By: Sruli Fruchter  | 

YU Discontinues Most COVID-19 Protocols for Vaccinated Students, Employees Over the Summer

Fully vaccinated students and employees who submit proof of vaccination are no longer required to wear masks or social distance on YU’s campuses over the summer, emailed Vice Provost for Student Affairs Chaim Nissel on Monday night, June 21. 

These policy changes do not apply to unvaccinated students who must continue distancing and mask-wearing on campus.  The Summer COVID-19 Monitoring Program — which requires on-campus students to test twice a week — will also only be in effect for unvaccinated students. 

These developments come as the percentage of fully vaccinated New Yorkers above 18-years-old hovers around 60%. On June 15, New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that COVID-19 restrictions were lifted as 70% of adults received at least their first dose of the vaccine.

Regardless of vaccination status, Nissel noted in his email, YU still requires all students and employees returning to campus “for the first time” to submit a negative PCR test in advance. Other updates include the discontinuation of building temperature checks, the daily health self-assessment form and prior registration for athletic facilities.  

YU’s FAQ page for COVID-19 requirements includes details about submitting proof of vaccination and other campus protocol for the fall semester, but it is unclear if, and in what capacity, those guidelines apply for the summer.

Before this year’s June Zman — a month-long period for Wilf students to attend optional shiurim — a WhatsApp message circulated among students that mask-wearing and social-distancing would be suspended only for fully vaccinated students on the first floor of the Glueck Beit Midrash. The message said that students were required to submit proof of vaccination, adding that “Rebbeim and others will be checking periodically to ensure that everyone is complying with our policy.”

According to the message, this “test run” was done at the behest of the university. As of publication, Nissel did not respond to The Commentator’s request for confirmation regarding this.

“We hope to shortly announce our Visitor Management System will be open for full-vaccinated alumni to obtain the Alumni ID card,” Nissel shared in his email. He also said that YU is reviewing its “Travel and Guest policies.”

“In light of these developments, we continue to expect that we will be able to return to full capacity in the Fall for our classes, residence halls and other campus spaces,” Nissel wrote to students. “As we get closer to the Fall semester, we will share with you our COVID-19 protocols for the Fall.”

Students expressed excitement about this step in YU’s return to pre-pandemic life. “Since I have come to YU, it’s really been an incredible experience being around the guys and just feeling the really warm atmosphere,” shared Yosef Tropp (YC ‘24), who is participating in June Zman. “Now as COVID restrictions are being lifted, I realize I only just saw the beginning of what is looking to be an incredible year to come with limudei kodesh and chol [holy and regular studies]. I’m just so excited to really feel what YU will be able to offer in the future."

“It will be so nice to go back to campus this fall with a sense of normalcy, assuming YU continues lifting these restrictions,” said Sela Boord (SSSB ‘22). “Even though I am going into my senior year, this would be my first full semester on campus with no COVID restrictions. I am so excited to experience all that YU has to offer.”

In late April, President Ari Berman emailed students that full in-person instruction will resume for Fall 2021. He added that all students and faculty will need to be vaccinated before returning to campus, excluding those with “medical and religious exemptions,” though he did not elaborate what qualifies as such.

Photo Caption: YU lifted most COVID-19 protocols over the summer for fully vaccinated individuals.

Photo Credit: The Commentator