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SMTD Policies on COVID-19

Jul 23, 2020 | Health & Safety, News

The University of Michigan has announced plans to provide an innovative, in-person fall 2020 semester designed to meet the needs of our students and campus community and advance our mission. These plans are informed by the latest safety measures put in place by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the state of Michigan, and the guidance of U-M experts from public health, education, medicine, and others across our campus community. To learn more, visit Campus Maize and Blueprint.

The School of Music, Theatre & Dance is finalizing School-specific plans for fall 2020 and information is being updated regularly as it becomes available.


Though there are still some unknowns, the School has developed a Fall 2020 Class Instruction Reference Sheet for SMTD students. This working document lists all fall classes, noting whether they will be delivered remotely or via in-person/hybrid format. There are also brief notes for those classes being offered in-person/hybrid that may help explain how SMTD plans to work within public health guidelines.

Please note:

  • Information in this document is currently being gathered in real time. If a class is listed as “PENDING,” please know faculty are working on details for instruction at this time. Information may not be available at the moment due to evolving health guidelines or scheduling adjustments, but details will be forthcoming.
  • Delivery of instruction may be subject to change. The information detailed is in coordination with public health guidelines at the current point in time. Please regularly check the reference sheet for updates as we move closer to fall. Any changes will be to ensure that faculty, students, and staff remain safe.
  • Information on potential room reassignments will be forthcoming. If a class will be moved to a larger space or split among rooms, you will receive this information once scheduling details are set, closer to the fall term.
  • For specific questions on your class, please contact instructors directly. The document is to provide an overview of information, but instructors may be able to further narrow down details.
  • International students should continue to follow guidelines communicated by the International Center. Please visit their website for procedures specific to travel and Visa restrictions as well as contact information.
  • Further details surrounding ensembles will be forthcoming. This issue requires significant planning and preparation to ensure students and faculty can work together in a way that follows up-to-date public health guidelines. Additional communication specifically addressing ensembles will be sent to students once there is more information to share.

For questions about SMTD’s COVID-19 policies, please email [email protected].

SMTD Safety Plan

On Wednesday, July 15, President Schlissel announced updated policies regarding the return to campus for Fall 2020. This announcement allowed SMTD to further our own plans for the health and safety of students, faculty, and staff in anticipation of the start of fall classes on August 31.

Our plans are based on medical advice and scientific research that examines how performing artists can manage COVID-19 risks effectively. It considers a wide range of issues including activity-based social distancing, sanitation, masks, ventilation, room rest and cleaning, etc. SMTD’s draft was very well-received. Further, we have surveyed emerging safety practices in both professional and educational settings. In instances where a consensus on best practice has yet to emerge, we have decided to err on the side of caution. New information is being published daily, and we will continuously refine our approach, but want you to know that the safety of our students, faculty, and staff is our top priority.

Although we still await final approval by the Provost’s Office of our draft plan, we feel it is now possible to share some key factors:

Testing, Quarantine, and Contact Tracing

SMTD’s plan works within the overall health and safety plan of the University of Michigan which mandates personal protective equipment, pervasive Covid-19 testing, contact tracing, and quarantine for exposed individuals. For now, only those with U-M identification cards will be permitted in any SMTD building.


As outlined in President Schlissel’s email of July 15, 2020, all U-M students, faculty, and staff must wear a mask while on university property at all times with very few exceptions. We will be seeking approval for particular activities as outlined in exception eight of the full University mask policy. SMTD fully supports U-M’s mask policy as a fundamental tool of public health. Extra masks will be provided at SMTD buildings.

Social Distancing and Room Capacity

Entry areas to all SMTD spaces will display a sign with a maximum capacity based upon social distancing requirements linked to the activity held within the space. These signs will provide clear instructions for appropriate entry, use, disinfection, and exit. Reference signage and measuring tools will be provided to ensure that social distancing requirements are met or exceeded during all SMTD activities. This will include floor markings for performance or acting areas in classrooms, studios, and on stages. Distancing requirements will also be continually reviewed and approved by EHS. Current estimates for rehearsal and performance requirements include:

All participants at a minimum of six feet apart, or 36 square feet per person:
Academic instruction
Piano and strings
Percussion without movement

Placed a minimum of twelve feet apart, or 144 square feet per person:
Wind and brass instruments
Percussion with movement
Musical Theatre

Room Rest

Intensive studies are underway to gather more data about the dynamics of aerosols during performance activities. This data will be applied to the scheduling and use of SMTD facilities, and may affect the length of class and rehearsal times. Further, all spaces will be held to the required standards of ‘room rest’ between activities to allow aerosols to be removed by the HVAC systems. In general, U-M’s HVAC systems already have a high air-exchange rate, and a high level of filtration. We are doing extra due diligence in this regard.


U-M custodial staff will clean and disinfect SMTD buildings, with special emphasis on high-touch areas. Additional cleaning protocols are being developed. Information is forthcoming.


The determination as to whether or not audiences are allowed in our performance halls depends upon which phase of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s MI Safe Start Plan Washtenaw County is in at the time of performance.

Currently, Washtenaw County, which includes our campus, is in Phase Four of the plan. This means theaters and performance halls are closed to the public. Whenever feasible, SMTD performances will be live streamed and additional equipment for this purpose is being secured.

SMTD is researching and drafting public safety policies should Washtenaw County move into Phase Five of the plan. In this phase, theaters and performance halls will be allowed to have audiences up to 25% of the capacity of the hall, or 250 people, whichever is less. There are numerous public-safety protocols required to have live audiences, and these will be incorporated into any future plans, if and when the Covid situation improves.


SMTD has developed draft blueprints that reflect the maximum number of performers allowed on SMTD stages and rehearsal spaces in Phase Five of Governor Whitmer’s plan. Capacity will be reduced on a case-by-case basis if we remain in Phase Four or return to Phase Three. Additional information will be forthcoming.

Once again, SMTD’s plans are under review by the Office of the Provost. Additional details will be updated upon approval. For questions about SMTD’s COVID-19 policies, please email [email protected].


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