messages from the dean

Proposed reopening for Fall term

May 29, 2020

Dear Members of the School of Music Community,

On May 13, Provost Strobel informed the Yale community of the University’s intention to follow the guidelines set forth by Governor Lamont and his advisors to reopen Connecticut’s colleges and universities. Yale College will resume classes on August 31, and I write to announce that the School of Music Fall classes will begin on September 8.

With personal safety and public health considerations as the key priorities, an expanded Steering Committee and my administrative team have distilled several possible planning scenarios into one framework for re-opening YSM in September. We will create plans for both in person and remote learning, and we will continue to seek answers where none seem apparent at this time.


The framework for our return to campus necessitates some alterations to the YSM academic calendar, and it also presumes flexibility to adjust to possible pandemic-induced environmental conditions that might require additional changes. We recognize that a number of our students, especially international students with delayed visas, may not be able to arrive on campus by Sept. 1. These students will be enrolled and will be able to participate in the School’s instructional programs. Following is the calendar for the upcoming Fall term:


August 3

Schedule for online placement examinations and orientation is posted

August 31 – September 3

Placement examinations and orientation sessions begin (online only)

September 4 & 7

Academic Advising (Labor Day holiday on September 7 will not be observed)

September 7

Designated practice rooms will be available to YSM students

September 8

Fall term 2020 YSM classes begin

September 8 – October 13

Academic course offerings will be concentrated in this block, with many being taught remotely. The daily schedule will include early morning classes and possibly two or three evening classes. Additionally, private lessons and studio seminars will be taught either in-person or remotely, depending on the mutual understanding of the major professor and the student.

October 14 – November 25

Performance classes will be taught during this block, including ensembles, chamber music, studio seminars, and private lessons. The guidance of Public Health officials and the CDC, including, but not limited to, social distancing protocols, will determine the manner in which this instruction will be delivered.

November 26

Thanksgiving Holiday

November 30 – December 9

Academic block resumes online; private lessons and studio seminars continue

December 9 – 15

Final academic projects, Reading Day, and Examinations;

Final week of private lessons and studio seminars

December 16

Fall Term concludes



The guidance we receive from public health officials, governmental agencies, and the University administration will inform all decisions related to the opening of school. In addition, we are engaging the services of a Public Health consultant to assist us in assessing the safe utilization of our spaces. At this writing, COVID-19 testing protocols have not yet been finalized by the University, but this information will be widely communicated to the University community when it becomes available. I encourage you to consult the “Returning to Yale” section of the COVID-19: Yale Actions and Response websitefor regularly updated information.

We anticipate that answers to some of the lingering public health questions will come by the end of June. Chief among those inquiries are:

  1. When will students need to arrive in New Haven in order to comply with requirements or self-quarantine if applicable?
  2. Has the University designated a space for individuals to quarantine who test positive?
  3. Will re-testing occur regularly?



A number of staff and faculty have already begun to reimagine classroom, rehearsal, and studio spaces, and new virtual performance venues are now a familiar recurrence in the cybersphere. The complexities of the detailed planning required within the broad framework seem limitless, but several staff and faculty teams will confront these challenges with the benefits of their expertise and experience, best practices from internal and external resources, and expert consultants. Space utilization, technology (in its plethora of roles), class schedules, placement examinations, orientation, faculty and staff requirements, and performance activities are among the areas for which strategies will be planned for implementation.

My foremost commitment is to your health and well-being, and I want to assure you the workplace preference of each faculty and staff member will be seriously considered with regard to remote or in-person work. Finally, all YSM facilities will continue to be “red-lit” (no access) until we open in September.

I have been inspired and enriched by this community for many years, but the collaborative and compassionate outreach of students, staff, faculty, administration, alumni, and friends to each other since March 6, 2020, has planted seeds of hope. Indeed, more daunting challenges will come, but brighter days are ahead. More information about our planning will be sent as it becomes available. In the meantime, please take care of yourselves, your families, and your loved ones.


Warmest regards,

Robert Blocker

The Henry and Lucy Moses Dean of Music