SIPS COVID Resources

Zoom and your students

During the COVID-19 pandemic, instruction and many formerly in-person meetings are depending on videoconferencing software such as Zoom. This change from face-to-face interaction can be difficult, especially when participants are reluctant to turn on their cameras. The following readings describe some of the reasons for this reluctance and strategies for accommodation.

Why students do not turn on their video cameras during online classes and an equitable and inclusive plan to encourage them to do so

Teaching into the Abyss: Addressing Students’ Camera Usage (or Lack Thereof!) in Zoom

COVID related information for the SIPS community

Students can be hired at this time, for both remote and in-person activity. While their names do not have to be explicated listed on your plan, section 6 of your plan must include a statement about students in general. E.g., “At least 2 but no more than 4 undergrads may be needed to perform x.”  Since updating your plan would send your plan back through the entire apprpvaol process, we recommend simply adding the name to the personnel section of your plan.

Students can be hired at this time, for both remote and in-person activity. They do not have to added to your reactivation plan.

  • 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.

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.
    • 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. For advertised positions, name can be added after search is complete.
  • 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 other funds (discretionary) will be reviewed by CALS and then reviewed by the VP office

Cornell is still under a salary freeze. You may request a pay increase for your staff but they are rarely approved and never when it is merit-based.

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 you can access through Launchpad.


  • For more info on testing, visit the University's COVID-19 and Reactivation Planning website.
  • Faculty and staff are categorized by their activity level and interaction, put into testing groups. Change your testing group or frequency.
  • 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: dailycheckhelp [at] Responses to this email address have been relatively quick.

  • What if I miss my test? (e.g., on vacation, traveling, other)
    Send a note to your HR rep (Kate Nicholson), and follow the guidance on the page regarding scheduling the next available test. HR gets the notes from central regarding missed tests, so if we know why it was missed we can respond quickly and reset the tool.

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. Open your plan
  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. Open your plan
  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

    Note: Critical field research plan approvals made outside of the launch system during spring 2020 do not carry forward into 2021. If these field plans have not already been entered into the launch system, you need to enter your plans for 2021 into the launch system and have them approved.

Relocating from Bradfield floors 3, 4, and 5 for construction?

Update your current plans with the new locations

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.

Spring 2021 SIPS in-person courses (with labs):

Send any questions about room capacity to Leah Cook: lcc2 [at]

  • PLBIO 1130, Randy Wayne, PLS114
  • PLBIO 3421, Tom Silva, PLS102 and PLS107
  • PLBIO 3431/5431, Jian Hua, PLSG09 & PLS102
  • PLBIO 4620, Carmen Catala and Joss Rose, PLS114
  • PLBIO 4841, Adrienne Roeder & Ale Nixon, PLS114
  • PLBRG 2250, Michael Mazourek, MNL405 (Mann Library)
  • PLHRT 4920, Nina Bassuk, PLS114
  • PLSCI 1115, Taryn Bauerle, to be determined
  • PLSCI 1420, Tom Silva, PLS102 & PLS107
  • PLSCI 5060, Heather Grab, PLS114 & PLS102
  • PLSCS 4660, Janice Thies, PLSG09
  • PLSCS 6630, Jonathan Russell-Anelli, PLSG09

*ANTHR 3042 has its lab in MNL405 on Thursday afternoons, but this course should not be using supplies

Studios available - These mini-studios provide technology and space where instructors can present or record electronic course content. Learn more, make reservations.

Request microphones or other technology needed for instruction this Spring, complete this request form. Your items will be delivered to the Plant Science loading dock and can be picked up there once your order is fulfilled. You will be notified when they are available for pickup.  Also, the buildings will be open the week of February 1, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for you to visit your assigned classroom.

Resources for virtual instruction

CALS Canvas and Online Course Accessibility Support Request

Center for Teaching Innovation: Go-to site for technical and pedagogical help, including:

SIPS online teaching resources in Box:

  • Repository for meeting notes from brown bag lunch virtual meetings
  • summaries of CTI webinars
  • Virtual team building exercise contributed by Marcia Eames-Sheavly
  • and more!

Studios available - These mini-studios provide technology and space where instructors can present or record electronic course content. Learn more, make reservations.

Questions or suggestions? Email Carlyn Buckler csb36 [at] or Craig Cramer cdc25 [at]

If my class enrollment exceeds the cap can I allow audits?

  • Increase online cap
  • Add observers to Canvas site of course

If we are TAing on-campus, will we have access to our grad student offices?

Shared grad offices require coordination with all occupants to limit occupancy. E.g., shared google calendar. See your GFC for more information.

Will students have access to the classroom to study plants before or after classroom hours?

Yes, if that space is not scheduled for other classes

Are we expected to clean our classrooms after class?


Can students use the bathrooms at Cornell Orchards or the Botanic Gardens?


Will Zoom function for students in China?

There is concern that Zoom may not work this fall. Sending recorded lectures may be an option, potentially through Box. for issues such as this, please share with Leah, Magdalen, or Chris what is working or not so that we can continue to develop best practices


  • Sanitizer and paper towels have been left in the copier room,  Plant Science 129
  • Face shields and microphones will be distributed, date TBD.
  • Note that face shields are only effective if the instructor stays 6 feet away from students. They are not effective if you are roaming the classroom

When will I know who has enrolled for in-person and virtual instruction?

Date TBD

How can we get AV assistance in our classrooms?

  • Email Travis Johns <tjohns [at]>  or John Hill <jeh24 [at]>
  • CALS-IT will work with you but make an appointment soon

What do I do if I need a camera?

  • Contact CIT (use this Classroom Technology Support form) if you are in need a camera – not all tech works on the same system so they will need to set something up that meets your specific needs. e.g. 404 already has an external camera.
  • you may also be able to use your phone as a document camera


  • Those being distributed will only be functional in teaching spaces with audio systems
  • If you need something else please let us know (Leah, Magdalen, or Chris)

I need better technology for recording lectures

CALS has set up mini studios in Emerson and Stocking for people to record lectures.  Learn more about mini studios, locations, equipment, and booking policies

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 // [at]">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.

What is the best way to provide closed captioning for live lectures?

If captions are required synchronously with lecture delivery they can be provided by a live captioner supplied by Cornell. Students in need should register with Student Disability Services.  Captioning of recordings is automatically generated by system AI if a lecture is recorded to the cloud. Editing of the AI captions is fairly straightforward if needed. See CALS Canvas and Online Course Accessibility Support Request

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 the Environmental Health and Safety website
  • 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.

The building is locked at all times, accessible only by authorized ID card.

  • During the semester, the building is open to anyone with an active ID card, during regular business hours 7:30am – 8pm
  • The doors with access readers are: Ag Quad entrance, Mann tunnel entrance, ground floor West side and Tower Rd entrances.
  • If your card is not working, you will need to contact the registrars office to find out why. Phone: (607) 255-4232. Email: univreg [at]
  • After business hours, and outside of the semester, the building is restricted to ID cards that have been directly added to the system. Contact Steve Hatfield (sh242 [at] and copy your Admin Manager with requests or access questions.
  • If you’ve had card access to the building in the past, you will still. No cards have been removed, except when someone has failed to be compliant with testing or for other reasons.

  • All administrative staff will continue working remotely.
  • 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.

Commuting vs Travel

CALS is making an important distinction between “travel” and “commuting”. Commuting involves only day trips within NYS and should be incorporated in your request through the CALS launch system. Travel is defined as involving out-of-state destinations, overnight stays and/or using public transportation (air/rail/bus). Review this site for how the Fleet is handling reservations.

Approval for Travel:

Fill out the CALS Request for Essential Travel. Email to your Section Chair. Chair will review > SrAD will review > SrAD will submit to university committee

CALS Request for Essential Travel Template
(for out-of-state travel or any travel involving an overnight stay or use of public transportation)

  1. Name of traveler and title:
  2. Advisor if the traveler is a student:
  3. Academic Unit:
  4. When travel will occur:
  5. Point of Origin (city, county): 
  6. Destination(s):
  7. Will you be meeting or encountering others at the destination (if yes, explain)?
  8. Purpose for Travel: 
  9. Why is this travel essential?
  10. Will all travel be in the form of day trips or is an overnight planned?  If overnight, what precautions will be taken?
  11. Mode of travel and precautions to be taken during travel:
  12. If travel involves car/minivan/SUV/truck, will there be more than one individual per vehicle traveling? If so, why is this necessary and what precautions will be taken?

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.
  • 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
    GFCs 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 only G32 Plant Science, 328a Plant Science and 237 Emerson, with most if not all set to remain unlocked. Note that people can remove their mask for eating if they are alone in a single room with a door.

    Reserve study space (limit one student, maximum two hours) on LibCal.

Having a less dense campus is still important. If you are able to meet virtually, you are encouraged to keep doing so.

  • If you must meet in person, a few rooms are available. These include Mann 413 and Plant Science G22. Reserve in LibCal.
  • Maximum occupancy is listed in the room descriptions. Note that some only have a maximum occupancy of one due to ventilation requirements.

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 here.

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 with 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. Submit requests here.

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. 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: dailycheckhelp [at] Responses to this email address have been relatively quick.