By Danielle Lane, Managing Editor
In an email sent to students, faculty, and staff on December 30, 2021, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Selma Botman, informed the YU community of the school’s updated COVID-19 policies for the Spring 2022 semester. The policies include a requirement for all eligible students to receive a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, the continuation of the mask mandate, and continued weekly COVID-19 testing.
According to the email, in order to ensure safe in-person undergraduate campus life, all students who are eligible to receive a COVID-19 booster shot are required to do so. The email explained that recent “[s]tudies have shown that neutralizing antibodies to COVID-19 begin to diminish six months after vaccination with the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccine, and two months after vaccination with the J&J vaccination, and booster vaccinations have proven to provide a significantly higher immune response…we will be requiring each member of the YU community to receive a booster as soon as they are eligible.”
The announcement went on to state that the spring semester will follow the same protocols regarding mask wearing on campus and testing requirements. Students will be “required [to wear masks] indoors on campus except if alone in a closed space” and will be “required to test once per week during the Spring semester.”
Additionally, faculty and staff were informed that in order “[t]o reduce density on campus, managers will work with employees to follow a remote work schedule, wherever possible, during the first two weeks of January.”
Some students have voiced concern regarding the necessity of requiring students to receive the booster shot. Raquel Giliniski (SSSB ‘23) told the YU Observer “[p]retending that getting the booster makes a massive difference in how we respond to Omicron and transmit it to others is intellectually dishonest, and especially for college students, an age group that historically tends to react less harshly to COVID than older ones, and for Omicron, a variant statistically far less lethal than the rest, it feels ridiculous to require it.”
Another student (YC ‘23) who wishes to remain anonymous also expressed their doubts over the stringency of YU’s COVID requirements. “While YU’s booster requirement does speak towards the institution’s focus on student safety, it does seem to go beyond what many are asking for. Even public sports arenas like MSG (Madison Square Garden) are only requiring full vaccination status to be without masks but YU is past that in asking for boosters, masks, and constant testing,” expressed the student. “This has left me torn since I appreciate the concern, but how much is too much for YU to ask?”
Other students are pleased with YU’s commitment to minimizing the spread of the virus. Mili Chizhik (SCW ‘22) told the YU Observer that “[a[s someone who is overall healthy and young, I was truly affected by getting COVID-19. It put a strain on my physical, academic, and psychological capabilities. The virus, disease, and pandemic are all unpredictable and I believe that YU updating the requirements to try and minimize the spread is perfectly sensible and puts the safety of the students, staff, and their families first.”
Students who test positive for COVID-19 over winter break should email their test results to CovidStudentLine@yu.edu.