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Covid Updates

During these unprecedented times, our prime concern is the safety and health of our community. This page provides helpful updates and resources on our institution's response to COVID-19.

Email Updates

Dear YU community,

As the semester comes to a close, we want to thank our students, faculty, rabbeim and staff for all that you have done to help keep our campuses safe and for a successful first semester. We want to update you on our current plans for winter break and Spring 2022 as we continue to monitor current data on COVID-19 cases in our community and in the New York area.  

Omicron is the most highly contagious variant yet, and, in only a very short period of time, it has become the dominant variant in the NY region. As we have done throughout the pandemic, we remain nimble in adjusting our infection-control protocols as necessary to meet the shifting landscape of COVID-19. This “dimmer switch” approach to our COVID protocols is guided by recommendations from our medical director and local New York City and New York State guidance. 

At this time, YU is planning for in-person undergraduate living and learning this Spring semester. Importantly, the University’s policies regarding full vaccination status and indoor masking remain in effect. Moreover, our robust testing, isolation, quarantine, and contact tracing programs continue to make a difference in keeping our campus as safe as possible. We anticipate undergraduate spring semester classes to begin, as planned, on January 24. 

Please see below for more detailed information about our updated policies for the Spring semester.

Booster Requirement

Studies have shown that neutralizing antibodies to COVID-19 begin to diminish six months after vaccination with the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccine, and two months after vaccination with the J&J vaccination, and booster vaccinations have proven to provide a significantly higher immune response. It is for this reason that we will be requiring each member of the YU community to receive a booster as soon as they are eligible (meaning six months after receiving the second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccination series and two months after receiving the single dose J&J vaccine). All members of the YU community who are eligible should receive a booster prior to the Spring semester and returning to campus.  You should upload your proof on or after Monday, January 10th. If you are not yet eligible for the booster, you must get one (and upload proof) within 30 days of eligibility. Omicron is being transmitted rapidly in vaccinated individuals, and booster vaccination is an important tool in protecting those at high risk for serious disease.   

Additionally, being up to date on your booster will reduce the likelihood of a required quarantine for exposure, as recently announced by the  CDC and the University. Please get your booster as soon as possible; do not wait until the last minute to do so. Detailed instructions about uploading proof of boosters and return-to-campus COVID tests will follow soon. 

COVID-19 Positive During Break 

Students, if you test positive for COVID during winter break, please email your test results to CovidStudentLine@yu.edu 
Employees, email all off-campus positive results to COVID_HR@yu.edu

Masking

Masks will continue to be required indoors on campus except if alone in a closed space, since mask-wearing is an essential part of our health and safety protocols. This includes shared public spaces such as classrooms and meeting rooms, the library, dining halls, residential common areas, and some office configurations. 

STUDENTS

Winter Break

During the winter break, the undergraduate residence halls will remain open for our students

Weekly Covid PCR testing will continue

The athletic center, libraries and administrative and academic buildings will remain open. Please check the athletic center and library websites for updated hours.

Cafeterias will be closed from January 9 to January 23; however, students can use their meal plan flex dollars at participating local restaurants.

Shuttle service will be available during winter break. Please check the website for information.

Arrival

Orientation for new undergraduate students will be held on January 23.

Move-in will begin on Saturday night, January 22-23. Additional move-in information will follow.

Testing Requirements 

All students will need to provide a negative pre-arrival test (PCR), to be taken within 72 hours, or a negative pre-arrival rapid test taken within 48 hours, each with a lab report from a pharmacy or physician, before returning to campus. (At home self-tests will not be accepted.) Please plan ahead and schedule your testing now. Students testing positive on either test should stay home and contact COVIDStudentLine@yu.edu for further guidance.  

For those who remain on campus during winter break, we will be offering testing on the following days and times:  

Beren testing site is at 215 Lexington, 5th Floor, and Wilf Testing site is at Furst Hall, Room 501.

January 10 and 11: testing available from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Beren campus, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wilf campus

January 18: testing available from 9 to 11 a.m. on both the Beren and Wilf campuses 

Please note, those who test on the foregoing dates during winter break will NOT have to provide another test to gain re-entry, and these tests will count as your required pre-arrival test.  

All undergraduate students will be required to test once per week during the Spring semester, and we will continue random testing of faculty and staff as well. Testing frequency for the remainder of the semester will be determined based on the COVID rates on campus and in New York City.  Regular testing will resume the week of January 24.  All graduate students should await further instruction from their respective deans regarding testing requirements. 

Events, athletics, Shabbat on campus: At this time, we plan to continue hosting in-person events on campus in Spring 2022. Additional details will be available in coming weeks, based on the most up to date guidance from our medical director, New York City and New York State. 

FACULTY and STAFF

To reduce density on campus, managers will work with employees to follow a remote work schedule, wherever possible, during the first two weeks of January. This will help limit spread of infection on campus during the break and afford us all the best possible position to start the semester. Exceptions to this include employees with essential duties who need to be on campus to fulfill their responsibilities, and faculty who are conducting research that requires the use of labs and offices. Staff members should confer with their supervisors to determine whether they should work on campus.  This is only a temporary measure; employees should expect to resume their regular work model by January 18.   

Faculty and staff who have not been working on campus during this period will need to upload an off-campus entry test. You may take a PCR or a Rapid test (administered by a pharmacy or testing site, not an at-home test).  PCR tests must be taken no earlier than 72 hours prior to your actual return date. Rapid tests must be taken no earlier than 48 hours prior to your actual return date.  Off campus test results must be uploaded to Inside Track no more than 48 hours before your return. Please confer with your Dean or Supervisor to determine your return date.  

Faculty and staff who have been working on campus during this period may take an on-campus test or an off-campus test. For your convenience, you may take an on-campus test at the sites listed above on January 10, 11 or 18.  If you take your test off campus, please adhere to the instructions above.  

We will continue to have random testing for faculty and staff beginning on January 24th, and everyone coming to campus will be expected to test when selected.  

We want to end by thanking the entire YU community for all you have done to ensure the well-being of our community. We wish you a safe and healthy break and New Year.  

Sincerely,

Dr. Selma Botman
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Dear YU Community,

As many of you may have heard, yesterday, the CDC announced shortened isolation requirements for individuals who have COVID-19, and new quarantine requirements for certain individuals who are exposed to COVID-19.  In consultation with our medical director, we plan to follow this guidance on campus.  This includes:

  • Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 can end isolation after five days (reduced from 10 days) if they are asymptomatic and fever-free at that time. Those individuals must continue to wear masks around other people for an additional five days. This update is effective regardless of vaccination/booster status.
  • Unvaccinated individuals, and individuals who were vaccinated more than 6 months ago from their second dose (if they received the Pfizer/BioNTech or the Moderna vaccine) or more than two months ago (if they received the J&J vaccine) – and have not yet received a booster dose - must quarantine for five days after being exposed to COVID-19.  They then must wear a mask around other people for an additional five days.
  • Individuals who were vaccinated less than 6 months ago from their second dose (if they received the Pfizer/BioNTech or the Moderna vaccine) or less than two months ago (if they received the J&J vaccine), and individuals who are vaccinated and have received a booster dose, do not need to quarantine after exposure.  They must still wear a mask around other people for 10 days.

Everyone – regardless of vaccination/booster status - who is exposed to COVID-19 should be tested five days after the exposure. Click here for additional details from the CDC.

It is everyone’s responsibility to do their part by following the indoor mask mandate that is essential to keeping our campus safe. Everyone, regardless of vaccination/booster status, must wear a face mask whenever inside academic or administrative buildings, classrooms, hallways, and elevators, including all public indoor spaces, residence halls and the cafeteria unless you are actively eating or drinking.

The COVID Monitoring Team

Dear YU community,

As you are aware, there have been significant increases in COVID-19 cases throughout New York State over the course of the past week which have begun to impact COVID protocols in NYC and universities across the state. We are reaching out to inform you about important COVID updates for the remainder of this semester.

While our current numbers of positive cases on campus remain low, we are actively working to protect the health and safety of our community. With that in mind, we are shifting all undergraduate classes to remote starting on Wednesday, December 22 for the remainder of the semester. Importantly, all undergraduate final exams including undergraduate Torah studies beginning this week will be online we expect that the NYC and the Tri-State area cases will continue to go up based on most recent available data. 

Graduate school deans will reach out to students, as appropriate, with more information about how this will impact their classes, exams and other activities. 

While we shift to remote learning, dormitory buildings, Batei Midrash, libraries, cafeterias and athletic centers will remain open to students. Keeping this in mind, and as we closely monitor the Omicron variant, we want to reiterate what is expected of our campus community to ensure students, faculty and staff remain as healthy and safe as possible: 

  • Face coverings: It is everyone’s responsibility to do their part by following the indoor mask mandate that is essential to keeping our campus safe. Everyone, regardless of vaccination status, must wear a face mask whenever inside academic or administrative buildings, classrooms, hallways, elevators including all public indoor spaces, residence halls and the cafeteria unless you are eating or drinking.  
  • Events: We still will have Shabbat on campus with both in person meals as well as grab and go options. To help limit potential spread of infection on campus, food at campus events -- including student club events, recreational activities - will be temporarily discontinued for the remainder of the semester. 
  • COVID Monitoring Program: We continue to require mandatory weekly testing of all students who are on campus and random testing of staff and faculty through the end of the semester.  We will be in touch with details regarding testing requirements for the Spring Semester.  
  • If you are not feeling well: Especially if you are exhibiting symptoms of COVID, you should NOT come to class or work. You should promptly be evaluated by a healthcare professional. 
  • For staff: As a result of the shift to remote classes, the density on campus will be significantly reduced.  All employees should confer with their department head or supervisor to determine their on-campus work arrangement. It is expected that everyone working on campus will wear masks in all buildings except when alone in a closed office. 

Next steps - Be vigilant in masking on campus, in classrooms, Batei Midrash, residence halls and in all public spaces. Now more than ever, given the rise of the new COVID variant, it is critically important to mask up. Commit to doing your part to keep everyone safe, and comply with our values, our mask ​mandate and the law.  

We are continuing to work closely with our Medical Director as we monitor the number of cases on our campuses and our community as well as local and state guidance. We will be sharing additional information in the coming days with updates on COVID protocols for the remainder of the semester including updates on testing, boosters and events for the winter and spring semester.   

The Covid Monitoring Team

Undergrad Academics

The Withdrawal date was moved up as part of a previously planned change to the 2020-21 academic calendar but was delayed to the 2021-22 academic calendar due to COVID. Our withdrawal deadlines are now in line and consistent with our peer institutions’ academic calendars.

We are introducing study days instead of reading week this year in preparation for finals. These days are completely non-instructional and allow students to prepare for their upcoming finals. This change allows our calendar to meet the required number of instructional hours as well as maximizing the full content of courses without impacting scheduled breaks in the semester.

YU offers a plethora of individualized supports for students to ensure maximum success. These include academic support and academic advising, support for students with disabilities, the counseling center, the writing center, peer tutoring and access to the Shevet Glaubach Center for Career Strategy and Professional Development.

COVID-19 Protocols

  • The university is unable to accept any at-home rapid tests that do not have formal reports from which we can match the test to a particular person at a particular time.       
  • For return to campus testing, the University will accept a formal report from a PCR taken within the previous 72 hours or a rapid antigen taken within the previous 48 hours. 
  • All other tests must be PCRs. 

What does a student do if they test positive?

  • For a student who tests positive as a result of YU testing, the COVID team will automatically be alerted and direct the student to isolate.  The COVID team will begin appropriate contact tracing. 
  •  A student who tests positive as a result of non-YU testing should  immediately isolate and send their test results to covidstudentline@yu.edu. The COVID team will begin appropriate contact tracing after receipt of this email.  It is not sufficient for the student who tests positive off-campus to only alert their professor or advisor.  If a faculty member or advisor is told by a student about a positive off-campus test, they should instruct the student to send their test results to covidstudentline@yu.edu.
  •  A positive student in University housing may be relocated. 
  •  The student may return to school after a minimum of 5 days either from when their symptoms began, or, if unsure, from when their test was performed.  Isolation will not be shortened with a negative test – once someone receives a positive test they may not return to school for a minimum of 5 days.  In addition, in order to return to school: (a) Their symptoms must have improved by the 6h day, (b) They are without fever for 24 hours on the 10th day, and (c) They did not require any fever-reducing medications on the 5th day. 

What does an employee do if they test positive?

  • For an employee who tests positive as a result of YU testing, the COVID team will automatically be alerted and direct the employee to immediately leave campus and isolate as required.  The COVID team will begin appropriate contact tracing.  
  •  An employee who tests positive as a result of non-YU testing should immediately leave campus and isolate and send their test results to COVID_HR@yu.edu.  The COVID team will begin appropriate contact tracing after receipt of this email.  It is not sufficient for the employee who tests positive off-campus to only alert their supervisor.  If a supervisor is told by their employee about a positive off-campus test, they should instruct the employee to send their test results to COVID_HR@yu.edu
  •  The employee may return to work after a minimum of 5 days either from when their symptoms began, or, if unsure, from when their test was performed.  Isolation will not be shortened with a negative test – once someone receives a positive test, they may not return to work for a minimum of 5 days.  In order to return to work: (a) Their symptoms must be resolving by the 6th day, (b) They are without fever for 24 hours on the 6th day  

How should faculty treat students who have – or may have – COVID:

Faculty should:

  •  Encourage students who have symptoms to not come to class. 
  •  Provide appropriate academic support to students who temporarily cannot participate in in-person classes due to symptoms or isolation/quarantine, bearing in mind that the absence may be more extended than is usually the case when a student is ill.
  • Reassure students that absences due to symptoms or isolation/quarantine will not have a negative academic impact.

Faculty should not:

  • Cancel class or transition a class to remote instruction without the prior approval of their Dean.
  • Email a class or make announcements about a case or make health recommendations related to testing, quarantine, isolation, or cleaning.

  • When informed of a positive case, the COVID team will ask the individual who tested positive about their interactions with the campus community – both on and off campus - during the time they may have been infectious (generally the time period beginning 48 hours before the individual tested positive or began having symptoms). The COVID team would then notify members of the campus community who are deemed to be “close contacts” (generally been within 6 feet of the positive individual for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period while the positive individual was infectious).
  • Close contacts who are fully-vaccinated do not need to quarantine if they don’t have any symptoms, and are permitted to continue to come to campus.  They should get tested 3-5 days after the exposure – even if they don’t have symptoms – and wear a mask indoors in public for 14 days following exposure (or until their test is negative).  Fully-vaccinated individuals who develop symptoms after exposure should immediately isolate and get tested.
  • Close contacts who had COVID within the prior 90 days (and recovered) do not need to quarantine if they don’t have any symptoms, and are permitted to continue to come to campus.  They should wear a mask indoors in public for 14 days after exposure and self-monitor for symptoms.  If they develop new symptoms, they should consult their healthcare provider for testing recommendations, and they should not come to campus until cleared by their healthcare provider.   
  • Close contacts who are not fully-vaccinated must quarantine for at least 10-14 days and are not permitted to come to school/work.  They should get tested immediately.  If the test is negative, they should get tested again 5-7 days after the exposure, and test again if they develop symptoms.  Quarantine will not be shortened with a negative test – an unvaccinated close contact must quarantine for a minimum of 10-14 days.
  • A student in University housing who must quarantine may be relocated.
  • Please bear in mind that, given our high vaccination rates and other safety measures, most people who receive a notification of a classroom case are not close contacts nor at increased risk for COVID-19 infection and, therefore, do not need to follow additional safety protocols. This is true even if these individuals in the same class have been in the same space as a COVID-positive student or faculty/staff member during the period when they were infectious. For example, being in a class with a COVID-positive person does not automatically make everyone else in the class a close contact and does not require that the class in turn move to remote instruction, nor does it mean that students in the classroom can decide that they want to refrain from attending in-person instruction. We endeavor to share classroom notifications in an effort to provide transparency, but these are NOT notifications of being a close contact.

Employee Policies

The University expects all employees who are working on campus to be fully vaccinated and receive a booster.  Limited exemptions may be accommodated.  Requests will be reviewed by the Covid Team. 

We expect to continue random mandatory testing of our employees. 

Please check every day for the following symptoms:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Do not come to campus if you have any of these symptoms.  Contact your medical provider immediately for further instructions.

We have recently updated the University Temporary Travel Policy and expect to consider additional changes consistent with applicable health and medical guidance. The policy is available here: Temporary Travel Restriction Policy (00057113).PDF (yu.edu) 

We will expect student-facing offices to have an in-person presence during normal business hours. Other departments will also have an in-person presence and may allow partial remote work arrangements if it is productive for the department’s needs. Employees should consult with their department heads or supervisors to determine the fall work schedule.

Everyone will be required to wear masks on campus (except when they are alone in their private offices).  We understand that mask wearing can be challenging, but we are putting this in place at the beginning of the fall semester to ensure that we have a healthy and successful year and as required by applicable guidance.  We will continue to monitor the infection rates on campus as well as in NYC and will adjust our protocols as appropriate and in accordance with NY State and NY City requirements.

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