December 16, 2020
Dear members of the NYUAD community,
At the cusp of 2021, I am thinking about the unimaginable losses this year has brought for members of our community, while taking great heart in the news about well-tested vaccines now fast becoming available.
I write to wish you a winter break of rest, renewal, and reconnection with loved ones, whether in Abu Dhabi or elsewhere in the world. While genuine time off work and study must be the priority, I hope you will, with just pride, reflect on your manifold contributions to NYUAD. There is no resilience without struggle, and we have come through this year together thanks to your care, solidarity, adaptation, and persistence.
It hasn’t been easy. Work and life boundaries have blurred beyond recognition. Whether in the UAE or abroad, we are all missing in-person interaction with friends and colleagues, study away, gatherings and events, and myriad important routines at the heart of our community and daily lives. But our community has persevered by focusing on the health and safety of all and the continuity of our academic mission.
Our faculty have shown exceptional leadership in adapting rapidly to online instruction, refining, and strengthening our virtual courses to be student-centered and inclusive. Our professors and researchers have responded to vital challenges, and have made significant contributions to the fight against COVID-19. With the visionary leadership of our provost, deans, and faculty, we have begun the process of charting the academic strategy for our second decade.
Our students, both on campus and off, have remained a connected community bridging distances and time zones. They have continued to grow as learners, artists, entrepreneurs, and inventors. Our undergraduates, our first Master’s students, and our Global PhD Fellows have not put their futures on hold. Our staff - most of them working remotely - have driven our vigilant community health efforts, successfully supported remote learning, teaching, and research, and maintained and adapted essential campus operations, student services, and administrative functions.
As we head into the spring semester, we must stay the course. Screening, testing, and tracing, which have been so effective in preserving the health of our campus this fall, will continue with an even more robust program. Starting in mid-January, we will implement a weekly testing requirement. The weekly testing will be facilitated through our own COVID-19 screening study, which will offer saliva screening for students, faculty, and staff who reside on campus as well as those approved to access campus for work and research. We will also look to continue with a health provider (currently PHD Laboratories) to offer on-campus diagnostic nasal swab testing for campus residents. Additional details on our testing strategy for the spring, including how and where to get tested, will be shared soon.
The good news on the horizon is about vaccines. We are closely following vaccine developments here, at NYU in New York, and around the world. As we gain a clearer view of the scientific results, approvals, distribution of vaccines, and policies around them, we will have more guidance to offer. In the meantime, we must continue to keep each other safe, and stay vigilant and focused. Wearing masks, physical distancing, limiting gatherings, and following other health and safety protocols on and off campus will continue to be necessary to hold this virus at bay. My administration will also continue to examine how best to support all our community members in dealing with the work and stress brought on by the pandemic.
With the promise of a better year, we have much to look forward to: more community members on campus; fostering mental health and well-being; refining our academic strategy; and advancing campus diversity, inclusion, and equity as well as environmental stewardship and sustainability.
And with our amazing class of 2021, we will celebrate Capstones and a Commencement that will recognize their collective and individual achievements. We don't yet know what the ceremony will look like, but conversations and scenario planning have started with our Commencement Committee and senior year representatives. What we do know is that we will do everything in our power to make Commencement an inspirational, joyful, and grand celebration of all that our seniors have accomplished. Families and friends will have opportunities to participate in this celebration no matter what form it takes.
In the four weeks ahead, please pause, decompress, and recharge. Be kind to yourself and others. Safeguard your health and wellness.
I am so proud to be a part of our learning community, and look forward to seeing you in a more hopeful new year.
October 26, 2020
Dear members of the NYU Abu Dhabi community,
With the fall semester now halfway through, we write to let you know initial plans for our spring semester, to begin in January 2021. We know that you have questions about what the spring will look like. Our current thinking is based on all that we have learned and experienced over the past several months about keeping each other safe and how to facilitate the continuity of teaching, research, and student life within the parameters of UAE and international guidelines.
We remain a connected and dynamic learning community. This is evident in the tireless efforts of our faculty, the diligence of our administrators and staff, and the resilience and understanding of our students. We do not take the resolve of our community for granted, and are profoundly grateful to all of you for your adaptability and patience in this constantly changing landscape.
When we first let you know what the fall would be like, we said that we hoped to be able to resume classes and research fully in-person by the spring. With cases of COVID-19 still on the rise around the globe, and with a widely available vaccine unlikely in the immediate future, the public health challenges are likely to affect our operations well into the spring semester.
Given this outlook in the UAE and around the world, and based on our experiences implementing remote instruction and having about half of our students back on campus safely, the most prudent approach is to stay the course, albeit with some encouraging developments.
While we are planning to continue our Remote Plus model in the spring semester — with more of an emphasis on the Plus wherever possible — we will offer all students who wish to return to live in NYUAD housing the opportunity to do so. We believe this plan will help maintain the sense of community spirit which we so value at NYUAD.
Key elements of our current thinking for spring, developed by the Return to Campus Initiative in consultation with a broad cross section of our community as well as local health authorities and officials, are as follows:
The default for spring will be remote instruction. In addition, we will offer a small number of classes with in-person elements where physical presence is required for timely progression and completion of degrees, such as lab and studio based courses. We are also looking at the possibility of “blended” class models (featuring both in-person as well as remote connectivity options for students) for faculty who would like to teach in this mode, and compliant with public health and Ministry of Education guidelines.
As you know, we are very disappointed not to be able to offer study away in the spring semester. This difficult decision for all NYU sites means that we are preparing to offer more courses in Abu Dhabi and work with students to make sure they can fulfill their academic requirements. The Go Local Program, established by the NYU Office of Global Programs for fall 2020 semester, will continue in the spring semester, and will relieve some of the pressure on the need for more courses in NYU’s main campuses in New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai.
We will prioritize inviting students to return to live on campus. If students are able to travel to Abu Dhabi, or to campus if they live in the UAE, we invite them to return to live in NYUAD housing throughout the spring. While we believe we should be able to accommodate returning students on campus, if demand exceeds local health and safety guidelines we will make equivalent housing available in an off-campus building that will be set up as our on campus residences are, with the staff support required. If you intend to return to campus in spring, please fill out this Declaration of Intent Form by November 2, so we can register your interest and prepare for a safe return.
Students who are living currently on campus are invited to stay on campus over the winter break if they want to avoid travel and quarantine requirements. Additional information can be found in the FAQs on the student portal.
For everybody’s safety, and to comply with current government guidance, we continue to encourage faculty and researchers to work remotely; however, we recognize access to certain spaces on campus, such as offices, labs, and studios, is critical for some members of our community and access will be granted accordingly.
Faculty will also have the option to opt-in to teaching the aforementioned “blended” class models. To facilitate planning and determine space availability, interested faculty are asked to register their interest with their divisional Deans by November 5.
We have protocols in place for researchers to return to campus in accordance with public health and safety guidelines. In the spring, we expect our current access protocols to look very similar to the current model. Faculty and researchers may use research labs and studios if the research being conducted can only be done from a lab or studio on-campus. Research that can be done online or computationally should be performed remotely. For more information on access to research spaces and continuing research at NYUAD visit the Continuing Research intranet page and FAQS.
Staff and Remote Working
Administrators and staff have done an extraordinary job supporting a safe, informed, and engaged Return to Campus. This spring, the majority of staff will continue to work remotely, except those whose on-campus presence is deemed essential to academic continuity and student life and select critical staff such as Public Safety. We know this will be difficult for many staff colleagues and depending on the public health situation we may look at options to potentially rotate in more staff to work on campus through the spring. Regardless, we will work closely with HR to ensure the appropriate support is provided to supervisors and teams during this extended remote work period. Requests for workplace modifications or working remotely outside the UAE will follow similar procedures as last semester. For planning purposes, these requests should be submitted by November 15.
Health and Safety
We will continue to implement robust health measures on campus. Testing, isolating, tracing, and monitoring will contribute significantly to how we manage community health. Students, faculty, and staff will be required to show proof of a valid negative COVID-19 PCR test while on campus. Our ongoing community health strategy includes:
All people arriving back to campus will be required to isolate for two weeks and are expected to work/attend courses during that time. Some of those arriving internationally should expect to be in government facilities during the isolation period per the current UAE government guidelines. The University will be available to support students, faculty, and staff during this time.
Campus spaces such as the Library, fitness facilities, and dining outlets will be generally available with an emphasis on physical distancing and mask wearing. We will explore the possibility of limited, internal on-campus events in alignment with public health requirements, official guidelines, and space availability. No external events will be permitted on campus through the spring.
Our plans for spring focus on a baseline of remote instruction, but we do hope that the Plus in Remote Plus will be expanded wherever possible. Opportunities for learning, discovery, creation, and innovation will continue. Our sense of campus community will become even more important as we hope to welcome all students back to live on campus while studying remotely, and with limited opportunities for in-person engagement.
We know that managing our academic and personal lives during the pandemic is not easy for anyone, but the care and compassion that our community continues to demonstrate for one another is truly commendable. It’s an honor to be part of such a supportive and inclusive community, and we have no doubt that our shared understanding and goodwill will continue to carry us through the months ahead.
While this message provides answers to many important questions for the spring, other decisions will require more time, including how we will approach Commencement 2021. We plan to make any decisions regarding Commencement in a collaborative and judicious manner, in consultation with the Class of 2021 and other community members, as well as local health authorities and the Ministry of Education.
We know how much you cherish Commencement. We do too, and we are committed to successfully and safely hosting a beautiful ceremony with all of the pomp and grandeur that our seniors deserve, whether in-person, virtual, or a combination of the two.
Support and Resources
We continue to offer a range of support for our community members as we recognize the additional strain caused by the pandemic. More information is available on the intranet and student portal.
Continuing the Conversation
We want to continue this conversation in the coming weeks. To that end, we will soon be sharing surveys with our students, faculty, and staff to help us to determine what worked well this fall and what improvements may be needed in order to make the spring semester as meaningful, productive, and safe as possible. We will also be hosting an all community town hall on November 15, where you will have the opportunity to submit questions in advance and to ask live questions.
At the end of this long message, we also want to acknowledge that, as always during this pandemic, these plans may need to be adjusted as the current situation evolves and guidance from the Ministry of Education and other local regulatory authorities may change. While much is beyond our control, we can continue to act flexibly, prioritize the health and safety of our community, ensure academic continuity, provide an inclusive and engaged intellectual environment, and foster a collective spirit of connection, cooperation, and mutual respect.
Mariët, Arlie, and Peter
August 20, 2020
Dear members of the NYUAD community,
Testing, tracing, isolating, and monitoring will play a significant role in how we manage NYUAD community health this coming year. To maintain a safe campus, NYUAD will be putting in place robust testing and quarantining policies that comply with UAE regulations, including mandatory testing upon return to campus, followed by interval testing throughout the fall.
The information provided below applies to campus residents (students, faculty, staff, and family/household members) as well as faculty and staff approved to return to campus for essential student, academic, and operational support. The majority of NYUAD employees will continue to work remotely into the fall.
The information below is important for all community members, please make sure you read to the end.
In order to keep our community healthy and compliant with federal regulations, testing is mandatory for all individuals coming back onto campus. This is required by both the UAE MOE as well as NCEMA.
You must show proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test via the Al Hosn app upon returning to campus. The test must have been done after August 16. This requirement will be retroactive and apply to all community members who have been abroad and returned to the UAE since July 1, 2020, and those individuals who have already been residing on and working on campus since July 1, as well as local students who will be coming to live on campus through the fall.
Prior to departure you must complete a COVID-19 PCR test, and show proof of the negative test result before boarding your flight to the UAE. The test must be completed within 96 hours of your flight departure time. We recommend you contact your airline if you have questions about traveling into the UAE. In addition to out-of-country testing, individuals will be required to have an official in-country test after arrival. On arrival, individuals will also need to download the Al Hosn app and quarantine for up to 14 days.
If you (and your household, for residents) have been tested after August 16 either upon entry to Abu Dhabi or upon arrival into the country, please retain proof of the negative result as this will serve as your initial “gateway” test requirement.
For those who still require a test, please utilize the mobile testing center that will be made available on campus from August 24 to September 3 (excluding the weekend), details below OR the SEHA Drive-Through Screening Center - Corniche, which is free for NYUAD students, faculty, and staff (you must bring your NYU ID with you, provide reference code “U-NYU” and show the MOE letter (English, Arabic).
Alternatively, if you cannot use either of the two provided testing options and need to make your own arrangements, call the Department of Health at 800 1717 and submit a reimbursement request to cover the cost of the gateway test requirement. Please contact email@example.com for reimbursement instructions.
Students who will require testing post arrival will have their testing facilitated by the NYUAD Health Center.
Mobile Testing on Campus
Beginning August 24, NYUAD will provide an on-campus mobile testing center for two weeks.
Campus resident children ages 12 and 13 can be tested by the NYUAD Health Center. In line with existing regulations, testing is not currently required for children under 12.
Confirmation of Testing
If you have a positive test result for COVID-19 do not go to class, your office, or workplace. Students and on-campus residents should contact the Health Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or +971 2 628 8100, and faculty and staff should contact their physician or DOH directly at 800 1717 for medical care.
If you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency condition call 999 (emergency services) or 998 (ambulance).
Employees must contact their supervisor to advise of their absence for sick leave. All community members must also report a positive result to the NYUAD COVID-19 Response Team at email@example.com.
Ongoing Interval Testing
Following the mandatory initial round of testing, community members will also need to take part in regular interval testing throughout the fall from August 30. Additional information on interval testing will be shared with the community soon.
Anyone travelling to the UAE from abroad must quarantine at home (in your campus residence) for up to 14 days. This includes all students, including local students coming to reside on campus from their homes in the UAE. The only exceptions are students and residents who have been residing on campus throughout the summer.
Violating home quarantine procedures is punishable by a fine of AED 50,000 as you are putting the health of others at risk. Members of the community in quarantine must download the Al Hosn app and must monitor their health, follow the directions from the health authorities, and contact their doctor (or the NYUAD Health Center in the case of students) if they show symptoms. Individuals in quarantine must stay at home and not go to work, study, or public spaces. Exercise in your residence or apartment, rather than outdoors or in any common spaces. Additional information on the UAE’s quarantine guidelines.
Compliance with Health and Safety Protocols
The health of one of us is the health of all of us. As we did in the spring, the University will be enforcing strict health and safety protocols throughout the fall. We expect all members of the community to model adherence to our health and safety guidelines.
When you encounter someone on campus who is not complying with the health and safety protocols we encourage you to gently urge them to act properly - to wear a mask, maintain physical distance, etc. Our Public Safety staff are authorized to challenge conduct that does not comply with health and safety guidance, but we hope they will not have to; it is an unpleasant task, and it unfairly puts them at a health risk.
Testing, tracing, isolating, and monitoring are key to keeping our community safe. We aim to make testing as quick and convenient for you as possible, and we appreciate your understanding and cooperation.
Please make sure you are reading the weekly Return to Campus memos which include important information on planning for fall and our return to campus, and check the faculty and staff intranet and student portal often for useful information and guidance.
Enjoy the rest of your summer. Stay safe.
Fabio Piano, Provost
Raghib Ali, Director and Principal Investigator, NYUAD Public Health Research Center
Ayaz Virji, Medical Director, NYUAD Health Center
August 10, 2020
Dear Parents, Guardians, and Family Members,
I hope that you and your loved ones are healthy and safe as we continue to weather the challenges posed by the global pandemic. As the start of our academic year is just four weeks away, I am pleased to write with a full update on our plans in place.
While it has been a summer unlike any other, my colleagues and I feel all the usual enthusiasm and energy that comes with a new academic year. I have had the great joy of talking with quite a few returning and first-year students who are my advisees, and have found their commitment and curiosity about their studies and NYU Abu Dhabi life heartwarming and inspiring.
NYUAD’s leadership, faculty, and staff have been hard at work throughout the summer to prepare for the best possible academic year. Learning, teaching, and research will be largely online this fall, and our professors have designed their courses to be fresh and engaging in their new formats. As always we will create inclusive learning environments, respond to global challenges with groundbreaking research, and safeguard the health and wellbeing of our community.
Our Return to Campus web hub is now live. Here you can find updates about what the fall will look like and how we are keeping our community safe, informed, and engaged, including information on our Remote Plus model, campus access, health and safety protocols, and more.
As you may know, the UAE Ministry of Education health and safety policies require us to have fewer students living on campus than would normally be the case. We have established careful procedures for many of our undergraduate students to reside on campus while they take courses online in the fall, and we look forward to hosting these students safely in our residences. Our plan remains to bring our full community back together for in-person operations for the start of the spring semester in 2021, health, and travel conditions permitting.
Testing, tracing, isolating, and monitoring will play a significant role in how we manage community health. To maintain a safe campus, NYUAD will be putting in place robust testing and quarantining policies that comply with regulations of UAE health and education authorities, including mandatory testing upon return to campus, followed by interval testing throughout the fall. Supporting our testing efforts is the COVID-19 NYUAD Screening Pilot Study. Launched in July, this innovative research project is designed to help screen our community for potential asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19, and will keep our community safe and low-risk by early detection.
Beyond the screening study, NYU Abu Dhabi faculty and researchers are pursuing groundbreaking research designed to combat COVID-19 and understand the impact that it is having on our world. We are especially proud that our students are deploying their knowledge and skills in critical work such as labs dedicated to conducting COVID-19 tests for the UAE’s population.
For those students who will live on campus this fall the experience will be considerably different from traditional campus life, as physical distancing, the wearing of masks, enhanced sanitation, and limits on gatherings will all be required. Nevertheless, whether on campus or in our virtual community, your students will have access to countless opportunities to engage in NYUAD life, including student interest group activities, community service, arts performances, and internships around the world. Students will also have ample support of peers, professors, career counselors, and psychologists.
In these difficult times, our community, including all of you - parents, guardians, and loved ones of NYUAD students - have rallied together to address unexpected changes. The past half year our University has shown its great strengths as a nimble, energetic, creative, and caring institution. I am grateful for the dedication, flexibility, and resiliency that all members of our community, and particularly our remarkable students, have shown.
As the fall semester approaches, please check our website for information and updates as we respond to changing local and international health and safety guidelines.
As Vice Chancellor and as mother of four children who has attended university both before and during Covid-19, I deeply appreciate the trust that you have shown in encouraging your student to attend NYU Abu Dhabi.
Along with all members of our leadership team, faculty, and staff, I take the responsibility to keep your children safe, healthy, and fully engaged in their education very seriously.
I look forward to connecting with your students throughout the fall, and for those who are able to return in-person, I am excited to welcome them back safely to our campus.
June 22, 2020
Dear members of the NYU Abu Dhabi community,
While much remains uncertain, we know that this coming academic year will look different. Learning, teaching, research, and working will continue in new ways, but our shared commitment to creating inclusive, engaged learning environments, to responding to local and global challenges through innovative research, and to safeguarding the health and wellbeing of our community will endure.
Thank you to all who completed the community surveys regarding fall 2020. Some 1,100 community members participated in the surveys, and the information we received has been useful in informing our planning for Academic Year 2020-2021. Among the key findings, a significant number of students indicated that if it's possible, they would be interested in residing on campus in the fall while taking classes online. A quarter of faculty respondents noted that they would appreciate additional pedagogical opportunities to assist with offering remote classes in the fall. Staff noted that homeschooling, childcare, and safety are important factors for leadership to consider when thinking about the impact of remote working. Access to the library, gym and fitness facilities, and the dining hall were selected by most respondents as being important in making the decision to come to campus, along with residence halls for students.
We are aware that there is considerable need to restore access to on-campus lab, studio, as well as office space to reconstitute as much of our research activities as possible during the summer and into the fall. As of now, we are envisioning to operate under the current exception-approval mechanism until the end of this month. Contingent on the public health developments and the increase in on-campus sanitation services, we are preparing for an increased capacity for research lab and office space based on government guidelines starting soon. For more information on this, please see here (login required).
We are very aware of our community’s need to prepare for the fall, and we are writing to share an update on emerging Remote Plus plans for the fall 2020 semester and into the academic year. While Remote means teaching, learning, and working from different locations for students, faculty, and staff, the Plus indicates our commitment to maintain important community connections and seek to gradually bring our community back together on campus by spring 2021. Given our need to prioritize our academic and research mission, act with flexibility in response to uncertainty, accommodate robust health and safety protocols, limit density on campus and consider ongoing global travel restrictions, while ensuring this fall will be truly worthwhile for our community members, the current plan is as follows:
Our University is a diverse and vital center of scholarship, with faculty who are leading scholars, artists, researchers, writers, and dedicated teachers. As we implement remote instruction into the fall, our students will receive the outstanding educational experience with a distinctive focus on intercultural understanding and leadership that is the hallmark of NYUAD. Throughout the summer, faculty will be offered extensive opportunities through the Hilary Ballon Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning as well as the Library and Academic Technology to ensure that instructional needs are supported.
We know that you will have questions about what specifically these plans will mean for you — whether you are a student, faculty member, staff member, graduate student, postdoc, or researcher.
Planning for AY 2020-21 will continue throughout the summer and into the fall. The overall planning will be taken up within the Return to Campus initiative and its Academic Planning Group. The Return to Campus initiative is designed to support NYUAD’s return to campus for AY 2020-21 in a measured way, and with the health and safety of the community at the forefront of decision making. The initiative includes representation from across the NYUAD community focused on five key portfolios: Academics, Students, Operations, Public Health, and Lab and Studio-Based Research. Our Office of Public Affairs and Communications will be developing a Return to Campus Guide and a web hub designed to provide the NYUAD community members with the latest essential information on our return to campus.
Our Remote Plus experience is designed to offer students the most stable and consistent pathway for engaging with rich academic and community-based experiences while we adjust to conditions imposed by the pandemic. We will continue to update you as the situation evolves and as we respond to the changing local guidelines.
As we look ahead to the fall, we know that a return to the regular rhythm of campus will take some time, and will require all the patience, flexibility, and resilience that our community can offer. But after the significant adjustments and learning experiences of this past spring, we believe that NYU Abu Dhabi is uniquely prepared to meet these challenges head-on and deliver a rich and vibrant academic and research program while fostering an environment of individual and collective responsibility for health and well-being and maintaining our community spirit and connections.
Mariët and Fabio
April 12, 2020
Dear Class of 2020, and all members of the NYU Abu Dhabi community,
I write with further information about our 2020 Commencement, in light of the uncertainties of our moment and after conversations with the many stakeholders involved, and most especially members of our great Class of 2020.
Universities and colleges that had to ask their students to leave campus this spring have announced a range of plans for their graduations. Some have canceled Commencement altogether; some are holding virtual ceremonies; and others have announced that they will postpone their ceremonies to an undetermined date.
We are in a different situation. Most of our senior class are currently on campus, with many having decided to stay as they wanted to be together in their last semester at NYUAD. We are delighted so many are here. Unfortunately, the vast majority of students elsewhere has had to leave their campuses.
NYU Abu Dhabi is also proud to be one of the most international and diverse universities in the world. The Class of 2020 is made up of students from over 70 countries and will spread out across the globe for employment, graduate school, and other opportunities following Commencement. Given the economic duress all countries and families are likely to experience for quite some time to come, it would be difficult to ensure a full complement of students and family members at a future date.
On May 27 we will celebrate Commencement. It will not be Commencement as we know it, but it will be a special virtual experience that will include great ceremony and fanfare in line with the very essence and tenor of graduation. To the extent that it will be possible by that time, we will also strive to have limited in-person aspects to the event. Special efforts will be made to involve families and friends from around the world in the experience remotely.
We have worked with representatives of the Class of 2020 to help us enrich this Commencement event and create lasting memories, and we will continue to seek that feedback. Consistent with our past Commencement ceremonies, we will feature inspirational remarks, including from NYU President Andy Hamilton and other great speakers, and additional - and quite possibly new and exciting - program elements befitting the occasion. If there is a silver lining, it is the realization that perhaps more family, friends, and community members than ever will be able to share in the joy and emotion of Commencement in this way.
In the run-up to Commencement, we will also be looking to hold a special set of events to honor the spirit of the occasion. Members of the Class of 2020, you will have the opportunity to wear your caps and gowns and have photos taken, you will hear from the many who wish you well, and you will have special moments to mark your success together.
To the Class of 2020, I know that you value the traditions of Commencement and want to honor the legacy that you have created in your four years at NYU Abu Dhabi. Please know that I understand and appreciate how important Commencement is to you. It is of great importance to me as well, and it is a grand affair in the life of any university. I, along with our entire leadership team and I daresay the entire community, will do our very best to honor your accomplishments on May 27 in the finest NYUAD spirit. For all of us, it will be a day of great hope.
In partnership with the Class of 2020, we are also envisioning an opportunity to welcome back members of the class at a future date, so we can recognize and celebrate their achievements in person, for those who can be there. Even if right now our focus is on making May 27 an unforgettable day, I am very pleased that the conversation with our graduating class about a future event will continue after Commencement as we gain greater clarity about the local and global situation.
Even if we can’t all be together physically on May 27, there is something special about most of us being present on campus to mark Commencement. We speak often of the values and strengths which define us as a community. I believe now, more than ever, these shared commitments will unite us as we celebrate the Class of 2020 and pay tribute to all that our seniors have accomplished.
April 2, 2020
Dear Parents, Guardians, and Family Members
As NYU Abu Dhabi continues to manage the complexities related to the coronavirus, our focus is on safeguarding the health and wellbeing of our community and ensuring academic continuity as best we can.
Each day we see new developments related to the virus and the steps that governments and universities around the world are taking to limit its spread. This week, the UAE Ministry of Education announced that schools and universities would continue online learning until the end of the academic year.
For NYU Abu Dhabi, this means we will continue with online instruction for the remainder of our spring semester as well as our summer courses in May and June. The faculty are making extraordinary efforts to provide rich online classes and assignments, and our students are doing their part to maintain an effective learning environment online. I monitor these efforts closely, and can say that my own seminar of 16 students is showing incredible creativity and resilience despite the difficulties.
There has not been a confirmed case of coronavirus within the NYU Abu Dhabi community. We continue to follow the latest requirements and guidance from the local health authorities as well as the World Health Organization, US Centers for Disease Control, and the medical research community. In keeping with these advisories, we are implementing strict precautions on campus to maintain community health, including ongoing deep cleaning, disinfection, and physical distancing.
Our efforts are further strengthened by the extensive preventative measures the UAE has introduced, with national public health authorities taking continuous, widespread steps to limit the spread of the virus. These include extensive testing efforts, a comprehensive contact-tracing system, and nationwide physical distancing measures.
Overall, the community spirit of our students, professors, and staff is good, but we are keenly aware that it’s natural for students to feel a sense of anxiety and worry for friends and family. Please rest assured that we have a range of supports in place for our community and are exploring additional wellbeing resources. It’s also important for all of us to have social connection even as we maintain physical distance, and each day amazing new online initiatives are launched within our community to do so, including virtual fitness classes, open mic poetry events, mindfulness education programs, and even virtual film festivals. All are designed to enable our students to engage in meaningful social contact during these challenging times.
We will continue to post updates and information on the University’s response to the coronavirus to our central webpage, and I encourage you to check back often.
Our community is our greatest strength, as it has been for ten years. I am confident that our community will have been made stronger and more unified for having come through these experiences together. Please take care of yourselves and know that we are doing our utmost to take care of your students and maintain their academic progress. I send best wishes to you and your families.
April 1, 2020
We write with updates and guidance related to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
On Monday, the UAE Ministry of Education announced that schools and universities would continue online learning until the end of the academic year.
This means that NYU Abu Dhabi will continue with online instruction only until the end of this academic year, including NYUAD summer 2020 courses.
We know that you will have questions on this and other activities planned for the summer. Additional information on summer opportunities, including courses in New York, the RealAD show, undergraduate research, the Post-graduation Practical Training Program (PPTP), and internships, will be forthcoming soon.
We urge community members to continue to comply with the nationwide cleaning program and #StayHome initiative, and to limit any trips during the day to essential shopping or medical appointments.
All staff, except those who are providing essential on-campus services, should continue to work remotely until further notice.
On-campus, instructional spaces will remain closed, and labs and studios will only remain accessible for essential research and Capstone work. We ask for your help in restricting personnel working in the labs and studios to a minimum, and taking every precaution to keep a physical distance of at least two meters between you and others.
Additional information about campus facilities, including hours of operation and contact information, can be found on the intranet and student portal, and we encourage you to check these pages often for updates.
As we have said previously and will continue to emphasize, physical distancing is a critical step in limiting the spread of the virus.
Please continue to practice physical distancing both on campus and off, keeping a distance of no less than two meters (six feet) between you and others. In the UAE failure to comply with this measure can result in fines. Physical distancing is an important component of the UAE’s comprehensive response to COVID-19, which also includes world-leading testing efforts and an extensive contact-tracing system.
Maintaining physical distance does not have to mean social isolation. There are many opportunities available to connect with others virtually, and we encourage you to take advantage of these and to engage in meaningful social contact with friends and family during these challenging times.
As we adjust to our new daily realities, it’s natural to have feelings of anxiety and feel worried about family, friends, and loved ones both here and across the globe. We have a range of supports in place for our community and are exploring additional resources. If you would like to speak with someone:
These are turbulent, unprecedented times, but we are a strong and resilient community, and we will get through this together as we adopt new collective strategies to keep ourselves safe and healthy. Please take care of yourself and one another. Stay home and stay safe.
Mariët, Fabio, and Peter
March 17, 2020
These are extraordinary times. We are grateful to all of you for how you are responding to our changing circumstances related to the global spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Although we had originally committed to updating you next week, in light of the recent announcement made by President Andy Hamilton to the NYU New York community, we write today with important guidance for NYU Abu Dhabi.
Online and remote instruction for NYUAD will continue through to the end of the semester, but our students and other residents can remain on campus.
If we receive guidance at a later date from the UAE Ministry of Education that in-person instruction can resume, all classes will remain online, and can be finished online, but we would have some local accommodations for in-person work in labs and studio spaces.
We will be keeping our residences open and will continue to support all students who stay on campus. The dining halls, health center, and select other facilities will also stay open, with every proper precaution taken to ensure social distance. Limited access to research and teaching labs, the library, and studio spaces will be permitted, as has been the case so far, with appropriate precautions and social distancing in place.
We will be back to you shortly in more detail about our campus operations, facilities, and remote working guidelines which we will continue to maintain within a framework of community safety and public and individual health precautions.
The UAE has taken remarkable steps to limit the spread of the virus, including extensive testing and tracing, social distancing measures, and restrictions on travel. NYUAD continues to maintain a level of low health risk within our community, and we have put measures in place to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our students, faculty, and staff.
We know that the changes in our academic and personal lives attendant on the global effort to fight coronavirus spread are hard. Our leadership team will continue to make decisions in a local, global, and NYU context to ensure that our students can continue their academic progress and our faculty research agendas are sustained while we limit risk to health and safety.
The measures we have had to put in place since the beginning of the epidemic are difficult, and we did not take these decisions lightly. They are also temporary, and the end of the semester is not far off. In the meantime, we are confident that NYUAD will emerge a stronger, even-more unified community for having come through these experiences together.
March 16, 2020
Dear Parents, Guardians, and Family Members,
As we continue to respond to the coronavirus situation, my priority as Vice Chancellor of NYU Abu Dhabi is safeguarding the health and wellbeing of our students while ensuring their continued academic progress. I am a mother myself, and can well imagine the concerns you may have at this time.
There has been no case of COVID-19 infection in the wide NYU Abu Dhabi community. We will continue to take every precaution to maintain health, keep appropriate social distance, and participate in the global community effort to battle the virus. In this work we follow the latest reports and guidance from the local health authorities as well as the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control, and the medical research community. We also track the latest travel advisories from countries around the world.
Online instruction began yesterday, and it is going well. Our professors have put much hard work into adapting our unique undergraduate education into an online learning environment that is designed for distance learning. I am witnessing the creativity of our faculty and students firsthand, as I have been taking my own course online.
We will continue online classes until April 4. During the week of March 22, we will make a further decision as to whether we are returning to full in-person instruction. Our decision will be informed by the guidance of the UAE’s Ministry of Education, which is taking an appropriately careful approach to universities.
We know that some students may want to be with their families right now, and they may travel home if they wish to. Everyone, however, is welcome and encouraged to stay on campus. Our remarkable faculty and staff are here to support our students. Our residences, dining halls, health center, and select other facilities are open, with every proper precaution taken to ensure social distance.
I know that the rapid changes around the world are raising questions about the remainder of the semester and Commencement. Our leadership team and I are committed to making sure that our amazing Class of 2020 will graduate, and that we will honor their achievement in appropriate ways. We are also dedicated to having all of our students complete their courses this term to the fullest extent possible. Kyle Farley, Associate Vice Chancellor and Dean of Students, and I will share further information as the semester proceeds.
The evolving situation may be causing students some anxiety. We have many resources to help, and students who are concerned and would like to speak with someone are encouraged to reach out to the Wellness Exchange or contact our Health Center. I also encourage parents and families to follow our latest updates through our central coronavirus webpage.
NYU Abu Dhabi is blessed to have your extraordinary children with us for their undergraduate education. Their resilience and dedication to their learning and to our community are an inspiration to us all. I see it as my highest responsibility to keep them safe, confident in our care, and engaged in their studies.
This is not the semester that any of us envisioned, but I have faith in our ability to persevere and come together in the face of adversity. I am grateful our students have the support of their families, and send very best wishes to all of you.
March 12, 2020
Each day brings new developments related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) and the steps that governments and universities around the world are taking to limit its spread. NYU Abu Dhabi are staying attuned to the latest guidance to protect the health of individuals and communities around the globe, and looking at what our response to current developments should be.
Below are important updates and clarifications:
Online and Remote Instructional Model
The online and remote instructional model will continue as scheduled until April 4. This is the current guidance from the UAE Ministry of Education. During the week of March 22, which is our spring break, we will communicate definitively if we are returning to in-person instruction. Under any circumstances, we will endeavor to make it possible to continue remote instruction through the end of the spring 2020 semester.
All students have the option to travel home voluntarily, but they are not required to.
Classes must be attended virtually during this time. Students are required to be in an online environment and must have access to the internet. Time zone should also be accounted for.
Should classes reconvene in-person on April 5 as planned, students are expected to return. For those students who are unable to return to campus due to COVID-19 related illness, hardship, or visa and/or travel restrictions, NYUAD will endeavor to make it possible to continue participating in their courses remotely through the end of the spring 2020 semester. Please note that it may not be possible to complete some courses requiring labs or studios online.
As a precaution, if students decide to travel home, they should take with them any items essential to carrying on their education from home. Students who travel home should also plan to carry home valuables and indispensable items in the event that return to campus may be delayed.
For students who are planning to travel in the next few weeks, we must be able to reach and advise you about new developments. You are required to send your itinerary via email to firstname.lastname@example.org to register with NYU Traveler and fill out the travel form on recent travel and travel plans.
All upcoming non-essential international University-related travel continues to be canceled until further notice. Personal travel continues to be very strongly discouraged.
Currently, self-isolation is required for anyone recently returning from or having transited through Italy, Iran, China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan, and Singapore (this list may well expand). Self-isolation may also be required based on clinical history, travel history, and other factors determined by the Health Center COVID-19 Response Team on a case-by-case basis.
We are deeply aware that this is a challenging period of rapid change. As we focus on our physical health, we realize the importance of mental health as well as managing anxiety.
Our actions are consistent with up-to-date recommendations from organizations including the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), and in line with actions being taken by universities in the US - including NYU in New York - and around the world.
We will continue to share new information on a regular basis, including via email, general updates and communications on our webpage, and operational and facilities updates on the intranet, and student portal.
March 10, 2020
Recent updates and developments include:
Online instructional model: NYUAD will continue with the adjusted academic schedule and current online instructional model as scheduled until April 4. During the week of March 22, which is our spring break, we will communicate how we will continue to deliver our liberal arts education and maintain our research. At that point we will let you know if we will extend the period of remote instruction. No matter what, classes will continue through the end of the semester to ensure students can continue to make academic progress.
For classes that require in-person components such as labs, studios, and Capstones, plans may be made in consultation with the Program Head, subject to approval from the Provost. These classes would continue after April 4 in any event.
Travel: NYU-funded travel remains suspended, and NYUAD continues to discourage personal international travel. Nevertheless, we are aware that some students may want to go home and be with their families if they are able to do so. As a precaution, if you do decide to travel home voluntarily over spring break, you should take with you any items essential to carrying on your education from home, such as laptops, textbooks, notebooks, and important papers. Students who travel home should also plan to carry home valuables and indispensable items in the event that return to campus may be delayed.
Campus Visitors: Per current government requirements, no external visitors should be invited onto campus for large gatherings, and there should be no joint activities with other universities or schools. Here is guidance that will enable us to comply with these new policies:
Students are not permitted to sign-in any guests into the residences. These restrictions will continue through April 4 or until otherwise communicated.
Residents who live in B1, B2, A3, and A4 are urged strongly not to bring visitors onto campus.
Professional meetings with colleagues from other institutions should not be held on our campus through April 4 or until otherwise communicated.
We appreciate greatly your patience as we work through this evolving situation while maintaining and adjusting our learning and research environment.
March 4, 2020
The UAE Ministry of Education has announced a four-week closure for schools and universities starting Sunday, March 8, to safeguard community health and wellbeing and to minimize the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Below are the clarifications we can offer at this point in terms of how the policy affects NYU Abu Dhabi.
NYU Abu Dhabi will not be relocating any members of our community at this time. For four weeks, from Sunday, March 8 through Saturday, April 4, we will be closing the instruction, athletic, and public arts spaces on our campus as we move temporarily to an online instructional model. Faculty and staff will be encouraged to work remotely for the first week March 8-14, and we will re-evaluate this guidance as the situation evolves over the four-week period.
The online and remote working model will take into account the unique features of our globally diverse campus and our culture of liberal arts learning and active research.
The revised schedules from March 8 to April 4 are as follows:
|Week 1 — March 8–14||Suspension of classes and preparation for online teaching and learning|
|Week 2 — March 15–21||First week of teaching online|
|Week 3 — March 22–28||Spring break — no classes|
|Week 4 — March 29–April 4||Online classes resume|
|Week 5 - April 5||Regular classes resume|
For classes that cannot take place remotely, such as experimental labs and studio instruction, plans may be made in consultation with the program head, subject to approval from the Provost. The bar for approval will be one of high academic necessity.
Physical Education classes will be suspended until further notice.
The indoor gymnasium, swimming pool, and fitness center will be closed throughout this time period. The outdoor track, field, and courts will remain open.
In addition to suspending all non-essential NYU-funded travel, postponing major events, and canceling trips to campus from international visitors, all scheduled external sports activities and public programming will be canceled. The Institute Conference Center, Art Gallery, and Performing Arts Center will be closed for the full four week period.
NYU Abu Dhabi will continue to offer its shuttle service for community members on a regular schedule.
NYU Abu Dhabi will comply with the cleaning and disinfection required by the Ministry of Education. At this point, we do not know exactly what this will look like in terms of access or time, but we will, of course, ensure the impact on our community is minimal.
The actual health risk to our community remains low, and our planned approach over the next four weeks is aimed at helping to limit the spread of the virus while also ensuring the health and safety of our community and our focus on the continuity of our academic operations.
Dear members of the NYU Abu Dhabi community,
As many of you are aware, the UAE Ministry of Education announced late on Tuesday a four week closure for schools and universities starting Sunday, March 8, to safeguard community health and wellbeing and to minimize the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). We understand that you will have many questions about what this means for NYU Abu Dhabi and for families with children in schools.
The announcement clarifies that private institutions of higher education have the freedom to apply the procedures they consider necessary to guarantee education continuity. We are actively developing plans with NYUAD and NYU leadership, faculty colleagues, and our Abu Dhabi partners to apply the policy commensurate with our status as an international institution and residential campus. We are fortunate to have great capacity for providing online education and campus services. Any decisions will take into account our joint goals of ensuring the health and safety of our community and our focus on the continuity of our academic operations.
We are planning to move our courses, advising, and assessment online using our Learning Management System, NYU Classes. NYU Classes contains a suite of tools including Zoom video conferencing, which allow faculty to recreate learning environments online. The state-of-the-art digital tools we have available allow students and faculty to engage through virtual lectures, discussions, and interactive classes.
I am confident that the preparations that we have in place will enable us to respond effectively to this change in how we teach, learn, work, and do research.
I hope to have more to share by the end of the day. In the meantime, I appreciate your calm and understanding as we work through these changing circumstances. All classes and on-campus activities continue today as normal, and the steps we have already taken in response to the virus still apply.
Dear members of the NYU Abu Dhabi community,
Over the past few days, I have spent much time meeting with the Executive Planning Committee for emergency preparedness, as well as with our partners here, and NYU New York leadership to discuss the escalating COVID-19 situation in the UAE and across the globe.
While the actual health risk to our community remains low, authorities here are rightly participating in the international effort to limit the spiking spread of the virus. This situation is causing us to make some difficult decisions, and I want to make sure that our community remains fully informed about the actions that we have taken, and the steps we continue to put in place.
Community Health Form
In response to increasing instances of the virus as well as recent travel advisories and restrictions, to better comply with government requirements, and to make sure the appropriate members of the NYUAD community are getting the most relevant and up-to-date medical and public health guidance, we want to determine who in our community may have come from high impact areas.
Accordingly, all NYUAD students, faculty, and staff who have returned from one of the following affected locations: China, Hong Kong, Italy, Iran, South Korea, Singapore, or Japan within the past four weeks should complete this health form by Thursday, March 5 so that we can follow up with you with the appropriate information, guidance, and assistance. Any information you provide will be kept confidential.
The Schwarzman Scholars relocation will not move ahead, given that the situation has evolved and with growing health and safety restrictions making international travel inadvisable. We look forward to future collaborations, particularly with the many areas of convergence and alignment we discovered as our teams worked together, and we can feel enormously proud of how we and our partners rallied to the needs of this scholarly community.
We have made the decision to postpone the Times Higher Education Summit (March 10-12) along with the NYUAD Research Conference and the Hackathon originally scheduled to occur in April.
We are getting ready to plan in detail how we would move our courses online, whole or in part, as NYU Shanghai and NYU Florence have done, in the unlikely circumstance of our campus having to close for a short time. This approach may involve tools such as Zoom and include the use of the NYU VPN.
We have developed a dedicated webpage to continue to keep community members, including parents and family members, updated. We will continue to post messages and regular updates here in order to keep our community informed.
All NYUAD-funded travel abroad, including for international guests coming to campus, has been suspended through April 15, 2020. This timeline may change depending on NYU and local guidelines. NYUAD’s response is in line with actions taken by universities across the globe, as well as leading corporations such as Twitter, Amazon, CitiGroup, and Wells Fargo, suspending all non-essential travel to safeguard employees and others against the exposure to the virus. Students, please direct any questions you may have about upcoming NYUAD travel to the specific office involved with funding / organizing the trip. Faculty should reach out to their Deans in case of any questions, and staff should speak with their respective supervisors for any additional clarification. No non-essential international travel will be reimbursed by the University during this period.
Non-essential personal travel is not encouraged at this time. Depending on where you go, you may encounter challenges departing another country or face difficulties and delays when you are trying to return to the UAE.
Health and Safety
While the risk of exposure to COVID-19 is low, it is important to practice good personal hygiene such as frequently washing hands with soap and water and avoiding in-person contact with those who appear to be sick. If you feel sick, please stay home rather than coming into the classroom or office. Please reach out to the NYUAD Health Center if you are feeling sick, especially if you have a fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If you are a staff or faculty member and have a question regarding coronavirus symptoms, exposure history, or travel guidelines you can also contact the Department of Health (DOH) Hotline at 800 1717.
We understand that news of this virus can be emotionally difficult. Students who are concerned and would like to speak to someone may access 24/7 counseling services through the Wellness Exchange (+971-02-628-5555) or by contacting the NYUAD Health Center (+971-02-628-8100) or email@example.com to schedule an appointment. Faculty and staff who would like counseling support should contact the Employee Assistance Program by phone at 8000-44-0626 available 24/7 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you all for your continued diligence and flexibility. I will continue to keep all of you informed about NYUAD’s response to this ongoing situation.
In coordination with NYU leadership, local health authorities, and our Abu Dhabi partner, we continue to monitor coronavirus-related developments. As of this date, there are no cases of coronavirus at any NYU sites, including NYU Abu Dhabi. However, I want to share some important updates regarding the evolving situation.
The UAE is taking important steps in the international effort to try to contain the spread of the virus, including closing nursery schools, postponing major sporting events and conferences, and issuing travel advisories and restrictions to and from countries that have been impacted significantly.
In accord with our priorities of safeguarding the health, safety, and wellbeing of our community while ensuring academic progress we have made the decision, as communicated earlier today, to suspend all NYUAD-funded travel abroad, including for international guests coming to campus, through April 15, 2020. We have also canceled in-person travel to NYUAD for the upcoming Candidate Weekend, instead hosting a virtual event later in the month. The tireless work of our Admissions team to enable students from affected countries to participate online has prepared us well for this option.
After careful consideration and much consultation with colleagues here and in New York, I have also reached the difficult decision to postpone the Inauguration and its festival of dialogues, demos, and dreams until such a time when we will be able to gather as a community to celebrate together and share our story within the UAE and beyond. Although I was very much looking forward to having the inauguration with all of you next week, this is the right decision for this moment.
In keeping with our decision to postpone the Inauguration on March 8 and 9, we will very likely be deferring other large-scale public events on campus, though many of those discussions are still ongoing and we will have more information in the coming days.
We would also again urge you to reconsider non-essential personal travel. As the virus has continued to emerge in new countries, new travel advisories and restrictions are being introduced across Europe, Asia, the US, and the Middle East to prevent its spread, often with little warning. Depending on where you go, you may encounter challenges departing another country or face difficulties and delays when you are trying to return to the UAE.
Please make sure you check the latest travel advisory information, including the CDC’s travel resource page, the World Health Organization travel advice, as well as the Abu Dhabi Department of Health including any restrictions on return to the UAE, before you plan your trip.
If you do decide to undertake personal travel, please make sure to register your trips in NYU Traveler, and ensure you have the Safe NYU app installed on your phone. For more information or travel safety tips, please visit NYU Travel Safe or contact email@example.com if you have any questions.
While the risk of exposure to COVID-19 is low, it is important to practice good personal hygiene such as frequently washing hands with soap and water and avoiding in-person contact with those who appear to be sick. If you feel sick, please stay home rather than coming into the classroom or office. More information can be found in the FAQs on our student portal and intranet. Please reach out to the NYUAD Health Center if you are feeling sick, especially if you have a fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
Students who are concerned and would like to speak to someone may access 24/7 counseling services through the Wellness Exchange (+971-02-628-5555) or by contacting the NYUAD Health Center (+971-02-628-8100) or firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an appointment.
Faculty and staff who would like counseling support should contact the Employee Assistance Program by phone at 8000-44-0626 available 24/7 or email email@example.com.
As we continue to work through the complexities presented by COVID-19, I am encouraged by the resilience, flexibility, and understanding of our community. The situation will continue to evolve, but we are well equipped with the necessary knowledge, capacities, and resolve to overcome these challenges together.