By Erica Rachel Sultan, News Editor
After the Purim celebration on February 25 and 26, there has been a rise of COVID-19 cases on the YU undergraduate campuses. Through accessing the New York State’s dashboard, cases in YU between the dates of February 13 to February 26 jumped to 18 confirmed cases from the previous period from January 30 to February 12 which only saw eight confirmed cases. The following period, February 27 to March 12 (the weeks following Purim), saw 25 confirmed cases.
On-campus students were encouraged to stay on campus for the holiday with many events planned. Multiple Megillat Esther (Book of Esther) readings were scheduled on both campuses so as to keep in line with social distancing guidelines. Other activities, such as the breaking of the fast and celebration with music and crafts, were held inside. An email sent to all Beren and Wilf Campus undergraduates on February 18 asked that students who are not staying on campus for Purim to follow specific guidelines to keep the community safe including but not limited to: maintain social distancing and mask wearing when in public places and when giving out Mishloach Manot (Purim food package), as well as requested that one should not attend a large Purim Seudah (feast). A Purim Seudah with one’s family or roommates is ideal and all other seudah gatherings were discouraged.
Students who would not adhere to these guidelines were asked not to come to campus for a week after Purim and suggested to continue with remote classes. On February 28, Dr. Nissel sent a reminder to all YU undergraduates that if students did not abide by the social distancing guidelines during Purim, they should stay away from campus until March 7.
Currently, between the period of March 13 to March 26, there have been 13 confirmed cases on the undergraduate campuses.
Mandatory COVID-19 testing will be suspended as of March 19 until the end of Passover break — April 8. Optional testing was available on March 18 for students who wanted to know whether they were COVID-19 positive before traveling for Passover break.