UNI School of Music

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School of Music COVID-19 Policies

NEW - updated 5/28/201 (please note, policies are subject to change and more information is being added frequently)

Face coverings are generally not required on campus. There may be limited tasks or areas (healthcare and childcare settings) where face coverings could still be required as determined through the hazard assessment process. Those who have not been fully vaccinated are strongly encouraged to continue wearing face coverings in accordance with CDC guidelines. Individuals who are fully vaccinated can continue to wear face coverings on campus if they choose to do so.

Room Capacities
As of June 1, 2021, room capacities may return to their pre-COVID numbers and social distancing markings will be removed. Setups in the classrooms in both RSL and PAC will be returned to normal over the course of the summer. 

Air Cycling 
Air cycling breaks (or "dead/vacant times") in rooms are no longer required between activities. This includes in the practice rooms. 

Please visit https://forwardtogether.uni.edu/ for updated information on University policies and planning. 


The statements and policies noted below were last updated 1.21.2021. Policies above (dated more recently) are currently in effect, with the information below left as reference. 

Music making involves a lot of unique challenges during this pandemic. There are different challenges depending on the activity. For instance, singing presents greater risk of virus transmission than does playing a string instrument since it generates a greater amount of droplets and aerosols. For that reason, there will be a variety of approaches associated with specific activities. With everyone’s cooperation and adherence to guidelines, we should all be able to continue to have a high quality musical experience despite some required changes in procedures. The University-wide policies (found here at the togetherforward site) apply, but they are supplemented by the policies below, which are specific to music practice and performance scenarios.  

Larger droplets of respiratory secretions may fall to the ground over distance and time and are the impetus for social distancing recommendations. Smaller aerosols are invisible, may be infectious, and are the reason for additional precautions which must be observed by those who might produce aerosols during their performance activities. For the purpose of these policies, aerosol-producing activities include singing, brass and woodwind playing.

Students, faculty and staff should not come to Russell Hall, the Gallagher Bluedorn or participate in any School of Music activity if they are symptomatic, or a person under investigation (PUI) or have active coronavirus infection until such time as local, state and national guidelines support a safe return to the UNI community. 

For aerosol producers: use common sense, protect others from your spit. This document does not cover all possible cases when potentially infectious aerosols or droplets might be produced. If you have questions, please ask.

While these guidelines are directed toward activities within the School of Music, students, faculty and staff should follow all state, local and university guidelines at all times and in all situations to minimize the spread of COVID-19.

Required Training for Students

In preparation for fall semester classes, all UNI students are required to complete an online training program by Friday, August 14 on campus expectations and prevention practices related to COVID-19.

Classes and classrooms

Your classes will likely be a mixture of face to face, hybrid (some f2f, some online) and fully online. We are striving to achieve an 80% face to face/hybrid set of offerings. In the case of hybrid classes, there may be a number of different approaches including having a portion of the class come on one day while the others come to the next session. Each class will inform you of its plan. Face to face classes will meet in larger spaces so that social distancing can be achieved.

Signs will be posted on the entrance door of each classroom and performance space noting the maximum capacity (new, based on COVID 19 policies and social distancing allowances). However, please take into considerstion the musical activity which you are participating in within the space, and adjust social distancing and total number of participants accordingly (see below under Distancing). 

Maximum classrooms capacities (including all students, faculty and guests) are: RSL 47 - 11, RSL 61 - 11, RSL 68 - 20, RSL 78 - 23, RSL 101 - 12, RSL 116 - 33, RSL 121 - 21, RSL 147 - 13, RSL 157 - 14, RSL 159 - 11, RSL 161 - 12; GBPAC 30 - 18. See recitals and performances section below for details on perormance spaces that double as classrooms. 

Classes/rehearsals meeting in Bengtson Auditorium: No more than 5 instrumentalists on stage in Bengtson for more than 30 minutes with a 30 minute dead time in the space (i.e. a 1-3 rehearsal could have 5 instrumentalists on stage from 1-1:30, then break for 30 minutes to clear the air [outside of the hall] then rehearse again from 2-2:30 and end to ensure the required dead time). For vocalists singing unmasked, no more than 2 on stage with same time limitations.

Please be diligent about RESERVING classrooms and other large spaces if you plan to rehearse in them. Planning for vacant times to allow aerosols to disburse is critical to everyone's safety, and unplanned/unschedule use of spaces makes that much more difficult. 

Face Coverings

We will expect everyone to wear a face covering while in buildings including in practice rooms. The only exception is for times when you are actively performing and your instrument requires that the covering be removed.

All University of Northern Iowa students will be provided with two washable cloth face masks and one face shield. These can be picked up at the UNI Bookstore, using your UNI ID card. The use of the face shield only is not permitted in UNI music buildings.

Signage reinforcing the importance of face coverings for virus control will be posted throughout Russell Hall and the Gallagher Bluedorn.

Applied Lessons

Some applied lessons will have to be conducted remotely while others will continue face to face. We are working with the goal that at a minimum students will have a face to face lesson experience every other week and a remote lesson alternate weeks. In some cases there will be more face to face lessons than that and in others, it may not be possible to meet that goal. Most small seminars/studio classes will meet face to face, but the large seminars such as Wind and Percussion will not meet. Your applied teacher will let you know the activity that will take its place.

Expanded Technology and Resources

We are in the process of installing webcams, microphones and computers in a number of practice rooms in Russell and the GBPAC. Since some lessons will be handled remotely, these spaces will be available for students to use to make recordings or do synchronous lessons, depending on the individual instructor.

Practice Rooms

Users are expected to clean shared items in the space before and after use. This includes things such as music stands, piano, chair and any liquid discharge from wind instruments.

Practice rooms should remain empty for 30 minutes between users to allow time for the air exchange system to clear the room.

At the end of your practice session, please set the clock on the door to the time when you left the space so that the next user can tell when a half hour has elapsed.

Rooms containing computers and microphones are prioritized for use by those doing lesson work. If you are only doing a regular practice session, please try to utilize spaces without this equipment if they are available. Technology enhanced practice rooms are: Russell Hall 01-11, 16, 17, and 22; Gallagher Bluedorn 22 and 26 (percussion), 40, 52, 54, and 64. 

Practice room doors are to remain closed and locked at all times.

Large Ensembles

We are planning to have large ensembles, though there will be some changes for the fall. For instrumental ensembles excluding Panther Marching Band, we have ordered dividers so that each player will be flanked on three sides by a clear vinyl panel. The performers will be at distances of 6-15 feet apart and will be expected to wear face coverings except when performance requires its removal. Playing time in rehearsals will be limited to 40 minutes per hour with 20 minutes unoccupied time for the space to settle. Ensemble members will not be allowed to play in the rehearsal space before or after rehearsal in order to maximize the available time for rehearsals. In some cases, ensembles will not be as large as usual. All instrumental ensembles have been moved to larger spaces for rehearsals but remain at their scheduled times.

Choral ensembles will also be functioning with slightly different approaches for each group. Face coverings will be worn while singing and the ensembles will be in larger spaces than usual. Each ensemble director will send information to the students in their ensemble with specific directions.

Users will be expected to clean any shared surfaces such as music stands before and after each use. Hand sanitizer and other cleaning supplies will be available in designated locations in the buildings.


- Students should collect water from their instruments responsibly and cleanly in a cloth stored in a plastic bag; cloth should be cleaned regularly. No water will be expelled onto floors or common surfaces.
- No air should be forced through the instrument or its parts to expel water.
- No air should be used to clean waterlogged keys (i.e., blowing out tone holes).
- Instrument swabs should be handled with care.
- No instrument reeds should be shared.
- No buzzing on mouthpieces as this may produce more aerosols and droplets than most other activities.

Recitals and Performances

At this time, we are planning for recitals to resume in the fall, however, it is not yet clear if we will allow audiences or if performances will be streamed only. For large ensemble concerts, it is not yet clear. It is likely that things will vary for each ensemble and each performance venue. The ensemble directors and Dr. Funderburk are still working through these details.

Maximum audience capacity will be the following in each venue: Davis Hall (20-40 audience; 45 max occupancy), Bengtson Auditorium (28-60), Great Hall (capacity and audience seating varies in this space; please contact Caroline.Francis@uni.edu for specific event capacities and details), Jebe Hall (24 audience; 28 max capacity), and Graham Hall (20 audience; 25 max occupancy). Please note, maximum capcities for these venues range depending on the number of performers, and type of music being performed. For example, if a 25-piece band is rehearsing in Davis, no audience would be allowed. Please check with Dr. Funderburk for specific scenario recommendations. 

All audience members must wear masks, follow labeled traffic patterns, and use only designated seats.

Building-wide ventilation and air quality upgrades

Wherever possible, increased fresh-air intake and increased exhaust modes will be employed throughout the building.

Density and traffic protocols

Each instructional space will be labeled with the maximum capacity for that room based on social distancing guidelines.

Chairs/tables/desks will be spaced in each room with floor markings.

Traffic patterns throughout the building will be clearly labeled.


Minimum 6-feet distancing is required in all spaces, including common areas.

Musicians performing together should maintain 6 feet of distance for non-aerosol producing and minimal-aerosal producing instruments (strings, percussion, keyboard, etc.). Aerosol-producing instruments sholud maintain 6 to 9 feet of distance (woodwinds, brass [9 feet for trombone]). Singers should wear a mask in choral singing and maintain a distance of 12-15 feet. Operatic vocalists who must perform without a mask should maintain AT LEAST a 15 foot distance and preferably limit performance to one singer in a space. Our largest spaces may accommodate a limited number of singers.

Congregating before/after classes and rehearsals is prohibited. Faculty are requested to dismiss classes/ensembles in groups to minimize congregating.

GA Offices

Graduate Assistants who share offices must develop office schedules that allow for proper 6-foot distancing.

GAs must wear masks at all times when inhabiting their office with another GA.

Air Cycling Time in Music Spaces

Ensemble rehearsals and studio classes should observe a 40/20 plan (40 minutes of playing/singing, followed by 20 minutes of empty space -- i.e. leave for a 20 minute break to allow the space to remain empty and let aerosols settle, and the air to cycle through the HVAC system). For unmasked singing in any space, and/or aerosol-producing rehearsals in Bengtson, 30 minutes of empty space following the end of singing/playing should be observed. 

For lessons/rehearsals in classroom/shared spaces, 20 minutes of vacant time should follow any aerosol-producing instrumental lessons, and 30 minutes of vacant time should follow any vocal lessons/rehearsals. 

Practice room times may extend beyond 40 minutes, but a 30 minute empty space time must follow any practice room use. See practice room policies above. 

Hand and equipment hygiene, building cleaning

Everyone is required to practice good hand hygiene (sanitizing stations provided).

Signage reinforcing the importance of hand hygiene for virus control will be posted throughout all UNI buildings.

Students and faculty are responsible for surface cleaning of equipment/instruments used before and after lessons and rehearsals (supplies provided). Instruction on how best to clean your instrument and other equipment will be provided.

Entryways, hallways, elevators, stairwells, locker rooms, exercise areas, public areas, common space, classrooms, auditoriums, labs and restrooms will be cleaned and disinfected daily, with restrooms and other common touch points in public areas disinfected multiple times throughout the day. Common touch points consist of such items as tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, sinks, etc. Departmental offices, conference rooms, and lounges will be cleaned and disinfected twice per week.

Eating and Drinking

Due to the spread of COVID-19 through aerosols produced when speaking, eating or drinking, masks must be worn in all common areas not designed as eating areas, and only removed when eating or drinking.

Designated eating areas in the School of Music are in the Russell Hall lobby and student lounge (located on the lower level), and in the Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center student lounge. Outdoor seating is also available at Russell Hall near the southwest entrance by the mosaic wall.

Social distancing must be adhered to while masks are removed for eating. Maintain a six foot distance on all sides while your mask is removed. This may mean that only a very small number of individuals are able to eat at the same time in the same area.