Is Cornell planning to open more testing sites soon?

Date: August 2020


Dear Deans,

Are more testing sites planned to be opened soon? The three on-campus sites appear quite crowded now with regular testing required, and the one off-campus site requires a car, which about half of graduate students do not have. Although a cab service is available, taking a cab would also increase exposure.

By increasing testing sites, the university could reduce potential spread. For example, the University of Illinois has over 15 testing sites, many of which are outdoors in large tents.


Curious About Testing Sites


Dear Curious About Testing Sites,

Thank you for your Ask a Dean question. COVID-19 testing program details can be found on the Testing Overview page of Cornell’s COVID-19 website.

There are three types of testing, each for different purposes. “Arrival” testing is the initial testing for students prior to the start of the semester, including students who have been living in Ithaca (e.g., as their permanent residence) as well as students who are returning back to Ithaca from other locations or who are moving to Ithaca as new students entering Cornell. There are three locations for Arrival Testing, including the Fischell Band Center, the Livestock Pavilion, and Robert Purcell Community Center.

Surveillance Testing is required of all students, and faculty, and staff with any on-campus work activities. There are seven locations for Surveillance Testing, which will begin the week of September 2. These include Robert Purcell Community Center, Willard Straight Hall, Collegetown Terrace Apartments, Fischell Band Center, Livestock Pavilion, ILR Conference Center, and the College of Veterinary Medicine.

Testing for Cause is for any student (or other member of the community) who feels ill (e.g., fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath) or has reason to suspect they may be at risk for having become infected with COVID-19. Students seeking Testing for Cause should call Cornell Health at 607-255-5155 immediately and should not go to an Arrival or Surveillance testing site.

The team overseeing the COVID-19 testing program will be monitoring use patterns and making adjustments as needed and feasible. One of the challenges with Arrival Testing has been that students scheduled multiple Arrival Test appointment times, and then did not unschedule the ones they had no intention of using, clogging up the system. The testing team is working on remedies to that challenge, including reminding students to be considerate and only schedule one Arrival Testing slot that they will use.

Thank you for attending to Cornell’s testing requirements.

Warm regards,


Barbara A. Knuth
Dean of the Graduate School