Summary Update Including News on Lifting Omicron-related Restrictions
Date: February 2, 2022
To: The NYU Community
From: Katherine Fleming, Provost; Martin Dorph, Exec. Vice President; Dr. Carlo Ciotoli, Vice President for Campus Health
Booster Data, and A Substantial Decline in the Rate of New Cases
Over 98% of students are in compliance with the booster requirement we put in place in December, and the number continues to rise. Among employees, it is a bit lower — 93% — but overall this is a very good outcome, especially considering the relatively short timeline between the announcement of the booster requirement and the deadline for complying. Nevertheless, schools and units are continuing their efforts to achieve full compliance.
Declining COVID-19 case numbers
In recent days, the pace of new cases both at NYU and more generally in New York is declining just as quickly as it surged in early January.
The positivity rate on campus during late December/early January was over 18%; the most recent positivity rate, which takes account of the start of classes, is 1.6%. New York City has shown similar steep declines.
Lifting Restrictions: Resuming Many of Our Pre-Omicron Practices
Against that backdrop, we have some good news: this week and next, we will begin to lift some of the restrictions we put in place as Omicron-driven cases started surging during the end of the fall semester.
This Friday, February 4, dining facilities will resume regular meal service, and students will be able to eat in the dining halls, as was the case in the fall. Those eating are strongly urged to eat at least 6 feet (2 meters) apart from other people and for less than 15 minutes. After eating, you should promptly remask and return to spaces in which everyone is masked. Grab-and-go will continue to be available for those who prefer.
We will re-open the gyms next Monday, February 7, for individual-level fitness activities. Group classes will continue remotely. Other group fitness activities are not permitted.
Performing arts classes
Schools will be permitted to revert to the Fall 2021 Academic Performing Arts Guidelines. These guidelines pertain to performing arts activities that relate directly to specific academic courses and are not applicable to non-course activities. The effective date and required processes will be communicated by the schools.
Students in Housing
Beginning on Monday, students in NYU housing will:
- Be permitted to invite NYU student visitors to their rooms
- Be permitted to use common areas/lounges in residence halls (eating is not permitted in these spaces unless it is a designated eating area)
Events, Gatherings, and Meetings
Events, gatherings, and meetings are permitted to resume under Fall 2021 guidelines beginning February 7 (please note: visitors, vendors, and affiliates will not be permitted to participate in events, meetings, or gatherings on- or off-campus).
Beginning on Monday, student clubs may resume in-person meetings under Fall 2021 guidelines.
Group Study Rooms
Beginning on Monday, group study rooms will re-open (eating is not permitted in these spaces unless it is a designated eating area).
A Note of Caution…
This is not a moment to begin throwing caution to the wind. Just the reverse: additional lifting of restrictions will not be possible unless we continue to see positive trends in data such as case positivity and numbers of new cases, among other metrics. Accordingly, it will be very important for each of us to remain cautious and to conscientiously observe the rules that remain in place. If we begin to see data that suggest an upswing in transmission within the NYU community, it is likely that we will restore some or all of the restrictions we are now beginning to lift.
…And the Continued Importance of Proper Mask-Wearing
Perhaps foremost among the measures that remain in place for the time being is our mask-wearing mandate. Our anecdotal observations towards the end of the fall semester were that mask-wearing, while on the whole good, was becoming more ragged than had previously been the case at NYU. This semester seems to have started off on a better note.
That’s good, and important. In combination with our high rate of vaccination, wearing an appropriate, well-fitted mask when you are indoors is among the most important steps you can take to check the spread of the virus and, consequently, permit us to make continued progress on easing restrictions (appropriate masks are available at all residence halls, most Campus Safety posts, and from Public Health Ambassadors).
In-Person Class Attendance by Students
Faculty and schools provided considerable flexibility at the beginning of this semester for students who were unable to attend classes in person. This was always intended, however, as a temporary state of affairs.
While there will still continue to be some students who need to be absent from class temporarily, it is our expectation that at this time, relatively few students will need the kind of flexibility provided at the beginning of the semester. They should, by next week, be attending classes in person.
Resuming the Pre-Omicron Levels of In-Person Presence of Staff and Administrators
As we indicated last week, as of Monday, February 7, we expect schools and operational units to return to the levels of on-site presence of administrators and staff that were in place through the fall semester before the Omicron surge. By that we mean in-person staffing of offices in the context of a hybrid work environment with levels of remote work deemed appropriate by the supervisors and leaders of the individual schools and units.