messages from the dean

Update to fall 2020 and spring 2021 semesters

October 10, 2020


Dear Members of the School of Music Community,

In the communications you received earlier in the week from the Offices of the President and Provost and from me, the calendar framework for the spring semester was confirmed. Next Wednesday, October 14, the School will begin the performance block of the fall semester and continue with this schedule until November 25. I write to share more details and thoughts about the remainder of fall term along with additional information regarding spring semester.

Yesterday, the YSM Steering Committee (which includes area coordinators, Deputy Dean, and Associate Dean), along with our Chief of Staff, Health and Safety Leader, and Director of Communications, met with me to discuss the latest information related to our risk mitigation policies and procedures for COVID-19. Please know that these policies and procedures are reviewed constantly in light of infection and hospital data, thus necessitating the need to embrace flexibility to address such changes with commitment and resolve.




  1. The protocols for access to YSM facilities remain unchanged. Priorities have been established for the use of Sprague Memorial Hall. They are as follows:

    a.) Degree recitals: We now have final reservation requests for fall term degree recitals, and these will be confirmed as soon as possible. It is important to note that each performer will have time for a 15-20-minute warm-up and a short break prior to the recital. Recitals in Sprague will be live-streamed to the School of Music website. There will be no intermission, and programs MUST NOT exceed 70 minutes in length. There will be no dress rehearsals.

    b.) Recordings of ensembles to include Yale Philharmonia, Yale Opera, New Music New Haven, and chamber music.
  2. Practice room access will continue with the procedures currently in place.



Teaching may continue either in-person or remote. The decision to teach private lessons or coach chamber music in-person must be reached by the mutual consent of student and teacher. Anyone with health conditions that require only remote instruction should report this to the Deputy Dean’s Office as soon as possible.

New guidelines have been issued for out of state faculty. These will be discussed and distributed at the meeting on Monday afternoon. It is important the Dean’s Office be informed and kept up to date on the geographical location and teaching preference (remote/in-person) of all faculty.


COVID-19 testing

The COVID-19 testing protocols and policies established by the university prior to the fall semester remain in effect. Some testing, as it relates to self-quarantine, has changed. Please be aware of all testing requirements. Again, we strongly encourage all students living in non-Yale housing to take the weekly COVID-19 test that is being offered. We also urge all students to get tested prior to the start of the performance block. Schedule a COVID-19 test here.



Any travel outside the New Haven area is strongly discouraged and upon return to New Haven, may involve the need to self-quarantine until a negative test is received. Any student traveling outside Connecticut must also submit a Travel Notification form (found on ArtsVision) as far in advance of their travel as possible. Please see the Yale Travel Guidelines webpage for additional information.



While the University expects Yale College students to leave campus on November 21, we know that many YSM students live in New Haven and will remain here for the remainder of term. Private lessons and some other in-person music activities will continue until the conclusion of fall term on December 16. Practice rooms will be open through December 23. I also note that some degree recitals may be scheduled in December by special petition to the Deputy Dean.

If you intend to use the School of Music buildings after Thanksgiving, you will be asked to remain in New Haven during the Thanksgiving break and to not attend large gatherings during that period. Additional information on this particular topic will be available in the weeks ahead.



The School of Music will return to its regular schedule for the spring semester rather than the current concentrated academic and performance blocks. Also, the School will model the Yale College schedule with interspersed break days rather than spring break. The YSM classes will continue through what is Reading Period for Yale College, with final classes meeting on May 12.

Academic classes will be taught online, while studio seminars and performance activities may take place in person according to the performance protocols laid out above and in previous communication. Students who wish to complete the spring 2021 semester remotely will need to petition the Deputy Dean.  

Spring 2021 Academic Calendar

January 4: Practice rooms open on the holiday schedule to be posted

February 1: Classes begin

February 22: First break day

March 9: Second break day

March 24: Third break day

April 8: Fourth break day

April 23: Fifth break day

May 12: Classes end

May 13-19: Final exams and performances

May 23: Practice rooms close

May 24: Commencement



This is a preliminary report of what we can anticipate for the remainder of the fall semester and the 2021 spring semester. We realize that government regulations, EHS guidelines, and the successful risk mitigation of COVID-19 cases at YSM and Yale will determine our pathways in the future. I call your attention to President Salovey’s comments from October 6:

“Based on how well members of our community have responded to the pandemic so far, we will extend all health protective policies into the spring semester. These include previously announced rules concerning travel, visitors, events and gatherings, dining, testing, and contact tracing, as well as other policies and health guidelines.”

The university and school will monitor all factors related to COVID-19, including potential treatments, vaccines, and new rapid testing protocols and other factors that might affect our spring planning and necessitate further changes.

Again, my heartfelt thanks to all of you who are working so diligently to keep our community safe and help us achieve our goals for the year.


Warmest regards,

Robert Blocker
Henry and Lucy Moses Dean of Music