August 17, 2020
Dear Members of CDS: Faculty, Staff, PhD students and Fellows & Postdocs:
After a long and painful (I dare say) closure on March 13, I am thrilled to announce that CDS is reopening on September 2. While there is still much to be done in the coming weeks, and we will continue to iron out challenges along the way, this is a turning point in our return to some normalcy. As you can imagine, this will not be a “back-to-normal”: we will live with a number of adjustments and limitations, which are imposed by our desire for utmost safety and health of all members of our community. Yet, after so many months, I am grateful to be at this juncture. September 2 also marks the day where in-person instruction will resume at NYU, although limited by the rules of safety and social distancing.
We proceed to this next phase slowly, and with the greatest caution. We are operating in an initially staggered soft launch over the coming weeks, so that by September 2 we expect to have controlled any problem points and identified areas for continued improvement. We are finalizing plans to have most people in single offices, or rotation schemes in place for those few that need to share. Sadly, at least in the beginning, we will not be able to accommodate visitors or members of the NYU community that are not CDS Researchers, but we aim to restore as much operation as we can for you to be productive in your work, teaching and research. All CDS community members will be required to fully comply with every health and safety guideline established by the NYU Returns guidelines (including mandatory mask/face coverings, a Daily COVID-19 Screener for Campus Access, social distancing, limited gatherings, frequent sanitizing/washing, etc.). Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) will be available at multiple locations across campus. In addition, we will abide by NYU testing regulations: All NYU members are required to get tested and submit verification before entering NYU buildings.
I want to express my heartfelt thanks to you all for your tireless efforts these last several months of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have been faced with unprecedented challenges and uncertainties, yet we all have risen to the occasion with tenacity, creative drive, patience, and unending support. In particular I wish to thank our dedicated staff, under the leadership of Remi and Kathryn: over the last few months they have worked beyond any reasonable expectation to come to this juncture. Without them, we would not be able to open, nor would we have a teaching plan in place.
I would be amiss not to comment on some recent reversals we have seen from other universities, who have planned to start in in-person and blended mode, with students present on campus, and who have now very abruptly pivoted to remote-only modalities. I can ascertain first hand, from countless leadership and management meetings that our staff and I have attended, that NYU is planning to follow through with the current in-person and residential plans, and to be prepared. As you might know, a large cohort of NYU undergraduate students will already be arriving on campus tomorrow. Strict quarantine, testing and safety regulations are in place, buildings and residences have been prepared and meaningful communication has been sent to all members of the NYU community.
Let us hope for a productive Fall and let us make the best of this unusual time ahead!
With best wishes to all of you!
Director, Center for Data Science, New York Univeristy.