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NYU investigating videos of people packing Washington Square Park, dancing

Crowds packing Washington Square Park
Posted at 9:30 PM, Sep 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-07 22:43:06-04

MANHATTAN — Large crowds of people packed Washington Square Park on Saturday night and danced.

Video shows a mix of people with and without masks. People in the park, just blocks away from the newly reopened New York University, did not social distance. NYU Senior Vice President for Student Affairs Mark Wais sent a message out to students about the videos.

"We are investigating the circumstances from last night and any students who have violated our expectations will be subject to disciplinary action," Wais wrote. "Please wear a mask and physically distance whenever you are in public places, including Washington Square Park, and leave the area if conditions become unsafe."

On Saturday, NYU announced more than 20 NYU students had already been suspended.

"A single, crowded, careless party could create conditions that put NYU and the larger community at risk, harming not only older community members — faculty and employees — but younger ones, triggering a pivot to remote learning, and changing the course of the fall semester for everyone," Wais wrote.

Some students are concerned that what happened at SUNY Oneonta could happen at NYU. In-person learning there shut down after more than 100 people tested positive for coronavirus.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo mandated that if a college or university has 100 COVID-19 cases, or an outbreak equal to 5% of their population (whichever is less), that school must move to remote learning for two weeks while the outbreak is evaluated.

NYU freshman Scarlett Monzingo just finished quarantining.

“People are being stupid,” Monzingo said. “I don’t think it’s all NYU students. There are other contributors from the community, but I don’t want to go back."

NYU said regular, on campus COVID-19 testing will begin this week, focusing on those living in residence halls.
Students living on campus will be tested every week while others off campus and staff will be tested every other week.

Dr. Anthony Santella, a public policy expert and professor at Hofstra University, said he had concerns about the impact of Labor Day gatherings on coronavirus at schools.

“What makes Labor Day of more importance, is that children have had and will continue to return to school," Santella said.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease specialist, offered guidance on what schools should do should a student get sick on campus. He said they should stay in a sequestered place on campus. Sick students should not go home because they could bring coronavirus with them.

With COVID-19 fatigue setting in, Dr. Santella warned people not to let their guards down.

Colleges in at least 19 states are reporting they’re seeing outbreaks on campus. It could lead to a disastrous fall and winter.

As we move into fall, people will be moving more indoors where was the risk of infection is higher.

“We are now seven months into the COVID pandemic and most people are tired of being inconvenienced,” Santella said. “We’re going to have to make small sacrifices so that we can all move past this because COVID is not going to go away during this academic year.”

A group of NYU students, faculty, other staffers and union representatives have put together an initiative called “Keep our Campus Safe.”

Several hundred individuals signed a letter to NYU’s president, provost and chairman of the Board of Trustees. The letter states they have serious reservations about in-person classes.

Moving forward, they want to be consulted on how to make the NYU campus a safer place during the COVID crisis.