School of Music's COVID Protocols

Dear School of Music,

As we prepare to open Baylor's campus and welcome back students for the Fall/2020 academic semester we share with you the School of Music's COVID Protocols. This document is intended to help promote understanding on how we will work together to mitigate the most serious health crisis the world has known in our lifetimes.  This webpage will contain our most current protocols, and it will be updated whenever necessary.

Associate Dean Randy Umstead has overseen the creation of this document with input from School of Music administrators, faculty, and staff; advice from administrators and offices all across Baylor; and through research-based knowledge shared across the nation and world. Covid Protocols represents our best effort to understand the current knowledge being disseminated on how music can be safely made at this point in time. As future developments become known to us we will communicate them to all members of the School of Music.

Please read this document with great care and attention. These guidelines provide our best chance at staying open to in-person instruction. It will take our collective efforts to reach our common goal to make music together this semester.

With warm regards,
Gary Mortenson,
Dean, School of Music
Baylor University

Updated January 13, 2021 (Originally posted August 13, 2020)


General Information

Singing and the playing of brass and woodwind instruments generate aerosol particles, particles smaller than respiratory droplets, in some cases at a comparable level to speaking.  In other cases, musical activity can produce aerosols at a much greater level than speaking or normal breathing.  While all Baylor University policies apply to the School of Music, the administration of the School of Music and Baylor University have developed policies specific to activities within the School of Music because of this particular aspect of our discipline.  These policies have been developed through a detailed review of the available scientific research, coordination with facilities management, and involve the collaboration of the dean, associate deans, division directors, and area coordinators.  We intend to begin this semester cautiously and safely.  As the situation on and around campus evolves, this guidance may also change, either to become more permissive or restrictive.  Please check our website for updates to these policies.

Some of our activities generate aerosol particles which may be infectious, are invisible, and are why we must adhere to more restrictive policies than the campus at large.  For the purposes of these guidelines, aerosol-generating activities include singing, woodwind, and brass playing. 

Each day, every member of our School of Music family should complete a self-screening here before entering a campus facility or participating in musical activity with others.  Faculty, staff, and students should not enter any School of Music facility or participate in any School of Music activity if they are symptomatic, have an active coronavirus infection, or are under investigation for a coronavirus infection until they have met Baylor’s criteria to return to campus.  For students, that means they must be cleared to return by Baylor’s Health Services, and faculty and stuff must follow Baylor’s Return to Work/Fitness for Duty Policy.

While this guidance is directed specifically toward music activity, students, faculty, and staff should follow all university, state, and local guidance at all times to minimize the spread of COVID-19 within our community. It is important to recognize that any one person’s choices may have a profound impact on others, and the Christian value of placing others above oneself is paramount at this particular moment in our school’s history. 

This document cannot address every instance where aerosols might be produced.  If you have a question about your activity, please ask. Any exceptions to this policy must be approved by the dean’s office.

Building Use

  • Building use is restricted to current Baylor students registered for music courses, faculty, and staff ONLY.  School of Music facilities may NOT be used for teaching private lessons or lessons to minor children.  These lessons can instead be taught virtually. Freelance pianists are a potential exception to this policy, and each pianist must be approved by the dean’s office before they may enter School of Music facilities.
  • Classrooms, performance halls, and sectional rooms may only be used if reserved in Astra.  If a room is vacant during the day, it is likely intentionally left vacant to allow for air exchange. Space usage without reservation is prohibited.
  • Students, through faculty, may reserve spaces from 6pm-11pm, Monday through Friday, for faculty and/or student use, per our interim room reservation policy.  Any room reservation during the day, whether related to a class or not, must be approved per the process outlined in the policy. 
  • Reservation requests must include a list of participants and the type of activity involved.
  • When students are playing inside our performance halls and classrooms, they should be masked, using bell covers on wind instruments, and collection devices for brass instruments.
  • Rooms should be returned to their original condition as a courtesy for those using it after, particularly with the time constraints we have under our Covid-19 precautions.

Ventilation/Mechanical Systems

  • All campus spaces have been reviewed by Aramark for ventilation to ensure adequate air exchange and increased input of fresh air.
  • Supplemental mechanical solutions such as HEPA air cleaners and higher efficiency air filters will be installed where necessary.  These HEPA air cleaners must be kept running continuously on their highest setting and should not be moved from their assigned location.

Cleaning and sanitizing

Practice Rooms and Pianos:
  • There will be routine daily cleaning by Housekeeping.
  • The practice room area will be supplied with disinfecting wipes. Please do not remove these wipes from the practice room hallway.  Students will be responsible for wiping down surfaces, doorknobs, light switches, and other high-touch areas before and after use. 
  • It will be the student’s responsibility to clean piano and organ keys in practice rooms and faculty’s responsibility in studios, piano maintenance staff will ensure that keys are wiped down after their work on instruments. 
Teaching studios and office spaces:
  • There will be routine cleaning by Housekeeping.
  • Facilities will provide hand sanitizer to occupied offices as available.  We encourage faculty and staff to bring their own to supplement university efforts. 

Density and Building Traffic

  • Each instructional space has a maximum capacity posted on the door.  If it does not, please notify the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.
  • Chairs that may not be used in order to maintain social distancing will be labeled.
  • Traffic patterns, directional stairways, and specific entrance and exit doors have been clearly marked.
  • Minimum 6-foot distancing required in all spaces.
  • Congregating before/after classes, lessons, or rehearsals is prohibited.  This includes (but is not limited to) the locker and lounge areas in McCrary Music Building.  Music facilities should be considered to be spaces for study, practice, rehearsal, and performance, rather than for socialization.
  • Faculty should account for the additional time it will take to follow directional exits when releasing classes.
  • Classrooms and performances spaces may only be used when reserved in Astra. The spaces will intentionally be left empty during portions of the day to allow for adequate air exchange. 

Face coverings

  • Face masks are required to be worn according to Baylor Interim Face Covering Policy.  School of Music activities will have additional face masking requirements, and they are listed in the relevant sections of this document.
  • Face shields are not an acceptable substitute for a facemask, per Baylor policy, but they may supplement a face mask.
  • All Baylor students will be provided with two facemasks as part of a welcome kit.  Surgical-style facemasks will also be provided by the School of Music.  Information on how to obtain these surgical-style facemasks will be provided later.  Faculty and students should not wear the same mask for playing or singing as they do for the remainder of their day.
  • Signage reinforcing the community of the masking requirements are posted at entrances and throughout School of Music facilities. 

TA Offices

  • Graduate teachings assistants who share offices must develop schedules with their officemates that allow for appropriate 6-foot distancing, and they may not exceed the posted occupancy on larger offices.
  • Baylor’s face covering policy must be followed whenever more than one person is in a TA office.
  • All rules below for applied lessons also apply to lessons taught by TAs.

Applied lessons

General
  • Unless designated as online, all applied lessons will be designated as hybrid courses.  Instructors will be given latitude within the safety guidelines below for the organization of the online vs. face to face components of each applied lesson course.  Collaborative pianists and applied students also retain the right to refuse to participate in face-to-face rehearsal for any reason, without penalty.
  • Within the hybrid approach, faculty should affirmatively seek out student preference for online vs. face to face learning.  If students prefer online applied lessons, the request should be granted without any penalty.  If faculty prefer to offer online lessons rather than face to face lessons, that request should also be granted without penalty.
  • The School of Music will have a variety of solutions for conducting virtual applied lessons with high-quality audio and low latency.  Additional information is available on our website at https://www.baylor.edu/music/index.php?id=971832
Private lessons for strings, harp, percussion, piano, organ, composition, and use of labs  
  • Masking for all participants at all times
  • Teaching studio must accommodate social distancing of 6ft
  • Lessons of no more than 50 minutes
  • 15-minute room vacancy between each lesson to allow for adequate air exchange
  • Disinfection following Baylor recommendations
  • Faculty/students responsible for cleaning of music stands, piano keyboards, and other surfaces via disinfectant wipes before and after each lesson.
Private lessons for Woodwinds and Brass
  • Surgical or dual-layer fabric masks required for all individuals.  Players must wear masks (fleece gaiters or bandanas are not sufficient indoors) with a slit for the mouthpiece as well as bell covers. Flute players can put the headjoint between their mouth and mask and use a “flute sock” attached to the foot.  Win-D-Fenders used without a mask also covering the nose are not sufficient.   For additional guidance, please consult the Mask and Bell Cover guidelines prepared by our faculty.
  • Face to face lessons in MMB of no more than 30 minutes; remainder of lessons should be delivered virtually or scheduled as two separate face to face sessions of 25 minutes each
  • 20-minute room vacancy in the studio between lessons to allow for air exchange
  • Teaching studios must accommodate social distancing of 6’x6’ (9’x6’ for trombone) minimum
  • Disinfection following Baylor recommendations
  • Faculty/students responsible for cleaning of music stands, piano keyboards, and other surfaces via disinfectant wipes before and after each lesson
  • Practice condensation valve etiquette.  Each student must provide a small, absorbent pad that can be disposed of after each lesson.
  • Instrument bells should not be directed towards others 
Private lessons and coachings for Singers
  • Surgical, dual-layer fabric, or choral-area provided masking for all participants at all times
  • Face to face lessons of no more than 30 minutes; remainder of lessons should be delivered virtually or scheduled as two separate face to face sessions of 25 minutes each
  • 20-minute room vacancy in the studio between lessons to allow for air exchange
  • Teaching studio must accommodate social distancing of 6’x6’ minimum for all persons
  • Disinfection by Aramark per Baylor recommendations
  • Faculty/students responsible for cleaning of music stands, piano keyboards, and other surfaces via disinfectant wipes before and after each lesson 
Studio classes
  • Studio classes must not exceed the approved 6’ capacity of the assigned room (9’ for trombone)
  • Studio classes for voice, woodwinds, and brass are limited to 30 minutes of live music making, with 20 minutes left for proper air circulation before reuse.
  • Performers must remain masked at all times

Departmental Music Hours

  • Performers should arrive backstage no more than one performance in advance of their own to prevent overcrowding.
  • Singers in Vocal Music Hours must remain masked except while performing with appropriate physical distance (greater than 6’, if possible) and a portable HEPA air purifier placed near the performer.  Woodwind, string, and keyboard players must remain masked.  HEPA purifiers must be left on the highest setting at all times.
  • These events must not have an audience, but they may be live-streamed and/or recorded for required viewing.

Degree Recitals

  • Recital hearings may take place in person this spring, but it is important to follow the following protocols:
    • In-person recital hearings may not exceed 30 minutes; any hearing that must be longer must be conducted virtually
    • Each hearing must be able to be conducted virtually to accommodate students and faculty who either have selected do their work entirely online or who would feel more comfortable conducting their hearing virtually
    • All performers for hearings must use masks, bell covers, absorbent pads, etc. in alignment with our other safety protocols
  • Recitals may not have an audience, but those taking place in Roxy Grove or Jones Concert Hall will be livestreamed at https://www.baylor.edu/music/live.  The only individuals who may be present for the recital are the recital performers and one additional Baylor faculty member or student to facilitate the recital (or its recording).
  • The dean's office has facilitated rapid COVID tests from Baylor's Respiratory Clinic on the day prior to (or two days, in the case of Monday recitals) special and degree recitals. The process for scheduling these tests has been distributed via email.  Evidence of a negative result from that test allows the primary performer the ability to perform their recital without a mask/bell cover/condensation pad.

Ensemble classes and chamber music

General
  • With the exception of Courtside Players, ensembles must meet virtually (and not in person) for the first two weeks of the semester.
  • Indoor rehearsals may only be of 30 minutes duration, followed by 20 minutes to leave the space empty for air circulation.  Campus Orchestra will be allowed to rehearse for 45 minutes to reduce building congestion upon release from rehearsal.
  • For music majors who adopt an online-only schedule, students will not be required to participate in an ensemble.  Music scholarships will not be impacted by this decision. If students with an online-only schedule wish to participate in an ensemble, each possibility will be addressed on a case-by-case basis with the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.  Each ensemble is different in nature, and some more readily facilitate remote participation than others.
  • For students who adopt an online-only schedule, chamber music, in nearly all cases, will only be allowed if needed to complete a degree requirement for a 2020-2021 planned graduation. 
Instrumental Ensembles and Chamber Music
  • Surgical or dual-layer fabric masks required for all individuals.  Players must wear masks (fleece gaiters or bandanas are not sufficient indoors) with a slit for the mouthpiece as well as bell covers. Flute players can put the headjoint between their mouth and mask and use a “flute sock” attached to the foot.  Win-D-Fenders used without a mask also covering the nose are not sufficient.   For additional guidance, please consult the Mask and Bell Cover guidelines prepared by our faculty.
  • Social distancing of 6’x6’ for strings, piano, percussion, most brass, and woodwinds, and 9’x6’ for trombones
  • Rehearsals of no more than 30 minutes with 20-minute minimum room vacancy between each group to allow for adequate air exchange.
  • When using the MMB Tent, the vacancy period is a minimum of 5 minutes. Masks and bell covers are still required outdoors.
  • Disinfection by Aramark per Baylor recommendations
  • Wind and brass instrument bells should not be directed towards others
  • Practice condensation valve etiquette.  Each student must provide a small, absorbent pad that can be disposed of after each rehearsal.
  • Faculty/students responsible for cleaning of music stands, piano keyboards, and other surfaces via disinfectant wipes before and after each lesson 
Choral Ensembles and Opera classes
  • Surgical, dual-layer fabric, or choral-area provided masking for all individuals at all times, including while singing
  • Social distancing of at least 6’x6’, except for opera staging
  • Rehearsals of no more than 30 minutes with 20-minute minimum room vacancy between each group to allow for adequate air exchange
  • When using the MMB Tent, the vacancy period is a minimum of 5 minutes. Masks are still required outdoors.
  • Disinfection by Aramark per Baylor recommendations
  • Faculty/students responsible for cleaning of music stands, piano keyboards, and other surfaces via disinfectant wipes before and after each session 

Ensemble and faculty performances

  • Live-streamed concerts (as opposed to pre-recorded events) should be limited to 30 minutes in length, but additional concerts may be scheduled to accommodate the need to create additional opportunities for performers.
  • It is important to receive performance requests from faculty at least 14 days prior to the desired indoor concert date.  That timeframe allows time to schedule streaming services, set up recital attendance and Creative Arts Experience (CAE) credit, and for students to adjust their work schedules (if necessary).  This section does not apply to outdoor, pop-up concerts.
  • All requests must contain the following information:
    • Date
    • Time
    • All locations needed (rooms for cases, holding areas, etc.)
    • Event title (a brief summary for inclusion in our webpage listing would also be helpful)
  • When that information is prepared and faculty wish to schedule a concert, please email the following people with that request:
    • Lynne Gackle (for ensemble concerts)
    • Michael Jacobson (operations)
    • Randy Umstead (recital attendance/CAE credit)
    • Ruth Tucker (facility scheduling)
    • Richard Veit (website publicity and program)
    • Jill Gusukuma (social media)
    • Rick Carpenter (Livestreamed and YouTube Premiere)
    • Jim Grady (facility manager)
  • Please provide Richard Veit a minimum of one week to generate your concert program. 
  • If the video is a YouTube Premiere, we still need to know the date, time, and other information requested above to coordinate CAE and recital attendance credit.  Videos for YouTube Premiere must be presented to Rick Carpenter as finished products to which he can add the QR code for CAE credit and recital attendance.

Practice Rooms

  • Practice rooms are for practicing ONLY.  Baylor has several tents on Fountain Mall that are air-conditioned, have power outlets, and high speed internet for students who need a space to join an online class.
  • Most McCrary practice rooms now have a sign affixed to the front of the door, detailing a two-step process.  Please do the following, in this order:
    • Review room availability: Use a smart phone or tablet to scan the first QR code using the device’s camera, or type the URL listed directly below the code into a web browser, to view the practice room’s Check-in and Check-out spreadsheet.  This spreadsheet will display, chronologically, all logged check-ins and check-outs from that room.  Wait a MINIMUM of 15 minutes after the last check-out before using the practice room.
    • Check-in and check-out:
      • Check-in: Before entering the practice room, use a smart phone or tablet to scan the second QR code using the device’s camera, or type the URL listed directly below into a web browser, to view the practice room’s Check-in and Check-out Form.  Select “Check-in” when entering.

      • Check-out:Check-out is completed using the same form used for check-in—scan the QR code (or type in the URL) for the practice room’s Check-in and Check-out Form.  Select “Check-out” when leaving and after sanitizing the room the keyboard and doorknob. 

  • Most practice rooms will only allow for one occupant; occupancy limits will be posted on practice room doors.
  • Please thoroughly wash hands before and after using a practice room; wipe keys with a disinfecting wipe before usage (do not use a bleach-based wipe)
  • HEPA air purifiers will be placed in practice rooms and must be left running on their highest setting at all times
  • Practice rooms must be vacated for 15 minutes between users to allow for proper air exchange 

Course modalities

  • No singing, wind, or brass playing activities should be done in a class situation without having prior approval from the dean’s office.
  • Courses will be taught in a variety of in-person, hybrid, blended and online versions this fall.
  • Students are welcome to reach out to their professors directly with questions re: the specifics of their courses as each professor is handling instruction differently.
  • Students who have adopted fully online only schedules will be moved into separate sections of existing F2F or hybrid classes.  These sections will be labeled online only. 

Recruiting activities

  • Baylor has moved all recruiting events online, and Baylor is increasing our efforts to recruit using online tools.
  • To match Baylor’s actions regarding university-wide recruiting events, all School of Music recruiting efforts for Spring 2021 will be online only.  It is essential to minimize the introduction of people from outside the Baylor community to campus buildings during the Spring 2021 semester.
  • Sample lessons for prospective students may not be taught in-person.
  • Recruiting will remain online only until replaced by additional guidance from the dean’s office.
  • Baylor will be hosting virtual Invitation to Excellence and Distinguished Scholar Days specific to the School of Music, and faculty will be invited to participate in these events.

Meetings

  • All meetings must be held virtually and not in-person.  

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