By: Sruli Fruchter  | 

YU Will Move Classes, Finals Online for Remainder of Fall Semester

All undergraduate classes and final exams will be online for the remainder of the semester beginning Wednesday, Dec. 22, as COVID-19 cases rise across New York City due to the new omicron variant, The Covid Monitoring Team emailed on Monday evening. 

In its email, the Covid Monitoring Team wrote that the current number of positive cases on campus “remain[s] low” and the team is “ actively working to protect the health and safety of our community.” One person familiar with the matter, who requested anonymity, told The Commentator, “We have seen a rise in cases, and we expect to see that continue.”

As of publication, Associate Dean of Students Joe Bednarsh has not immediately responded to The Commentator’s inquiries regarding the most up-to-date number of positive cases.

This will not affect students’ access to campus areas, such as the batei midrash, libraries, residence halls and athletic centers, which will remain open for the time being. It is unclear if that extends to alumni and non-YU students. The email emphasized that individuals must wear masks in all public indoor spaces, except when eating or drinking, an existing policy that was not previously enforced. It is also unclear if Wilf Campus’ morning shiurim will also move online.

Shabbat programming will continue on campus and offer “grab and go” meals, in addition to in-person ones. Food at campus events will be temporarily discontinued through the remainder of the semester.

Employees are asked to confer with their department heads or supervisors regarding their “on-campus work arrangement,” the email added.  Graduate school students should expect to hear from their deans with information about how this will affect their operations.

According to YU’s COVID-19 Tracker, only 10 students tested positive last week from Dec. 12-17, split evenly between Beren and Wilf campuses. In the weeks prior, that figure remained low on each campus, a consistent trend since the university saw 75 cases in early October. Nearly a month later, as cases fell across campus, YU reduced its testing requirement from twice a week to once a week. Faculty are still required to randomly test.

Since the start of the semester, classes have remained in person. It is unclear if YU will return to in-person classes for the spring semester.

In early December, the omicron variant was first detected in the New York City area. Today, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said, “We’re going to see a really fast upsurge in cases, we’re going to see a lot of New Yorkers affected by omicron.” That surge in cases has already begun for some.

Last week, Cornell University shut down its Ithaca Campus after a massive COVID-19 outbreak, including many omicron cases among double-vaccinated students. Between Dec. 13-19, over 1,500 Cornell students tested positive for COVID-19.

Some students are grateful the university is taking these precautions.“While I’m sad to leave campus early and that our last classes of the semester will be online, I know it’s for the best,” says Perri Gorodischer (SCW ‘24). “The safety of the YU community has to be a top priority.”Jason Frankel (YC ‘24) agreed. “I want to thank the YU Covid Monitoring Team for their diligence and caution for keeping us safe,” he said. “Hopefully this will help keep everyone safe and ready for a great spring semester on campus.” 

Photo Caption: Signs on Wilf Campus encouraging students to wear masks, a policy not enforced throughout the semester

Photo Credit: The Commentator