By: Jared Scharf  | 

COVID-19 Cases Remain Low as NYC Gradually Lifts Restrictions

Since students returned from Pesach break on April 6, there have been only three positive cases on Beren and Wilf campuses, according to the NYS COVID-19 Tracker

Previously, the lowest number of COVID-19 cases per week was four, occuring in the two-week period of Jan. 7 - Jan. 20. Since students returned to campus in late October, there have been a total of 154 positive cases and 18,863 tests administered. The peak of positive cases was 28 between Jan. 16 - Jan. 29. 

On April 5, Vice Provost of Student Affairs Dr. Chaim Nissel emailed all students that the Weisberg Commons — located on the ground floor of Belfer Hall — on Wilf Campus would become a vaccination site for the general public with appointments through NYC’s system. The site began operations on April 7. The email averred that “the University is only providing space and has no part in the operation of the site. So please bear in mind that access to appointments at this site will be subject to availability and eligibility criteria as outlined by the City of New York.” 

As of publication, Nissel did not respond to The Commentator’s request for comment.

In recent weeks, however, students have been able to walk in to the vaccination site and receive from the extra vaccines. Many mass text messages have been sent out in YU student WhatsApp groups regarding availability of extra vaccines. On April 19, Nissel emailed students at 1:20 p.m. that for the rest of the day and the following day, “there is sufficient supply for walk-ins at the YU vaccination site (Belfer Hall) for anyone 16 years and older. For today and tomorrow, you do not need an appointment.”

On April 22, NYC officials announced that all NYC operating vaccination sites will begin offering walk-in appointments for all New Yorkers, including those who work or study there, ages 16+. Three days laters, on April 25, Nissel emailed all YU students that “effective immediately, the Covid vaccination site on the Wilf campus can accept walk-ins for New York residents, including students attending school in New York, who are over the age of 16.” 

The site is open Sunday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m and is expected “to run through June.” 

Due to the decreasing number of cases in YU and in the United States, YU has been lifting restrictions as well. On April 12, Rabbi Joshua Weisberg, senior director of student life at YU, emailed Wilf and Beren undergraduates that students would be able to start eating in pods of up to six on Shabbat as opposed to the previous socially distant two per table. 

Additionally, on April 22, President Ari Berman notified the undergraduate student body that ”in light of the recent changes in the directives from the Governor’s office, [the 2021] graduation will be held in person!” Details are still being finalized for an outdoor venue in NYC on May 26. In addition, there will be a livestream of the event for those who cannot attend in person. 

“More details will be forthcoming in the next few days, but I wanted to share this exciting news with you personally for you to reserve the date,” Berman wrote in the email.

On April 28, Berman announced that full in-person instruction and operation will return to Yeshiva University for Fall 2021. The university will require all returning students in graduate and undergraduate schools to be fully vaccinated by the opening of the fall semester. Berman said that more information will be coming out in the coming weeks. COVID-19 tests are still required twice a week on both Wilf and Beren campuses, and “at the present time, receiving the vaccine does NOT exempt you from our Covid Monitoring Program,” according to the biweekly COVID-19 testing reminder email from Nissel. Additionally, YU’s Code of Behavior, which includes wearing masks, maintaining social distancing and filling out the daily health screen at is still in effect for vaccinated students.


Photo Caption: Extra vaccines from the vaccination site were available without an appointment to all YU students.

Photo credit: Yosef Lemel