Safety Is Our Priority
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Belongings (UPDATED July 1, 2020)
Q: I left belongings in my room. How and when can I come and get them?
A: We have set up a procedure for those who can come and retrieve their belongings from I-House between April 30-October 1 . You may also authorize a non-resident to pack and remove your belongings on your behalf. Instructions for both options are below. Please do not use this process to pick up mail only.
To schedule to pick up your items yourself:
- Make an appointment via Calendly.
- Arrive at I-House at the scheduled appointment day and time.
a. Appointments are available Monday-Sunday 9am to 5pm from April 30 – October 1.
b. Please note that it will look as though your appointment is for 15 minutes – you actually have from your appointed time until 8pm the day of your appointment.
c. If you need to cancel or reschedule you will do so via Calendly.
a. Please bring photo ID to leave with the desk attendant at the Claremont Desk.
b. Nobody other than you can enter the building with you.
c. You may enter your former room only – if you have belongings in another room that person will have to retrieve them.
d. Please bring your own boxes. There will not be any available.
e. Please plan ahead to make the process as smooth as possible.
f. You will need to leave by 8pm –if you do not finish in one day, you will need to make another appointment.
To schedule an authorized non-resident to pack and remove your belongings on your behalf:
- Make an appointment via Calendly.
- Authorized guest arrival at I-House at the scheduled appointment day and time.
a. Select ‘Add Guest’ and include your guest’s email along with your own email address
b. In ‘Please share anything that will help prepare for our meeting,’ please indicate your guest’s full name, phone number and that your guest will be picking up your items on your behalf
c. After you submit the appointment, please download the ‘Consent for Authorized Non-Resident to Enter, Pack and Remove’ on the Calendly confirmation page and return the complete form to firstname.lastname@example.org
d. Send a copy of the completed consent form to your guest to be used for entry
e. Appointments are available Monday-Sunday 9am to 5pm from April 30 – October 1
f. Please note that it will look as though your appointment is for 15 minutes – you actually have from your appointed time until 8pm the day of your appointment
g. If you need to cancel or reschedule you will do so via Calendly.
a. Copy of the completed ‘Consent for Authorized Non-Resident to Enter, Pack and Remove’ form needed
b. Please bring photo ID to leave with the desk attendant at the Claremont Desk
c. Nobody other than you can enter the building with you
d. Must wear a mask and bring extra gloves – a pair of gloves will be provided upon entry
e. You may only enter the former room of your authorizer – if there are belongings in another room, that person will have to retrieve them
f. There are no boxes available – please bring your own
g. Please plan ahead to make the process smooth as possible
h. You will need to leave by 8pm –if you do not finish in one day you will have to make another appointment
Q: I cannot come next month to retrieve my belongings. What should I do?
A: Belongings retrieval has been extended. Please keep in mind the deadlines below before storage fees apply:
North residents (July 1)-Deadline for NORTH residents to pick up belongings. If you vacated a room in I-House North and left some or all of your belongings, we ask that you please retrieve them or make arrangements for someone else to retrieve them, by July 1. Any belongings remaining after the deadline may be packed and placed in storage and you will be charged a storage fee of $40 per month. Please complete the Storage Acknowledgement Form. and send to email@example.com
South residents (October 1) – Deadline for SOUTH residents to pick up belongings. If you left belongings in I-House South please ensure to empty the room by October 1. Any belongings remaining after the deadline may be packed and placed in storage and you will be charged a storage fee of $40 per month. Please complete the Storage Acknowledgement Form. and send to firstname.lastname@example.org
Q: I left my belongings as is and have opted to pay for storage. Are there any additional costs to pack up my items?
A: Yes, there will be a packing fee of $30, plus $2 per box used. For example, a room that utilizes four (4) boxes will be charged $38.00.
Q: Can more than one person enter the room to pack and retrieve belongings?
A: No, only one (1) person can enter the building to retrieve belongings from your room. Residents electing friends to pick up belongings on their behalf can only have one (1) person enter to collect them. Others will have to wait outside.
Q: Can I bring movers or a guest to help me pack my belongings
A: Due to safety concerns, movers are not allowed to enter the building to assist with packing. If you are packing up your belongings yourself, an additional guest will not be authorized to enter the building as well. Only one (1) individual will be authorized to enter and retrieve your belongings.
Q: A current or recent resident will be picking up belongings on my behalf. Should I complete the ‘Consent for Authorized Person to Enter, Pack and Remove’?
A: Yes, if any individual other than yourself will be retrieving your belongings on your behalf, you will need to complete the ‘ Consent for Authorized Person to Enter, Pack and Remove’ and return to email@example.com prior to your Calendly appointment.
Q: If I indicated that I would pick up my belongings before the deadline, but now am unable to do so, what should I do?
A: Please complete the appropriate ‘Storage Fee Acknowledgment Form’ and return to the Admissions Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: I agreed to the storage fee and completed the ‘Storage Fee Acknowledgment Form,’ but now I can retrieve my belongings prior to the deadline. What should I do?
A: If you can retrieve your belongings prior to the deadline, you will not be charged a storage fee. We request that you reach out to us at email@example.com regarding your changed plans and book an appointment on Calendly to ensure that you will not be charged.
Q: Could I pick up part of my belongings as I am waiting for readmission results?
A: Yes, you may pick up part of your belongings but we request that you advise us via that you will be doing a partial pick-up, and complete the ‘Storage Fee Acknowledgment Form’ if you will not be able to pick up the rest of your belongings before the deadline.
Q: Will I be able to come with a guest to retrieve my belongings at a later time in the summer?
A: For the foreseeable future, no guests will be allowed to enter with you to retrieve your belongings.
Q: I would like to pick up my mail along with my belongings. What should I do?
A: You may pick up your mail along with your belongings, but please keep in mind the reduced hours for the mailroom. The Mailroom is open from 10 am to 7 pm, Monday – Friday. They are closed on Saturday and Sunday.
Q: I am admitted and will be returning to the same room in the fall. What will happen to the belongings that I left in my room?
A:If you are returning to the same room in North, your belongings will remain in your room untouched and no storage fee will be charged.
Q: I am admitted and will be returning to a different room in the fall.
A: If you are returning to a different room in the fall, your belongings will be placed into storage and the storage fee will be charged for the time your belongings remain in storage until your arrival. Specifically, you will be charged for July and the prorated amount for August to the date of your return. For example, if you arrive on or before August 15th, you will be charged $20 of August storage.
Q: What is the final deadline that I can have my belongings stored at I-House?
A: Once your belongings are moved into storage (July 1st for North and October 1st for South), you must pick up your belongings from storage no later than the following dates:
North Building (February 1, 2021)
South Buidling (July 1, 2021)
Please arrange all of your belongings to be picked up from storage before these deadlines.
Returning (UPDATED May 21, 2020)
Q: Will I be eligible to come back in the future?
A: Members who have met Admissions criteria will be able to take residence at the House in accordance with health directives. If you have already met Admissions criteria and left as a member in good standing, you will be readmitted. The Admissions Office will follow up in the coming weeks with the details on how to confirm your return.
Q: Can I return during the summer?
A: Unfortunately, the current circumstances continue to require social distancing and the potential need to quarantine, which prohibit us from being able to convene our large and vibrant community. We very much look forward to the day when we can, and in the meantime will continue following the guidance of local health authorities, government officials, as we maintain our commitment to flattening the curve of the COVID-19 progression. We plan to remain closed for the summer session.
Q: Can I return for the Fall semester?
A: As the health and safety of our community is our paramount concern we have determined that only I-House North will be available for the Fall semester. More information about readmission can be found here.
Mail and Packages
Q: I updated the departure form a month ago but haven’t received any forwarding email? What do I do, and when can my mail be forwarded?
A: We will be sending out your forwarded mail starting April 13th.
Q: I received a notification from the mail room that I received a package and I would like this forwarded to me as soon as possible. How do I confirm?
A: We do not forward packages unless you make this special request via an email to the IH Mailroom email address, firstname.lastname@example.org. Once you make this request, we will estimate your shipping charges; this payment must be made in full to I-House before the package can be sent out.
Q: I would like to send you a shipping label so you can forward the package to me, but I don’t know the weight of my package. What should I do?
A: Let us know of your intention and we will weigh the package and notify you.
Q: Can I receive an email notification when my mail is forwarded?
A: Yes, we will notify via email you when we forward your mail out.
Q: I am expecting an important letter from (X) and I need the mail room to confirm if it was delivered.
A: Please send an email to email@example.com and we can search for your piece of mail to confirm we have it in our possession.
Q: How long does it take for me to receive forwarded mail through the USPS?
A: We are not aware of any recent delays, but we estimate it will take 3-5 days on average for you to receive your forwarded mail.
Q: When sending forwarding addresses, what information is needed?
A: Please provide your:
- Full address, with apartment number
- City, State and Zip Code
Q: I want to change my forwarding address, what do I do?
A: Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to notify the staff of your new forwarding address.
Refunds have been issued to all I-House Residents who relocated due to the COVID-19 crisis. If you have questions regarding your refund, please reach out to Anita Pai at email@example.com.
JUNE 1, 2020 A MESSAGE TO ALUMNI FROM CALVIN SIMS & PETER O’NEILL
We hope this email finds you and your families healthy and safe. We are writing today with an important update about our plans for the Fall semester, including decisions about reopening the South Building, the organization’s finances, and the I-House staff.
As you know, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, I-House has been operating without any residents in our South Building since late March, the first time in our 96-year history that this has been the case. Since that time, the Trustees and the management team have worked tirelessly to find a pathway to continue to protect the residents of the North Building and reopen the South Building safely. We’ve considered and debated possible solutions, monitored the advice of respected health experts, studied government guidelines, reviewed the emerging plans of universities attended by our residents, and noted the actions of others with similar facilities. Yet the hard truth is that right now, we don’t know exactly when we will be able to safely re-open the South Building.
Operating I-House without the 500 residents in the South Building, and the suspension of events and dining services, dramatically changes our ability to accomplish our mission in the short term. It also dramatically affects I-House’s financial health. I-House successfully applied for and received federal government assistance in the form of the Paycheck Protection Program loan, which is being used to pay all of our employees through June 30, 2020. However, going forward, we have concluded that we must take the painful step of reducing the number of people who work at the House and changing a number of employees to part-time status.
It is a troubling decision to have to make, and we know that it is even more painful and disrupting for both the affected staff and those who remain employed. We take this step with very heavy hearts and a great sense of loss, and we will be providing severance pay and subsidized benefits to the employees who experience a separation of employment from I-House. We are grateful for all that the professional, dedicated and talented I-House staff have done and continue to do for our community.
At this point, though we won’t be reopening the South Building this fall, we are working diligently on as many resourceful and thoughtful ways to do so as soon as practicable in 2021. The North Building, with its apartment-style configuration, will continue to safely house residents for the foreseeable future, but we know nothing can replace the face-to-face interactions and the special events in the public spaces of the House.
Please know that our plan, while giving us a measure of financial stability during the pandemic, is fundamentally designed to preserve our worldwide community and position us for a successful reopening of the South Building and a return to the full I-House experience when the time comes.
As we navigate through these extraordinary times, we will be experimenting with ways to come together as a community, even if virtually for a while. We will try videos, Zoom gatherings, and features on alums around the globe as they navigate the pandemic, and we hope we can engage you as career mentors for residents and new alumni in the coming months. We will try to find ways to make this difficult moment in our history a transformational one for the House and its vital mission.
We deeply appreciate the support you give to residents, to each other, and to the House. We look forward to the day when we open again safely, joyfully, and at full capacity.
Please feel free to reach out to us if you have questions or concerns.
Calvin Sims, President & CEO; Peter O’Neill ’92, Chair, Executive Committee, Board of Trustees
MAY 15, 2020 LETTER TO RESIDENTS
I hope this letter finds you in good health and good spirits. Like every other educational institution, International House has been reviewing multiple scenarios about residential living in the House in the new landscape. We are balancing difficult tradeoffs which affect our many constituencies in multiple ways. Ultimately, the health and safety of our community is our paramount concern.
Given this guiding principle, we have determined that only I-House North will be available for the Fall 2020 semester. The configuration of I-House North does not pose the same health risks as I-House South, which has dorm-like bathrooms and shared spaces. I-House South will remain closed until we are sure that re-opening it can be done safely.
In light of this information, we ask that you please inform the Admissions Office of your plans for the upcoming year by May 31st. Visit this page for instructions. After we confirm how many people wish to be considered for a room in I-House North we can determine how best to move forward.
We are working hard to find new ways to fulfill the mission of I-House while adhering to the guidance of government officials who are committed to flattening the curve of the COVID-19 progression. For the foreseeable future we cannot safely offer dining facilities, access to the fitness center and other communal spaces. However, the team in the Programs Office is planning the best ways to keep our community connected and vibrant, even if much of that activity is virtual for now. Some good news: We are pleased to be able to offer financial aid and fellowship opportunities for the upcoming academic year. Instructions for applying are included in the readmission planning page.
Again, thank you for your understanding, patience and cooperation. We remain, with you, committed to navigating through this challenging and complex time.
Best of luck with exams and congratulations to all the graduates!
Director of Admissions
APRIL 16, 2020 A MESSAGE TO ALUMNI FROM CALVIN SIMS & PETER O’NEILL
New York is in what we hope to be the peak of its struggle with the COVID-19 outbreak. The sacrifices being made are intense and the losses are devastating. This is not a pandemic we’re observing at arm’s length but one International House is experiencing directly with grief and heartbreak. After nearly 100 years of providing a space for foreign students to connect and be together, we find ourselves separating from one another, a state of being that is truly foreign.
We are writing today to offer additional information about recent actions and how we will approach the future. But before that, we’d like thank all of you who have found ways to support our community, through notes to residents and with financial contributions. Just today we received a shipment of masks for I-House residents and staff from a group of alums in China. It’s a gesture that really hit home and we are so grateful to put them to use immediately.
You will find answers below to some important questions, but here is a high-level summary:
- The South Building has been closed for the time being and the North Building now houses approximately 60 residents in relative safety.
- The programming and amenities which create an unsafe level of contact have all been stopped. International House has taken the precaution of suspending programming and keeping South closed through the summer.
- Over 600 residents have relocated to safer accommodations in New York and beyond. The support of staff has been essential in ensuring no resident was without a safe place to go.
- The New Century Project to build a new facility and renovate our campus has been put on hiatus until the health ramifications and financial impact of the virus becomes clearer.
With those initial policies and changes implemented we are focused on two things.
First, our staff is connecting individually with all relocated residents as part of our ongoing commitment to support them in their health and safety, but also to offer what guidance and resources we can in this challenging time. In addition to moving quickly to reimburse deposits and prorated credits for housing and food, we have tapped into our existing financial aid resources and activated an Emergency Fund to provide immediate financial assistance to those who face difficulty getting to safe accommodation. Thanks to generous alumni, Trustees and many friends, we have distributed over $130,000 to help with transportation, short-term lodging, relocation expenses and other obstacles. These funds have greatly eased the recipients’ worry and helped them prioritize safety as they navigate their transitions.
Second, we are creating a framework for making decisions about reopening the South Building. Until we are open, we will be navigating the difficult financial challenges that are the result of putting safety first. We are committed to transparency and to sharing the evolution of our plans despite the fact that the situation is fluid and will likely require frequent revision. We are grateful for your support as we work out the best path forward.
As we consider our future plans we are grateful to reflect on our worldwide community of alumni. You remind us that International House creates a lasting impact, and that encourages us to ensure that we will re-emerge from this crisis to once again offer the diversity and community you enjoyed. We know that I-House will continue to build peace and understanding through future generations.
Calvin Sims, President & CEO; Peter O’Neill ’92, Chair, Executive Committee, Board of Trustees
We hope that the following answers will address some of your questions about recent actions and future plans at International House. The situation may evolve but we want to share what we can and keep you updated.
What is International House doing to help relocated residents?
Concurrently with the final relocations out of the South Building, International House’s Global Health and Wellness Team, led by social worker Lorraine Pirro, began an outreach initiative to make contact with all residents who left the House due to closures and COVID-19 to offer support and resources. This ongoing effort will reach all relocated residents in the coming week. While this team was already in regular contact with many, this outreach program will help ensure that our efforts to support residents reach the entire cohort.
Individualized conversations will allow the Health and Wellness team to identify those in need of additional support and to direct them to resources that can help them navigate the transitions and disruptions they have experienced. What we learn and see in these interactions will guide the House’s next steps as we endeavor to offer some closure for the year.
What can I do to help?
For urgent needs, International House has established two ways that you can directly support residents at this time. The first is by offering words of support to the residents, reaching out during their isolation to show them you are thinking of them. The second is by contributing to the Emergency Fund which helps residents with direct support for financial challenges related to their relocations.
Another important way to help is to support the I-House mission for the future. You will hear more from us in the coming months about the big difference you can make in our ability to be there for the next generations of residents with the full intercultural community experience.
What is the Emergency Fund used for?
The Emergency Fund was activated to help residents who relocated due to the closure of the South Building and assist those who were unable to safely undertake a move due to unanticipated expenses. Need-based grants have been given to reimburse or pay for requests ranging from $100 to $4,000, mostly focused on removing financial obstacles to choices that prioritized health and safety. The fund is restricted to providing direct aid to residents but allows flexibility for the variety of difficulties residents may encounter.
The distribution of funds is handled by our Admissions office with compassion and professionalism. Their close work with residents and experience administering over $600,000 in financial aid guide them as they endeavor to assist residents with compassion and integrity.
What is the financial impact of COVID-19 on International House?
This will be one of the more complex issues we assess in the coming weeks. For the residents, we moved quickly to process refunds and get prorated fees into their hands. Health concerns also meant canceling our Gala, and forgoing other income-generating activities. We did what was right, and now we are putting pen to paper to determine the financial impact, which will be significant. International House will have a significant shortfall in revenue this year, and the longer health and safety factors require us to operate in a reduced capacity the more that shortfall will grow. Once the possible scenarios for reopening are clearer, we will share specifics of the fiscal situation and share how we can address the House’s needs as a community.
How will International House navigate the return to full operations?
The principal driver will be our certainty that, once we reopen, we can provide a stable and safe experience for the long term. Our plans for September are, understandably, evolving based the guidance of local health authorities, government officials, similar organizations with dorm-style rooms like universities, and our commitment to flattening the curve of the COVID-19 progression. We will also factor in the kind of programming we will be able to safely offer, as well as the prevailing norms for managing health and safety.
International House is also monitoring changes to the landscape for international students in terms of mobility and visas and the impact this pandemic has on prospective residents, and the choices they will make with regard to housing. We have been in communication with other international houses around the world, many of whom have taken similar actions in response to this crisis, and others who are following our communications and decisions with interest.
We fully believe it will be possible in the future to continue our mission and we are determined not to undermine our ability to do so when that time comes. Our current plans are to maintain the resources needed to reactivate as many of the programs and features of the I-House experience as we can as quickly as possible.
APRIL 9, 2020 LETTER TO RESIDENTS
I hope that this message finds you in good health and good spirits as we all find ways to adapt to the challenges the world is facing right now. First, I want to thank you for your understanding of our decision to close I-House South in the best interest in the health and well-being of the entire community. We acknowledge that it was a challenging time and hope that you know how much we appreciate the efforts you made. We also found it wonderful to see the I-House community of current residents, alumni, staff and supporters come together and support one another in the midst of the crisis.
The difficult decisions haven’t stopped as the virus continues to its apex at different times throughout the world. One of the latest decisions is regarding when to re-open and once again become the vibrant community with the rich programming and great amenities that you have come to love. At this time we have decided that we will not re-open for the summer. [Residents who remain in the North Building will not be affected.]
Under the current circumstances, which continue to require social distancing and the potential ability to quarantine, we are not yet able to convene our large and vibrant community. We very much look forward to the day when we can, based on the guidance of local health authorities, government officials, and our commitment to flattening the curve of the COVID-19 progression.
We are still planning and making decisions regarding the fall semester and as of now anticipate that we will be able to communicate with you about that by May 15.
We know that you likely have many questions about a variety of things including mail and packages and retrieving your belongings. As many of you have the same questions we tried our best to address those questions here. Please check the Frequently Asked Questions to see if your question is there. If it is there, you will get the answer much faster. If it is not there, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will do our best to answer your question.
Again, thank you for your understanding, patience and cooperation. We remain, as you do, committed to navigating through this challenging and complex time.
Director of Admissions
MARCH 27, 2020 A MESSAGE TO ALUMNI FROM CALVIN SIMS & PETER O’NEILL
We look back at the last two weeks and see International House changed in ways we could have never imagined. As of today, the staff and the community will have effectively relocated hundreds of people in a fast moving but extremely necessary effort to close the South building. International House North is not closing, but we are strongly encouraging those who can to leave because the density is concerning and our staff support is reduced.
We have been entirely focused on the health and safety of our community, and, while we were concentrated on this effort, we recognize that we could not always communicate with you about all the decisions being made. We’d like to take this chance to fill you in on what has happened here and why.
If there was one message we would want you to receive, it is that no resident was forced out of I-House with nowhere to go. We would never allow that to happen. Communications had to be clear and firm, but behind the scenes there has been a great deal of effort made to provide resources and assist those who needed it. Our staff has consistently provided personalized support. That will continue even now. We have not abandoned them.
Given what the criteria are for isolation and even quarantine — in concrete terms with regard to space, services, and facilities — it is not possible for residents to quarantine in the South Building. This is one of the main reasons the closure was enacted.
We do know the virus is present in our community — and of course throughout New York City. First through the confirmed case in a staff member, and, tragically, in the passing of a resident who had made recent contact in the House. Our goal has been to get residents to a place without the shared facilities and density of I-House South, particularly as the building’s cleaning and other staff has dwindled.
Below you’ll find the answers to some of the main questions we’ve received and some of the actions you may not be aware of. I hope that this helps you understand what we have been doing and why. We know how much you care about International House and that you want to show our residents you are thinking of them. We have created a place where you can write messages we can share with them. As Alumni you know how the community goes beyond the experience in the House and your expressions of solidarity and empathy will be very heartening to them.
For those who wish to support residents we have activated an Emergency Fund that will be used to support residents for needs known and unknown from this unprecedented situation. If you would like to make a contribution to that fund we can assure you it will make a difference in our ability to support the displaced.
We cannot know exactly what the future will bring, but we do know these residents are lucky to have such a supportive and welcoming community in the Alumni. Thank you so much for all you do to ensure that their experience does not end and that theirs is a lifelong connection to International House.
Calvin Sims, President & CEO; Peter O’Neill ’92, Chair, Executive Committee, Board of Trustees
We hope these will answer some of your questions. Due to a high volume of communications, we are unable to respond quickly to individual follow up right now, but we hope this information will help you better understand the last few weeks at International House.
Why can’t you quarantine residents at I-House South?
The shared bathrooms, lack of food services and cooking facilities in I-House South do not allow for someone who has the potential to pass along Coronavirus to eliminate contact with others safely. No amount of added services or retrofitting could have remedied the situation. Maintaining staffing is also difficult given the circumstances, and precludes our ability to deliver services that quarantined individuals would require.
Why can’t you isolate the spread through testing and containment?
Testing and containment are not possible in I-House South. The threshold for testing in New York City remains very high. Testing is discouraged among asymptomatic individuals and, at this time, effectively impossible in our situation. Community spread is rampant, and New York is enforcing a strong isolation plan where everyone is to assume they could spread the virus. The current model of care is for those who believe they may be infected to self-quarantine and to manage their symptoms at home in coordination with their physician unless they are unable. The shared bathrooms and other communal qualities of I-House South make containment impossible. We have remained in close contact with the Board of Health and other relevant health authorities at all times.
Does requiring residents to vacate the South Building endanger the greater community?
No. Community spread is firmly established in New York. The State has enacted restrictions and isolation measures that reflect the pervasiveness of infection. Our community has been advised of their exposures and informed of how they should isolate themselves. If residents observe the advised precautions, they endanger others far less by being in a safer place to isolate.
What kind of help are you offering residents?
Our dedicated staff has been working overtime to assist all the residents, despite being very scaled back and often experiencing impacts of their own. The support we are offering residents will be ongoing and flexible. Here are some of the actions we have already implemented.
- We have waived financial penalties and expedited refunds of all security deposit and unused room and dining fees for departing residents so they have access to their funds as quickly as possible.
- We have made a commitment to assist every resident in securing a safer place to go. We have connected residents with safer housing through their own universities, negotiated discounted room rates at hotels, and connected with the Alumni community’s efforts to coordinate sublet opportunities.
- We have activated the Emergency Fund, seeded with Alumni and Trustee gifts, and we are ramping up individual grants to those who self-identify with exceptional needs.
This all seems so sudden. What was the timeline?
What may have appeared sudden was actually quite incremental and proportionate to how the situation in New York was evolving. Most universities moved to remote learning in late February and generally closed their own dormitories and residential facilities in early March. During this time, I-House communicated that it would remain open but that a closure could not be ruled out. Protocols for preventing the spread of the virus were communicated regularly, and precautionary measures implemented across the House.
On March 12th, I-House actively began encouraging residents to leave I-House and return home in order to reduce the density of the population in the House. It was subsequently determined that the South Building would not be able to support quarantine or adequately contain the risk of exposure. Despite the dedication and creativity of the staff to try to solve the issues, the communal configurations of the South Building would pose more of a risk to residents than requiring them to evacuate. The closure was announced on March 19th, with a planned closure date of March 27th.
How are the staff?
They are as concerned about our residents as you are and have maintained their duties as best they can. Our earliest precautionary measures aimed to protect our staff who are high-risk. We have a generous sick leave policy, and early on we reiterated the need for those experiencing symptoms to refrain from coming to work. The State of New York has mandated that our non-critical staff stay home, and we had migrated most on-site staff to remote work prior to that order. Many of our critical staff continue to report to work and we are so grateful for our team at this time.
STATEMENT OF MARCH 24, 2020
International House of New York City learned on Monday that another member of our community has tested positive for COVID-19. This individual has been recovering without complications outside the premises for over two weeks. This follows the recent tragic news of the passing of an I-House resident from the virus, and of a staff member who tested positive several weeks ago who is also recovering at home without complications. In accordance with HIPAA and health privacy laws, as well as the families’ wishes, International House will not disclose any information regarding these individuals.
International House cares deeply about all members of our community, and in these challenging and uncertain times, we take our responsibility for safeguarding their lives very seriously. We are continuing to monitor the COVID-19 situation as it develops and to take all necessary measures to stem the spread of the virus and protect the health of our residents and staff, with whom we are grateful to share this wonderful community.
We will continue to comply with all applicable guidelines and regulations from the Center of Disease Control and state and local authorities for mitigating the spread of COVID-19. We are expediting our efforts, since March 19th, to close down International House South, the larger of our two buildings, which contains numerous communal spaces such as study rooms, lounges and dining facilities. Like a dormitory, it also has shared bathrooms. We are expediting the process so that we can fully vacate the building by March 27th. Our North Building, which has self-contained apartments, continues to be open and some residents are still in their apartments.
In addition to closing the South Building, International House continues to take the following actions:
- Thorough cleaning and disinfecting the entire complex and a strict regimen of daily cleaning and disinfection.
- Shutting down communal spaces and communal gatherings that promote spreading of the virus.
- Shutting down the services such as the cafeteria to protect residents and workers.
For residents we are providing the following support for relocations:
- Waiving financial penalties and refunding security deposits, and unused room and dining fees.
- Providing alternative housing options and working with universities and other organizations affiliated with residents to help identify safer housing options.
- Negotiating low hotel rates for short-term or long-term stays at off-site lodging.
- Making connections to International House alumni who are identifying other short-term lease options and overall support.
- Offering financial support where needed.
- Ensuring that while residents must vacate the South Building, no resident will be left without a viable housing alternative.
We continue to have a dedicated though pared down staff that is providing basic services, expediting resident refunds, and supporting residents as best they can while operating with protocols for safety.
We fully realize and regret the difficulty and disruption these measures have caused to the community and wish a less disruptive option was equally effective in preventing the virus’s spread. The health and safety of residents is our paramount concern.
Our appreciation goes to the many residents who have already left for helping reduce the population density. And we are grateful for the support and advice of neighboring institutions, government authorities, health professionals, and our hard-working staff during this very difficult time.
STATEMENT OF MARCH 23, 2020
March 23, 2020 – International House of New York City learned on Saturday that a resident of our community has died as a result of the COVID-19 virus, according to reports from the person’s family, who have requested us not to disclose the individual’s identity at this time.
We offer our sincerest condolences to the person’s family and friends, and along with them, we mourn this heartbreaking loss to our community. We will be providing more information about this tragic event when we are able to and will honor and commemorate this individual in an appropriate way at a later date.
To the best of our knowledge, this is the second instance of a member of our community testing positive for the COVID-19 virus. The first person, a staff member, has not come onto the International House premises since their diagnosis several weeks ago, and is currently recovering at home, without complications.
International House cares deeply about all members of our community, and, in these challenging and uncertain times, we take our responsibility for safeguarding their lives very seriously. We are continuing to monitor the COVID-19 situation as it develops and to take all necessary measures to stem the spread of the virus and protect the health of our residents and staff, with whom we are grateful to share this wonderful community.
For that reason, on March 19th we decided to close down International House South, the larger of our two buildings, which contains numerous communal spaces such as study rooms, lounges and dining facilities. Like a dormitory, it also has shared bathrooms. I-House is currently expediting the process of closing down this building and any remaining residents of the South Building must vacate by March 27th. Our North Building, which has self-contained apartments, has remained open, and some residents have remained.
In addition to closing the South Building, when state and local authorities issued guidance about public gatherings and enforcing social distancing, International House took the following actions:
- We thoroughly cleaned and disinfected the entire complex and have maintained a strict regimen of daily cleaning and disinfection.
- We encouraged remaining South Building residents to leave International House.
- We suspended various communal gatherings.
- We advised residents to adhere to social distancing in accordance with the guidance issued by state and local authorities.
- We waived financial penalties and refunded used room and dining fees.
- We have been providing residents with alternative housing and are continuing to work with universities and other organizations affiliated with residents to help identify safer housing options.
- We have negotiated a very low hotel rate for short-term or long-term stays at off-site lodging, and are making connections with International House alumni who are identifying other short-term lease options.
- We dedicated staff to continue answering questions and assisting all residents so that no one will be left without support on-site or without somewhere to relocate.
- We are operating with only essential staff and have provided them with strict protocols for safety as well as protective gear.
We fully realize and regret the difficulty and disruption these measures have caused to the people in our community, and wish a less disruptive option was equally effective in preventing the virus’s spread.
We will continue to stand with and support our community as we weather the COVID-19 crisis together. Our appreciation goes to the many residents who have already left for helping reduce the population density. And we are grateful for the support and advice of neighboring institutions, government authorities, health professionals, and our hard-working staff during this very difficult time.
The Office of the President
STATEMENT OF MARCH 22, 2020
As we all process the painful loss in our community, we are writing today with some updates and a renewed sense of urgency to expedite departures from the South Building.
In order to maintain an orderly flow, we are encouraging you to depart as soon as possible before the Friday deadline, and we ask that residents try to depart no later than Tuesday, March 24th if at all possible to prevent last minute crowding. Please confirm your departure date with the Admissions Office at email@example.com. International House will continue to assist you, and no one will be left without somewhere to relocate.
Please remember that we have resources to help locate alternative housing, including working with universities and other organizations affiliated with residents to transfer to their facilities, a negotiated very low hotel rate for short-term or long-term stays, and connections with alums who are identifying short term lease options. These can be found at: https://www.ihouse-nyc.org/residents/coronavirus-updates/. If you are suffering financial difficulty, or have a dire situation due to your home country, please let us know (by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org) and we will try our best to assist you.
Through the help of our dedicated staff, we have increased our ability to expeditiously return security deposits, dining credits, and room credits for residents. For up-to-date information about belongings, mail, and other important information, please refer to the FAQs on the website. The Admissions Office staff is receiving emails faster than they can respond – you will find the answer to your question much faster on the website.
Effective immediately, we are shutting down the study center, including the Computer Lab, HR Commons, and the Dodge Room. Further, because of staff departures, the cafeteria will close indefinitely after lunch on Tuesday.
One important question residents have is what risk they have for themselves and others when they depart. According to health professionals, the answer is that for your own and other’s safety, you should practice social distancing, wash hands frequently, and monitor yourself for the virus’s symptoms (please see the FAQs for more detail). Given that this is a global pandemic, this advice is the same for us, and for everyone living outside the building. Because one cannot be sure whether another person has the virus, the best advice it to behave as if he or she does have it, and monitor your health accordingly.
We understand the stress and disruptiveness of this moment. Please remember that all of our actions are being taken for your health and safety. We are working as hard as we can to support your departures and answer questions. We will continue to share additional information in future communications.
The Office of the President
STATEMENT OF MARCH 21, 2020
It is with tremendous sadness that we write to inform you that an I-House resident has passed away from complications from the COVID-19 virus. We are unable to release the resident’s name at this time. We are sharing this heartbreaking news, which we just learned a few hours ago, because of the need to get this information to our community immediately during the extremely difficult time. At a later date, we will appropriately mourn this loss and honor this member of our community. We will be providing more information about this heartbreaking turn of events as soon as we can.
The Office of the President
STATEMENT OF MARCH 20, 2020
First of all, our thanks go out to all of you for working with the I-House staff under such extraordinary and stressful circumstances. This upheaval is enormously difficult but it is vital for your and the community’s health and safety. We are trying to answer your questions and assist with departures as quickly as possible with our scaled back staffing. Our appreciation goes to residents who have already left for helping reduce the population density and we grateful to those of you who are hard at work making plans to either return home or find alternative accommodations.
On that subject, we have been working behind the scenes to find opportunities and options for alternative housing for those that need it. They include working with universities and other organizations affiliated with residents to help identify safer housing options for their students currently at I-House, a negotiated very low hotel rate for short-term or long-term stays, and connections with alums who are identifying short term lease options. Please see alternative housing section on the COVID-19 Updates page on the International House website, where more options will be shared from our alumni and friends networks.
These and other efforts will ensure that all residents will have alternative housing options.
We are making progress at shutting down the South Building, and as of this writing about 70% have or will have vacated by Monday. It is important that we continue the progress as we cannot support residents in the South Building after Friday, March 27th. The North Building continues to be almost fully occupied and we again strongly urge those residents of North who can to leave so that we can reduce its population density.
We are sharing everything we know about this fast moving situation. We understand your frustration and ask that you continue being patient with the I-House staff, who are trying their very best to be as supportive and helpful.
Once again, please accept our respect and gratitude.
The Office of the President
STATEMENT OF MARCH 19, 2020
To: All I-House Residents
We hope you are all safe, well and calm, during these stressful times. We have some important updates for you at this time.
First, we just received confirmation that a member of the International House staff has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. This individual has been recovering outside I-House safely for the past week. However, we are convinced that numerous residents and staff have had close contact with this affected individual in recent weeks and as such I-House is now considered an at-risk community.
Second, based on these developments at the House, for the health and safety of our community, we will require all residents of I-House South to depart by Friday, March 27th. For your health and safety, we suggest you leave the House as soon as possible before that date. Unfortunately, there can be no exceptions. In addition, given the interconnectivity between I-House South and North, we are urging residents of I-House North to leave the premises as soon as possible.
We are taking this vital step to protect your health and well-being with advice from the CDC, World Health Organization, and federal, state, and local health agencies. We are not alone in this action, as other colleges and universities across the globe have asked students and faculty members to avoid returning to campus as precaution to reducing the spread of the virus.
I-House South was designed to foster cross-cultural exchange and learning through its numerous communal spaces such as study rooms, lounges and gymnasium. The majority of I-House South bathrooms are shared spaces which increase the likelihood of exposure to the virus. We realize this is a major disruption but we have no other choice but to significantly reduce the number of residents in the House. Departing residents will receive a full refund of their room fees and unused dining charges from the Bursar’s Office and will be given priority access to the House by the Admissions Office if they decide to reapply.
We strongly suggest you reach out to your sponsoring academic institution for advice and assistance during this difficult period. We will be in touch with additional information in the coming days.
The Office of the President
AS OF MARCH 16, 2020
- International House has no cases (pending or confirmed) of COVID-19.
- Only current Residents and staff may enter the facility.
- Residents who wish, or need, to move out of the House from March 16th through the end of the semester may do so without financial penalty.
- Certain restrictions apply to Residents traveling in from specified countries (detailed below).
- Cleaning and disinfecting schedules have been ramped up across the campus.
- I-House is implementing measures to facilitate social distancing, which include canceling programming events and closing particularly vulnerable communal spaces.
- I-House is implementing an array of protocols to identify and support Residents in need of assistance.
- All Residents have 24/7 access to the Global Health and Wellness team at I-House.
STATEMENT OF MARCH 13, 2020
Dear Fellow Members of the International House Community:
We writing with an update on how the International House has been responding to the outbreak of COVID-19 and to minimize the potential for person-to-person spread within the House.
The principle that has guided us up to this point is to maintain the mission of International House while preserving the health of every part of our community: residents, staff, and our affiliate partners. We realize you are being bombarded with media accounts of all aspects of COVID-19, but it is important you anchor yourself with the facts and have the information you need to make decisions about your health.
Below are what’s new at International House as of March 13, 2020, followed by the policies that are ongoing.
- International House has no cases (pending or confirmed) of COVID-19. It goes without saying, this a rapidly evolving situation. We will continue to keep you informed.
- NEW: In light of the decisions that have been taken by most academic institutions shifting to online instruction, For any residents who wish, or need, to move out of the House from March 16th through May15th we will waive all related cancellation fees. Members in good standing will be able to return to International House when full programming and other member activities resume. Please contact the Office of Admissions at Admissions@ihouse-nyc.org as soon as possible.
- NEW: Admitted residents to International House traveling from Iran, Italy, South Korea and Japan will not be allowed to enter International House until they have passed an incubation period of 14 days in New York City and will be required to submit documentation, electronically, prior to their arrival at International House. As of March 13, the CDC recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to most countries in Europe. As of March 13, they are Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City. According to the CDC, travelers returning from the specified countries in Europe must stay home for 14 days after returning from travel, monitor their health, and practice social distancing. Similarly, reentry to International House may need to be delayed complying with these regulations.
ONGOING: Residents with symptoms of COVID-19 must see a healthcare provider immediately, preferably your primary care provider. Call ahead if you can. They will screen you for the symptoms of COVID-19. A medical provider will also rule other seasonal viruses (currently more than 25 varieties) that present similarly to the symptoms of COVID-19. Symptoms related to COVID-19 include:
- sore throat
- runny nose
- difficulty breathing
In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia and other complications, especially in infants, older individuals, and in those with underlying health conditions.
- The medical provider will call the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) to discuss and determine if you should be tested for COVID-19 infection.
- DOHMH will advise on next steps, including specimen collection and where you should go next.
ONGOING: Members who stay at International House can contact the Office of Global Health & Wellness 24×7 regarding COVID-19 questions, triage, and coordination with health providers and health authorities . The e-mail address is email@example.com.The telephone for emergencies and medical providers is 914-673-9010. Residents may leave non-urgent messages at 212-316-7184. Urgent messages may be left at 914-673-9010. Within the House, Residents may contact the Front Desk at X5555.
ONGOING: International House Is Working in Coordination With Health Authorities. According to NYSDOH and the DOHMH, International House will be contacted directly of any pending cases that impact the International House community. Health authorities will also reach out to individuals, directly.
ONGOING: International House Policy on Quarantine. International House has determined it does not have the necessary accommodations at this time to quarantine pending or positive cases of COVID-19.
ONGOING: 911 Emergency Services Policy. (Effective Date: 9 March 2020) Residents must notify the Front Desk if you are seeking an ambulance due to symptoms of COVID-19 and, provided you are able to do so, remain in your room until emergency services arrive. Anyone calling 911 should notify the dispatcher that you or the patient is calling because you/they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. Due to additional guidance from our health authorities, this is a change in the International House current policy. Typically, residents may come to the Front Desk or call an ambulance themselves. The point to remember is that if you are experiencing serious symptoms of COVID19 and you or International House calls 911, you must tell them you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. The dispatcher will query you briefly and then send a team that will be able to transport you safely.
ONGOING: I-House Will Assist Residents Who Require Alternate Accommodations. While many universities and colleges have elected to close their dormitories in response to public health advisories about the intensifying spread of the virus, our decision to remain open recognizes our mission and the especially international composition of our resident population. However, residents who are pending results of a COVID-19 test or positive will not be able to self-isolate or quarantine at International House. Please keep in mind that “pending” means a person has been evaluated by a medical professional, the medical professional has referred them for testing, and they have met criteria for COVID-19 symptoms. Also, other similarly presenting illnesses (the flu) have been eliminated. Affected residents will be referred to hospitals and medical facilities where they can receive appropriate medical attention. International House will collaborate with health authorities and affiliate institutions on behalf of residents who remain at the House.
ONGOING: Guest Policy Restrictions Remain In Force. Outside guests may not be signed into the House. International House maintains a small number of rooms for external guests. International House has discontinued guest room accommodations.
ONGOING: Travel Guidelines. International House residents who choose to remain at the House are strongly urged to postpone any international travel. Domestic Travel. International House strongly urges residents to postpone travel in the United States where sustained transmission of the virus is reported by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Residents who travel, internationally, must register their travel with the Office of Global Health and Wellness here: firstname.lastname@example.org
ONGOING: Global Tracking. International House is following the outbreak at the international level through the World Health Organization (WHO) and implementing evidence-based directives of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the New York State Health Department (NYSDOH) and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Health (DOHMH). International House also collaborates with its affiliates at NYP/Columbia University Irving Medical Center.
COVID-19 and the Flu Virus. As of March 12th, there have been 461 cases of COVID-19 in New York State. Of those 154 have been in New York City. We expect this number to rise as we actively seek to identify individuals who need care. However, we encourage you to be mindful of a more likely scenario. Influenza, commonly referred to as the ‘flu’, is a respiratory illness that is easily spread and can lead to severe complications. There have been 140,057 cases of the flu in New York State so far during the 2019-2020 season. Last official tracking of the flu will be 16 May 2020. Please exercise the precautions associated with seasonal illnesses like colds and flu.
- Stay home to rest and drink plenty of fluids
- Contact your health care provider for guidance (see details herein)
- Limit contact with other household members
- Do not share items like drinking glasses, towels, eating utensils.
- Wipe down high touch surfaces (e.g. doorknobs, telephones, remote controls, and bathroom surfaces) often with a standard household disinfectant such as Clorox® wipes.
What Are the Next Steps? Questions regarding International House policy and implementation of our action plan may be directed to Lorraine Pirro, Director, Global Health & Wellness Services at email@example.com
MARCH 8, 2020
International House continues to closely follow the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. This is a rapidly evolving situation and we want you to know that we are doing everything possible in collaboration with medical authorities and other outside experts to ensure we take all prudent precautions optimize life at the House for all.
Residents, please check your e-mail regularly for updates. The Office of Global Health & Wellness utilizes resident contact information on file with the Admissions Office. Kindly be sure to let Admissions know if there are changes to your e-mail or mobile telephone contact information.
- No COVID-19 Pending or Identified Cases at International House. There are currently no identified or pending cases of COVID-19 among International House residents.
- No One Under Quarantine at International House. International House has determined it does not have the necessary accommodations at this time to quarantine pending or any positive cases of COVID-19.
- 911 Emergency Services Policy Change. As of March 9, you must notify the front desk if you are seeking an ambulance due to symptoms of COVID-19 and provided you are able to do so, remain in your room until emergency services arrive. Anyone calling 911 must notify the dispatcher that you or the patient is calling because they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. EMS will dispatch a team that is prepared to transport you safely and to limit the spread of COVID-19.Due to guidance of the health department, this is a significant change to the I-House current policy. Typically, residents may come to the front desk or call an ambulance themselves. The point to remember is that if you are experiencing serious symptoms of COVID19 and you or International House calls 911, you must tell them you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. The dispatcher will query you briefly and then send a team that will be able to transport you safely.
- I-House Will Assist Residents Who Require Alternate Accommodations. Residents who are pending results of a COVID-19 test or positive with mild symptoms will not be able to self-isolate at International House. International House in collaboration with health authorities will assist residents to make alternate accommodations.
- Admitted Resident Policy Change. As of March 9, admitted residents to International House traveling from Iran, Italy, South Korea and Japan will not be allowed to enter International House until they have passed an incubation period of 14 days in New York City and will be required to submit documentation, electronically, prior to their arrival at International House. This list may change as more information becomes available.
- Guest Policy Change. Effective immediately, until further notice, outside guests may not be signed into the House. International House will discontinue bookings for its small number of guest room accommodations.
- Resident Pub Events. Outside performers for Pub events are suspended, effective immediately.
- Travel Guidelines. In an abundance of caution, International House residents are strongly urged to postpone any non-essential international travel. Residents who travel, internationally, must register their travel with the Office of Global Health and Wellness here: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Domestic Travel. International House strongly urges residents to postpone travel in the United States where sustained transmission of the virus is reported by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
- Global Tracking. International House is following the outbreak at the international level through the World Health Organization (WHO) and implementing evidence-based directives of the CDC, the New York State Health Department (NYSDOH) and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Health (DOHMH). International House also collaborates with its affiliates at NYP/Columbia University Irving Medical Center.
- Health Authorities in New York and International House Are Prepared. According to NYSDOH and the DOHMH, International House will be contacted directly of any pending cases that impact the International House community. Health authorities will also reach out to individuals, directly. Residents are encouraged to advise the Office of Global Health and Wellness if they are contacted by any health authority.