July update for Faculty and Staff

July 7, 2021

Dear Eastman Faculty and Staff,

Over the past few weeks there have been several important announcements regarding the status of COVID restrictions in New York State and at the University of Rochester. We are pleased that, due to the widespread adoption of the vaccine here in New York, as well as the success of our COVID protocols in suppressing the spread of the virus over the last 18 months, restrictions are being significantly loosened, and in many cases lifted entirely. Therefore, we wanted to write with an update for our plans at Eastman moving forward.

Return to campus for staff
As has been previously communicated, all staff who are currently working remotely are required to return to in-person work no later than Monday, August 16. Anyone planning to request continued remote work schedules should review the University’s new Remote Work Policy and work with their manager and ESM HR to submit their request no later than July 16. 

Course Instruction
As we have communicated previously, we continue to make plans for an in-person 2021-22 academic year. All classes, ensembles, and lessons for undergraduate and graduate students at Eastman are expected to be held on campus. Virtual instruction options will be prepared for international students who face visa issues in entering the United States, and more information on this topic can be found here. All other students are expected to be on campus for in-person instruction, and first-year, sophomore, and junior students are expected to live on-campus as in previous years.

Please note that we do expect there to be a significant number of international students who cannot return to in-person instruction by the start date of the fall semester (August 25). In addition to visa issues, we are hearing that our international students are having problems purchasing plane tickets to return to Rochester as flights are scarce and those that are available are incredibly expensive. We are working with the students on these issues, and while are doing everything we can to get them here on time, we expect that many of them will require some accommodations for remote learning during the early weeks of the semester, until they are able to arrive in Rochester. We expect all instructors to make these accommodations available to our international students during the fall semester. We are in the process of collecting arrival plans from all our international students now, but with so many things still in flux we are not confident we will be able to share an accurate list of late arrivals with instructors until right before classes begin. As we get more information we will share it, but in the meantime we recommend that all instructors begin thinking about plans for teaching a handful of remote students in each class as we start the semester.

While there are still some uncertainties, Eastman and University leadership are pleased that vaccines are widely deployed and strongly encourage all students, faculty, and staff to get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as they are able. Students will be required to be vaccinated starting this fall, with exemptions available only to those who obtain a waiver for medical or religious reasons. Detailed information about the student vaccination requirement, along with any changes that may be announced in the future, can be found here. Vaccinations will be available on campus for students arriving for the fall semester who have not yet been vaccinated or who have not received vaccines listed on this page.

At the current time there is no COVID-19 vaccination requirement for employees of the University of Rochester. While University leadership continues to discuss implementing a University-wide vaccine mandate, we continue to strongly encourage all faculty and staff to voluntarily get their vaccine as soon as possible.

There will be different expectations for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals on campus this fall, mainly that unvaccinated individuals will be required to follow masking guidelines when on campus. We are currently working on additional rules for music-making if unvaccinated, and we will communicate those as soon as they are finalized.

Concert Halls
We are pleased to announce that all the restrictions for audiences in these spaces have been lifted, so we are once again open to the public and can return to full capacity in every hall. The only rule is that unvaccinated individuals must wear masks at all times just as they need to everywhere on campus. 

We are planning in-person orientation experiences for new undergraduate and graduate students, as well as continuing second-year students, subject to health and safety restrictions. The start dates for our in-person orientation programs are as follows:

New first-year international students: Wednesday, August 18
New first-year and transfer students: Thursday, August 19
Returning sophomore students: Monday, August 23
New graduate students: Saturday, August 21

All upper-class students returning to the Student Living Center may move in beginning Saturday, August 21.  Classes for the fall semester will begin for everyone on Wednesday, August 25, 2021.

As always, we ask faculty not to schedule activities for new students during orientation. It is important that our new students are fully engaged with their orientation activities so that the get all of the information they need to be successful at Eastman, so please do not schedule lessons or other activities for them until classes begin on August 25. As always, anyone trying to plan an event for students prior to the start of classes should reach out to Academic Affairs for approval as soon as possible. 

The specific plans and policies for instruction, activities, and operations in the 2021–22 academic year will be updated regularly over the next two months. These will be informed by and subject to change based on information from the University’s medical experts, the current state of COVID-19 on campus, any additional state and federal guidelines, as well as the commitment to the University community’s health and safety. 

We are very much looking forward to the fall semester and a return to more of the traditional in-person interactions that we have enjoyed at the Eastman School of Music for decades!

All the best,
Donna and John

John C. Hain, DMA
Associate Dean of Academic and International Affairs
Eastman School of Music
26 Gibbs St.
Rochester, NY 14604
(585) 274-1020