Dear YSM community,  

I am writing with a follow-up to my last communication in May about our plans for the fall semester. Throughout the past several weeks, the school’s leadership and health and safety team have been working with the university to solidify our activities for fall semester. Today, I am sharing those updates with you along with some additional information.

As we look toward the upcoming term, please bear in mind that it may become necessary for the university to implement additional health and safety measures in response to changes in conditions. Concerns are circulating about an increase in new cases of COVID-19 in some parts of the country and the world, attributable in part to the growing prominence of the Delta variant. Yale’s Public Health Committee is closely tracking and advising University leaders on the state of the pandemic, the impact of variants, and current guidance from national and international public health experts. 

Vaccination requirement

The university requires every student, faculty, and staff member to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 (or to request a vaccination exemption from the university) by August 1. Please note that being fully vaccinated allows individuals to engage in the widest range of activity permitted by the university, while individuals with a vaccination exemption will be required to abide by strict health and safety precautions which will significantly restrict their ability to participate in some activities.

Fall activity for fully vaccinated individuals

I am excited to share that the university will allow fully vaccinated Yale School of Music students, faculty, and staff to engage in the following activity for the fall semester, beginning on August 30:

  • All activity will take place in-person.
  • Fully vaccinated individuals will not be required to physically distance on campus, including while participating in classes, lessons, coachings, chamber music, and large ensemble activity. 
  • The university’s current mask policy requires everyone (including fully vaccinated individuals) to be masked at all times while indoors on campus except when using individual spaces. Until such time as the transmission rate in New Haven County declines and the university can amend the mask requirement, this means that wind and brass players will wear slit masks and use bell covers while playing, and singers will be masked while singing.
  • Large ensembles comprised of Yale community members, such as the Yale Philharmonia, will return to their pre-pandemic sizes.  
  • Room capacities will return to the standard limits set by the fire marshal.
  • Classes and rehearsals will take place for their standard duration, at their regular times and in their usual locations.
  • Student and faculty performances will take place. For the fall semester, only Yale ID holders will be permitted to attend. Initial events will be open to only YSM and ISM students, faculty, and staff, and audiences will be gradually expanded to include other members of the Yale community. Guest performances will not take place in the fall. 
  • Individuals must swipe into facilities with their Yale ID but are not required to check in and out with building monitors. ArtsVision reservations will still be required for most YSM spaces, and reservations for some ISM spaces will still be required through appropriate ISM calendaring.
  • The daily health check will no longer be required.
  • Weekly testing may still be required, depending on public health conditions.
  • Please note that the university may implement additional health and safety precautions at various times during the term as conditions warrant.

Prior to engaging in in-person activity, all fully vaccinated individuals are required to:

  • Have documentation of a verified full vaccination against COVID-19 on file with the university by August 1. It is essential that you submit your vaccination record immediately if you have not done so already. We understand that many international students will be unable to be vaccinated before arriving in New Haven; please see this FAQ from OISS for additional guidance.
  • Students must submit the YSM arrival form by August 6.
  • Complete any online COVID-19 safety training (details will be provided in August).
  • Sign the Fall 2021 Compact (students: links will be provided in August) or review the Expectations (faculty/staff).
  • If arriving from another country, complete arrival testing. If arriving from another state, arrival (gateway) testing is recommended but is only required for students residing in Yale housing.

If you have questions about any of the requirements above, please contact the YSM Health and Safety Team at

Requirements for unvaccinated individuals who receive a vaccination exemption

The permissions and policies described above apply ONLY to fully vaccinated individuals. The university is granting a limited number of exemptions (medical, religious, or strongly held personal belief) to the vaccination requirement. Exemptions must be requested by August 1. Unvaccinated individuals who are granted a vaccination exemption will be required to abide by strict university health and safety protocols including but not limited to:

  • possible restrictions on participation in certain activities
  • limitations of access to certain events, spaces, and roles
  • must be masked and physically distanced at all times
  • must receive a mandatory COVID-19 test twice a week

If you have received or will be applying for an exemption, please contact Krista Johnson at immediately for more details and to discuss your options for the 2021-2022 academic year; students, please note that deferral or a leave of absence may be possible.

Next steps

The university continues to monitor the state of the pandemic closely and will implement additional health and safety measures as necessary in response to changes in conditions. As a public health precaution, most activities involving non-Yale individuals and external venues are not yet permitted. Further guidance is expected from the university in August and early autumn about when the following activities can resume, and what precautions will apply.

  • Music in Schools Initiative: Yale students are not yet allowed to teach public school students in off-campus locations, and public-school students are not yet allowed to use YSM spaces for MISI rehearsals and lessons
  • Collection of Music Instruments: not yet open for visits
  • Non-Yale affiliated audience members are not yet allowed to attend Yale events; we hope that their attendance will be permitted in the spring.
  • Non-Yale-affiliated community members are not yet allowed to participate in Camerata.
  • Off-campus performances are not yet permitted.

Important upcoming dates 

While these updates about fall activities come as good news for vaccinated individuals throughout the Yale and YSM community, I understand they may cause concern for unvaccinated individuals. We will make every attempt to create an equitable and nurturing experience for all members of our community within the parameters of the health and safety protocols laid out by the university. If you have specific concerns or questions that you would like to address, please contact Krista Johnson at

Next week, we will hold several community meetings where you may ask questions about the upcoming fall and the details of this email. Those meetings are as follows:

Staff meeting: Tuesday, Aug. 3 | 10-11 a.m.

Faculty meeting: Tuesday, Aug. 3 | 1:30-2:30 p.m.

Student meeting: Wednesday, Aug. 4 | 1:30-2:30 p.m.

Meeting links will be emailed to you.

Please monitor your Yale email frequently. The first student newsletter will be distributed on August 2 with key information regarding the fall semester. Currently, we are planning to open the YSM Orientation site through Canvas on August 9 for all YSM students, faculty, and staff. There you will find information on how to get started at Yale (your Yale ID, email, etc.), registering for classes, dates and deadlines for ensemble auditions, and more. 

I wish each of you an invigorating and hopeful remainder of your summer and I look forward to seeing you in New Haven this fall. 

Warmest regards,

Robert Blocker
Henry and Lucy Moses Dean of Music