How COVID 19 Is Affecting Fall Semester Planning at U.S. Music Schools and Conservatories

July 17, 2020, 4:12 PM · With the coronavirus raging in the United States, top music conservatories and schools are making plans for the fast-approaching start of fall semester, with some institutions starting classes online, and others putting in places protocols like mask-wearing and distancing to try to protect students from outbreaks at their institutions.

Here is a brief roundup of preliminary plans that have been posted for a number of music schools and conservatories. Feel free to add to this list in the comments, with whatever information you have about the fall plans for your own school, local school, or alma mater.

online music school

On Tuesday the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia announced in a letter from President and CEO Roberto Díaz that "after careful consideration and months of planning, including discussions with members of our Curtis community and local health officials, we have determined that Curtis will begin the 2020–21 academic year with an online fall semester." He added: "In thinking through a return to on-campus activities, we knew that we would not be able to preserve the unique features that make Curtis such a vital learning environment while still maintaining the necessary in-person health and safety protocols. They created a page to answer specific questions about how things will work.

In California, where rising numbers this week led to a reimposition of certain lockdown measures, the Colburn School in Los Angeles also plans to keep classes online for the start of fall semester, and likely beyond. "After very careful consideration and months of planning, the Colburn School has determined that it will begin the Fall semester online and remain online until such time as we determine it safe to fully reopen our campus," wrote Colburn President and CEO Sel Kardan> "Since such a reopening is dependent on a significant decline in cases locally, an effective treatment, or a tested vaccine, we expect that much, if not all, of the fall semester will remain online."

As of June 29, the Juilliard School in New York was planning to begin online, making its building available as a resource. Juilliard's plan for 2020-21 envisions "a combination of online and in-person learning," with a phased-in return to at least some form of in-person learning with health and safety protocols, by spring 2021. All the plans are "pending health department recommendations."

Cleveland Institute in Ohio plans to have in-person classes with masks, distancing and other safety measures. They'll start early, on August 10, and hold in-person classes through Nov. 20, switching before Thanksgiving to online for the last two weeks.

Indiana University plans to open its campus, urging students to wear masks, distance, and wash their hands. They plan to offer a combination of in-person and online classes, with a set of recommendations specific to the Jacobs School of Music that calls for limited face-to-face instruction, mask-wearing, and a long list of protocols for rehearsals and performances, including distances, down-sizing ensembles and having no audience at indoor performances.

Rice University, home of the Shepherd School of Music, is planning for students to be back at campus and has provided a list of health behaviors and supplies for the fall and well as the measures the university will be taking. Among them: students will be tested for COVID 19 upon arrival to campus and isolated for 10 days if positive. Students and faculty will be required to wear face masks, exercise physical distancing, and limit gatherings to no more than 50 people. They are building outdoor tents, to be used for classrooms and other gatherings. They will also offer on-campus testing, free of charge. for students on campus.

These are just a few of the major music schools and conservatories around the country - please feel free to share more information in the comments, especially if you are connected to an institution.

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