Dear Thornton Students:
We’re one week away from the start of the fall semester! Fall classes begin on Monday, August 23, and we couldn’t be more excited to welcome you to campus.
As you know from news reports and recent messages from USC, adjustments to public health guidance have become necessary in recent weeks due to the spread of the Delta variant. As a result, there will be some important changes to how we will need to start the fall semester in the Thornton School.
What has NOT changed since my last memo to you on July 20:
- We are returning for an in-person fall semester.
- Regardless of vaccination status, everyone must wear a mask at all times while indoors.
- Everyone must be cleared for campus access through Trojan Check. This includes compliance with USC’s vaccination policy, regular testing, and daily symptom checks. (For more details, see the August 2 message from USC Student Health to the USC community.)
- Anyone in the vicinity of aerosol-producing activity (e.g., singing, wind playing) must be cleared for this activity by being fully vaccinated.
What HAS changed:
- Very recently, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health directed that no aerosol-producing activity will be allowed indoors unless all participants are fully masked. This means that, for the time being, we must prepare to move nearly all of our aerosol-producing activity outdoors or to an online format. While we are vigorously pursuing a blanket exception to this directive, we have been able to confirm that the following exceptions are possible now:
- Aerosol producers (singers & wind players) may sing and play their instruments without masks if they are in a room by themselves (e.g., individual practicing in a practice room).
- Singers may sing indoors if they are wearing masks. (Important note: The specialized masks for wind players are not currently approved by county guidelines for use in educational settings.)
- Concerts and other performances can take place indoors with aerosol-producers not wearing masks, though audiences will not be permitted.
Given these changes to public health directives, we cannot avoid significant disruption to our aerosol- producing and aerosol-adjacent activity in the early weeks of the semester. We are disheartened by this, though not deterred. We are working feverishly to minimize disruptions in every way we can.
We must ask for your patience and flexibility. Our return will unfortunately not be as smooth as we have worked so hard to plan. You will receive details from your instructors and faculty mentors as they pertain to your personal courses and activities.
Still, our long-anticipated return to campus is happening. We will be in person, making music together for the first time in nearly eighteen months. We will be welcoming two incoming cohorts of students to campus for the first time, and current students will be returning after a long time away. This is a moment to celebrate, to feel hopeful, but also to understand that challenges remain. The Thornton community has pulled together to meet every challenge over the past eighteen months, and we’ll continue to adjust to changing circumstances. We look forward to supporting you in every way we can as you return.
Rob Cutietta, Dean, USC Thornton School of Music
USC Thornton Restart Team – Jeffrey de Caen, Brian Head, Susan Lopez, & Phillip Placenti