Date: February 19, 2021
To: NYU Students
From: Marc Wais, Sr. Vice President for Student Affairs

We hope all of you are off to a good start to the spring semester.

The higher case positivity that NYU saw in January began to improve over the past two weeks, according to Dr. Ciotoli and the NYU COVID Prevention and Response Team (CPRT).

That’s the good news.

The not-so-good news is that over the past two days the CPRT has detected an uptick in positive cases and case positivity. The data suggest there are two primary factors likely contributing to this increase:

  1. An increasing number of students who are socializing and/or are eating together/dining in small groups. While these social activities are permissible by NYS guidelines, they are also known to be a major contributor to COVID-19 transmission at NYU and nationally.
  2. Decreasing adherence to basic public health protocols, including gathering in large numbers.

In addition but unrelatedly, the University suspended half-a-dozen students this week for their involvement in planning, organizing, and participating in parties.

At colleges across the country, the pattern has been clear: social events that take place with lax mask-wearing and lax physical-distancing have been frequent sources of outbreaks on campus. The outbreaks that have followed have threatened not just students, not just campuses, but surrounding communities, too, and have jeopardized in-person instruction, campus operations, and any progress towards easing restrictions.

The holiday period also indicated that even small social gatherings — such as family get-togethers where people were eating, socializing, and not wearing masks — contributed to the national surge in cases.

The fact that for most of the academic year NYU has had a low case positivity rate is not because of some special immunity our campus enjoys — it’s because you’ve been careful, thoughtful, and responsible. We need you to please keep up the conscientious behavior you’ve shown since August, and not to let your guard down. I urge each of you to stay the course and adhere to the following practices:

  • Avoid in-person social meet-ups with friends and family, especially those that involve spending time indoors together without masks such as eating — use Zoom or other video conferencing platforms instead. This continues to be one of the most common sources of spread of COVID-19.
  • Don’t organize parties — it’s against the rules, and you could put dozens or hundreds of friends, classmates, professors and New Yorkers at risk. If we find out about it, you can expect to be suspended.
  • Avoid crowds and crowded social events, particularly if people have masks off.
  • Even as restrictions ease in NYC, think twice about eating or drinking indoors, including with friends or family.

As you think about what you’re going to do this weekend and the days to come, we again put our faith and trust in each and every one of you to keep following NYU’s health and safety rules — they will keep you and the NYU community safer. Take good care, and thank you for all you do, day in and day out, to keep each other safe.