As of March 29, 2021

Our safety plan is being developed in consultation with panel of medical experts and industry experts, peer organizations, and our health and facilities colleagues at Chautauqua Institution. These procedures and safety protocols provided for safe use of our facilities will be enforced during the summer of 2021. 

For as long as health guidelines require, each person entering the building will be required to follow all safety protocols, including physical distancing, handwashing, wearing face coverings, cleaning protocols, following new traffic patterns in the building, and other requirements.

Rules regarding physical distancing, mask wearing, and bell covers are not optional, and they are not a personal choice. They are mandatory.

Chautauqua’s Facilities Department has assessed and significantly improved building conditions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In Lenna, Fletcher and McKnight Halls we have improved ventilation/air quality and building controls. In Carnahan-Jackson Dance Studios we have added HEPA air purifiers in the studios to improve air quality. In Bellinger Hall and Lincoln Dorm, we have repaired inoperable windows, increased professional cleanings and disinfections, and created additional single sleeping spaces for residential students for regular and isolation/quarantine periods.

Compliance with Safety and Health Rules

For your own health and the health of those around you, including students, faculty, and staff, it is extremely important for everyone to follow these safety and health rules. Tremendous progress has been made in New York to reduce the spread of COVID-19, including a great effort on the part of the general public to follow safety protocols such as wearing masks, physical distancing, frequent handwashing, staying home when sick, getting tested when needed, and providing the necessary information for contact tracing.

We plan to enforce our health and safety rules, and we will not tolerate repeated or serious lapses. Violating the safety rules can result in sanctions according to our code of conduct.  We are taking a zero-tolerance approach on any violation of safety rules.

This is a moment of challenge and change for everyone. It will take all of us working together to keep each other safe.

Masking and Social Distancing

Masking requirements: Fabric masking, specifically a cloth or standard surgical mask, is required of all individuals, faculty and students, when making music in a room with more than one person. Performing outdoors does not change the masking requirement. Bandanas, neck gaiters, and masks with vents or valves will not be allowed. Masks should fit tightly, and cover both the nose and mouth at all times. Disposable face coverings will be available at the main office in Bellinger Hall for anyone who arrives without one. Residence Hall students will be required to wear a face covering in the Residence Hall unless they are alone in their own rooms.

Chautauqua is committed to ensuring its protocols meet and in many cases exceed guidance provided by public health authorities. Our in-house COVID-19 Safety Committee and its expert advisers are helping us stay on top of evolving regulations and laws. Currently, in compliance with state law, gatherings at private residences are limited to no more than 10 people, and face coverings and social distancing are required inside all Institution buildings and in any public space where distancing is not possible.

Additional instrument-specific guidance is provided below:

  • Woodwind and brass players must perform with masks that have a slit, small hole, or flap for their mouthpiece, but the mask should always remain on and cover the nose.
  • Singers must wear masks at all times when singing with more than one person in the room.
  • Conductors and coaches must wear masks throughout the rehearsal or coaching session.

Physical distancing for instrumental: String players, masked, sit in 6-foot spacings from each other side to side and front to back. There is 10 feet from the conductor to the 1st row of strings. Wind players, unmasked, sit with 10-foot spacings side to side and front to back. Measurements are taken from the center of each chair.

In addition, musicians should be seated to face in generally the same direction (a straight line is recommended but a slight curve is OK). Instrumental players must also be seated or positioned to avoid sending direct sound and aerosols towards other players.

 Additional requirements for instrumentalists: All brass players must have a fabric cover over the end of their instrument. The cover may be as simple as a piece of stretchable fabric over the bell, or a specially designed bell cover for your instrument, as long as the air is diffused to slow any particulates escaping from the end of the instrument. Chautauqua will not be providing bell covers for students, and it is expected students will have this equipment in order to participate in lessons, coachings, or rehearsals with others.

Brass players must expel the condensation from their instruments into a covered container or absorbent cloth. They must empty the container in a nearby bathroom or dispose in a nearby garbage can immediately after the music-making session is finished. No condensation should be expelled on any surface in the rehearsal room, whether there is carpet, wood, or tile flooring in the room.

Physical distancing for voice:  Each singer needs the equivalent of 200 sq ft around them indoors, 120 sq ft outdoors and in ALL cases at least 20’ in from of them due to projection of droplets and aerosols. Accompanists will be masked at all times and require a 4’ radius (approximately 50 sq ft).  Faculty and instructors will wear a mask at all times and need a 4’radius (approximately 50 sq ft)

Physical distancing for piano:  All students and faculty will be masked at all times. A 4’ radius (approximately 50 sq ft) is required for each student and teacher. For all studio classes and any group masterclasses, the students/faculty in audience will maintain a distance of 6 ft and be masked at all times.

**Our physical distancing requirements are taken from the AGMA Return to Stage and Performing Arts Playbook.

Rehearsal Time for Groups

Rehearsal time: The primary issue with determining rehearsal time is the need for air exchange within the space. Although this might occur naturally between groups as rehearsal ends and a new group begins, the overall time must also be considered when planning the rehearsal period. Rehearsals will need to be presented in shorter segments with empty room time placed between the music-making episodes. 

  • For rehearsals in Fletcher Hall, McKnight Hall, Carnahan Jackson Studios, JAG (Jane A Gross) Opera Center and Lenna Hall, involving singers: There will be 30 minutes of group music-making followed by 30 minutes of down time in a room to allow for air exchange. For groups involving woodwinds, and brass instruments there should be 45 minutes of group music-making followed by 30 minutes of down time. If you rehearse in a room with an air conditioner, you can use the air conditioner and open the room door to provide additional air flow during the empty room time, but this does not alter the required 30 minutes of down time. All individuals, including faculty, should leave the room during the down time.
  • For rehearsals involving all other instruments: 60 sequential minutes of rehearsal MAXIMUM is allowed, followed by 30 minutes of down time for air exchange; rehearsal can continue after the down time if addition time is scheduled for the ensemble. All individuals, including faculty, must vacate the rehearsal space during the down time.
  • For rehearsals in Hall of Philosophy (spaces that are outdoor and open-air) involving singers, woodwinds, and brass instruments: 60 sequential minutes of rehearsal MAXIMUM is allowed, followed by 30 minutes of down time for air exchange providing the hour is broken into increments where personnel is changed minimally after 30 minutes. If only one of the groups includes woodwind/brass instruments, they should go second.
  • Conductors/coaches may NOT remain in the space during the down time. The room door should be left open, if possible, during this time.

Ensemble size: The maximum group size for instrument and vocal ensembles shall be determined by the COVID-19 occupancy limit of the space determined by the physical distancing guidelines. The floor will be clearly marked for groups to place their chairs accordingly to ensure a safe and required distance.

Rehearsal logistics: Chautauqua will be creating the plans for traffic patterns and wayfinding, Conductors/faculty are responsible for enforcing these plans and should reinforce the importance of maintaining a physical distance of 6’ between individuals as they enter and leave a space while masked. Signs will be posted in all facilities and plans sent to students prior to arrival. 

Conductors/coaches should recommend that students leave extraneous belongings elsewhere when they travel for rehearsal. Students should make a sincere effort to reduce the number of backpacks, cases, coats, etc., that are brought into the rehearsal space.

It is also strongly recommended that students not share musical scores; they should have their own folder that they bring each time. In ensembles, consider assigning one stand partner to manage the music. Another possible equipment asset is a personal iPad or laptop for saving scores, using the pdf versions in rehearsals and coachings.

Private Lessons & Coaching

Private lessons: For all private lessons there will be 30 minutes of down time after the lessons to allow for air exchange. If you rehearse in a room with an air conditioner, you can use the air conditioner and open the room door to provide additional air flow during the empty room time, but this does not alter the required 30 minutes of down time. All individuals, including faculty, should leave the room during the down time. All doors and windows available at the facility should be opened to increase fresh-air inside.

Physical distancing must be maintained, and masks must always be worn as described above.

Private lessons and coachings for voice will take place in either Carnahan Jackson Dance Studios or Fletcher Hall. Voice lessons will last no longer than 45 minutes followed by 30 minutes of down time. 

Private lessons for piano will take place in Sherwood Marsh Studios. Piano lessons will last no longer than 45 minutes followed by 30 minutes of down time.

Private lessons for brass and winds will take place in McKnight Hall (with doors all open). Lessons will last no longer than 45 minutes followed by 30 minutes of down time.

Private lessons for strings and percussion will take place in faculty studios unless faculty or student request a larger space. Lessons will last no longer than 45 minutes followed by 30 minutes of down time.

Cleaning of Facilities by Faculty & Students

Cleaning: Facilities used for rehearsals will also be used at non-rehearsal times for individual teaching, studio lessons or other activities. Upon entering a music-making space and setting up the room attention should be given to the cleaning protocols posted there, using the equipment and materials provided. Departing users are also expected to use this same procedure before they leave, so there will be two cleanings in the empty 30 minutes between scheduled times.

The conductor/coach is responsible for overseeing the student musicians and ensuring that they follow all posted cleaning protocols. It is expected that all faculty and students will take the proper precautions when cleaning a space. 

  Cleaning and COVID-19 Protocols/Policies

  1. Cleaning Protocols: Halls, studios, and practice rooms will be cleaned daily by CHQ production crews. Cleaning protocols will be posted throughout the school, and supplies will be available for use by individuals between official cleanings by facilities. 


Performance Protocols

Length of performances: All performances involving musicians (solo or group) may not exceed 90 minutes of music. There will also be no intermission.

Dress rehearsals: Dress rehearsals prior to a performance will be allowed and scheduled by the Music Office and reflected in Arts Vision. Dress rehearsals, however, are to be closed events, with only the participating students and appropriate Chautauqua faculty (e.g., the student’s applied teacher in the case of a student recital) able to attend and are subject to the time limits stated above. 

Livestreaming: Chautauqua will provide livestreaming of most performances in the Amphitheater, to include orchestra concerts, voice opera with the orchestra and piano guest artist performances. We will also livestream our Sunday Afternoon Chamber Players concerts. 

Special considerations for outdoor performance: Performing outdoors does not change any masking or physical distance rules outlined in this document; rather the only change is that singers may perform for 60 minutes before taking the required 30 minutes of down time.

Lessons & Rehearsal Scheduling

Lesson Scheduling: The latest guidance from our medical team is that voice, winds, and brass lessons require 30 minutes of downtime between each lesson to allow for air recirculation and ventilation. This also applies to any rehearsals or coachings involving these instruments. During the downtime all students and faculty must vacate the room. Opening the window and/or turning on the air conditioner is recommended as well, but this does not reduce the required 30 minutes of downtime. 

Studio Classes: There will be studio classes for strings scheduled in Fletcher Hall on a pre-determined schedule. There will be one studio class a week per instrument. (NOT YET CONFIRMED)

Ensembles: Ensemble rehearsal schedules will be made by the music office by Suzanne Fassett Wright. Students may not rehearse in any space that is not pre-scheduled by the office. If an ensemble needs more rehearsal time or a different space the ensemble leader should be in touch with Ms. Fassett Wright.


Hours: 8 a.m.–10 p.m.

Practice cabins and studios will be pre-assigned to students before arrival. You will be sharing the cabin with one other student. 

No student may enter a cabin that is unoccupied—an empty room may be on room rest, and it may not be safe to enter.

It will be up to you and your cabinmate to schedule practice times that work for the both of you, always allowing for a 30-minute air exchange between practice sessions. 

Your school ID must be displayed in the practice room window at all times, with the name and photo facing out. Windows must not be covered or blocked.

Practice rooms are only available for individual work as most rooms do not allow for proper physical distancing. Group rehearsal spaces will be assigned by Suzanne Fassett Wright.

Students must wash/sanitize their hands before and after using a practice room. In addition, before and after each session, students must wipe down shared surfaces such as door handles, keyboards, and music stands using cleaning supplies provided by the school. Practice rooms will also be cleaned on a daily basis.

You are also allowed to practice in your room in the residence halls. Practice will be allowed from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. each day and must only take place in your room, it will not be allowed anywhere else in the residence halls.

Visitors & Guests

Visitor Policy: In general, guests and visitors will be severely limited on campus this summer. There are limited exceptions, but only for visitors and guests who are deemed essential to the academic missions of Chautauqua. Faculty who would like to bring a visitor or guest to campus should contact Sarah Malinoski-Umberger for information about the approval process. Students may not host visitors or guests on campus this summer for any reason.

Music Office Protocols

The music office will be closed to the public, only students and faculty will be permitted inside. We will be encouraging contact via email and text to limit the amount of traffic in the office. 

Screening, Testing & Tracing (still being developed)

Students will be asked to upload proof of a negative test within 72 hours to their CampDoc account. All students must arrive by June 19th for the required PCR test that same day. From that point each student will receive a rapid test every four days. There will be an isolation wing in the residence halls in case a student tests positive. 

Students and faculty will be asked to submit a health screening questionnaire digitally each day prior to arriving on campus. They will only need to submit this once each day in order to gain access to all School of Music facilities. 

For rapid testing we will use Abbott Biomax Now.

For PCR testing we will use Hologic Panther Fusion (PCR)

Explain how students will receive their test results? Students will be given access to a patient portal through our onsite medical clinic, staffed by Westfield Hospital staff or Chautauqua Medical Practice staff. Students will receive the results through the portal. Students will be asked to sign releases allowing clinic staff to also release results to Chautauqua Institution, via the same secure portal. 

Will the tests take place on site? The tests will be taken at the medical clinic on the Chautauqua Institution grounds, which is near the campus and does not require vehicle transfer.


Operations of the dining hall and other on-campus food services will be in accordance with New York State guidance. In the dining hall, there will be no customer-facing serving stations. Chautauqua’s food service provider is working to ensure students have appropriate dietary options with two grab-and-go hot boxed meals per day (breakfast and lunch) that will be chosen in advance from a digital menu. For dinner each day we plan to give a meal plan card that can be used to eat at any CHQ owned food establishment (Brick Walk Café, Afterwords Café, Heirloom Restaurant) When safe, the dining facility will have limited serving stations open for meal periods. All beverages will be bottled, and coffee will be served by a CHQ café employee. We will reopen seating in the dining area when it is deemed safe, with tables and chairs positioned for socially distanced eating. Regular cleaning and disinfecting practices throughout the dining facility will be enhanced according to guidelines.