Safety Is Our Priority
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: If I paid through the end of the semester and vacate my room, will I still be charged through the end of the semester?
A: No. For example, if you vacate your room on March 18, but paid through the end of the semester (May 15) you will be refunded the balance from March 19-May 15.
Q: Will International House refund my dining credit if I leave earlier than anticipated?
A: Yes. Unused dining credits will be reimbursed.
Q: How long will it take to get the refund?
A: Room and dining charges will be refunded via Visa or MasterCard as soon as possible when you notify I-House of your departure date. We are expediting refunds, so you should receive funds quickly. Please contact Anita Pai at email@example.com if refund by credit card presents a problem.
Q: What is the status of my refund?
A: If you have questions regarding your refund, please reach out to Anita Pai at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: I need a quote of my refund:
A: If you have questions regarding your refund, please reach out to Anita Pai at email@example.com.
Q: I plan to leave I-House and do not have anywhere to store my things. What can I do?
A: Prior to your departure please complete this form (https://www.ihouse-nyc.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/self-storage-authorization.pdf) and follow the instructions carefully. If you pack your things in sealed boxes or suitcases, label them clearly and leave them neatly in the center of your room I-House will hold them for you until a later date when you can return to retrieve them. After all of your belongings are packed you can check out of your room and receive a refund from the date you check out. Boxes will be available in the Claremont lobby.
You will be allowed to enter I-House as long as the date is mutually agreed upon in advance with the I-House Public Safety team to move out your belongings. Please be certain that whatever you leave behind will not be needed. Please also take all things of value (sentimental and monetary) with you as I-House will not be held responsible for your belongings if you are leaving boxes of materials behind.
Q: I left I-House and some of my belongings are still in my room. What should I do?
A: If you departed without checking out and left items in your room, you have two choices:
- Authorize another current resident entry to your room to pack your belongings. International House will store your items temporarily.
- Step 1: Complete this form and follow all instructions.
- Step 2: Send your ID and key via post.
- Leave your room and belongings as is
- Step 1: Complete this form
- Step 2: Send your ID and key via post.
Upon receipt of your ID and key, we will check you out and be able to refund your room fees from the day we receive the ID and key.
I-House will not ship items to residents at this time. International House cannot be responsible for items left behind.
*It is important that you complete the form and send to Public Safety for your request to be processed*
Q: Can I hire movers or get a friend to help me move?
A: Please remember the current restriction prohibiting outside guests. The movers and any friends who are not current I-House residents will not be able to enter the building, but they can help you with your items outside the building.
Q: If I need to retrieve an important document and have it mailed to me, is that possible?
A: At this time, with your permission, I-House will forward critical documents and medication. We will not be able to ship packages at this time.
Q: What happens to my items in the community kitchen?
A: Please forward these requests to Vincent Melito at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: What happens to my mail?
We will forward mail if you fill out the mail forwarding cards, which will be made available in the Claremont Lobby as well as the Post Office. If you are unsure of your next address, you can also use the “hold” service, which you can set up online here: https://www.usps.com/manage/hold-mail.htm.
Q: What should I do if I am at I-House through Columbia Residential or Union Theological Seminary?
A: For those here through Columbia Residential please refer to their website for policies and procedures. For those here through Union Theological Seminary please email Michael Orzechowski regarding your plans. In both cases please also email the I-House Admissions Office.
Q: What is the check-out procedure?
A: Step 1: Complete the Departure Form Access the form here or obtain a hard copy at the Claremont Desk or outside of Bursar Services.
Step 2: Return Your Keys and ID Return your room and mailbox keys, and I- House Membership ID card to the Claremont Reception Desk as you are leaving.
International House has been working behind the scenes to find opportunities and options for alternative housing for those who need it. These 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 or long term stays, and connections with alums who are identifying short term lease options. Please see below for a variety of options, and more to be added as we hear of further opportunities:
Resident Resources for Alternative Housing Options:
- Club Quarters Hotels
We have set up an agreement with Club Quarters Hotels to offer this highly competitive rate to help any Residents with planning short- or long-term housing needs. There are 5 locations in NYC. To make a reservation please use this link Essential Employee Rate. The rate is $69 + tax (14.875% + $3.50 occupancy per room per night).
- Hilton Garden Inn New York/Manhattan-Midtown East
206 East 52nd Street, New York, New York, 10022, USA
We have arranged for a 15% discount for I-House Residents
- Hilton Garden Inn New York/Central Park South-Midtown West
237 West 54th Street, New York, New York, 10019, USA
We have arranged for a 15% discount for I-House Residents
- I-House Alumnus, Lakshay Sharma, has created a “NYC Sublet” Google Doc that helps to facilitate as a working doc for sublet options and apartments around the New York City. The link to search and share can be found here: NYC Sublet Working Doc.
- Churchill Housing has affordable options for furnished apartments in Hoboken. Link is here.
- Hotel Tonight offers deals for hotels in the city or elsewhere for short or longer term stays at special rates, particularly now that demand for hotel rooms is very low. Hotel Tonight website.
For those who attend Columbia University, including Teachers College, please contact your schools as they are coordinating with us.
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: I have nowhere to go. Can you make an exception and let me stay?
A: We understand the hardship that the current situation poses for many. For the health and safety of our community there cannot be exceptions. 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.
Q: Can I change rooms now?
A: Not at this time.
Q: Will I-House North also close soon?
A: At this time there are no plans to close I-House North however, 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.
Q: Is there enough food in the dining service?
A: At this time the cafeteria will remain open. More cash and carry items will be available. The self-serve salad bar will close; however there will be pre-packaged items.
Q: What is the best thing I can do if I am healthy to prevent exposure to the COVID-19 virus?
A: Practice social distancing – stay 1.8 meters or 6ft away from others – wash your hands with soap and water, do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands. Please continue to follow the recommendations for health and emergency procedures as distributed by Global Health and Wellness Services. You may call 914-673-9010 for emergency out of hours COVID-19 questions or e-mail email@example.com. Within the House, the number for Public Safety is 5555.
The Most Up-To-Date Directives From The New York City Department of Health:
The New York City Department of Health is limiting testing for more serious cases and those needing hospitalization, and is focused on efforts to reduce community transmission.
- If you have symptoms (cough, fever, shortness of breath, sore throat), stay home. If your symptoms are mild, you do not need to seek medical care. If you are a member of a higher risk group or your symptoms are severe, such as difficulty breathing, contact your primary care provider or go to the emergency room (many request that you call first).
- If your symptoms do not go away after 3 or 4 days, contact your primary care provider. In about 80% of cases, symptoms resolve by themselves with supportive care (including rest, fluids, and taking fever reducing medications such as Tylenol). Stay at home for at least 7 days after your symptoms first start, and at least three days after you no longer have a fever (without the need to use fever-reducing medications).
If you are concerned, please call your primary care provider. Members may call the Director of Global Health and Wellness Services with questions about implementing health guidelines in emergencies at 914.673.9010. Public Safety is X5555. Non-urgent questions regarding COVID-19 interim guidelines may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org or 212-316-7184.
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.
MARCH 23, 2020 LETTER FROM AN ALUMNA
Dear I-House Community,
I am writing to you as a former Resident Fellow and Resident Trustee whose primary residence was I-House South between 2016 and 2018. I have never had to deal with the extenuating circumstances that the pandemic has brought upon your living conditions, and little in my time at I-House has elicited the uncertainty; fear; and grief you may be suffering. All of the alumni community is with you at this moment. Although my experience of the pandemic is very different from yours, I too was once forced to evacuate my dorm in New York City while I was a college student during Hurricane Sandy. The day prior to when the East River flooded my dorm, we were required to gather the belongings that we might need for an indefinite period away, which turned out to be months. With my family in Turkey and a lack of financial resources, I might have felt something similar to what you do now, but I do not pretend that the situation is the same. I speak only from the perspective of a person whose life was probably saved by a mandatory, and highly unwelcome evacuation.
Like the weather, the progression of pandemics can be hard to predict. I-House took standard measures, such as canceling programming events, prohibiting visitors, and shuttering certain communal spaces to attempt to protect you from exposure and spread prior to necessarily closing the South Building. I-House remained open while dorms were being evacuated across the country, because it knows its resident population to be particularly vulnerable to displacement.
Unfortunately, displacement has become a necessary and urgent matter with the escalation of the COVID-19 crisis. While the time frame for moving is relatively short, it is important for your own health; the health of your peers; and the health of the broader NYC community to leave I-House South as soon as you’re able to establish an alternative residence, whether temporary or permanent. SARS-CoV-2 (COVID 19) is a disease that is community spread. While this means that the source of the infection is often unknown, it also means that it spreads most comfortably within groups of friends, families, and other tight-knight social settings such as the International House community. One might think it is enough to shut down social space such as the study spaces; lounges; gymnasium; pub, and more. While this might impede group socialization, it does little to distance individuals.
I-House South was designed to place people in close quarters; and this effect is unavoidable by virtue of the proximity of rooms to one another in the residential portions of the building. An average floor in I-House South houses seventy students, which is already a recipe for fostering the spread of the virus. COVID-19 thrives in low-wind, moderate temperature environments, where it can live and spread through the air for up to several hours before settling on surfaces. While opening the windows at the West and East ends of the halls may seem like a solution, the elevators and thus main transitory spaces are located in the perpendicular, connecting hallways, which receive relatively little circulation.
If airborne transmission of COVID-19 can be argued to be a possibility in any high-capacity housing environment, then a problem particular to I-House is its unusual dormitory setup wherein approximately thirty five students come in and out of the same bathroom several times daily. Once a virus “aerosol” settles from the air, it latches onto smooth surfaces, particularly ones composed of plastic and metal, on which it remains active for up to two or three days. If this isn’t a description of the bathroom doorknob and bathroom counters, I don’t know what is. In the contained space of the bathroom, not only do residents breathe uncirculating air, but they moreover touch surfaces that will have been contaminated if not by direct contact, then by the settling of the virus. Fecal evidence of COVID-19 only raises additional concerns about transmission.
The increased potential for contracting COVID-19 in I-House South is part of an in-built system of exponential increase fueled by the R0 or reproduction number, of COVID-19. The Imperial College group has estimated the R0 of COVID-19 to be somewhere between 1.5 and 3.5. If we conservatively take the R0 to be two, and we know that COVID-19 can be spread in its incubation phase, then, within six days of one person contracting the virus, all thirty five residents sharing a restroom would have contracted it too, and by day seven, the same would apply to almost all of the residents on an average floor. If residents were to commune in spaces outside beyond their floor, then by day 11, everyone in I-House South could be infected. Of course, with social distancing measures already being taken, that number is only a worst-case scenario, or a hypothetical. Nonetheless, given the precarious time frame for the spread of the virus, the sooner you move, the better. In the meantime, the mechanics of maintaining the rigorous sanitation needed to suppress the spread of the virus through communal spaces, including the restrooms, will benefit from 100% compliance from residents. If you must touch the bathroom doorknob with your hand, sanitize it before closing the door to ensure the safety of others. Bring your own hand towel in lieu of touching the paper towel dispenser after you wash your hands.
To date, there have been three confirmed cases of COVID-19 at I-House, and while that likely means that other residents have been exposed, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they have contracted the virus. As of March 22, 2020, New York City health officials issued an urgent alert to health care providers to stop testing residents who do not require hospital care for COVID-19 symptoms. This means that I-House South residents will also be unable to test for COVID-19 unless they show symptoms that warrant hospitalization, and if we can’t know which residents do or don’t have COVID-19, then we cannot ethically quarantine them as a group. Doing such would only expose potentially non-exposed individuals to the virus, who, if they contract the virus, would not only possibly suffer significant hardship, but moreover, whether symptomatic or not, foster its spread to the I-House community and, by proxy, the community at large, thereby prematurely burdening the healthcare system. Because it is impossible to know which residents carry COVID-19 at this time, and for this reason, only possible to incompletely trace lines of contact even if the names of carriers were to be known, it is recommended that residents quarantine themselves as they self-monitor for symptoms over the course of 14 days after leaving I-House.
While there are steps that one can take to quarantine while living with up to several roommates, the difficulty of acquiring housing while being forthright about potential exposure is not to be understated. Moreover, it is safer to quarantine in a space where one has access to a private bathroom. For this reason, it might make the most sense to take the $1,200 deposit you are guaranteed to receive back from I-House within hours of checking out, and apply it towards a heavily discounted hotel room, which you can book on the Hotel Tonight app, or on its website. Although rates are always changing, Fairfield Inn & Suites New York and Four Points by Sheraton are two hotels offering a flat rate of $1,022 for a fourteen-day stay in Manhattan from March 27 – April 10 (taxes included), through this website. Other hotels with comparable upfront rates may impose additional fees, so be careful at checkout.
Whether you choose to quarantine at a hotel or in a private home, make sure you use a face mask in spaces frequented by other people. If you choose to quarantine with roommates, designate your own dishes, forks, spoons, towels, etc., and keep them separate. Thoroughly disinfect areas that you have touched, and try to let your roommates use the bathroom or kitchen before you. In any case, link up with a buddy who can check in with you daily to make sure you’re doing okay. An alumna has started a list of alumni who are eager to volunteer.
If you choose to initially move into temporary accommodations and wish to stay in New York, start responding to calls for roommates as soon as you have the opportunity, rather than waiting till the end of your quarantine period. If you would like to stay within the network of the I-House community, take a look at the housing compiled by alumni, or at Craigslist, which currently advertises 3300 private, long-term and short-term rooms for under $1200/month, less than the least expensive room at I-House. Other websites that you can look at include Roomi, which has approximately 1,850 listings within the same price range, and Spareroom, which has over 1000. Taking into account the potential loss of financial aid and fellowships at I-House and other factors that might limit your freedom to secure local accommodation or safe return home, alumni have designed a Support Team, which includes a group that has started an increasingly successful GoFundMe to accommodate requests for aid. The International House administration also encourages you to email them at email@example.com if you need to seek additional financial assistance.
The risks of contracting COVID-19 as a young adult cannot be overemphasized at a time when New York City’s hospital system is being overwhelmed in terms of inpatient capacity while facing equipment shortages. It is already the case that from February 12–March 16, 2020, 20% of COVID-19 patients aged 20–44 were hospitalized, and 12% of patients were admitted to the Intensive Care Unit. Among cases with known outcomes, 20% of COVID-19 related deaths already belong to adults 20–64 years of age. The safest thing for you and your community is to secure the necessary resources and accommodations needed to monitor yourself during the COVID-19 incubation period while ensuring that others aren’t exposed. The alumni and administration are both invested in your physical well-being first and foremost, and in providing aids for aiding in the psychological and logistical aspects of transition. Please review this list of I-House community members dedicated to providing you psychological support and active listening and add a contact to your phone to have handy.
Please take care, and do not hesitate to reach out to me on the buddy list if you have any questions.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 email@example.com) 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.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: email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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: email@example.com.
- 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.