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June 2020 COVID-19 testing pilot program

Dear CALS, CHE and ILR faculty and staff: 

As the Cornell community moves toward a possible reopening of the Ithaca campus in the fall, a critical element of the process will be COVID-19 testing of members of our community. To this end, the College of Human Ecology (CHE), the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS), and the School of Industrial and Labor Relations (ILR) are partnering with Cayuga Health to run an on-campus pilot program offering the COVID-19 diagnostic (PCR) test to our SUNY contract college employees at Bartels Hall on Thursday, June 18, from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

The purpose of this pilot testing program is to establish a baseline prevalence of the virus on the Ithaca campus and to understand the university’s ability to test at scale. This is an opportunity to advance our ability to protect our community while also providing testing opportunities to individual employees. With the goal of testing approximately 750 of our faculty and staff across CHE, CALS and ILR, this will be Cayuga Health’s largest collection day at a remote location.

The College of Veterinary medicine ran a similar pilot two weeks ago, where they successfully tested over 300 of their on-campus employees. Together, the four SUNY contract colleges at Cornell are helping to establish an Ithaca campus testing process that will make the Cornell community safer upon our eventual reopening.

Your participation will be an important step in maintaining public health, and we truly appreciate your willingness to be tested. Register using this link to the Cayuga Health COVID Registration Form (Web Application). For your convenience, step-by-step instructions are provided in an online FAQ developed for our communities (found below). You must select your employer/college to be able to access the schedule for Bartels Hall. 

All testing is voluntary, and there is no out-of-pocket expense or co-pays. The test, which involves a nasal swab, is relatively quick, with each appointment taking no longer than 15 minutes. The results should be available within 24-36 hours after your appointment. Negative results are provided in the online patient portal ( Information about signing up is provided at the time of sampling. Individuals with positive results will be called by Cayuga Medical Center for re-sampling to assure a valid positive result exists. Should the re-sample yield a second positive result, the individual will be called directly by the health department of the county in which they reside and will be given instructions on quarantining and other next steps.

If you are experiencing symptoms or are concerned that you have been exposed to a COVID-19 positive patient, do not wait for this program to commence. Rather, you should seek testing at the Cayuga Health testing site located at the Shops at Ithaca Mall. For information about how to register and access the testing site, please go to

Cayuga Health is a partner of the Tompkins County Health Department and is the lead provider of COVID-19 testing in the region, having conducted over 25,000 tests to date. The staff are experienced, compassionate and supportive and have conducted similar sampling of residents and staff at most nursing homes in the region.

Kathryn J. Boor, Ronald P. Lynch Dean, CALS 
Alex Colvin, Kenneth F. Kahn '69 Dean, ILR 
Rachel Dunifon, Interim Dean, CHE

Frequently Asked Questions

Please visit the registration webpage - It is recommended you complete the online registration on a phone or tablet. If you use a computer instead of a phone or tablet, utilize Google Chrome, Safari, Edge, or Firefox as your web browser. Internet Explorer and some older browsers are not supported. The call center is also available to assist you with registration or other questions at 607-319-5708.   


Registration Steps:  

To register, go to: and follow the prompts.  

1. On the first screen, select “I am an employee […] of an organization recommending or requiring screening.”  

2. On the second page, please make sure to select your college or school.  

3. Please complete all demographic fields. If you wish to be able to check your results online, you must complete your email address.  

4. Next, you will select Bartels Hall as your testing location. A calendar to select an available appointment time will be visible.  

5. After confirming an appointment time, your registration is not yet complete! Please proceed to complete the remainder of your registration.  

6. Next, you will be asked to attach a valid photo ID (Driver’s license or other government issued ID) and pictures of your insurance card (if insured). This step is easily completed on a phone or mobile device. If you do not attach these items, they will be required later.  

7. Please complete remaining questions to the best of your abilities.  

8. At the end, you will receive a confirmation number. Please have this number available when you arrive for your test.  

CHE, CALS, and ILR are working with Cayuga Medical Center to host COVID-19 testing. Cornell Vet school hosted their pilot testing program in May. 

The goals are twofold: to determine the baseline level of infection on campus before reactivation later in 2020 as well as to build the capacity of Cornell and the Cayuga Medical Center to host larger-scale testing as needed in the future. 

Thursday, June 18, from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in Bartels Hall.

Testing is voluntary for SUNY contract college employees of CHE, CALS and ILR but participation is strongly encouraged.

There are no out-of-pocket costs or deductible costs for the faculty/staff taking part in the testing.

All SUNY contract college faculty and staff members in the SUNY contract colleges (CALS, CHE and ILR) can elect to get tested. This pilot is not available to spouses or dependents.

Please bring a state-issued ID card with you to your appointment as well as your health insurance card. 

A call center number is available for registration and appointment assistance.  Their number is 607-319-5708.  The hours of the call center are 8 am – 5 pm Monday through Friday. 

The objective of this pilot program is to turnaround results to employees 24 to 36 hours after their test is completed.  

Negative results are provided in the online patient portal and information about signing up is provided at time of sampling. Employees who test negative will not receive a phone call. Individuals with positive results will be called by Cayuga Medical Center for re-sampling to assure a valid positive result exists. Should the re-sample yield a second positive result, the individual will be called directly by the health department of the county they reside in and will be given instructions on quarantining and other next steps.  

Each county in New York State follows state protocols for relaying quarantine instructions and for calling individuals with positive test results.  

Only the individual employee will be notified about test results. The employee may choose to self-disclose medical information with anyone of their choosing, but that still does not allow supervisors/managers, HR, university leadership, or colleagues to re-release or discuss that information to or with others. 

An individual who is a confirmed case (test results are positive for Coronavirus) will be interviewed by a public health nurse about places they have been, and asked to list people who may have been in close contact. This process is called “contact tracing.” The contacts are notified that they may have been exposed in a location with an individual who is positive for COVID-19 — a school, office, restaurant, or doctor's office, for example. When an individual has been in the workplace in the period of potential infectivity, the employer will be notified to support workspace cleaning and provide additional details appropriate to contact tracing, as needed. Read more about Tompkins County’s process.

Employees who elect to take the test during the workday will be compensated as their regular work hours for pay, taking health or personal leave is not required. Time used outside regular business hours to participate will not be compensated. 

Employees should confirm with their supervisor that the time slot for taking the test will not disrupt critical work functions. Should there be a conflict, we strongly encourage supervisors to find either an alternative time slot allowing participation or provide the employee flexibility in their work schedule to enable them to participate.  If there is an unresolved conflict, we ask that the employee’s Human Resources office be contacted so that all available approaches are thoroughly considered that might enable employee participation. 

That is not necessary if you are taking the test while feeling healthy and without any known exposure to COVID-19.  If you are not well, or know that you have been exposed, please sign up to take the test at the Ithaca Mall site and please do not report to work until you have the test results. If you are well and you haven’t been exposed to COVID-19, please proceed with your regular routine until results are available. 

In order to relieve some of the burden and stress on Cornell community members who must be on campus during this public health emergency, Cornell Transportation will not enforce regular parking permit restrictions, with the exception of a few areas, March 17 through Tuesday, June 30, 2020. Read more on the Cornell parking website.

If you have been previously tested recently and want to participate in the study, you will need to be tested at Bartels Hall on June 18th. This pilot program is studying different methods of testing and therefore you would need to be re-sampled.

Only those faculty or staff who have previously been approved to work on campus through the essential worker review or as a member of a research reactivation approval process may do so at this time. It is important during this critical time that we continue to keep the campus density low and that those who are working remotely continue to do so.

Please arrive by your scheduled appointment time at Bartels Hall and enter through the main entrance on Campus Road. Someone will be at the entrance to direct you to a check-in desk where your registration will be verified and you will then proceed to a swabbing station where your swabbing will be done. Then, you will be allowed to proceed out the back exit when you are ready.  There is no need to arrive early and there should be little wait time. The entire process generally takes 15 minutes or less. You should wear a mask to your appointment, gloves are not required. Masks will not be provided.

The PCR test is meant to detect active virus not antibodies or past infections.