host the survey.  Listeners can respond to the survey online or pick up a paper survey at the recycling and solid waste center, located at 160 Commercial Avenue in Ithaca.

Forty-nine states currently provide an age breakdown of novel coronavirus cases, providing insight into the prevalence of the virus in school-age children. reports that New York is the only state that has not provided an age distribution of cases statewide, although New York City has reported that information. When requested statistics for the rest of the state, the state Department of Health responded that such information is not publicly available.   

A recent report from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association shows a 40 percent increase in child COVID-19 cases nationwide from July 16 to July 30. Children made up about 9 percent of all cases in the country as of the end of July.  And the infection rate was 447 per 100,000 children.

At the end of July, children made up between 3 and 11 percent of total state tests, and between 4 and 18 percent of those tests were positive.  All told, 100,000 kids tested positive during this period in the U.S.

Contributing writing by WRFI News Volunteers Esther Racoosin and Ed von Aderkas