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Sorority & Fraternity COVID-19 Housing Guidelines

A Standard for Sorority & Fraternity Housing

Last Updated July 23, 2020


The Cornell Sorority and Fraternity Community is committed to providing a healthy and safe environment for students to live and learn during the COVID-19 pandemic. This standard has been designed to make sure all chapters create and promote a safe space for their members. The Cornell reactivation plan was posted online on June 30, 2020. Updates to this plan have been made available on July 30, 2020.

1. De-densification of Chapter Housing Rooms and Common Spaces

  • The university will move to single and double occupancy rooms for the 2020-2021 academic year. It is an expectation that all university-owned sorority and fraternity facilities only allow students to occupy rooms with one or two residents in them. It is recommended for off campus sorority and fraternity houses to do the same.
  • Chapters should consider ways to rethink and redesign common spaces. For example, removing furniture and space out of libraries and only allowing small groups to gather in these common areas.
    • Soft seating is not as easy to clean as tables and chairs, therefore, soft furniture is recommended to be the furniture removed when creating more space in common areas and libraries, etc. We also recommend removing blankets, pillows, etc. for this reason.

2. Housing Corporation, Chapter Advisor, Chapter President, Live-In Advisor, and House Manager Ongoing Trainings

3. Dining Resources and Standards

  • As you plan to open your kitchens in the fall, we recommend you review the following resources and standards:
    • The North American Interfraternity Conference - A Fresh Look at Food Service.
    • The Food and Drug Administration guidance.
    • CDC guidelines for food service workers
    • Upcoming webinar, "Predictably Unpredictable: Socially Distanced Dining Rooms" by CSL Management (July 10)
    • Cornell Institute for Food Safety Resource
    • Spacing in dining area should be spaced apart
    • No buffets. No self-serve salad bars, coffee stations, soft drink stations, or water fountains. Barrier between food and cook/chef (plexiglass, for example)
    • Members who do not live-in should be suggested to eat grab and go
    • Install hand sanitizing dispensers at queue areas and entrances/exits
    • Food service staff should wear a high filtration face mask and gloves at all times and temperature self-check prior to start of shift and testing when returning to work after a hiatus
    • When in the food service are, individuals not eating should wear a face mask
    • Simplify menu offerings with a robust grab and go program of packaged items/meals
    • Utilize floor decals to encourage distancing in service queues and post educational material within the waiting area

4. Restrooms

  • Consider assigning bathrooms to members. This includes sinks, toilets, and showers.
  • For facilities with communal showers, we recommend putting up dividers for additional safety precautions.
  • Require cleaning after use by all members. Have disinfectant wipes and other cleaning materials available in all bathrooms so students can clean after every use.
  • Review Cornell Environmental Health & Safety's guidance on restroom access.

5. Facilities Cleaning

6. Signage

  • Cornell has provided signs you are welcome to print and use for privately owned houses.
  • Cornell will provide signage for university-owned houses. Peter Warner, SCL Facilities, will be in touch with university-owned houses to coordinate.

7. Move-In, Testing, Self-Quarantine

  • Every student returning to campus must self-quarantine for 14 days in advance of returning to Ithaca.
  • We know some students are already in Ithaca. Testing prior to moving in will be required. Please visit for testing information. Privately owned fraternity and sorority residents will need to sign up for a testing time on the re-activation checklist and university owned will get more information about testing.
  • A coordinated move-in plan for sororities and fraternities should be created by each sorority and fraternity. The residential reactivation work group will release a guide the week of July 27th. It will be posted on this site. The work group will also host office hours starting the week of July 27th. Each chapter should have one housing corporation/advisor representative that can be the point person for move-in. The work group will share the plans university-owned houses are following as an example.

8. Residential Housing Agreements for Sorority and Fraternity Facilities

  • Every housing corporation and chapter leadership team should design a community agreement for your chapter facility. The community of students who live together can be involved in the design of this agreement and decide on what norms and practices will be acceptable among peers. The work group report will have an example plan.

9. Cornell Behavioral Compact

  • The university will have a behavioral compact each student must sign. The compact will include expectations about testing, daily health checks, social expectations and the wearing of face coverings and other public health expectations. Each student will be required to sign the compact prior to their enrollment for the fall semester.

10. Occupancy Reporting

  • Every chapter will be required to update their chapter facility roster to accurately reflect who lives in privately-owned houses and what room they live in prior to the start of the semester. The deadline is August 14, 2020.
  • For university-owned facilities, OSFL will facilitate the lease signing process and communicate with relevant stakeholders such as house corporations, advisors, live-in advisors, and chapter leadership. 
  • As a part of the Cornell behavioral compact, each student will be required to submit their Ithaca address.

11. Guests

  • Guests will not be permitted on campus. This policy is available on
  • We strongly suggest privately owned chapter facilities add this to your internal chapter agreement to protect the health and safety of your members and property.
  • Each chapter housing corporation should have a plan for chefs, cleaners, cooks, repair staff, and other vendors who access the sorority/fraternity property. We will provide best practices, but at the very least you should be testing on an ongoing basis and requiring mask wearing and social distancing. MJ Insurance resources (pg. 11) about employees returning to work is an aid.

12. Academic Calendar

  • President Martha Pollack has announced reactivation plans for the Ithaca campus. Fall classes begin September 2, 2020 and end November 24, 2020. After Thanksgiving, the remainder of the fall semester will be held online. The fall semester ends on December 21, 2020. The spring semester will start February 9, 2021. Spring move-in plans will be determined in the future.
  • All chapter facilities should plan to be closed between Thanksgiving and re-open in February.
  • Students are not permitted to come and go from Ithaca. Each housing corporation should incorporate this rule into your housing agreements. Do not let students leave and come back during time after Thanksgiving and before re-opening in Feb. A student who cannot go home between this break will need to apply for a housing exemption for a university owned space.
  • Fees have been adjusted for university housing. We recommend sorority and fraternity properties do the same.

13. Hand Sanitizer and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

  • Cornell will be providing masks for students upon arrival to Ithaca.
  • The Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life in cooperation with the Tri-Council has ordered one hand sanitizing station for every sorority/fraternity property on and off campus. They will be delivered once they arrive.
  • Vendors who are available listed in Google Drive for other needs; university-owned houses should work through Peter Warner. Student Management Corporation (SMC) is also a resource if you are a current member.

14. Sorority and Fraternity Social Events

  • A decision and plan for social events will be determined in the upcoming weeks as the Cornell behavior compact continues to be designed in alignment with local and state rules. This also includes guidance for chapter activities that are not social events, such as intake, recruitment, meetings, etc.

Additional Resources for Reference:

 Cornell Behavioral Compact

In order to maintain a safe, educational, and vibrant learning environment for all members of our Cornell community, all students in Ithaca will be required to abide by a campus behavioral compact. Below is an outline of what you can expect:

  • Provide your local address and emergency contact information as a condition of registering for classes, and agree to update each as needed throughout the academic year.
  • Quarantine in place for 14 days before your intended arrival in Ithaca.
  • Be tested frequently as required by Cornell, including 14 days before your intended arrival in Ithaca, upon arrival in Ithaca, 5 days after arriving in Ithaca, and as frequently thereafter as directed by the university.
  • Isolate in the event of a positive test result for COVID-19, as directed by health authorities, and cooperate with contact tracing and quarantine efforts.
  • Take responsibility for your own health and the health of others in our community by adhering to guidance from Cornell Health, Tompkins County, or state health authorities.
  • Complete and record a daily health check.
  • Practice appropriate physical distancing and good hygiene, including:
    • remaining at least 6 feet from others whenever possible,
    • wearing a face covering as required by the university,
    • washing your hands frequently throughout the day and cleaning your immediate areas in residence halls, laboratories or classrooms as directed, and
    • staying home if you are sick and requesting an evaluation from Cornell Health if you have COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Socialize only in small groups and comply with enhanced social and event management policies for student groups and organizations.
  • Avoid all non-essential trips out of the region and adhere to the unviersity's prohibition against inviting guests to your residence or to campus.

The complete Cornell behavioral compact will be provided to you in the coming weeks. You will be required to agree to the compact prior to your arrival on campus. In addition, students who reside in on-campus housing will be subject to additional requirements under their housing contract.