By: Yitzchak Carroll and Avi Hirsch  | 

YU Student Tests Positive for COVID-19, Wilf Classes Cancelled

Update 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 4: Per tweet from Governor Cuomo, YU’s Wilf Campus will be closed until Friday, March 6. “New Yorkers should know we are fully prepared for this situation,” tweeted Cuomo. “There is no cause for undue anxiety.” There have yet to be any announcements from YU regarding this latest development.

Update 11:48 a.m Wednesday, March 4: Two close contacts of the student that tested positive for COVID-19 have been transferred to Bellevue Hospital for testing, Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted at 10:37 a.m. He stated that “City disease detectives are on campus to identify close contacts of the student and connect those individuals to testing immediately.” De Blasio explained that YU is working alongside the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to “to take every necessary precaution to ensure the safety of students and the community.” Original story follows below.

Update 9:20 a.m. Wednesday, March 4: The YU student has tested positive for COVID-19, according to an alert issued by the university at 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday, March 4. As a precaution, all classes on the Wilf Campus, including high school and graduate levels, have been canceled for today. According to the alert, “remote access”  is currently being set up for classes and administrative work.

One of the children of the Westchester man confirmed to be New York’s second coronavirus case is a Yeshiva University undergraduate male student, according to an email and text message alert sent to the university community on Tuesday, March 3. 

The student is currently quarantined with his family and has not been on campus since Thursday, Feb. 27, according to university officials. The New York Post reported that the YU student is currently experiencing symptoms of the virus. 

In the alert message, which was sent to YU’s student body and staff at 2:27 p.m. and posted on the YU website, a university spokesperson reassured students that the situation is under control. “We are working closely with, and following the recommendations of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) and the Office of Emergency Preparedness and Response and other government agencies to take every necessary precaution to ensure the safety of our community,” the statement said.

The alert noted that “the University is disinfecting all relevant common areas,” and “all University functions and classes are continuing to operate as usual” until further notice. Salanter Akiba Riverdale (SAR) Academy in Riverdale, which a sibling of the YU student attends, as well as SAR High School closed Tuesday, March 3, as a precautionary measure. Westchester Day School in Mamaroneck and the Westchester Torah Academy in White Plains also closed “out of an abundance of caution.”

According to the email, a Cardozo student is currently in self-quarantine “as instructed by their doctor,” a precaution due to contact with the Westchester COVID-19 patient’s law firm. The Cardozo student is reportedly experiencing no symptoms.

Some students expressed concern about YU’s ability to handle this situation. “I can’t even trust YU elevators! How can I trust them to handle an incurable disease?” commented Jonathan Malek (SSSB ‘22), referring to recent elevator malfunctions on campus.

“It’s definitely concerning. I immediately contacted my parents to figure out a plan just in case the virus comes to YU,” said Shira Levitt (SCW ‘21). “I have definitely thought about not going back to campus as a precaution but I am not sure if missing midterms is a smart idea.”

In a press conference, Mayor Bill de Blasio said, “Remember, the vast majority of those who get the virus, show little or no symptoms – it’s the 20% that get more sick and a smaller percentage that are at real risk.” The mayor added, “This is an evolving situation and we don’t know what we will find. If we need a bigger response, we will do it. We are not near an emergency declaration.”

“[W]e urge you to follow the CDC’s guidelines on hand-washing and sanitary practices that prevent the spread of viruses,” the university concluded in its email to the student body. “If you feel you have symptoms, contact your doctor or call 311.”

Updated 5:10 PM Tuesday, March 3 to include that the health update was posted on the YU website and statements made by Mayor Bill de Blasio.

This is a developing story.

Elisheva Kohn contributed to this story.

Photo Caption: YU's Wilf Campus
Photo Credit: The Commentator