Covid and the Conservatory: One of BW’s most affected schools

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Covid-19 has affected nearly every single aspect of campus life, but few areas of campus have been affected to the same extent as the Conservatory of Music.

Dean of the Conservatory, Susan Van Vorst, reviewed several of the new policies and procedures that have been put into place since the beginning of the year. The most drastic change has been the availability of practice rooms. Not only must students sign up for a time and specific room, but non-music major students are no longer able to utilize the practice rooms as they have been able to in the past. Van Vorst said that not only has this been the biggest change for students, it is also the most noticeable.

Aside from the practice rooms, large ensembles have been moved outside or online. Specifically, finding a way for choir to function has been a challenge. Since Covid-19 has airborne transmission, there is not a safe way for singers to gather on campus, even with social distancing measures in place.

While choir has been moved to a fully online course, vocal lessons are still in person, so long as students and teachers only spend up to a half hour in the same room in order to accommodate the required ventilation time. Vocal teachers have utilized plastic shields, open windows, fans, HEPA filters, and several other forms of physical adaptations in order to keep both students and faculty safe. In some cases, one half of the lesson is conducted in one room with both the student and teacher, and then the remaining half hour is carried out virtually.

“The biggest casualty in all of this is the singers,” Van Vorst said.

The musical theater program has undergone similar changes, as rehearsal times have been cut drastically to stay within the new regulations. Temperature checks are done before rehearsals and each student’s props are sanitized after each rehearsal.

Even with so many changes occurring, Van Vorst has noticed that students have remained incredibly positive, even with having so many new challenges to overcome. Though Van Vorst expects that the spring semester will bring about few changes, she is hopeful that students will continue to maintain their positive and hardworking attitudes.

“It’s not fun or ideal, but I think it’s been really heartwarming to see how this community has maintained such a positive outlook,” Van Vorst said.  “I’m pretty honored to be part of a community that is rising to the occasion and doing so well.”