By Fruma Landa and Molly Meisels
On March 8, a resident advisor on the Beren Campus informed the YU Observer that classes on the Wilf and Beren campuses will be cancelled until March 16 due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus at Yeshiva University. This news follows the positive-testing of a YU student and faculty member — the former is symptomatic, the latter asymptomatic.
CJ Glicksman, a Wilf Campus resident advisor, commented to the YU Observer about the decision to keep the campuses closed until March 16: “There are currently no confirmed cases on any YU campus, and there is no danger in being on campus. Out of an abundance of caution, the university deemed it prudent to cancel classes until next week, when hopefully anyone who is currently under quarantine will be released and returning students will not be at risk of spreading the virus.”
The YU Observer has learned that 25 YU staff members, led by Senior Vice President Josh Joseph, are dealing with this outbreak of COVID-19.
On March 6, YU administrators notified the student body via the YU Alert System that Rabbi Reuven Fink, the rabbi of the Young Israel of New Rochelle and a professor at YU, tested positive for COVID-19. The rabbi had direct contact with a positive-testing New Rochelle attorney who attended his synagogue. “Individuals who have been in contact with an asymptomatic person who has tested positive for COVID-19 virus do not need to be placed in quarantine,” shared NYC’s Department of Health doctors with YU staff, faculty, and students. As Fink is asymptomatic, those who were in contact with him do not need to be in quarantine.
One anonymous Wilf student who is Rabbi Fink’s class has shown some cold-like symptoms and was told to self-quarantine. He will be in quarantine for three days after his symptoms subside. He will likely leave his quarantine on Tuesday, March 10. “I think YU is doing their best to deal with YU-related coronavirus cases, given the pace at which information is becoming available and evolving. Any issues, I think, stem from the government’s response,” the student shared with the YU Observer. “In an ideal situation, everyone who had any contact with someone who tested positive should be tested, but due to the scarcity of testing available, that isn’t happening. I’m stuck in self-quarantine and I’ll likely never know whether I had the virus or not, so the inability to access testing is frustrating. But I think the blame for that goes on the federal government’s initial response to the virus.” He further iterated that he is pleased with the precautionary measures YU is taking, but wishes that “there was a better emotional support system in place.”
While Wilf students have been most directly exposed to COVID-19, a Beren Campus student showing symptoms of the virus was quarantined from Wednesday, March 4 until Friday, March 6. She tested negative for the virus. Additionally, in an effort to stop COVID-19 spreads on both campuses, the Beren cafeterias will be closed from March 8 to 9. Instead, subsidized dinners will be served in all of the dormitory lounges. Dinner on March 8 will be served from 6 to 8 p.m., and from 7:30 to 9 p.m. on March 9. On the Wilf Campus, cafeterias remain open, but there are no tables or chairs and all food is prepackaged to be taken to-go. Wilf residents will have the option of having a subsidized dinner of Chop Chop in the Rubin lobby tonight at 6:45 p.m.
Students are encouraged to reach out to academic advising and professors for updated midterm dates.