Dear Centennial Hall residents,
We are excited to begin the Spring 2021 semester following a successful Fall 2020 semester. Thanks to the hard work, common sense, and willingness to follow requirements that were grounded in science, ESF students kept the virus beyond our borders. In fact, zero positive COVID-19 cases were recorded in Centennial Hall during the Fall 2020 semester.

We understand that many Centennial Hall residents are grappling with the decision and desire to return to campus for the Spring 2021 semester. We want you to have options during this challenging time.

Centennial Hall residents with either of the following statuses may opt-out of their contract for the Spring 2021 semester:
  • a fully online schedule for the Spring 2021 semester or
  • commuting from a permanent/home residence during the Spring 2021 semester

We understand this change in status may result in changes to your bill. Financial implications for adopting an online-only schedule for the Spring 2021 semester will be addressed in a subsequent message.

If you choose to opt-out of your Centennial Hall contract, you must do the following in accordance with the dates listed here:
Communicate Your Decision
Between January 4, 2021, and January 18, 2021:
Officially opt-out of your Centennial Hall contact. To do so, send an email to leadership in Centennial Hall: (within the timeframe noted).
Retrieve Your Belongings
Between January 5, 2021, and January 18, 2021:
Remove your belongings from Centennial Hall and complete all necessary documentation to officially move out of Centennial Hall. To ensure the health and safety of all, visits to Centennial Hall to remove belongings must be scheduled and will be limited to 3-hour blocks of time. The resident and 1 guest will be permitted in the building to pack and remove items. Upon arrival for your scheduled move-out time, the resident must check-in at the front desk and follow all move-out procedures. Further details will be shared with those who choose to opt-out of their contract. Please understand that belongings remaining in Centennial Hall after January 18, 2021, for residents who have opted-out of their contract become property of the College and will be discarded.

Attest that you are living at home
Although we are offering this option, we believe that the ESF campus is safe. It is our expectation that if you avail yourself of the opt-out option, you will affirm that your intention is to remain at your permanent/home residence for the Spring 2021 semester. The Centennial Hall residency requirement will not be waived for students with Centennial Hall contracts to live off-campus in Syracuse. If it becomes apparent that students who chose to opt-out of their Centennial Hall contract are not living at their permanent/home residence, these students will be accountable for the housing charges for the Spring 2021 semester.

All students with existing housing contracts who do not opt out by the stated deadline will be considered Centennial Hall residents and responsible for the full semester housing charge. After January 18, 2021, housing charges will only be waived or reduced if Centennial Hall is closed due to Executive Order or another official directive.
We understand that this is a difficult decision. We hope that you will choose to return to Centennial Hall for the Spring 2021 semester. Before you make your final decision, please consider these points:

  • Not all classes you may need for the Spring 2021 semester may be offered completely online. In addition, not all academic programs at ESF can be completed online. To identify the modality for your Spring 2021 semester courses, visit MySlice or the ESF website.
  • If you choose to live at your permanent/home residence and opt-out of living on-campus, you may not be able to enroll full-time (because not all classes you need may be offered online). This may impact your financial aid awards. Financial aid recipients who choose to take only online classes for Spring 2021 will be notified as costs of attendance and aid award types/amounts are modified. Staff in the Office of Financial Aid may be reached at or 315-470-6706.
  • Changing your Spring 2021 course schedule may impact your ability to graduate on time. Not all courses at ESF are offered every semester or even every year. If you choose not to take a required course this semester because it is not offered online, it might not be offered in the fall. Your schedule may be further complicated if the course you opt out of this semester is a pre-requisite for another required course.
  • First-year students who choose to study completely online for the Spring 2021 semester will most likely be pulled from lab courses and added to required General Education courses. While it may not add time to your degree, please understand the labs are required and will have to be added to your schedule in a subsequent semester. Choosing this approach will separate the lab from the associated lecture, which may make it more difficult to successfully complete the lab.

2020 has been a year filled with learning opportunities that will impact how we move forward at ESF.

We learned that the ability to adapt is an asset. We fine-tuned our academic offerings so that coursework still leveraged the hallmark of ESF’s educational mindset: our courses encouraged a “roll up your sleeves” and “get your hands dirty” approach that allowed ESF students to find the value in a hands-on approach to education although presented online.

We learned that expectations need to reflect the current situation. We leveraged our relationship with Syracuse University to ensure our students had access to safe and appropriate options to engage with fellow students. The out-of-class experience was definitely different than what most of us expected. Society moved online. Get-togethers on virtual platforms, watch parties, and online club meetings were the norm for the Fall 2020 semester. We expect that will continue during the Spring 2021 semester.

We learned the value of testing. With COVID-19 diagnostic testing, people who test positive can get care earlier. Contacts can be traced, and quarantine or isolation can start sooner to help stop the spread of the virus. During the Spring 2021 semester, we will partner with Syracuse University to test every student, every week.

We learned that accurate and timely communication is paramount. We are using every tool at our disposable: email, social media (posts and live events) and the website. We are investigating options to text our current students and will begin communicating more regularly with parents/families/guardians who share their email address with the College. Please encourage your parents/families/guardians to opt-in for email messages by completing this form:

Please be aware that many of our decisions are made in collaboration with partners at the state and local levels. This collaboration may impact content and timing.

We are currently working hand-in-hand with SUNY to develop the protocols and expectations for returning to campus in January. Those details will be communicated as early as we can in January 2021.
In Summary
Choosing to opt out of your Centennial Hall obligation is a big decision. Residential students have greater access to the full suite of campus resources, can better take advantage of ESF’s relationship with Syracuse University, will be better positioned to enroll in the courses in the appropriate sequence to graduate on time (saving time and money), and will be part of a community that has proven to be safe.
As pleased as we are that we can offer you this option, we know that it is a pivotal decision. If you have questions or need additional information, please contact Student Affairs ( or 315-470-6660) or Centennial Hall ( or 315-741-3067). We are eager to help you make the best decision for your academic career.
Dr. David Newman
Interim Provost
Vice President for Academic Affairs