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COVID-19 Updates from USC Thornton

Official messages and status updates from the USC Thornton School of Music.

Visit the official USC website for the latest updates on the university-wide response to the novel coronavirus.

Messages from Dean Cutietta

A Message from Dean Cutietta to the Students, Faculty, and Staff of USC Thornton

Portrait of Dean Robert CutiettaMarch 20, 2020

Our world has changed quickly in the last week, and more changes are to come. What is clear is that the proactive efforts to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus is upending all of our lives.

On Monday morning, March 23, we begin a new era. Our entire educational mission will move online. Students, faculty and staff will have new limitations placed on their interactions, lectures and lessons, rehearsals and performances. This is true not only for USC Thornton, but for music schools and conservatories across the world, and for the profession of music in general.


March 13: A Letter from Dean Cutietta

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff of USC Thornton,

If you had told me a week ago I’d be writing to you with so many updates of our school’s cancellations, I would not have believed it. Like you, I have been shocked and dismayed by the news, but also heartened by our community’s response.



In accordance with the Provost’s March 10 announcement, all university-sponsored events, on-campus and off-campus, are canceled for the Spring 2020 semester.


USC Thornton Building Closures

By the direction of the Provost, all USC Thornton facilities are closed, including:

  • Booth Memorial Hall (BMH)
  • Carson Center (CTV)
  • Gateway Practice Facility (UGW)
  • The Music Complex (TMC)
  • Music Faculty Building (MUS)
  • Newman Recital Hall (AHF)
  • Polish Music Center (STO)
  • Ramo Hall of Music RHM)
  • Schoenfeld Symphonic Hall (AES)

Venues & Performances

All Thornton venues are closed and all university-sponsored events, on-campus and off-campus, are canceled for the Spring 2020 semester.

Practicing and Rehearsals

All practice and rehearsal spaces at Thornton are closed. Thornton is making efforts to supply instruments, where possible.


  • Locker Check-Outs: If you have something in a Thornton Locker at this time, please contact
  • Key Check-Outs:At the present moment, please hold on to your Thornton keys. We will be in touch with returning procedures soon.  If you have immediate questions please contact Daily key check-out services have been suspended until further notice. No new keys will be issued to students, faculty or staff.
  • Instrument Check-Outs:Students with semester-long instrument check-outs for use in applied lessons may keep those instruments until the Wednesday, May 13th return deadline.
  • A/V Equipment Check-Outs:Checkout of audio-visual and technology equipment has been suspended until further notice.

Academic Policies

The USC Thornton School of Music has listed new policies pertinent to students, faculty and staff alike. Please read carefully as they may contain deviations from USC policy.

Transitioning to Remote Instruction

  • All classes, final exams, and juries will be held online for the rest of the Spring 2020 semester, primarily using Zoom and Blackboard.
  • All Spring 2020 classes will continue to be taught on the same weekly schedule as before Spring Break.
  • Reasonable accommodations will be made for students experiencing geographical or logistical complications.
  • Class sessions conducted with Zoom should be recorded and made available on Blackboard.
  • Out of consideration for this period of transition into remote learning tools, no exams or significant assignments should be due before Thursday, March 26th.

Pass/No Pass Grade Option

All USC undergraduate and graduate students will have the option to take any current-semester courses as Pass/No Pass (P/NP) even if a course under normal circumstances would be ineligible for this option.

  • All prohibitions and limitations within Thornton majors and degrees against the P/NP option are lifted in the Spring 2020 semester only.
  • Students can opt  for a letter grade, a Pass or a No Record up to a week after official class grades are posted.
  • The deadline to select these options is May 27, 2020.
  • This choice can be selected by the student for each course on the Web Registration system.
  • Please note: If you choose to take one or more of your GE courses as P/NP during the Spring 2020 semester, you will not be able to take any more GE courses on a P/NP basis in subsequent semesters. This applies to GE courses only.
  • Undergraduate students: If you choose the Pass/No Pass option, please note a grade of C-minus and above equates to grade of “Pass”; a D-plus and lower equates to a grade of “No Pass.”
  • Graduate students: If you choose the Pass/No Pass option, please note a grade of B and above equates to grade of “Pass”; a B-minus and lower equates to a grade of “No Pass.”
  • See the USC Academics FAQ page for further information.


The nature of a Pass is different if a student chooses P/NP vs. Letter Grade. See the Thornton Online Teaching Website for how this policy relates to grading undergraduate and graduate students.

Withdrawal (W) Option and Deadline Extension

For the current semester only, the deadline to withdraw from any course and receive a mark of “W” (“Withdrawal”) has been extended to Friday, May 1, 2020, which is the last day of regular classes, but before final exams. 

Incomplete (IN) Option

The grade of Incomplete (IN) continues to be a narrowly-defined grade option that occurs after a Withdrawl (W) is no longer allowed. For the Spring 2020 semester, student’s are eligible for a grade of IN after Friday, May 1, 2020. 

As indicated in the USC Grade Handbook, “an IN is considered in the case of a documented emergency that occurs after the withdrawal date and/or during the final exam period… Based on this definition, a student may not request an IN before the withdrawal deadline.”

Degree Recitals

  • For every student recital that is curricularly necessary for an already expected Spring 2020 graduation, departments are required to facilitate a recital OR an agreed-upon substitute as a capstone experience by May 15, 2020.
  • Departments are encouraged whenever possible to continue other already scheduled curricularly-required recitals even if not for immediate graduation needs.
  • Non-required recitals as well as junior recitals and graduate recitals for students not graduating in Spring 2020 may be considered for postponement.
  • All recitals or substitutes in Spring 2020 must adhere to social distancing parameters as if a “Shelter in Place” order were in force, meaning students may not perform together in-person.
  • The acceptable forms of recitals in your department (live stream, recording, alternative recorded presentation, written document, etc.) are to be decided by the chair in consultation with the faculty and with approval of the Vice Dean.


  • All juries that were originally planned for Spring 2020 must still take place in some acceptable form, since juries are the final exam for the course.
  • Departments are encouraged to modify the mode of delivery and content of the jury as appropriate to each situation.
  • All juries in Spring 2020 must adhere to social distancing parameters as if a “Shelter in Place” order were in force, meaning students may not perform together in-person.
  • Possible approaches to juries include live Zoom sessions with the faculty, recordings, or other substitutes which are to be decided by the chair in consultation with the faculty and with approval of the Vice Dean.
  • Evaluation should be conducted as closely as possible to the spirit of normal juries.

Student Resources

  • For key updates about academic courses, health services and housing, click here.
  • Visit USC’s academic FAQ pagefor changes to the academic calendar and answers to common questions.
  • If you have questions about transitioning to remote learning tools, such as using Zoom, Blackboard, or troubleshooting issues, visit the Thornton Online Teaching Website.
  • If you have questions about expectations in a specific course, contact the instructor of that course.
  • Information about this semester’s academic advising process is available here.
  • If you have particular needs and you’re not sure who to reach out to, please contact your Thornton academic advisor or the USC Campus Support & Intervention office at 213-740-0411 or

Updates from the USC Libraries

USC Libraries locations are currently closed. For the latest updates on the libraries’ current policies and available services, visit the Library’s update page.

Key updates:

  • Library buildings are closed until further notice. All library digital collections, services, and programs that support remote teaching and learning remain available online.
  • Interlibrary Loan and Document Delivery (IDD) are accepting requests for book chapters and articles (to be scanned), as well as physical items to be paged from the Music Library. Click here for more information on what IDD services remain available.
  • Through the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester, there will be no overdue fines for items currently checked out from the Libraries.

On the library’s update page, you will find more useful information and resources for students, including:

  • Expanded hours for Ask-a-Librarian virtual reference service
  • USC Libraries subject specialists
  • Online databases
  • Electronic journals
  • USC Digital Library collections
  • Course reserves
  • Scan and deliver services
  • Information literacy and library virtual instruction

For questions about the USC Libraries’ operations and services, contact Andrew Justice:

Faculty Resources

  • The Thornton Online Teaching Website is a resource for faculty, staff and teaching assistants to help acclimate to new modes of remote teaching. Download step-by-step guides to make the most of digital teaching tools.
  • The USC Center for Excellence in Teaching provides targeted modules, videos, and short classes for instructors transitioning to online teaching methods.