Governor Andrew Cuomo is reaffirming that colleges and universities in New York state that reach 100 COVID cases in two weeks must temporarily suspend in-person classes. Even though there have been 82 cases reported out of Cornell, only 31 cases will count towards that threshold. The Cornell Daily Sun explains that this is due to the state guidelines that only count cases for the threshold if students reside on campus or are taking at least one in-person course.
Cornell’s COVID dashboard was updated Tuesday to report the “confirmed on-campus positives” mandated by NY State. Half of students live off campus and two thirds of the courses are taught online, which lowers the amount of cases that can be counted for the threshold. However, Cornell University President Martha E. Pollack has said that maintaining less than 100 cases in two weeks will be “extremely difficult.”
Looking at the local COVID-19 caseload, the latest numbers released Tuesday afternoon from the Tompkins County health department, indicate that there are 3 additional positives, and 9 new recoveries. According to the County Health Department, that leaves 80 active cases of COVID-19 in Tompkins.
In Schuyler County, there are no new cases of COVID-19 reported as of Wednesday, according to their Health Department. There are 2 active cases.
At the Ithaca City School District Board meeting Tuesday night, Superintendent Dr. Luvelle Brown shared that the district and the BOE are working to find the safest way to reopen schools in early October with in-person learning.
Dr. Brown presented to the board three re-opening plans that will be created by the newly-formed ICSD reopening task force, the Ithaca Voice reports. The three plans are: A five-day in-person learning experience for students who want to attend school in person; a five-day in-person schedule for elementary school students with remote learning for secondary school students, and fully remote learning.
While Superintendent Brown and many members of the ICSD school board prefer in-person learning, this plan could be limited because 68 percent of the district’s teachers say they would prefer teaching remotely. Brown suggests that the ICSD administration might require some teachers to return to the classroom if enough students say they want in-person learning.
The Ithaca Teachers Association union, or ITA, is currently undergoing negotiations with the district regarding whether teachers can have their choice as to return to the classroom, or teach remotely. ITA President Adam Piasecki says that the district’s idea to allow teacher choice based on seniority may not be accepted by the union membership.
ICSD and the board of education seek to assure teachers that it is safe to go back into the classroom by putting in place sufficient safety procedures. ICSD Deputy Superintendent Lily Talcott told the BOE that the reopening task force will be meeting frequently over the next few weeks to iron out details about reopening plans.
Governor Cuomo announced Wednesday afternoon that New York City restaurants can resume indoor dining with a 25 percent occupancy limit starting on September 30. While other parts of New York state reopened their indoor dining rooms in late spring, the city’s restaurants have been limited to outdoor seating.
Restaurants that reopen must have temperature checks, take down contact tracing information, and enforce that patrons wear face masks when they’re not seated. Bar services are not allowed and businesses will have to close at midnight.
Guidelines will be reassessed by November 1. If the infection rate doesn’t increase, some businesses may be able to increase to 50 percent capacity. Restaurants must publicly post their capacity and phone number to report a violation.
Contributing writing by WRFI News Intern Tessie Devlin and WRFI Contributor Esther Racoosin