Date: August 26, 2020
TO: NYU Parents
FROM: NYU President Andrew Hamilton

Dear Parents, Guardians, and Loved Ones,

Last week the first major cohort of students returned to campus — some 2,700 students coming from hot-spot states and abroad to start a two-week quarantine in our residence halls.

None of this is easy, neither for the students nor for NYU itself. We are having to do many things that are unfamiliar to us, and sometimes more complex than we anticipate.

As some of you may have seen, the meal service we have in place to accompany the free housing we are providing for the quarantine period — an effort to deliver nearly 8,000 meals per day (including many specialized meals) to the doors of our students' rooms — did not go as well as planned. That was particularly unfortunate given the circumstances — spending so much time in their rooms, students naturally looked forward to meal times, so the disappointment was all the keener. I want to take this opportunity to apologize to the families of students for whom we fell short in terms of delivering meals. We have doubled the cooking and delivery personnel in the days since quarantine began and are taking other steps to strengthen the food service. We have begun to receive some feedback that students are seeing improvement; nevertheless, rest assured, we will keep working on it.

I will not minimize what happened. But I do want to say that in other ways, things have been more in line with our planning.

Move-in went well for the students who arrived early to quarantine, and they are in great measure complying with the strict requirements. There have been some lapses, and some consequences (including a number of suspensions, reflecting the seriousness with which we intend to reinforce our safety and health rules), but overall those in quarantine have demonstrated great maturity and admirable restraint.

They have also been making extensive use of the wide-ranging programming and resources we established for the quarantine period. Our Wasserman Career Center, for example, has reported significantly higher engagement than at this time last year.

And the data from the initial round of University testing has come back — out of 7,772 first-round tests given to students (including students who arrived early for quarantine), there were five positive tests, plus an additional five positives out of those test that were separately submitted, for a total of 10. Those with the positive tests are in isolation, are being closely monitored, and will not be permitted to enter NYU academic and administrative facilities until cleared by our COVID-19 Prevention and Response Team. I should note that every member of the NYU community is required to be tested before coming back on campus, including me, and all those quarantining will be re-tested this week.

And our efforts to make safety preparations for the fall semester are also continuing, with changes to our physical spaces, installation of thousands of hand-sanitizing stations, and the procurement of hundreds of thousands of pieces of personal protective gear, which, together with our safety protocols, should work effectively in helping to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

While this year is very different for us — dealing with unprecedented circumstances and requirements, committing to new rules and new habits, doing things differently than we ever had before — NYU has a long history of innovating and defying expectations. We are fully committed to the education of your students and their safety, and we take our responsibility to them — and to every member of our community — seriously.

I'll be in touch with you again soon.

Andrew Hamilton