Summary Update on COVID-19-related Developments
Date: September 21, 2021
To: THE NYU COMMUNITY
From: Katherine Fleming, Provost
Martin Dorph, Exec. Vice President
Dr. Carlo Ciotoli, Exec. Lead, NYU COVID-19 Prevention & Response Team
We hope that the fall 2021 semester has gotten off to a good start. We’re glad to have so many more of you back on campus this fall. Welcome.
Compliance with Our Vaccination Requirements
We start the year with excellent rates of compliance with the University’s vaccination requirement: 99% among students; 98% among full-time faculty; 96% among researchers, administrators, staff, and full-time unionized employees. This is a strong foundation for a multi-layered approach to health and safety for academic year 2021-22.
We are in the process of de-enrolling from in-person classes about 100 students who did not come into compliance with NYU vaccination requirements, despite many attempts to help them do so.
A reminder that in addition to indicated testing, testing for those with exemptions (less than 1% of our community), and discretionary testing, we are starting the semester with random testing of asymptomatic, fully vaccinated students, faculty, and employees.
Those who receive notice to be tested are expected to participate. If you are selected, please follow the instructions in the email.
The dashboard with weekly test results can be found here. For the most recent period, September 6-12, NYU administered nearly 3,500 tests and had a positivity rate of 1.39%. These results suggest that NYU’s test positivity remains low (by way of comparison, NYC’s rate is approximately 3%) and is in line with what we have seen at other universities whose fall semester started earlier than NYU’s: something of a bump in case counts as the semester begins and greater numbers of people are returning to campus. We will continue to carefully monitor our trends within the NYU community over the coming weeks and throughout the year.
Importantly, neither we — nor peer institutions — are seeing transmission in the classroom setting. In NYU’s case, most of the cases appear to be attributable to settings where people are not wearing masks: people who live together or social gatherings where attendees were not conscientious about wearing masks — especially with leisurely eating and drinking.
Also, importantly, and consistent with what we would expect in a highly vaccinated population, the overwhelming majority of cases have experienced mild symptoms. Nevertheless, this highlights some points we have sought to emphasize:
- Wear a mask indoors. It is required at NYU; you should make it a habit in other settings, too.
- If you’re sick, stay home; don’t come in to class or work. It is one of the easiest and most effective ways to fight the spread of COVID-19. If you have symptoms, complete the COVID-19 reporting form to notify the NYU COVID-19 Prevention & Response Team.
- Avoid crowded settings or gatherings where people aren’t wearing masks.
- If you can eat outdoors, that’s best. If you cannot, then at NYU you should only eat in spaces designated for eating, you should maintain physical distancing while your mask is down to eat, and you should eat within 15 minutes and put your mask back on. Off-campus — although New York City does allow vaccinated individuals to eat inside at restaurants, the data continues to demonstrate eating and drinking indoors or in close proximity to one another (in or outdoors), for prolonged periods of time, poses higher risk for COVID-19 transmission.
NYS HERO Act
On September 3, you received notice via email of the plan NYU developed in response to the New York State HERO Act. A few days later, NYS Governor Kathy Hochul announced the activation of the HERO Act’s provisions in response to COVID-19, prompting all private employers in New York State — including NYU — to implement their plans to reduce the risk of workplace infection.
Fortunately, NYU had already largely adopted the COVID-19-related protective measures in the University’s HERO Act plan — using a daily screener, requiring face coverings, and limiting campus access to visitors, to name a few. The governor’s recent designation requires NYU to train all the University’s employees (a video will be forthcoming promptly), in accordance with the HERO Act, and to formally document the steps the University is taking to reduce the risk of infection from COVID-19. We are currently reviewing and updating the plan, which will be shared on NYU’s website promptly. We will establish a section of the NYU Returns hub for HERO Act-related information.
We have received a number of inquiries regarding overwarm classrooms, which has led in turn to concerns that air handling systems aren’t moving air properly. That’s not the case.
The air delivered by our air handling systems is a mix of fresh (outdoor) air and recirculated (interior building) air. In line with public health guidance, we have increased the proportion of fresh (outdoor) air that’s delivered. That will sometimes have the effect of making a room warmer or colder than we’re normally accustomed to, but the air handling system is working.
If you do have a concern over room temperature, contact the Facilities and Construction Management’s (FCM) Client Services Center (CSC) at firstname.lastname@example.org or 212-998-1001.
Vaccine Booster Shots
NYU’s COVID-19 Prevention & Response Team is closely following the development of recommendations about booster shots. While the FDA recently voted on a recommendation, a final determination has not yet been issued. Once clear guidance is available, the University will follow up regarding policies and vaccination resources for the NYU community, as appropriate.
The Daily Screener remains an important public health measure for managing access to NYU buildings, and it allows us to meet the screening requirement under the NYS HERO Act.
We have received reports of a few issues with the Daily Screener since the start of the semester, most of which we have resolved.
The Screener Taking a Long Time to Process
We’ve gotten some reports of the Daily Screener taking a long time to process. Doing the Screener where you have a strong wifi connection avoids most speed issues. We do not recommend completing the Daily Screener while in transit, which may interrupt your internet service.
Regardless, please do the Daily Screener at home before you leave for campus. Don’t be that person holding up a line of people trying to get into a building…
Multiple Email Verifications
When you do the Daily Screener on your smartphone and get a Green Pass, you are supposed to receive a single email verification (which serves as your back-up in case you don’t take a screen capture). Some people have been getting two or three verification emails and sometimes on different days. We are working on eliminating the redundant emails; nevertheless, your Green Pass should work just fine. Be sure to close the Daily Screener Green Pass once you’ve captured a screenshot or received your verification email.