A Message from the Dean: Update on Spring 2021 semester

Dear students, faculty and staff of USC Thornton,

I am writing with an update regarding plans for the Spring semester. President Folt sent a recent announcement to the university community about the possibility of a partial reopening of the University Park campus.

This is wonderful news, something we’ve all been waiting for, but I want to caution you that it is still too early to make any decision to return to campus, or in the case of our many students who are out of state or abroad, to make plans to return to Los Angeles.

How we’ll prioritize a partial reopening

As I mentioned in previous emails, Thornton has been working hard to be able to reopen the campus as soon as we receive approvals and final detailed guidelines from L.A. County and University officials. Until we see the details of what the county will be approving we have no way of knowing what, if anything, Thornton will be able to offer. Once we know, we estimate that it will take a minimum of two weeks before any of our facilities can reopen. Our priorities for in-person experiences remain unchanged.  They are:

In anticipation of reopening, the Thornton Operations division has been re-thinking and re-configuring classroom, studio and performance spaces throughout the School. This has involved measuring every instructional room, marking the floors to identify proper social distancing, deploying equipment and devising procedures for disinfecting rooms and equipment, and purchasing audio and visual technology to allow musicians who produce aerosols to perform in physical isolation from others.

A brief Q & A

Here are a few brief answers to questions you may have.

What does this mean for Classes?

All classes for the Thornton School will remain online through the Spring 2021 semester.

What does this mean for Lessons?

Based on the reopening priorities listed above, we first plan to open our buildings and facilities, including the Gateway Practice Facility, for limited use by music majors. Then, we will potentially allow in-person individual instruction on a case-by-case basis.

What does this mean for Rehearsals?

The potential for returning to some form of in-person collaborative music-making will first need to adhere to the final County and University guidelines and then depend on your program at Thornton. More information will be provided either by me or the chair of your program when available.

Looking Ahead

There are a million questions that still need to be answered, but this is a hopeful moment. We closed our campus on March 13, 2020, and we are approaching a year of online education that none of us could have predicted. We believe the County of Los Angeles will soon release updated guidelines that will clarify if there is a possibility of in-person activities on our campus as first steps toward what we are planning will be a residential Fall 2021 semester. I will be in touch as soon as we know more. It sure would be nice to see you all!

Stay safe and be well.

Rob Cutietta
Dean, USC Thornton School of Music