Spring 2022 semester will be in person, NYU says

The university formally announced that classes will be in person this semester amid a surge in cases of the omicron variant of COVID-19. Senior leadership provided rationales for their decision and emphasized the need for flexibility.

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Manasa Gudavalli

In a Jan 12. email, NYU announced that the spring 2022 semester will be held in-person. Schools, departments and faculty should offer students flexibility and allow for students to attend their classes remotely or through alternative methods due to the spike in cases of the omicron variant. (Staff Photo by Manasa Gudavalli)

By Kristian Burt and Rachel Cohen

The spring 2022 semester will be held in person as previously planned, NYU announced in a Jan. 12 email to the community. According to university leadership, high vaccination rates, a booster requirement and existing COVID-19 safety measures drove the decision to allow students and faculty to return to campus.

“Our decision-making continues to be shaped by the safety and welfare of the NYU community as we aim to fulfill our academic mission and meet our responsibilities to students,” the email reads.

University leadership said that schools, departments and faculty should allow for students to attend their classes remotely or through alternative methods due to the spike in cases of the omicron variant. The university previously moved all January classes online following a surge in COVID-19 cases on campus and in New York City.

“The Omicron variant presents new challenges that will require a good deal of flexibility on all our parts,” the email reads. “This will be particularly true in the first couple of weeks of the semester, when students, faculty, administrators, and staff may be facing difficulties returning to campus or (in the case of students) resuming in-person classes on time, and our NYU community will likely experience high case counts that are consistent with trends in NYC.”

In New York City, 28,632 new cases were documented on Tuesday, Jan. 11. New York state reported a 73,546 daily average — one of the highest rates ever detected since the pandemic began. The most recent testing data from NYU shows an 18.29% positivity rate from COVID-19 tests conducted between Dec. 27 through Jan. 2.

Students residing in NYU housing must test negative within 72 hours of their arrival on campus. NYU will continue its randomized testing program throughout the semester and set aside rooms for isolation on and off campus.  

“We need to be mindful that these resources are finite, and we may come to a point in the semester where students who test positive may need to isolate in their current room assignment together with their roommate(s) who may not need to isolate or quarantine,” the email reads. 

Only disposable, N95, KN95 and KF94 masks can now be worn in NYU buildings — cloth masks are no longer permitted. The university will supply surgical masks to students and faculty at various locations on campus. 

During the fall 2021 semester, NYU offered both to-go and indoor dining options. For the start of the spring semester, dining halls will return to grab-and-go only. All residence hall common areas, library group study rooms and athletic facilities are also closed until further notice, and NYU encourages non-essential in-person events and gatherings to be postponed.

NYU’s decision to start the spring semester with in-person instruction differs from other New York City institutions. Columbia University, The New School, the Pratt Institute and the School of Visual Arts will all begin the semester with remote learning. However, the City University of New York and the State University of New York will remain open.

Some individual schools and programs within NYU have already published plans for the beginning of the spring semester. The NYU School of Law announced that all students have the option to take courses on Zoom for the first two weeks. NYU Florence will host the first two weeks of classes online, and NYU Sydney will hold remote courses for the entire semester.

Contact Kristian Burt at [email protected] and Rachel Cohen at [email protected]