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Students want to come back! How New York City’s 92Y Residence is holding steady during the storm

Jul 15, 2020

For students moving to the Big Apple and needing affordable accommodation, 92Y Residence is a hidden gem of New York City. Situated at 92nd Street and Lexington in the Upper East Side of Manhattan, the student residence is part of the 92nd Street Y (aka “92Y”), a world-class cultural and community centre in operation for more than 140 years. The students at 92Y Residence enjoy quality amenities, convenience, safety and a friendly co-living community in one of the most vibrant cities in the world. The city has also suffered greatly during the COVID-19 pandemic, so we talked to Sandy Cohen, Director of 92Y Residence, about how the student residence has weathered the crisis so far.

What is the status of 92Y Residence right now – are you open?
92Y Residence did not close its doors.  Several residents could not get home, and for various other reasons, we remained open. We had to develop and implement protocols for disinfecting, social distancing, and mask wearing, etc. We continue to try to be nimble and yet cautious, introducing new protocols as the situation evolves daily. 

Have these protocols been established by local or state authorities? How has it been to work with such authorities on these issues?
We continue to seek guidance from New York State, New York City and federal resources (through their websites), plus we are working directly with our 92Y professional counsel. 

92Y is an Upper East Side institution well known in New York City for its cultural events and community-centric orientation. How has 92Y (more broadly) been affected by the COVID-19 crisis in New York City?
That’s right.  Due to 92Y’s nature of in-person programs, all programs (except 92Y Residence) have ceased.  92Y has had great success with on-line programming and is entertaining virtually millions at a time when many cannot go out: 

  • 19,000 “tickets and seats” sold for our online programming since our closure, with almost 60% of these going to patrons who had not previously attended a 92Y event and almost the same percent going to people from outside of New York
  • Over 70 streamed programs since our closure, with total views over 3 million
  • Since our closure, we have had 17 million views of our archive on YouTube.

What does the fall season look like for 92Y and the Residence?
We’ll be welcoming new residents in the coming weeks and with success, will ramp up as we get closer to the fall. Students want to come back! Staff have been furloughed and salaries reduced, so this has added to our challenges a bit, but I think 92Y is doing well and staying steady in this storm. 

What kinds of rules have you asked residents to follow?
I am happy to share our new rules for residents to comply with COVID-19, they may be helpful for other WYSE members to view. We’re looking to implement a health declaration for residents to complete prior to arriving at 92Y and we are developing other strategies, on our own, and in collaboration with our partner schools, to do our best to keep everyone, staff, residents, and 92Y patrons, safe from this dreadful disease.    

Have students complied with your new rules and guidelines so far? What are their particular concerns?
Residents have complied with our new rules and guidelines; they are happy to be here and that we did not close our doors to them.  Our security team checks temperatures upon entry and we check-in with them to make sure they’re doing ok.  Also, programs being closed has provided us with some nice rooms for them to practice their craft—dancing, acting, singing, or to just hang out. I think they’re concerned about their futures, immediate and long-term.

Do you have any advice for other student accommodation providers who must implement and refine residential rules?
Focus on protocols that are implemented for everyone’s safety. Get compliance on guidelines and language which everyone can be comfortable with (staff and guests) for what one should (or must) do if they are symptomatic. And of course, the usual—clear and frequent communication, signage with reminders to wash and sanitize hands, wear a mask, keep distance, and what the maximum capacity in common areas and elevators is.

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