Will Cornell be easing its restrictions on graduate student personal travel?

Date: April 2021


Dear Deans,

Given the recent announcements from both NY and the CDC that fully vaccinated individuals no longer have to quarantine when traveling, will Cornell be easing its restrictions on graduate student personal travel (at least for those individuals that are vaccinated) within the days to come?

Recent evidence suggests that the real world performance of the vaccines are very good and that vaccinated individuals are unlikely to be a major concern in transmission of COVID-19.


Ready for a Road Trip


Dear Ready for a Road Trip,

It’s so encouraging to hear that many students have been streaming through the local vaccination sites and uploading their Proof of Vaccination in the Daily Check website. I’m sure most of us are eager to see family, take a vacation, or reconnect with friends. Vaccination put this goal within reach! As you note, the CDC has recently revised their guidance for vaccinated travelers, and New York State has removed the quarantine requirements for domestic travelers. This is an exciting development, and the university is mapping out policies to help us transition through the end of the spring semester and into summer as the pandemic landscape begins to shift. Right now there are still new cases of transmission within our campus community so we expect that revised policies will be phased in thoughtfully in the coming weeks. Even vaccinated people are not 100% protected from contracting or spreading COVID, so the CDC continues to recommend that vaccinated travelers wear masks, maintain distancing, and self-monitor for symptoms.

For now, Cornell has not established different policies for vaccinated and unvaccinated students so all students are subject to the terms of the Behavioral Compact. The Graduate School has been in frequent contact with university leadership to advocate for flexibility for graduate student travel, when it can be conducted safely. Graduate School students who need to travel may submit a travel request through the Daily Check for approval at least 48 hours in advance of traveling. Dean Boor and I have spoken with the staff of the COVID service desk to explain the unique needs of research degree students, since the reviewers are perhaps most familiar with undergraduate and professional students in course-based programs. When submitting a request you can indicate whether you are vaccinated and whether you’re taking in-person classes. Thoughtful, lower-risk travel exception requests will be approved for research degree students as long as it remains safe to do so. 

Currently, students who travel will still need to remain off campus for five days after returning and have two negative COVID surveillance tests before they return to campus. Again, plan for these policies to evolve in the weeks ahead. We are optimistic that travel policies will be much different by summer so please be patient for just a bit longer. We’re not at a point where we can let our guard down!



Jason Kahabka
Associate Dean for Administration