Date: November 19, 2020
TO: NYU Parents
FROM: NYU President Andrew Hamilton

Dear Parents, Guardians, and Loved Ones,

By now you may have heard that the City of New York has decided to suspend in-person classes in the public school system. Because NYU plans to carry on as we have been, I want to give you a little context and information.

Following last spring's rapid spread of COVID-19 in New York, the State put in place strong restrictions that brought the COVID rate down significantly, and then slowly and carefully allowed the re-opening of various sectors. For some time, New York's COVID rates remained low even as they rapidly climbed in other areas of the country.

In the last few weeks, though, rates have started to climb again in New York, led by some hotspot areas. The City, which had opened the public schools this fall with some in-person instruction, had determined that it would pivot to all-remote instruction when the City's 7-day average COVID positivity rate reached 3.0%, which it did this week.

What is notable is that the rate within the schools themselves has been low. Those findings generally track with the findings of our own testing and contact tracing program, and of a recent CDC study involving Duke University: that in-person classes are not a source of transmission. For that reason, we will continue with our current program.

Even as I say that, I must add a note of caution: COVID-19 has been an unpredictable challenge, and it may be the case that we see a rapid change that causes us to alter course, or that public health authorities take the decision out of our hands. Moreover, as I recently indicated to you — and to the students — Thanksgiving (more specifically, its aftermath) is also a source of concern (in fact, the CDC has just issued new guidance about the Thanksgiving holiday that I urge you to read).

However, for now, as I noted, we will proceed as we have been. Rest assured that we are monitoring developments closely and continuously, and I will be in touch about any changes.

I want to wish you a happy Thanksgiving break. Circumstances this year have prevented many of us from sharing the Thanksgiving meal with many of our loved ones, but at least we can all share the spirit of the day, and wish one another good health, peace, and best wishes.


Andrew Hamilton
New York University