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Yeshiva University closes campus, citing student infected with COVID-19

The United States’ biggest Jewish educational institution, Yeshiva University, closed its main campus on Wednesday, citing confirmation that a student has been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the highly contagious coronavirus. The school expects that it will reopen on Thursday, according to an email alert.

The student is the son of a man who lives in suburban New York and who has been hospitalized with a serious case of COVID-19. The man’s was the second case in New York State, after a health care worker who had been in Iran, also the site of an outbreak. The man also has a child at SAR High School, a Jewish school in the Riverdale section of the Bronx. Both SAR’s high school and its K-8 lower school, with over 1,400 students total, closed Tuesday.

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The closing of YU’s upper Manhattan campus in Washington Heights, which hosts the men’s undergraduate college, the men’s business school, several graduate schools and a boys’ high school, includes the cancellation of classes and the postponement of scheduled exams. Dormitories and food services are still operating. YU also has a law school and two women’s schools in Manhattan, a medical school in the Bronx and a campus in Israel.

YU said in a press release that the student had not been on campus since February 27, though officials say that the student’s father first became ill on February 22.

Tuesday, when the hospitalized man’s son was showing symptoms but had not been diagnosed, YU said it would be continuing classes and campus life as usual.

The infection of the Westchester man also prompted the closing of a synagogue in New Rochelle, where the family is from. New York health officials have ordered Young Israel of New Rochelle, an Orthodox synagogue, to close temporarily, and are asking hundreds of congregants to self-quarantine.

While the man was not at synagogue over the weekend, according to the synagogue’s executive director, health officials are asking anyone who attended previous services, including a bat mitzvah and a funeral last week, to self-quarantine as well, until at least March 8.

The brother of the YU student is a high school student at SAR, a prominent Modern Orthodox private school in the Bronx. The school closed Tuesday, citing concerns over spread of the coronavirus, and announced that evening that the school, which has about 1,400 students in grades K-12, would be closed Wednesday as well.

Contact Helen Chernikoff is The Forward’s senior news editor. Contact her at [email protected] or follower her on Twitter @thesimplechild

Ari Feldman contributed reporting.

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