School of Music COVID-19 Updates

Amid the continually evolving pandemic, the School of Music strives to keep its students, faculty, and staff apprised of University of Minnesota COVID-19 policy, and to provide clear guidance on its applications in our music-specific setting. The following is intended as a general guide and will be updated as circumstances change and/or more information is available.

School of Music COVID-19 Guidelines

On August 23rd, 2021, President Gabel announced the University is adding the COVID-19 vaccine to the list of vaccines required for all enrolled University of Minnesota students, and University employees are required to attest to their vaccination status. On October 21, 2021, President Gabel announced that, in compliance with U.S. President Joe Biden's recent executive order, the University will move from attestation to requiring all faculty and staff systemwide to submit proof of vaccination. To find out more about how the University can help you with vaccination, please visit the Get the Vax 2.0 webpage.

Per President Gabel’s directive of August 2, the University of Minnesota requires that “all students, staff, faculty, contractors, and visitors to our campuses, offices, and facilities, statewide, wear facial coverings while indoors, regardless of your vaccination status.” 

School of Music community members are required to follow this directive in all cases except those in which wearing a mask is impossible. Face coverings (and where applicable, flute masks and bell covers) are required for all musical activities. Certain exceptions for instructional settings are described below.  

The University is prepared to provide N95 masks (or alternatives) and fitting services. The School of Music has face shields for instructors upon request.  Please see the “Face Coverings'' section on the Health & Safety FAQs page or email for more information.

Face coverings, flute masks, and bell covers are not currently required for outdoor activities. Outdoor spaces are available for faculty and students to reserve. For more information please see “Outdoor Spaces” below, and the School of Music Intranet (UMN account required for viewing).

Masks are required for all musicians. Woodwind and brass players may temporarily remove their masks while actively playing. For woodwind and brass players, bell covers are required in most situations. Woodwind "bags" are not required in any situation. Flutes should continue to use a mask that covers the mouth of the player and head joint of the instrument.  The School of Music has flute masks and bell covers available for students and faculty free of charge.

Face Mask, Flute Mask, and Bell Cover Exceptions in the Instructional Setting

For pedagogical reasons, there may be instances in which vocalists, woodwind players, and brass players may wish to make music without face covering and/or bell covers. This is permissible only when both of the following criteria are met:

  • 6 feet distance can be maintained, such as for an individual lesson or small ensemble meeting in a room large enough to maintain 6 feet between all people.
  • The instructor and student(s) confirm their mutual agreement to remove face coverings and/or bell covers. This explicit advance agreement is required in all cases. Any one individual objection would prevent a small ensemble, for example, from removing any masks or bell covers.

The School of Music does not endorse specific brands of flute masks, or bell covers, but they should meet the standards listed below. Students should consult their instructor for further advice.  

Bell covers should be designed to cover the bell of the instrument.  French horn bell covers may allow for the passage of the player's hand. 

Flute masks should meet all CDC guidelines for non-medical masks.  A hole is allowed for the head joint to enter the mask.  An example of an acceptable flute mask can be found here: . Flute players with further questions should consult their instructor.  

Pantyhose, spandex, nylon, and other stretchy materials should not be used for masks or bell covers 

When more than one individual is in a practice room, masks (including flute masks) and bell covers must be worn at all times. Students practicing alone in a practice room may remove their mask or bell cover. All practice rooms are available on a first-come first-served basis. No ventilation breaks will be required between users.

For fall 2021, there is no requirement for social distancing (other than as described above). There is no limit on group sizes, and no limit on the length of lessons or rehearsals.

Consistent with UMN face-covering requirements, the SoM requires that wind and brass instrument coverings be utilized. The SoM will provide one set of instrument PPE to anyone who does not have their own. This includes specialized musician PPE such as instrument bell covers and specialized masks.

The School of Music does not endorse a specific brand of musician PPE, but it should meet the standards listed below. 

It should be designed to cover the bell of the instrument as well as the mouthpiece and player’s nose and mouth. Flutes should use a mask that completely envelopes the player’s mouth and instrument headjoint. 
Holes are allowed for the passage of mouthpieces, headjoints, and hands, but should be designed to minimize the escape of airborne particles as much as possible.
Musician and instrument PPE should be made from materials meeting the same basic criteria as non-medical masks and face coverings. Materials that have not been lab tested to demonstrate effective filtration of aerosolized particles generated by wind instruments* should be able to pass the “tissue test” described below
Pantyhose, spandex, nylon, and other stretchy materials should not be used for PPE, as there is evidence that in some situations they may actually cause more particle aerosolization than no PPE at all.** A tightly stretched nylon bell cover behaves like a resonating drum head. If you pour water on a drum head then vibrate it by striking it or by placing it next to a very loud sound source, the water will spray off of the head in fine particles. Similarly, a stretchy bell cover may aerosolize condensation as it resonates. Limp, inelastic materials are less likely to exhibit this aerosolizing behavior.
If a mask with a mouthpiece hole is prohibitive to the proper functioning of a brass or reed instrument, the player may wear a normal face covering and temporarily move it aside while actively playing their instrument, but must immediately replace it over their nose and mouth during any rest. All exhaled breath should pass through and be filtered by either a face covering or by instrument PPE. Masks with a closable mouthpiece hole are strongly preferred whenever possible, and are the safest option for the player, as they also filter inhaled air.

* He, R., Gao, L., Trifonov, M., Hong, J., (2020) Journal of Aerosol Science, Aerosol generation from different wind instruments

** Ongoing wind-instrument study (see appendix D) and Fischer, E., Fischer, D., (2020) Science Advances, Low-cost measurement of face mask efficacy for filtering expelled droplets during speech

The Tissue Test:

In the absence of data certifying the filtration efficiency of a given PPE material (e.g., FDA or NIOSH certifications such as “N95”), you may use the ‘tissue test’ to evaluate your material. This test doesn’t indicate the filtration efficiency of the material, but it will show if a material is a severely insufficient barrier to airborne particles. 

Hang a disposable facial tissue about 12 inches in front of your face while completely covering your nose and mouth with the mask or PPE material. The materials should be pulled to the same tension as when in use as PPE.
Blow air through the material in the direction of the tissue. Don’t cheat—blow hard!
The tissue should not move. If you can move the tissue by blowing air through the material, it probably shouldn’t be used as PPE. If your PPE material fails the tissue test, additional layers of material can be added until it passes.

Fall instruction (beginning September 7), is currently planned to take place at full capacity and in-person throughout the University, including the School of Music. Students are expected to attend class in person unless they are sick, in which case they are encouraged to stay home. 

Fall 2021 courses will be taught in-person, on campus. At this time, the College of Liberal Arts is no longer approving any modality change requests. Should you wish to change the modality of your course for a medical reason, please refer to the Disability Resource Center. Please consider this suggested syllabus language. For more information, please visit the website for the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost

Students are expected to attend in-person classes on campus. Students with questions or specific considerations should request accommodations through Disability Resource Center. Undergraduates can consult Erica Evilla ( and graduate students can consult their faculty advisor.

As long as teaching assistants and instructors are accessible, remote office hours are permitted. In cases where students are on campus during the day, remote office hours may need to be scheduled when most convenient for students.

Ferguson Hall’s public and University hours are available on the School of Music School of Music location and facilities page and Intranet (UMN login required). Please remember to bring your U Card to gain building access. 

The University’s Department of Public Safety (DPS) recently announced a change to our campus safety strategy. Specifically, they asked that departments continue to restrict public access to campus buildings to a greater degree than before the pandemic, with some exceptions for public-facing units such as the Libraries.  Many campus buildings will continue to require a U-Card for access at all times, but Ferguson Hall will have some public hours to correspond with the public hours of the Music Library (FergH rm 70).  


Ferguson Hall hours beginning September 7th:

Public Hours 

8:00am - 7:00pm, Monday - Thursday

8:00am - 6:00pm, Friday

No weekend public hours

Public access is available at the main Ferguson Hall lobby only

University Hours (U Card Access Only)

6 AM - Midnight, 7 days per week

U Card access is available at all external doors

University students and employees may host guests in Ferguson Hall during University Hours when it is part of their study, research, or employment at the University, but these guests must be accompanied and are not allowed to freely wander or remain in the building without their host.  Unauthorized visitors may be asked to leave.  

The host is responsible for showing their guests in and out of the building.  Propping open doors to allow access to the building is strictly prohibited.  

Hosts should ensure their guests are aware of and follow University and School of Music COVID-19 protocols while on campus.

Recitals may be scheduled during public or University hours.

The building schedule will not be modified for student recitals and other small events or meetings, but may change for large, staffed, public events such as those in Ted Mann Concert Hall.  School of Music faculty may contact Peter Remiger ( with questions about planning a large public event within these restrictions.  

Recitals can be scheduled as usual using the resources on the recitals intranet page. There are currently no limits on the number of attendees, but use careful judgment with awareness that some individuals may be at higher risk of developing severe COVID-19 illness. Recital rehearsals and performances must follow the School of Music’s COVID-19 guidelines for musical activities. Food may be served at recital receptions.

Anyone invited into the School of Music facilities must abide by the UMN policy regarding masks and building access. You will be responsible for letting an invited guest into the building, and guests should be accompanied by their host during University hours.

Students and employees pursuing their educational program off-campus with external organizations (e.g. field activities, music education) are responsible for following the pandemic-related policies of their host organization.

Outdoor spaces may be used for instruction, including the Ferguson/Ted Mann plaza, Ferguson Hall room 280 patio, and Ferguson Hall amphitheater as weather permits. Reservations must be made through the Student Services Office via the reservation instructions available on the School of Music Intranet (UMN account required for viewing). Please be aware that there are several ongoing construction projects this fall in and around Ferguson Hall.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) have issued guidance for operating HVAC systems under pandemic conditions. A special workgroup reviewed this guidance and developed a list of strategies that can reduce the potential for airborne transmission of SARS-COV-2 in University facilities. The School of Music's air handling equipment is operated based on the strategies developed by this group, and the School of Music works with Facilities Management, Energy Management, and other campus partners to ensure our air handling infrastructure is operating as effectively as possible.  More information about the additional support provided by Facilities Management during the pandemic is available here.

Some spaces are equipped with an in-room HEPA air purifier.  

The purifier should be run before, during, and after the activity. 

It’s strongly recommended to position the purifier intake in front of the primary source of airborne contaminants whenever possible, such as a wind instrument’s bell, or in front of a singer.  

If you’re considering the purchase of an air purifier for your space, please consult with Peter Remiger ( 

What happens if a student, staff, faculty, or community member tests positive for COVID? In keeping with University guidance, we recommend the following response:

1. For positive student cases, directly refer to the detailed guidance on the provost's website.

2. For Academic Planning questions, including faculty and teaching considerations, directly refer to the detailed guidance on the provost's website.

3. Those who test positive for COVID should isolate at home for 10 days after the onset of symptoms, consult with a medical provider about treatment and duration of isolation, and report the case to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH).

4. Anyone who has been in close contact (defined as 6 feet or less in an indoor setting, for 15 minutes or more) with the affected individual is considered as having been exposed to COVID. Unvaccinated individuals who have been exposed should quarantine for 14 days and get tested within 3-5 days of exposure. Those who are fully vaccinated and show no symptoms of COVID-19 do not need to quarantine. However, even fully vaccinated people without outward symptoms should get tested 3-5 days after exposure. In addition to adhering to the face covering requirement inside all University buildings, they should wear a face covering in all other public settings for the 14 days following exposure or until they receive a negative test result.