Twice Weekly COVID Testing To Begin After Holiday
Bi-weekly COVID testing will return to campus starting Oct. 4, the COVID monitoring team emailed undergraduate students on Sep. 23. This protocol applies to all students regardless of their vaccination status.
Testing will take place on Mondays and Thursdays on both campuses. Failure to test will result in the deactivation of the student’s ID until the results of a PCR test taken off campus are uploaded to Inside Track. Testing on Oct. 4, when in-person school resumes, will be from 10 a.m to 3 p.m in Yagoda Commons for Beren Campus and from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. in Weissberg Commons for Wilf Campus.
“Details on future testing dates, times, and locations will be shared shortly,” the email stated.
“In addition to having a vaccinated campus, masking and testing are part of a multi-layered approach to safety,” a YU spokesperson told The Commentator. The university is taking these steps, “out of [an] abundance of caution,” the spokesperson added. “We will continue to monitor NYC and NYS guidance, and will update the testing protocols with our medical director’s guidance. We appreciate our students' compliance with the protocols to help keep our campuses healthy and safe.”
COVID-19 cases in New York City have been slightly decreasing since the beginning of August, according to NYC Health. The data of the 1,612 cases from the week of Sep. 12 showed that 12.9% of those cases were of unvaccinated individuals. Some New York City colleges, like Columbia University, have random sample testing protocols for vaccinated students, while others, like New York University, do not require testing for vaccinated students and faculty.
The introduction of on-campus COVID testing follows the recent addition of a mask mandate. On Aug. 24, the YU Faculty Council passed a resolution that called for YU to mandate masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status. The establishment of the mandate in administrative and academic buildings began on Aug. 30 after two full days of in-person class without any COVID-19 restrictions. The mandate excludes residence halls and dining facilities. Some students responded to the mandate by calling for an alternative solution, while others supported it and encouraged fellow students to comply.
The monitoring team’s email also announced that students must upload proof of a negative COVID test prior to returning to campus after the break. The test must be taken no more than five days before returning to campus. Unlike all future COVID testing requirements, a rapid antigen test is allowed in this case “due to the timing of the Holiday and the turnaround time of PCR test results.” In lieu of a negative COVID test, students may upload a positive COVID test from 10-90 days ago.
Students “should NOT” go to class or work if they don’t feel well, and they should get a PCR test immediately. If a student tests positive, they should send an email to COVIDStudentLine@yu.edu for assistance with “isolation, quarantine, and other support.” Students are encouraged to reach out to their professors directly about class absence concerns and questions.
The COVID monitoring team said that it will continue to inform close contacts of positive-tested students and provide them with advice regarding the next steps, such as if they should quarantine or be tested based on the guidance of the medical director.
“We know that COVID protocols can be challenging and that there is a bit of fatigue around the requirements,” the COVID monitoring team acknowledged in the email. “However, please know that you have partners in the faculty, staff, and administrators that appreciate your position and are dedicated to fostering a safe and positive learning experience.”
Some students were supportive of the implementation of COVID testing. “As much as I, nor anyone else, enjoyed the demands of the COVID-19 monitoring program, I understand the university's decision to reinstate it for the weeks after the chagim break,” shared Zach Ottenstein (YC ‘22). “YU has worked tirelessly to get us to a point where we can have a safe on campus experience and it would be unfortunate if that went up in smoke due to people not being diligent.”
Others weren’t as excited. “Although I understand why YU wants to be extra cautious, I feel that two times a week is a bit excessive due to the fact that we're all vaccinated,” said Ayelet Marder (SCW ‘22). “If someone isn't feeling well or is nervous, they would be able to get tested on their own. Of course, I know YU is acting with the guidance of their COVID monitoring team and I trust that they’re doing what’s best for the community.”
As of publication, there is no communication to alumni on COVID testing and accessing campus.
Editor's Note: This article was updated on Oct. 3 to correct when the initial email was sent out, which was on Sept. 23, not Sept. 24.
Photo Caption: Students were tested twice a week last year.
Photo Credit: Yeshiva University