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SIPS Fall 2020 FAQ

Initial document posted 08-14-2020. Significant updates made on 09-15-2020.


Student hiring

We can submit the requests, but there is no guarantee of approval.

  • Continuing Students (those active appointments in Workday with you, even if not currently working)
    • Ensure your safety protocols can continue with added personnel
    • They can start working and logging hours in Workday
  • New Students
    • Requests should be submitted at least 2 weeks prior to start date.
    • New student hiring form - CALS Student Hire Form
  • For Credit Students
    • They enroll the “usual” way through the special studies form.

Temp/Staff Hiring

We can submit the requests, but there are no guarantees. There is hiring freeze. If the hire is part of your plan and doesn’t impact existing staff, they will be accepted for review.

  • There will be efforts on both sides, SIPS and CALS, to find existing staff.
    • Your Admin Manager (Tami or Leslie) will advertise internally to a targeted group via email. If no one found ¯
    • CALS HR will look internally for layoff candidates, etc. If no one found ¯
    • Position would be posted internally for 5 days. If no one found ¯
    • If no one, then external
  • Name or position must be identified in your reactivation plan, including protocols on how you are managing their presence.
  • Requests should be submitted at least 2 weeks prior to start date.
  • Temp hiring form - Hire Form
    • Positions paid on sponsored (grant, contract) will be reviewed by CALS
    • Positions paid on all over funds (discretionary) will be reviewed by CALS and then reviewed by the VP office

Daily Health Check

  • Students who are taking in-person classes, instructors who are teaching in-person and anyone on an approved reactivation plan should be using the Cornell Daily Health check form, emailed to folks each morning. Or accessed through Launchpad -


  • For more info on testing
  • Faculty and staff are categorized by their activity level and interaction, put into testing groups.
  • As folks are added to the daily health check list, HR will assign them to a category.
  • When you sign in to Daily Health Check, you will be directed to schedule your test.
  • We understand frustrations about testing scheduling but have limited control over the policy.  We suggest emailing the “Need Help” email address listed on Cornell’s main COVID website: Responses to this email address have been relatively quick.

  • What if I miss or need to miss my test? (e.g., on vacation, traveling, other)
    There is a new drop-down option to request to skip your test. If the reasons listed do not fit your situation, send a note to your HR rep (Kate Nicholson).

Research Reactivation Plans

Just adding a person?

  1. Open your plan -
  2. Click Add Row, add person
  3. Click Submit New Personnel button

Need to also add or change the content of your plan?

  1. Go here -
  2. Click Re-Open
  3. Edit your plan, click Submit

Need to edit your field research plan, or add a name to it, from the Spring?

  1. Go here -
  2. Click Submit a Plan
  3. You do not have to recreate the entire plan, just add the new stuff and reference the original plan

Extension Activity Requests

Planning an extension workshop or need to plan for your annual extension activities?

  • Go here -
  • Choose Non-Research/Extension
  • Plans should be submitted for all planned activity during the academic year, e.g. if your program wants to host five meetings, please submit one plan for all five occurrences.
  • If the dates/locations unknown, submit a vague plan that covers the TBD activity.
    Example: I regularly get requests from extension educators to visit farms to help diagnose problems with berries. My plan is to be able to respond to these requests in a timely manner by visiting the problem areas when appropriate and necessary to do so.

Teaching Reactivation

Teaching in general

In Person Meetings

  • Things that can be done remotely should still be done remotely.
  • The Provost sent an update about in-person gatherings and activities. In-person, university-sponsored events and activities of 10 people or fewer are now permitted (face masks and physical distancing are required).
  • Undergrads – can reserve study space (rms 124, 141, and 317 PLS) using Chatter.
  • Grad Students – can reserve local study spaces (rms 237, 238B EMR, 328a and G22 PLS) using LibCal.
  • Faculty & Staff – can be reserved for general purposes (rms 336 and G22 PLS, 413 Mann, 238B EMR and BF 813) using LibCal.

PPE & Masks

  • A mask or cloth face covering is worn to reduce community spread of the disease
    • Masks with exhalation valves are not permitted
  • For more info on mask and face coverings, visit
  • Students who have a medical exemptions will be doing online learning
    • Students who are unable to wear a mask or face covering due to a medical condition or other protected reason should contact Student Disability Services
  • SIPS is purchasing anything needed for teaching. Let Chris know ASAP what you need
    • There will be PPE in 129 PLS and in Emerson 242
    • There will be face shields for use when teaching. Keep them.
    • There will be some disposable masks available if you forget or need a regular mask.
    • You will each receive a bottle of sanitizer
  • General

Classroom Cleaning

  • Building Care will clean the classrooms twice per day.
  • There will also be sanitizing stations for each room for students to provide additional cleaning.

Building Access

  • All CALS buildings, including Plant Science, will remain locked at all times during the semester. A valid Cornell ID card can be used to enter.
  • Only those approved to come to campus are allowed to come to campus. If you are not:
    • A student taking an in-person class,  
    • A faculty/instructor/TA teaching a course in-person,
    • or are not explicitly listed in an approved reactivation plan, you cannot enter the building(s).
  • Signs should not be posted barring undergraduates from spaces in our buildings. In person classes are being taught in Bradfield and Plant Science,  undergrads are included in PI research plans, and there are rooms available for students to schedule for study or remote class attendance.

Admin Staffing for Fall

  • All administrative staff will continue working remotely through the Fall.
  • Their doors will have posters with multiple ways of contact.
  • We encourage phone calls. Their office phones are set up to forward to them at home.

Business Travel Requests & Fleet Services

  • No standard process. Should run through Chair and SrAD.
  • Send Chair your travel request, including destination, departure and return dates, and purpose.
  • Chair will review > Chris will review > SrAD will review
  • No need for prior approval if your travel plans are included and detailed in your reactivation plan

Personal Travel Requests

  • Consult and discuss with your supervisor prior to traveling out of the area.
  • Refer to NYS regulations and quarantine requirements.
  • If your destination is on the list of restricted states, you will be required to quarantine for 14 days upon return, before returning to campus.
    • If there remote work cannot be done during the quarantine period, the employee must take vacation/sick/unpaid time.

Student Study Spaces

  • Undergraduates
    Refer to the message from Lisa Nishii – clip below
    Reserve a study space

    A new app, called Book a Study Space, is available let students reserve space in a room designated for studying: Cornell Chatter (website and app).
  • Graduate students
    Josh and Tara will be sending messages directly to grad students with study space options
    They are:
    1) reserve their desk in their assigned space via google calendars (ask Josh), or
    2) SIPS has spaces available to reserve for student use if single use of a shared office is not available within the lab.  These spaces have recently been expanded to include not ony G32 Plant Science, 328a Plant Science and 237 Emerson, but also Plant Science 133, 336, and G22, with most if not all set to remain unlocked. The complete list of rooms available for reservation as SIPS study/meal places may be found at: . Note that people can remove their mask for eating if they are alone in a single room with a door.

My Extension Everywhere

Answers to August 26 Questions

What spaces on campus will be available to me for quiet study or online class participation? Aug 26

Study space will be available in Cornell Libraries and rooms that were previously used as classrooms or conference rooms. Students will be able to use the Cornell Chatter website or app to book these spaces for quiet independent study or for interactive use (e.g., participating in an online class) or for small group meetings with face coverings and at least six feet of physical distancing. The “Book a Study Space” system is expected to be available near the start of the semester. Details will be shared with students as soon as they are available.
Read more at:

Where can I go to test classroom technology options?

You can make an appointment with CIT for a demonstration of classroom technology at 120 Maple Avenue. Please reserve a time on their calendar. For general information on technical resources, see the CIT Classroom Technologies page. Read more:

Who will train or assist me with technology in class?

CIT is coordinating classroom technologies to help you engage all your students, both in-person and online and has provided instructions on using audio and video equipment available in the classrooms. In addition to these online instructions, you will find laminated instruction cards with the technologies in the classroom, providing connection and usage information, as well as contact information for the building's A/V support. Please contact your local IT team or CIT for more information or with any questions about classroom technologies. Read more:

Who is responsible for procuring technology that instructors will need to support remote access?

An initial order of generic technology to support remote access is being placed centrally. The order includes laptops, microphones for voice lift and for Zoom, webcams, tablets, etc. Due to national backorders, the university could not risk delaying a central order until the course roster had been rebuilt (with information about the modality of each course); therefore, orders are being placed based upon the best possible estimate. Once the equipment arrives, CIT will work with local IT teams to disseminate and support classroom technologies. Read more:

I’m teaching an online course but don’t have an ideal home setup to pre-record lectures. Would it be possible for me to prepare online course materials on campus?

Yes, faculty are permitted to use their offices. CTI also has information on equipment for improving your home-office studio. Read more:

CALS Mini-studios to record or teach online

CALS has equipped three rooms (Emerson 251 and 255 and Stocking 115) to be used as mini-studios for online instruction.  These mini-studios provide a reservable location where instructors can present or record electronic course content.  Learn more:



Answer / Next Steps

Will Cornell testing rates and results be incorporating into the Tompkins county numbers?

Yes. See

Recent message about testing -

How will Cornell testing numbers be factored into local county rates? Will they be classified as non-residents? (Specific to school reopening, or other re-openings affected by increased positive virus numbers)

Per TCHD email 8/17/20
"We are including Cornell testing in our daily data update. The state receives all testing information as well."

Testing – traveling out of state, then do you quarantine for 14 days and get tested before return to campus?

There is no option to test in order to return, only the 14 day quarantine period.

Business Travel section, second paragraph.

Surveillance testing vs. symptomatic testing

Outlines the differences and process -

Recent message about testing -

Can you be tested more often than not?

I don’ think in general testing is offered without cause or part of the surveillance process.

Is there information about the way testing is being done? It may affect behavior to know what the false positive rate is, etc.


Campus pool test (nasal swab) vs deeper swab test sensitivity

Recent message about testing -

Pool testing – how is it done, is there morning information to the community available about process and procedures?

Under FAQ section, first question

Nasal Specimen fact sheet

How big is the pool for testing?

Not sure, but a lot. We don’t have access to a list of all personnel approved to be on campus.


For reference - In July, there were over 330 individuals in SIPS listed in just the lab reactivation tool.

What happens if someone is symptomatic, but receives a negative result? Do they have to quarantine for 14 days?

Negative result does NOT override the quarantine period

What happens if you fail you Daily Check?

Tele nurse consultation then drive-thru test to get results

Time zones taken into consideration for remote work?

In SIPS, if instructor knew about issues, that was taken into consideration and the best accommodation made for students.

No idea when microphone or face shields will be available before classes start for instruction

Mics and face shields were provided to instructors that needed them.  Contact IT if you still have a need

Teaching with food?

Lots of restrictions and rules, may not be worth it.

No in-person meetings – what definition to follow, who with, how long, etc.

The only approved meetings are classes and one-on-one meetings with advisors, faculty, or TAs

Meeting in-person with grad students after orientation, end of August

No gatherings, even if outside.

How to report people not wearing masks?

If comfortable, please say something. If not, report them to administration (Tami, Gillian, Chris, etc.)



Can instructors refuse entry to students without mask?


Lunchroom availability? Where to eat in the Plant Science Building?

We are looking for options.

Schedule of who is in the building? How to schedule when to go into the building at low-traffic times?

We will post the building schedule when we have it, and will send it via email.

Extra masks available for instructors to give to students?

Chris will have some; we will have

Is the building still going to have an occupancy limit? Will teaching affect lab capacity?

The building will still be less than 50% occupied even with classes in session.

Students claim a medical reason for not wearing a mask?

Student should be learning remotely.


Students who are unable to wear a mask or face covering due to a medical condition or other protected reason should contact Student Disability Services

Answers to September 11 Questions


Questions related to building access & use, e.g. offices, shared spaces, etc.

Will students have access to Bradfield Hall? We have been working in labs throughout summer and feel uncomfortable at the thought of a surge in the number of unknown people in building lounges and corridors again

Yes, any undergraduate can access Bradfield Hall (and all academic buildings) from Monday to Friday from 7:30 am to 9 pm.  There are several classes from across the university that are taught on the 1st and 11th floors of Bradfield. Based on enrollment, total numbers of students taking classes in Bradfield does not exceed 30 in a day. Undergrads are included in PI research plans. Additionally, there are rooms available for students to schedule for study or remote class attendance, including two in Bradfield.  We strongly reiterate previous communications that signs should not be posted barring undergraduates from spaces within the building

I am concerned with the bathrooms not having lids on the toilets. I know information is changing everyday but my understanding is that COVID-19 can be passed in human waste and then can be released into the air when flushing. Having toilet seats installed along with signs indicating to flush with the seat down seems like an easy fix.

We will pass this along to Facilities.  Not exceeding occupancy, minimizing time within, and wearing a mask in a restroom are the current best actions.

With more people (students) added to the total occupancy of Plant Science, there is not enough room inside to eat lunch. Many essential employees have shared office space, of which we are either not allowed to enter or cannot eat in the space we work in because it is shared or a laboratory.

We understand that many essential employees have limited locations where they can eat, live a long distance from campus, and some have been eating in their cars. We are trying to find ways to ensure that people have safe locations to eat. PIs are encouraged to make shared offices available for individual short-term use, such as meals.

Can I use my grad office, even if it is a shared office space?

Shared grad offices may be used on an individual basis.  Your PI or supervisor can facilitate individual use of shared offices, e.g. via a shared calendar.

Access has been problematic. Today, Monday, the door facing Minn's Gardens was locked at 8:30 when it should have been opened, it was opened later, then was locked again mid-day. Other doors were opened like they should have been. Custodians couldn't figure out what was going on. Can't we just open the doors at 7:30 and close them in the evening? There is very little traffic through the building even when it is unlocked. 

Current campus policy restricts building access to approved students, faculty, and staff.

There have been issues deploying card access controls.  The intent is that all academic buildings will be open to anyone with an active CUID from Monday to Friday from 7:30 am to 9 pm.  Only authorized building occupants may access off hours or on the weekend.

What do the yellow tapes over the door locks in Bradfield indicate?

Building Care is trying different systems to determine which rooms have been used so they know whether or not they have to clean them.  Taping the door is one of the methods.

Building Care staff are charged with more frequently cleaning public spaces, high touchpoint locations, and classrooms.  Not cleaning offices or other spaces that have not been utilized saves time.

Questions or observations about best practices, including safety protocols

I see people eating in the hallway without masks on. Is this allowed and if not, where should they go to eat?

We are attempting to designate spaces where individuals who do not have access to a private space may eat meals.   This is permitted in some public spaces.  Signage will be added to indicate this.  Masks should only be removed for eating and drinking.

How do we tell lab members who are not observing best practices to do what they're supposed to do? It comes off as passive aggressive but it threatens our collective safety

Please report any concerns to your PI, chair, Leslie, Tami, Magdalen, or Chris.  Choose whomever you feel most comfortable reporting to.  Please know that we are prepared to repeatedly remind people of the importance of observing all safety protocols. You can also report concerns via:

I would suggest signs on exit doors saying where the entrance is. In the case of Bradfield it says no entry on the Tower Rd side but doesn’t say to enter from the back door. (I am not concerned personally which door folks use but it seems like another easy fix and worth mentioning)

Thank you for this feedback.  We continue to modify signage and transit pathways based on feedback and actual building density.

Why is Brian Flannigan's position being replaced by a "team effort"? This is ridiculous. You cannot expect administrative staff to deal what he did (as a building coordinator) - with constant interruptions, on top of their duties.

Brian Flannigan's responsibilities are being covered on an interim basis by other members of the CALS Facilities Team.  Tami and Leslie are serving as liaisons to facilitate any communication so that our SIPS community doesn't have to remember who to contact during this period.

Questions or observations related to teaching

Cornell has generously provided TAs with microphones, however, I can't figure out how these work in my classroom. I've plugged it in to the right input, but I can't get any sound to come out of the speakers in the room. Are there instructions somewhere for how to work the mics in classrooms?

CALS IT can assist, please complete a service request. Folks from IT respond extremely quickly to all requests:

Note: wireless mics only work in rooms that have the necessary AV systems.  Mics will not work in all locations

Students are frustrated by the last minute scheduling and scheduling changes. As are the instructors.

Absolutely. Students, instructors, custodial staff, administrators and every person involved in instruction and the development of the Fall 2020 course roster are all frustrated by last minute scheduling and scheduling changes. We share your frustration and anxiety in the challenges everyone faces. 

I know certain rooms have capacity limits, but I'm wondering who that refers to. For example, if a class is capped at 12, does that only apply to the number of students that can register for the class, or also to the TA's present in the room?

In teaching spaces, the instructor is included in the layout diagrams to calculate capacity. TAs are not included. TAs either need to occupy a seat or be within zone that is at least 6’ clear of other students and 10’ from the instructor.  If the latter, there would be strong preference to map and communicate the accommodation. 

Students need quiet spaces after an in-person class so they can connect to the internet - they may not have time to run back to their apartments for their next remote class. Can we develop our own inventory of spaces in SIPS, possibly including unused staff offices and/or hallways and lobby areas, that we can make available to our students that need this ability? This issue will become more critical as the weather turns.

SIPS has spaces available to reserve for student use if single use of a shared office is not available within the lab.  These spaces have recently been expanded to include Plant Science 133, 336, and G22, with most if not all set to remain unlocked. The complete list of rooms available for reservation as SIPS study/meal places may be found at: . Note that people can remove their mask for eating if they are alone in a single room with a door.

In addition, the university has made available spaces across campus for students to reserve for studying.  These may be found at Book a Study Space at: We anticipate the libraries to open for study use as well.

Questions related to extension, research, or administrative reactivation

If Cornell's campus needs to shutdown for 2 weeks, will we still have access to research facilities?

Yes, you will still have access to research facilities if Cornell exceeds the 100 case limit at which Cuomo has mandated a switch to online learning.

Not being able to schedule the "maintenance" test for Covid until the day of the test is extremely frustrating. People teach. People have to cart their children to school (or pick them up). People have meetings. Let us schedule, at least a ballpark time, a day ahead of time.

Not sure if you want thoughts on surveillance testing here but if you do...It is not clear how surveillance testing is affected if on vacation or sick the day you are due to test. There should be a way the staff member can reply to their blue banner that indicates they must be tested that day. They should be able to indicate, "not testing today because on vacation" or "not testing because sick today" or "other" with a comment box for situation not thinking of right now. It is counterproductive to have staff and faculty coming to campus just to test that day. It would be nice to be able to change the day of testing for a week when vacation falls on the testing day. If vacation on Monday this week and Monday is their testing day, should have an option to switch to Tuesday or Wednesday for this week but go back to Monday or the pre-scheduled days the following weeks.

We understand frustrations about testing scheduling but have limited control over the policy.  We suggest emailing the “Need Help” email address listed on Cornell’s main COVID website: Responses to this email address have been relatively quick.

Other/Not Listed

Several people included positive feedback.

  • Most people are being respectful with masks, space and handwashing. I have been impressed with how everyone is respectful of one another, folks are following signage, and trying to be safe.
  • A lot of maintenance was finally completed on campus over the summer. This is a good thing.
  • The custodians have really gone above and beyond with preparing for this week. In fact, our custodial staff have been remarkable for the past six months. Their hard work to ensure the safety of everyone on campus has been noticed by many. We certainly owe them a debt of gratitude.

Thank you for the feedback.  We will share this feedback with Facilities.

I don't have time to join the staff zooms, so an FAQ to read about these issues would be useful

Responses will be provided in a FAQ on the SIPS website

Overall stress and safety

This has been and continues to be a challenging time, with many of us feeling a great deal of stress from many sources.  All the tremendous efforts being made to maintain safety and meet new teaching and research requirements are so appreciated. However tiring as this is, it remains absolutely critical that we continue to be vigilant - wearing masks, following distancing recommendations, and adhering to safety guidelines as we move into fall and winter.