Cornell University Defies the COVID Pandemic and Refuses to Teach Online

IBL News | New York

Online teaching is here to stay and hybrid experiences are the norm today, as almost every speaker agreed during the ASU+GSV leading ed conference, which took place this week in San Diego.

Now, a question arises: What are your options as an institution when you have a beautiful campus, follow your own business model, and enjoy a powerful brand? You can certainly defy the COVID fears and threat of upcoming variants and call everyone back to campus. That seems to be Cornell’s approach.

This week, the Ithaca, New York-based university said that there will not be any remote teaching this semester, and it won’t consider any faculty request to instruct at a distance instead of in person. “Remote teaching is not an allowable substitute for in-person instruction.”

In a letter addressed to faculty and instructional staff, Cornell’s Provost, Michael Kotlikoff, and Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, Lisa Nishii, said that the institution, following “a rigorously scientific approach,” has determined that “it is appropriate to return our students, faculty and instructional staff to campus in order to resume normal in-person residential instruction.”

“In-person teaching is considered essential for all faculty members and instructional staff with teaching responsibilities. Accordingly, the university will not approve requests, including those premised on the need for a disability accommodation, to substitute remote teaching for normal in-person instruction.”

Some scholars have questioned the legality of Cornell’s stance in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as Inside Higher Ed reported.