"Today was the start of classes for most of NYU's students in New York City (some schools, such as the School of Law and the College of Dentistry, started earlier). We are cautious but excited about the return of students, faculty, administrators, and staff to NYU's campus. Our aim is to put the safety of NYUers first while fulfilling our academic mission and meeting our commitment to our students' educational progress.
"We start this academic year after a summer of planning and putting in place new rules, practices, and equipment to help keep NYU community members safer and help combat the spread of COVID-19.
"Overall, student registration is slightly ahead of last year. Some students are here in New York, somewhat more than one-third of undergraduates said they would attend class remotely, and some students are participating in the ‘Go Local’ program we launched using NYU’s network of global sites (see below). Though our final data about the freshman class comes in October, preliminary data indicate the entering class has the largest number of under-represented minority students (nearly 1,800) and the highest average SAT score (1470).
“NYU will have approximately 15,000 courses in fall 2020; about 1/2 are remote, and about 1/2 are partly or fully in-person. All of NYU's courses, including those that are in-person, may be attended remotely, and over the summer NYU installed new technology and offered professional development for faculty to support remote teaching and learning. We also launched a new series of courses for fall, our Big Ideas series, open to all NYU students.
"In line with our efforts to reduce density, for fall 2020, we have about 6,200 students in our residence halls, down from our usual 11,000+. This has allowed us to have fewer students per floor, and to set aside rooms for quarantine and isolation. We opened the residence halls two weeks early this year to allow students to quarantine; some 2,700 students from abroad and hot-spot states took up the offer; they finished their mandated 14-day quarantine in our housing this week, in time for students from the tri-state areas to join them in the residence halls. Apart from some initial missteps involving food delivery, the quarantine went well, with the students showing great self-discipline and adherence to the quarantine's strict rules. Of the more than 17,000 COVID-19 tests performed between August 1 and August 28 – arrival or gateway tests that included the students coming from abroad and hot-spot states -- there were only 16 positive results (all of whom were isolated and monitored by University health personnel).
"Efforts to prepare the campus for this day have involved extensive safety and health planning; new safety and health protocols; new rules that every member of the community is required to follow and about which everyone was required to watch a specially-produced video; required COVID-19 testing for every student and employee before they are permitted to enter NYU buildings; an ongoing testing program that will test thousands of NYUers per week; contact tracing; a daily screening app that must be completed to gain access to NYU buildings; extensive messaging about the importance of following the new rules, including videos, webinars, and multiple communications; the installation of 1,000 plexiglass barriers; and the procurement of over 500,000 masks, over 400,000 gloves, 100,000 small bottles of sanitizer, and 35,000 thermometers; the installation of 60,000 pieces of safety-related signage, and over 2,000 hand-sanitizing devices. In light of campus-wide efforts to reduce density and maintain proper physical distancing, including in formal and informal study areas, NYU also created and launched a seating reservation system for fall 2020 that will allow students to book seats on campus or in the neighborhood to quietly study or to participate in remote classes without having to return home. And dining facilities have been reconfigured to emphasize grab-and-go eating. And we have established a Public Health Ambassadors corps with an inaugural group of 200 students who are serving as a campus health resource, providing information, handing out masks and hand sanitizer, and modeling proper adherence to NYU health protocols.
"NYU is prominently known among US universities for its global presence. With respect to our degree-granting campuses, NYU Shanghai will open for both in-person and remote classes, and NYU Abu Dhabi will house students on campus, but classes will be held remotely. Given travel restrictions, NYU suspended its Study Abroad program for fall 2020; instead, NYU used its network of Study Abroad to launch 'Go Local,' utilizing NYU global academic sites for students who could not make it to the US to study but were able to get to an NYU global site. Overall, about 3,000 NYU students are enrolled through Go Local for the fall, with the majority in China, and all of our sites abroad are being used.
"NYU is keenly aware of its obligations to support the hard-won gains that New York City and New York State have made in combating COVID-19, and we will be vigorous and conscientious in enforcing safety and health rules. Generally, we are seeing good compliance with safety and health rules¬–the University has repeatedly made clear that it is serious about enforcing the rules–and the quarantining students in particular showed a great deal of conscientiousness and self-discipline in what were surely trying circumstances.
"This is an unprecedented fall semester, and there is a great deal of uncertainty. However, NYU believes that with solid plans and preparations in place, the ability to respond to rapidly-changing circumstances flexibly, good adherence to safety rules by its community members, and enforcement of those rules, its fall academic program can be a success while keeping members of the community safe."