SIPS COVID Resources

Owing to high vaccination rates on campus and in the surrounding community, regulations related to COVID are rapidly shifting. Users are encouraged to visit the Cornell COVID update page for the latest changes.

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

Buying Food

  • Food is not allowed to be purchased on block grant funds. What are block grant funds? Those funds come from the college, aka operational funds.
  • This applies only to food for social consumption, not food for demonstration purposes (e.g., during a class).

Serving Food

  • You are now allowed to have non-catered food, such as: box of donuts, pizza, finger foods, subs, or other self-serving food items. We do ask that everyone sanitizes their hands before serving the food to themselves.
  • What does this mean to us? This means you should plan to provide hand sanitizer, gloves or other means for your attendees to sanitize hands.


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.

  • 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

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, complete this request form

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 (Door code: 5940*)
  • 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


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

    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.

    • Building access will change when occupancy increases, likely in August. Check back here for updates.
    • 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] cornell.edudata-auth="NotApplicable" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"
    • 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] cornell.edudata-auth="NotApplicable" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank") 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 are working remotely, transitioning to on campus (in some capacity) in August.
    • More details on fall staffing are forthcoming.
    • Doors will continue to have posters with multiple ways of contact.
    • We encourage phone calls. Their office phones are set up to forward to them at home.

    Visit the university's COVID-19 Response website for latest policies.

    Rooms and occcupancy have been updated in LibCal

    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.