Spring 2021 Campus Guide

As we enter what we hope will be the last leg of a long and difficult pandemic journey, members of the SUNY Cortland community must remain vigilant about the responsibilities each of us has to help ensure a safe and successful spring semester.

Please check back regularly. Plans are subject to change as new information becomes available.

Before you come:


  • All students, faculty and staff must begin doing SUNY Cortland’s online pre-arrival screen 14 days prior to their planned arrival on campus and follow all resulting recommendations.
  • The screening requirement applies to all students who plan to be on campus for any reason, including academics, recreation, meals, activities or work – whether they live on campus or not.
  • The screening tool, a series of questions related to travel history and possible COVID-19 symptoms or possible exposure, is found on myRedDragon under the student tab titled “Red Dragon Safe.”
  • All students who have traveled to or from restricted states, regions or international locations as defined by New York State must follow the New York State Travel Advisory. They must attest that they have submitted the New York State Traveler Health form (PDF) and will follow the guidance related to mandatory testing, quarantine/isolation and the timing of their return to campus.

Precautionary quarantine

  • All students are expected to complete a seven (7)-day precautionary quarantine immediately before coming to campus.
  • During this period, it is expected that students:
    • Will not leave their home or apartment,
    • Will strictly adhere to guidelines for social distancing, face covering and hygiene, and will limit exposure of family and housemates as much as possible.

Pre-arrival testing

  • Students are encouraged to be tested for COVID-19 within three (3) days before returning to campus. Evidence of a negative test can be presented to Student Health Service in lieu of a required on-campus test.
  • SUNY Cortland is seeking to use new capabilities to facilitate pre-arrival testing for incoming students. If that is possible, the plan will be modified and students will be notified.

After you arrive:

Because COVID-19 is highly contagious, these simple measures apply both on and off-campus:

  • Complete daily screenings
  • Wear face coverings (masks)
  • Maintain 6 feet of physical distancing
  • Wash your hands
  • Participate in testing and contact tracing
  • Comply with quarantine and isolation protocols if exposed
  • Do not host or attend prohibited social gatherings that violate room occupancy guidelines or are larger than 10 people
  • Be mindful of your surroundings and the impact we have

Any of us alone can spread this disease and cause harm to others. But all of us together can build a community that is safe and healthy, where educational success is possible.

Enforcement of the policies aimed at protecting the health of the community is uniform across the 64 SUNY campuses and include strict disciplinary actions — including loss of campus access, suspension or even permanent dismissal. We sincerely hope none of our students face these sanctions and instead act responsibly to halt the spread of a potentially fatal virus to their friends, family, classmates and the surrounding community.


Close contact
For COVID-19, a close contact is defined as anyone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from 48 hours before the person began feeling sick until the time the patient was isolated.
Face covering
A cloth mask or other covering that is worn over an individual’s mouth and nose and secured over the ears or at the back of the head. These include homemade or commercially manufactured coverings that are washable as well as commercially manufactured disposable masks. They are worn by a person to prevent community spread from an asymptomatic person.
Isolation is reserved for individuals who test positive for COVID-19. The goal is to keep a person who is sick, or who is asymptomatic but is capable of spreading the virus, from infecting others.
Personal protective equipment (PPE)
Equipment worn by people to protect themselves from present or potential hazards. These include medical-grade surgical masks, N95 respirators, gloves and other equipment.
Physical distancing
The practice of maintaining at least 6 feet of distance between individuals not of the same household. Roommates will be considered members of the same household.
Self-quarantine is requested by the Health Department when an individual undergoes testing and is awaiting the result. This pertains to individuals even if there are no symptoms or other specific identified risk factors such as close contact or travel. The goal of the self-quarantine is to reduce or eliminate the possibility of transmission of the infection to others while you await test results. This means that during this time you should refrain from leaving your residence except for essential reasons. Furthermore, at all times you should at the minimum, avoid close contact (6ft) with anyone for a time period of 10 minutes or longer.
Quarantine is a precautionary measure required by the New York State Health Department when an individual has potentially been exposed to the novel coronavirus, such as having had close contact of an infected individual. Although the person asked to quarantine may not be infected, the 14-day quarantine period is used to prevent the possible spread of COVID-19. The state health department has the authority to mandate quarantine when an individual is identified as a close contact of someone infectious with COVID-19 or have arrived from another country or from a state on New York’s COVID-19 watch list.

Complete daily screenings

  • The daily screening survey is designed to identify potential risk factors for COVID-19. Students whose screens identify risk factors will be provided appropriate instructions, access to health care and testing as indicated at SUNY Cortland Student Health Service.
  • The screening app is available through myRedDragon.

Wear face coverings

  • Face coverings must be worn by all members of the campus community on campus at all times, including in classrooms, conference rooms and other spaces, even when 6 feet of social distancing exists. Exceptions to mask wearing include when students are:
    • In their private residential or personal space;
    • Eating meals on-campus while seated and social distancing is appropriately enforced; or
    • By themselves.
  • Face shields are not considered a routine alternative to a face covering or mask; however, the Cortland County Health Department has determined that a face shield may be appropriate in certain circumstances related to COVID-19.
  • Face coverings should:
    • Be disposed (single use) or washed (reusable) after one day of use or more often if they become soiled or damaged.
    • Fit snugly but comfortably against the face.
    • Cover both the nose and mouth, with the bottom edge under the chin.
  • Face coverings may be removed when alone in a personal space (such as an office or residence hall room) or outdoors, but keep a covering on hand and ready to put on when a visitor arrives or if someone approaches you.
  • Face covering protocols should be maintained off campus as well.
  • Even in your personal space, wear a face covering if you are interacting with someone you do not live with.
  • Any request for a medical, religious, or other accommodation to this policy should be reviewed on an individual basis in accordance with relevant laws and campus procedures.

Face coverings and masks requirements (PDF)

Maintain 6 feet of physical distancing

  • Even with face coverings, 6 feet of physical distance should be maintained between individuals, both on and off campus.
  • Comply with physical distancing signage on campus.

Physical distancing in residence halls

  • A residential student may visit the rooms of other students that live in their assigned residence hall. For example, a resident of Alger Hall may visit other residents of Alger Hall. While in that space, all residents must wear a face covering.
  • Students may not visit students in residence halls other than their own assigned hall.
  • Student rooms, suites and apartments have a maximum occupancy of residents assigned to them. Residents are allowed to admit only one additional hall resident at a time in their space regardless of the number of residents currently present.
  • SUNY Cortland is considering occupancy guidelines for lounges and kitchenettes. Under the current proposal:
  • Recreational lounges would be limited to no more than three students at a time
  • If a lounge consists of a kitchenette and a lounge space, there should still only be three people occupying the entirety of the space.
  • Kitchenettes would be single occupancy
  • Study lounges would be single occupancy
  • Laundry rooms would be limited to three students at a time
  • Elevators would be limited to no more than two students or staff members at a time
  • Face coverings are mandatory for any spaces outside of a student’s room within the residence hall. This includes:
    • Restrooms
    • Lounges
    • Kitchenettes
    • Laundry rooms
    • Other public areas or shared spaces
  • If a resident, staff member or University Police officer enters a student’s room, the student will be required to wear a face covering throughout the entirety of the visiting person’s visit.
  • Students can find updated information about plans for Spring 2021 on the Residence Life and Housing Office website.

Participate in testing and contact tracing

  • Students who live on campus or come to campus must complete testing prior to returning to campus and participate in regular mandatory surveillance testing during the semester.
  • SUNY Cortland began pooled surveillance testing of its students, faculty and staff, of up to 1,000 tests each week, in mid-September. The process was developed by SUNY Upstate Medical University and it uses a single saliva sample to do both a general pool test and to later retest individuals within a positive pool. Students, faculty and staff selected to participate in pool testing will be notified by email. Due to the critical nature of this endeavor, all faculty are asked to work with students who are asked to take a test during regular class time. A detailed frequently asked questions page is available
  • Contact tracing for confirmed cases will be conducted by the Cortland County Department of Health in conjunction with Student Health Service and the Human Resources Office. Campus community members must answer communications from health officials and cooperate with efforts to track contacts of COVID-positive individuals.

Comply with quarantine and isolation protocols

Those who are awaiting test results, have tested positive, have come into close contact with a COVID-positive individual, or have traveled to/from restricted regions must comply with the quarantine and isolation program.

Do not host or attend prohibited social gatherings

  • Wear a face covering and maintain physical distancing at campus-sponsored activities.
  • Residence hall rooms are limited to 1 guest.
  • Residence hall common areas such as laundry rooms, kitchens and lounges have maximum occupancy posted.
  • Off-campus students are required to follow New York State and Cortland County Health Department guidelines.

Follow the rules or face disciplinary action

SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras has issued an emergency directive implementing a uniform system of sanctions for any SUNY students who violate COVID-19 policies. Strong and consistent consequences are necessary because COVID violations can have a disproportionately large impact on communities, threatening large numbers of people with a potentially fatal virus and threatening institutions’ ability to provide the educational experiences important to their students.

When the university learns of a violation of the rules associated with COVID-19 safety, students may lose access to campus facilities and/or campus housing. Other disciplinary actions may be taken by the Student Conduct and/or Human Resources Offices. Student behavior is governed by the campus Student Code of Conduct. Minimum sanctions are outlined in the Uniform Sanctioning in Response to COVID-19 Student Violations. Consistent with SUNY policy, students who are partially or completely removed from the institution due to a violation are not eligible for refunds.

Learn more about the enforcement and penalties.