By Erica Sultan, Social Media Manager
I am not surprised by how Yeshiva University opened up their campuses for only a week and a half of in-person classes; I am simply disappointed. During the summer, I, along with many others, signed multiple petitions that requested that classes before the month-long break for the chagim (Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot) be remote.
There were countless reasons why YU should not have required the student body to return to campus. By the end of July, the CDC reported that the average number of hospitalization cases due to COVID-19, reached over 60,000 (including vaccinated individuals). The NYSDOH shared a study in mid-August which said that from July 12 to July 19 there were close to 3,000 new COVID-19 cases found in fully vaccinated people. The CDC also reported that the new Delta variant is two times more contagious than previous variants.
Yet, Yeshiva University opened up with the sentiment that everything was “back to normal,” that the student body can choose to refrain from wearing masks as long as everyone was vaccinated. This is completely irresponsible, as the science clearly shows that even fully vaccinated people should continue wearing masks in public indoor spaces. Last semester, with a fraction of the number of students that are currently on campus, very few, if any, students were vaccinated, as students were only beginning to become eligible for the vaccine. YU required students to test for COVID-19 multiple times a week. In addition to these precautions, the NYS Dashboard was updated every single day. However, one quick look at the site will show that it is not being updated anymore and has not been for a while. For example, on August 27, 2021, the YU COVID-19 Response Team updated via email, all undergraduate students on three positive Covid cases as a result of only two days of in-person classes without a mask mandate. None of these cases were being documented on the NYS Dashboard…
In the update, YU claims that they identified the 3 cases — one on the Beren campus and two on the Wilf campus — and that they had not identified any correlation between them. Considering that YU is not conducting nor requiring weekly tests, and the three cases recorded were after the original PCR tests in which students had to take in order to be cleared on campus, it is unclear how these cases were found. As the roommate of the Beren campus case, I know that YU did not identify the Beren campus case, which calls into question if there are many more cases that are not being reported.YU has decided to put their head in the sand in order to justify their “back to normal” agenda. This is being done by actively not seeking out cases or having any protocols in place to find those who are infected.
I will say that I am content with YU’s temporary mask mandate that was put into effect on August 30, 2021. I have hope that YU will respond to the alarming confirmed COVID-19 cases on campus after only the first week of school. More importantly, I have hope in us, the students. It is up to us and the actions that we take to ensure that our community, our families, our friends, and ourselves are left unharmed by this new variant. It is through our decisions, our choices that we know to be correct and with Hashem’s [G-d’s] mercy, that we will be able to go into this new year, happy and healthy; while doing everything we can to leave COVID-19 in the past years and not continue this pandemic into the new year.