Summary Update on COVID-19-related Developments
Date: February 25, 2021
To: THE NYU COMMUNITY
From: Provost Katherine Fleming
Exec. Vice President Martin Dorph
Dr. Carlo Ciotoli, Exec. Lead, NYU COVID Prevention & Response Team
We hope the semester is going well for you and all those in your lives.
The Health of the NYU Community
Dr. Ciotoli recently sent a communication giving a rundown of community health matters related to COVID-19 (we know that the short-form communications have been well received; please read the longer ones, too…).
There are two items we would like to highlight:
- An Uptick in Positive Cases, and the Need to Stick with the Rules Even as State and City Restrictions Are Easing: Although we had seen case positivity at NYU trending downward from January to February — a good thing — as we noted in last Friday’s email to students, we recently saw a small but conspicuous uptick in cases. We have a hard ask of you: even though the City and State have been easing restrictions, we’re asking you to please stay the course: avoid gatherings, indoor dining, parties, and other settings that are associated with COVID-spread. This is vital if we are to keep each other safe. A bit of extra perseverance now will pay off in the long run in terms of being able to maintain in-person classes and future easing of restrictions on campus activities.
- Vaccinations: Demand for vaccination appointments continues to substantially outstrip availability, as a quick look at the State’s vaccination registration page shows. We share your sense of frustration at how hard it is to schedule an appointment right now. The University has set up locations — including the southeast section of Bobst’s first floor — where we can start giving vaccinations as soon as we receive vaccine stock.
Looking Ahead to Summer and Fall 2021
Planning is underway for the summer and fall 2021 semesters.
While many details remain to be worked out, the recent provostial communication to faculty explained that faculty should expect to be back on campus, in-person for teaching in the fall semester. We expect the summer semester to be conducted similarly to spring, albeit, we hope, with more in-person courses.
Operations and administration
As the recent communication to employees indicated, our goal is to have administrative personnel back on campus come fall 2021. Our planning and decisions rest on the eligibility for and the availability of vaccines. And as Dr. Ciotoli’s recent email indicates, we’ll monitor and of course follow updated guidance from New York State or the CDC regarding all aspects of university operations. We will also be looking at the opportunity to make use of the lessons learned during this period of remote work.
Days Off: March 19 and April 19 for Administrators and Staff, Too
This semester, in place of Spring Break, the University Senate set aside two days — March 19 and April 19* — as days off from classes. Regularly, Spring Break is not a University holiday, so these days were not designated as holidays for administrators and staff.
However, let’s face it, this has been a tough year, everyone has had to work hard, and we could all use a break. So, we are going to make March 19 and April 19 holidays for administrators and staff, too.
Relax, enjoy yourselves, and do something fun.
* Please note that because of scheduling differences among schools and programs, certain schools (such as the School of Law and Dental College) may designate other days or make other arrangements.
The 2021 All-University Commencement will be Virtual
Of all the difficult decisions we have had to face this year, determining the plans for Commencement was among the hardest. We had hoped that trends in vaccine availability, easing of restrictions, advice from public health and US case positivity would align in a way that would enable us to have a reasonable degree of certainty that we could safely hold our All-University Commencement in Yankee Stadium in May, but that was not the case. After much consideration and considerable effort to explore alternatives, we concluded that the surest plan was to hold Commencement virtually this spring, as we did last year.
We are determined we will hold an in-person ceremony for our 2021 grads at a future date when it can be done with a high degree of certainty about its safety.