ILR School Reopening Safety Plan

Approved July 20, 2020
Amended July 29, 2020
Subject to Change as University and State Policies Change

Executive Summary

In response to the COVID-19 global pandemic, on March 13, 2020, Cornell University and the ILR School shifted its operations to a remote / virtual environment. In accordance with public health officials’ guidance and recommendations, all academic instruction was migrated to online platforms, staff remote work contingencies were implemented, and all non-essential operations were suspended.

As the COVID-19 infection rate continues to decline, the New York State Governor’s Office has published a guide for reopening businesses and economic activity in New York State. The State has identified seven (7) benchmarks necessary for reopening by region and established four (4) phases of reopening. The full report can be viewed at

Currently, education is part of the businesses or sectors eligible for reopening during phase IV and ILR decided not to reopen until Phase IV since our research work does not require us to work on-campus. Importantly, the ILR School is coordinating its reopening plans with the University for its New York City, Buffalo, and Rochester offices with specific reopening notices based on local conditions. We have also worked with Cornell Tech and Weill Medical College to coordinate our plans for our 570 Lexington office.

This plan is carefully crafted and takes into account New York State directives as well as Cornell’s evolving policies. The plan has been reviewed by Cornell Environmental Health and Safety. Also, the School conducted 6 focus groups to obtain feedback and to tailor this plan to specific ILR worksites and practices.

This plan is not meant to replace any University policies but rather to supplement and complement policies so that they are specific to the buildings ILR inhabits and to our unique work patterns.

Before ILR reopens, it will hold a School-wide Zoom meeting with the Dean and other leaders of the reopening plan to discuss this plan and to answer any questions. ILR will also have Nellie Brown, our own safety expert, provide training to the School on best practices.

An important assumption for ILR’s plan is that if work can be performed remotely, it should be done remotely. This means that for the vast majority of ILR’s employees work will continue to be done remotely, even as access to our offices begins to be allowed in July.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Web Site References (State and University)
  3. Ithaca Facilities and Building Access
  4. Buffalo Office
  5. New York City – 570 Lexington Office
  6. Workplace Etiquette
  7. Building Cleaning, Disinfectant, and PPE
  8. Classrooms, Meeting Rooms, and Common Spaces
  9. Restroom Etiquette
  10. Mail Delivery, Packages, Vendors, and Visitors
  11. Conference Center Plans
  12. Travel Restrictions
  13. Signage


Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and throughout the campus reopening planning effort, the safety and wellbeing of our employees and students is and will continue to be the ILR School’s top priority.

The ILR plan anticipates the unique operations, spaces, and leased facilities that ILR manages so that specific plans can be developed that support ILR’s operating needs. This plan is meant to supplement the University’s plans and will be modified as Cornell develops its plans. It is important to acknowledge that the University and ILR may need to reverse its reopening plans or pause the reopening initiatives if COVID-19 infection and hospitalization rates spike at some point.

Throughout this gradual increase in campus activity, the focus will remain on working and learning remotely whenever possible, protecting our vulnerable community members, and implementing safety measures which have proven to be successful at flattening the curve.

In accordance with university policy, work that can be done remotely should continue to be doneremotelyso that our buildings and office space are less densely occupied. We will develop work schedules so that our offices can be staffed physically, when necessary, but on a limited basis.

ILR has also decided to suspend all in-person Outreach programs for the Fall semester, through December 31, 2020. Staff is working to place ILR’s Outreach programs on-line and in virtual formats.

It is likely that no ILR faculty or staff will be allowed to work in any of our facilities until at least July 1st. It is likely our NYC Office will re-open at the same time as the Cornell Tech Campus.

Any entry to ILR’s buildings must be specifically approved by the Dean until further notice.

Certain student activities and services such as student advising, faculty and TA office hours, student club activities, and other group activities will be addressed in subsequent iterations of this plan.

ILR’s plan will also be shared with and apply to Cornell Partners at 570 Lexington, in ILR’s Buffalo Office, and with Cornell University Libraries.

1. Official Web Sites for Reference Purposes

These web sites provide State policy guidelines as well as University reopening guidelines and will serve as a reference. afetyPlanTemplate.pdf 19_guide_for_employees.pdf

2. Ithaca Facilities and Building Access

  • ILR will be allowing the following functional units to enter the Ives Complex on the Ithaca Campus to perform essential work. ILRHR will enter the names of employees associated with these units into the University’s “Check-in” system so they can check-in as they physically go to work in Ives Hall:

    • Technical Services (IT) will be allowed to work in Ives Hall so that they can configure new computers, install equipment in classrooms and computer labs, train on the use of classroom equipment, and perform other essential work.
    • Learning & Innovation will be allowed in to work with faculty (one at a time) on editing their asynchronous teaching materials, assisting with getting courses ready for on-line delivery, and training people.
    • Facilities Management will be present to place signage around the Ives Complex, assist with moving in new faculty, delivering mail to units, and assuring the buildings are safe.
    • Dean’s Core Team Members will be allowed to work in the office on a limited basis to facilitate meetings, discussions, and to coordinate various efforts.
    • ILR Faculty and Lecturers will be allowed to work in Ives Hall to prepare for teaching in the Fall semester. Access to the Check-in system will be granted beginning August 3, 2020.
  • All other employees will continue to seek the Dean’s approval through the end of August, or until such time that this plan is modified, to enter any of ILR’s facilities, whether in Ithaca, Buffalo, or New York City.
  • According to NYS regulation, building occupancy will be limited to a maximum of 50%. This will govern the number of people allowed to physically inhabit our facilities.
  • For all employees working in offices, you must practice the 6 foot distancing in all your interactions.
  • Face masks must be worn in public areas (hallways, conference rooms, bathrooms, copier, and coffee rooms) unless by yourself in your office with the door closed. If two people are in an office and not able to be 6 feet apart, masks must be worn.
  • Offices with more public interfacing desks and counters (Tech Services, Academic Department Offices, NYC Reception Desk, Buffalo Reception Desk, Dean’s Office, etc.) will have clear signage on the floors and walls directing people to maintain social distancing and units should ask people to make appointments or to call ahead to avoid high-volume interaction.

3. Buffalo Office

  • Buffalo will not open until at least Monday, July 20th.
  • There are security concerns in the Buffalo Office that must be addressed by the landlord before ILR employees can use the building.
  • PPE equipment will be delivered to the Buffalo Office during the week of July 13th.
  • Testing for Legionella has been completed, and the tests have come back negative. The landlord is changing all the filters in ILR’s space during the week of July 6th, and Facilities staff will perform a walk-through inspection during the week of July 13th.
  • Conference and Meeting Rooms in Buffalo will have 6 foot distancing restrictions and will be closed to visitors until the university allows visitors.
  • In our Buffalo Office, we will work with Sinatra Realty to establish protocols for elevator use. They have not provided this in their reopening plan.

4. New York City - 570 Lexington

  • Per New York State guidelines, the tenant (in the case of 570 Lexington it is Cornell-ILR School) in office buildings is responsible for adhering to NYS regulations related to COVID-19 within its leased premises while the landlord is responsible for adhering to NYS regulations for all common areas.
  • Although ILR’s landlord in NYC has technically re-opened the building, ILR will not be allowing its employees to return to work at 570 Lexington until the university has a complete plan to re-open in NYC, including the Tech Campus. It is anticipated that NYC will enter Phase IV on or about August 1st, when we can consider reopening 570 Lexington.
  • ILR is working with Feil to ensure that detailed protocols are in place and that HVAC and water systems have been fully cleaned and prepared before ILR employees can re-occupy the NYC Offices. ILR staff will inspect 570 Lexington with the landlord before employees re-enter the facility.
  • ILR will comply with State and Municipal laws and regulations relating to the monitoring of employees and the reporting of COVID-positive employees.
  • Feil at 570 Lexington will limit elevator capacity to 4 people per elevator. Feil is taking a more stringent approach than the State which allows for a maximum of 50% capacity in elevators. Elevators at 570 Lexington have a capacity of 12-15 people, they are 2,500 lb elevators with an average weight of 160 lbs per person. With a capacity of 12-15 people, limiting this to 4 people brings the capacity to 25% or so being well below the State regulations. All people must wear masks while in the elevator. Four people per elevator seems to be a common standard with other major buildings and office complex landlords in NYC.
  • The Feil Organization is placing an awning on the sidewalk outside of 570 Lexington so that if people want to get into the building and there is a line, they will be protected from the elements as they allow people into the building.
  • ILR has a number of ceiling-mounted AC units which we are responsible for maintaining. David Lippincott will ask our maintenance contractor to clean those systems about 1 week before we actually re-opened so the units are not sitting clean but idle for a period of time because they may harbor bacteria. So, once we decide to have our employees back in the building, we will clean them a week in advance.
  • Use of cubicle workstations will be based on maintaining 6 feet of distance between people. The ‘quartets’ of cubicles will be used on an alternating diagonal basis and on alternating days with cubicles marked ‘A’ or ‘B’ to designate when they can be occupied.
  • Hoteling Spaces at 570 Lexington will be prohibited from having multiple users for the time-being and if our Cornell Partners need to use a hoteling space, they must follow normal procedure to reserve use of these facilities through our on- line reservation system.

5. Workplace Etiquette:

  • NYS regulations require people to wear masks within an office setting whenever they are within 6 feet of others. When leaving one’s office and walking in hallways, people should wear masks. This is especially important in our NYC Office and in Buffalo due to their open designs.
  • Use of shared computers and desks should be avoided in the near-term and there should be disinfectant materials (wipes and sprays) nearby so users can clean the equipment after use. Each unit should decide whether to block use of these shared equipment or have disinfectant available.
  • Based on feedback from the focus groups, Plexiglass Shields will not be installed in offices at this time. Rather, signage (see some examples at the end of this document) will be provided in all areas where there is normal foot traffic or public-facing areas such as the Academic Department Administrative Offices, Dean’s Suite Front Desk, Technology Services, NYC Reception area, and the Buffalo front desk.
  • Circulation patterns in hallways will be marked by signage and in certain places such as the 570 Lexington office area, certain areas in Ives, we will place signs on the floors to have people circulate through space in one direction. This is especially important in our NYC Office in the workstation area (enter from the East door and exit the West door).
  • People should call ahead before casually stopping by to see someone in their office.
  • When employees are not respecting social distancing and other guidelines, a report should be made first to the supervisor, second to ILR Human Resources, and third to the University Hotline. The CWA union members should work through their stewards who will then work with ILR HR representatives or with Susan O’Neil. Importantly, we want people to let us know about concerns, but do not want to foster an atmosphere of recriminations.
  • In certain open spaces and cubicle offices, ILR will develop alternate work schedules with some people working a Monday-Wednesday schedule and others working a Tuesday-Thursday schedule, and working at home on Fridays. As of this date, the University is still working on a plan for working in close, cubicle spaces.
  • Some employees may have two “offices”: one at Cornell and one at home. This could require extra equipment (computer and office) to allow the dual offices to function well. ILR has purchased additional computer monitors and docking stations for this purpose and will reach out to employees to assess their needs. This review will be done on a case-by-case basis with ILR Tech Services providing evaluations of what is needed.
  • Some employees may have to continue to work entirely at home, where it is feasible, due to personal circumstances, even after others return to the office.

6. Building Cleaning, Common Equipment Disinfectant, and PPE

  • 570 Lexington and the Feil Organization was following CDC guidelines cleaning prior to the March 13th shutdown. Currently, 570 Lexington is cleaned in the evenings and there are wipe downs of restrooms at 2 pm. We may need to increase the frequency of cleaning, but we will assess this once the office reopens.
  • The Buffalo Office will be cleaned on its normal schedule as long as visitors are not allowed into the office. If visitors begin to enter on a regular basis, additional cleaning may be needed.
  • University to provide all PPE necessary for a return to work. 570 Lexington has a supply of PPE, and ILR Facilities is purchasing PPE supplies for the Buffalo Office.
  • Common space cleaning for such areas as shared computers, photocopiers, microwaves, fridges, and coffeepots, etc. will be done by the employee using the common equipment. ILR will provide spray disinfectant, wipes, and other materials near each common space and the employee using the equipment is responsible for cleaning the touch points before and after each use. Cleaning of equipment and spaces will not be done by administrative assistant staff members but by each employee, regardless of position, who is using the space or equipment.

7. Classrooms, Meeting Rooms, Lounges, and Common Spaces - Protocols

  • The number of people allowed in any particular room will be dictated by university standard and policies. The university will likely takeover non- classroom spaces that are not listed in the 25Live system to accommodate additional classroom space during the Fall semester. So, the Ithaca Conference Center may be used for classrooms rather than conferences.

    The university is examining classroom capacities and developing standards of 6’+ spacing and per person that will greatly reduce the capacity of our classrooms and conference rooms, possibly down to ~25%.
  • Cleaning in-between classes or meetings will have to be addressed in terms of when it is done, how frequently, and by whom. Current thinking is that cleaning of chairs and desks in classrooms cannot be done between classes because the university doesn’t have the capacity to do this and the time between classes is too short. However, each classroom will be supplied with disinfectant materials so the faculty member or instructor can clean commonly used equipment (podiums, computer consoles, etc.).
  • The PhD Office Space in the basement of Ives will need to be regulated since these cubicles are open and normal use may not provide for 6-foot distancing. The plan for this space is to limit use to 50% of the 44-person occupancy. Specifically, ILR will have an alternating diagonal use of the cubicle spaces which will ensure 6 feet of separation and we will post “A” – “B” signage for when the cubicles can be used on alternating days. The Dean is meeting with the PhD students to discuss plans.
  • The MILR space in the Ives basement will also be regulated to have a maximum capacity of 15 people to ensure 6 feet of distance. Certain common desks and seating areas will be either removed or taped off to ensure alternate seating patterns and tables in conference rooms will be marked to ensure distancing. Extensive signage will be placed in this lounge.

  • TA Offices – This may need to be closed and have all TA’s meet virtually with students.
  • The Undergraduate Lounge will be limited, much like the MILR Lounge, with alternating seating and some sections taped off to present use. Signage and hand sanitizers will be available.
  • OB Expo Lab and Computer Labs will have restrictions in terms of use since shared machines and spaces are involved. The Dean’s Office will work with faculty members who are responsible for these labs and with ILR Facilities to determine how they will be used in a safe manner.
  • Meetings rooms at 570 Lexington will be significantly limited in terms of capacity based on 6 foot distancing.
  • Conference rooms and classrooms in 570 Lexington will be strictly limited and may be used to accommodate office space for those who are less than 6 feet away from their co-workers in their workstations.
  • The Café on the 12th Floor and Employee Lunch Room on the 11th floor in NYC will be open for employee use as long as employees practice social distancing of at least 6 feet as they sit at tables and that there are not more than 25 people in the spaces at any given time.
  • Wellness Room at 570 Lexington will be closed for use by people who are sick but it will remain open for prayer or reflection. Appropriate signage will be installed.
  • Outdoor Seating Spaces in Ithaca will be restricted based on social distancing requirements in terms of how many people can sit at the various tables and chairs. The School may establish a reservation system for these space, managed by the Ithaca Conference Center, so faculty and staff can plan for outdoor meetings.
  • Tents in the Katz Courtyard and Upper Courtyard may be set up from mid- August to mid-October to provide for group gatherings of up to 25 people. ILR Facilities and Conference Center are working with the University to coordinate the approval and installation of tents. The Katz Courtyard has sufficient Wi-Fi to support this use.

8. Restroom Etiquette

  • Many restrooms will likely have reduced capacity so that only every other stall or fixture will be used. Fixtures may be blocked off with tape, etc., or somehow locked. We are evaluating strategies to ensure there are no more than one or two people in a restroom that has multiple stalls.
  • Restrooms will be cleaned twice per day which is included in our supplemental cleaning contract at 570 Lexington.
  • Signage will be used to prevent crowding in bathrooms.
  • ILR is exploring the feasibility of installing toilet seat covers on the toilets to prevent the ‘aerosoling’ of flushed toilet water, but the university has not addressed this as an issue at this time.

9. Mail Delivery, Packages, Vendors and Visitors

  • Instead of people in Ives coming to the Mailroom to collect their mail, the Mailroom will deliver mail to offices on a regular basis to minimize foot traffic in Ives and 570 Lexington. Staff delivering mail will wear masks and take necessary precautions. We will provide a centrally located box to drop off mail.
  • Vendors will be allowed into Ives Hall to make deliveries, and vendor companies (e.g. Chemung Water, W.B. Mason) must monitor their own employees and ensure they are safe to work.
  • Vendors at 570 Lexington will be tested as they enter the building to ensure they are safe.
  • Visitors to Campus are discouraged from coming to campus. The University is still developing a policy with respect to visitors, but visitors to Ives Hall, the Buffalo Office, and the NYC Office should be discouraged unless there is an essential reason for their physical presence.

10.Conference Center Operations

  • Separate conference center plans have been developed and include extra cleaning, use of disposable utensils and plates, boxed breakfast and lunches to avoid open buffet-style service, etc. We will determine whose responsibility this will be at the Ithaca Conference Center. We are evaluating the altering of meeting times to provide for cleaning.
  • Floor plans of 6-foot distancing in classrooms and conference rooms have been prepared. This significantly reduces the size of our events and gatherings. The new clusters will likely be “classroom” style or set up as “U” shaped which may cause Outreach units to adjust their teaching style. The group tables may not be allowed.
  • 570 Lexington will be on a different reopening schedule. ILR Outreach will offer its programs only virtually through the Fall so there will be no regular programs scheduled in the Conference Centers, but there will be broadcasts, podcasts, and virtual conference services offered this Fall. We will continue to evaluate the public health and safety situation as it evolves and are coordinating with our colleagues at Weill Cornell and Cornell Tech on NYC operations.

11.Work-Related Travel

  • All work-related travel whether to academic conferences, professional meetings, or to deliver Outreach training programs or for professional master degree programs (e.g. MPS or EMHRM) require prior approval from the Dean. It is best to assume that all travel is prohibited unless specifically approved by the Dean in writing, with the Associate Dean for Outreach and the Associate Dean for Finance & Administration advising the Dean on specific situations or circumstances.
  • The university is still developing more specific travel guidelines and ILR will adjust its policy as the university guidelines are announced.

12. Signage

  • ILR Facilities staff will begin creating and distributing signs in all parts of Ives Hall in the coming week so that when there is a return to work, signage is clear and present throughout the building (see some examples below).
  • If faculty, staff, or students feel that additional signage is needed in their area of the building, please contact David Lippincott in Facilities, and he will provide the necessary signage.
  • Common examples of signage are available at
Coronavirus poster designs available at