messages from the Dean

Return to campus Fall 2020

July 1, 2020

Dear members of the School of Music community,

Earlier today, President Salovey and Provost Strobel sent a letter about plans for welcoming the Yale community back to campus this fall. I write to expand this guidance with specific information about teaching, performance activities, and health precautions in the School of Music. Let me begin by thanking all of you for your good questions, imaginative ideas, and especially your patience during these uncertain days. The working task forces we have established will continue to define and refine our operational policies and procedures for fall semester, and we will share the information from each group with the YSM community as it becomes available.


The recommendation of the school’s academic studies faculty aptly describes this moment: “During a time of crisis in both public health and civil society, our curriculum should connect students and faculty as actively and closely as possible, intentionally inviting all students into the YSM community despite the (geographical) distances that separate us.” The school will employ dual delivery of courses with an online block of academic courses followed by a residential block of performance courses this fall. Private lessons and studio seminars will be taught throughout the semester both in-person and remotely. This allows resident students and those unable to return to campus on time to be enrolled and make progress toward their respective degrees.

All courses with in-person instruction will be conducted with social distancing requirements in place that address both spatial and aerosolization considerations. Among these are private lessons, chamber music rehearsals, large ensembles, seminars, and classroom instruction. Separate protocols are being developed for practice rooms, and these will be posted as soon as they are available.

In the coming weeks, we will send new and returning students a survey that will inform us of their plans for returning to campus this fall. We will again send a survey regarding the spring 2021 term prior to Thanksgiving.

Students who will be living in campus housing should contact the Graduate Housing Office regarding arrival dates and policies. International students are reminded to be in contact with OISS.



The YSM task forces are developing plans and protocols that ensure adherence to COVID-19 best practices by YSM personnel and visitors, and we expect that all protocols pertaining to students will be covered in the school’s online orientation sessions in late August.

1. Mandatory training for everyone returning to campus

As the University outlined, all faculty, staff, and students returning to campus will be required to complete online training.

2. The Yale COVID-19 Screening Program

COVID-19 screening for all students

Students coming to campus must participate in Yale’s COVID-19 Screening Program within the first week of returning to campus.

  • Graduate and professional school students living in university-style housing will be tested upon arrival to campus and will be required to undergo viral testing weekly throughout the semester.
  • Graduate and professional students living off campus will be required to undergo viral testing once at the start of the start of the fall semester. Additional testing is available if required by academic programs involving direct patient care or if a student has concerns about exposure.

I want to emphasize again that all students should be aware of the possibility that quarantine may be required for students coming from some countries and certain states, necessitating an early arrival if you are in one of these categories.

COVID-19 screening for all faculty and staff

Please refer to the email sent by President Salovey and Provost Strobel this morning. All faculty and student-facing staff who will be on campus during the fall term will be required to have a test for COVID-19 at the start of the semester.

Staff who do not interact with students are encouraged, but not required, to have a test for COVID-19 at the start of the semester through the program. Depending on their Yale duties, a limited number of faculty and staff may be required to be tested for COVID-19 weekly. Other asymptomatic individuals who feel they may be at risk for COVID-19 may seek additional testing through Yale’s COVID-19 Screening Program. Faculty and staff who test positive will be asked to self-isolate at home for at least 14 days and until a health care provider informs them it is safe to return to campus.

Finally, staff members whose work can be done remotely will be encouraged to work from home, but the school will, in consultation with managers and supervisors, follow the protocols and policies established by HR.

3. Enhanced cleaning and disinfection protocols

University Facilities will be providing daily cleaning and disinfecting of common spaces including classrooms, breakrooms, bathrooms, lounges, and gathering areas. This also includes common touch points such as door knobs/handles, railings, elevators, and tables/chairs. The areas will wiped down twice daily. Disinfecting wipes will be provided in each classroom, breakroom, and common area for users to disinfect before/after use.

Specific cleaning and occupancy protocols will be in place for practice room use. These are being determined by the YSM task force in consultation with university facilities and a public health consultant with expertise in aerosolization and facilities.



The School of Music will not present public performances during the fall semester. We do anticipate the possibility of livestream performances without audiences, including degree recitals and possibly some faculty concerts.

Group gatherings should be hosted virtually when possible. All in-person gatherings must adhere to CDC and Connecticut safety regulations – wearing masks and ensuring physical distancing of not less than six feet.

Reiterating Yale’s guidelines, travel outside of Connecticut through the fall semester is strongly discouraged, and visitors are not allowed on campus. YSM students are encouraged to take all classes remotely after Thanksgiving.



Provost Strobel has established a public health committee to monitor and track pandemic metrics and plan for restricted activities in the event of a resurgence. We will continue to plan together with you, make decisions based on the best available public health information, and support the missions of the university and the school.

There are many questions remaining to be answered, and we are working diligently to provide answers for you. Stefanie Parkyn will coordinate all questions and direct them to the appropriate YSM task force: please email her at

For your boundless creativity, good humor, and passion for music as a vital and substantive force in our world, I am truly grateful.


Warmest regards,

Robert Blocker
Henry and Lucy Moses Dean of Music