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icIthaca College President Shirley M. Collado announced Monday that the college is making plans to open for on-campus instruction for students on October 5, 2020.  A Cornell Housing Task Force member told the Village of Lansing Trustees Monday that Cornell University's plans for reopening are in the early stages, but at this point it lookls like Cornell will also be starting later than usual, and may cancel Fall and Thanksgiving breaks to make the time up.  In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Ithaca College had moved spring semester classes to remote instruction on March 23. Classes for the 2020­-21 academic year would normally begin on Aug. 24.

"By putting a stake in the ground for an October 5 start, we are giving our returning and new students the space they need to get ready for the upcoming year," said Collado. "This carefully thought-out timeframe provides our faculty with the opportunity to fully prepare to deliver the strongest educational experience, and for our staff to fully map out their work and put solid, responsive plans in place around our emergency health and safety management."

Collado acknowledged that making and announcing this decision now may run counter to current conventional higher education wisdom, but that it is in alignment with the ongoing, methodical, and data-driven deliberative process the college has undertaken throughout this public health crisis, and that she and the college's senior leadership team have listened to and collaborated with a variety of stakeholders and leaders, on campus and off.

Collado applauded the leadership of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who recently unveiled the New York Forward plan which provides thoughtful, metric-based guidance on the state's reopening. She offered assurances that the college will continue to carefully align with state guidelines and continue to work closely with community partners as the Ithaca area reopens.

"To provide a solid blueprint for our campus community in moving forward to embrace the 2020-21 academic year, we've created the college-wide Return to Campus Task Force, which has begun to work on a detailed plan for what our upcoming academic year specifically looks like and to think carefully through contingencies as this pandemic crisis continues to evolve," said Collado.

In a message sent to students, faculty, and staff announcing the fall opening date, Collado noted that the college has weathered many storms since its founding as a small music conservatory in 1892, and that survival in the face of significant challenge is in the institution's DNA.

"Throughout this particular storm, our community has continued to demonstrate creativity, grit, and solidarity as we've pushed forward and continued to serve our students," she wrote. "It's this type of innovative, student-centered approach that makes us so distinctive as an academic institution."

Enhanced Summer Programming Planned
The college had earlier announced that all summer courses will take place via remote instruction, with an expanded slate of offerings intended to provide both academic and financial value, and serve as a supportive transition to the fall.

Current undergraduate students can take elective summer courses offered through the Office of Extended Studies at a greatly discounted rate from the usual cost, while incoming students can take a credit-bearing class for free. A creative set of virtual summer programs and experiences is also being developed to engage students in their education and enable them to be connected to one another.

This approach is in accord with goals regarding accessibility and affordability that are part of the college's strategic plan, Ithaca Forever, helping to mitigate the adverse impact of the pandemic on many applicants' and returning students' financial circumstances.

"In selecting the October 5 start date and announcing it now, we are being intentional and responsible as we prepare our campus to carry out a full academic year and deliver on the promise of an Ithaca College education," said Collado.

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