messages from the dean

Update to fall 2021 semester

March 29, 2021


Dear YSM community,

Earlier today you received an important announcement from President Salovey and Provost Scott Strobel about university plans for beginning the 2021-2022 academic year this fall. The message signals the university’s commitment to return to residential instruction and bring most of the Yale community back to campus for the fall semester, assuming the continued improvement of public health conditions. I encourage your thoughtful attention to the university announcement, and I want to elaborate on some points and expectations as they relate specifically to the School of Music. 

With the optimism of making music and learning together comes the necessity to plan several scenarios that permit us to adapt to conditions that health and safety may dictate. Next week I will convene a small group of colleagues to discuss and design several scenarios that will enable us to assess health and safety information at regular intervals, move to the appropriate scenario, and most importantly, inform the entire community at key intervals of our decisions so everyone can plan accordingly. All scenarios will reflect a firm adherence to the EHS guidelines and the notices from CDC and government agencies. They will also address the phased-in return to campus of staff and faculty.

There are many things we do not know at this time, such as the interpretation of campus masking mandates for performances (or athletics), in-person capacities for classrooms, and concerts with live audiences that include the general public. Clearly, one of the most significant issues before us is the plight faced by singers and woodwind and brass players. The scenarios, as an example, need to give ample notice about expectations for students and faculty in these areas. Further, we will examine use of practice facilities throughout the summer.

Some recent conversations with the interim Student Advisory Council and other members of the community have engendered new ideas for performance opportunities we are exploring. All thoughts and suggestions are welcome as we engage in this planning, and I will update the YSM community by mid-April on our progress. Your courage, creativity, compassion, and graciousness has enabled us to discover reservoirs of resilience as we face the personal and professional losses and disappointments caused by the pandemic.

The university’s goal of reconnecting our shared communities is reason for cautious optimism. For the community of YSM, we see on the horizon a return to teaching and learning that must be informed by new knowledge and experience from the pandemic and a deeper sense and understanding of isolation and vulnerability.

With gratitude to and admiration for all, 

Robert Blocker
Henry and Lucy Moses Dean of Music