School of Dance COVID-19 Updates and Guidance

31 July 2020 Published in News and Announcements

During these extraordinary times, the School of Dance is preparing for your safe arrival on campus in Fall 2020. Below is information providing answers to many questions we are hearing from Ballet and Modern Dance students. We will update this information as the situation evolves, and we appreciate your patience. We strongly recommend adding important email addresses (School of Dance administrators, your Fall Semester instructors, College of Fine Arts Office) to your contacts, and making a habit of checking your Umail regularly throughout the day—including your junk folders. Please note that all email announcements will be sent to your Umail account, only.

Our first and foremost concern is your safety while continuing to provide an outstanding education in dance that provides an effective path to graduation. We have crafted a student-centered plan that continues to include performance and choreographic opportunities in a newly configured way, while observing best practices in the use of masks, social distancing, hand-washing, careful measurement of all our studios, some staggered class times, and traffic plans for the Marriott Center for Dance. This plan minimizes in-person interactions beyond some of the studio classes, utilizes remote accessibility so that all students can stay in touch with dance professors and guest artists, and implements safeguards to curtail potential disruptions to your education. The plan preserves the 15-week semester, although in a non-traditional configuration.




We may see each other less often in person this semester than we would under other circumstances, but we remain a community of dance artists. If you have any questions that are not answered below, you can reach out directly to the following administrators:  

  • Ballet Program questions: Melissa Bobick (Program Head, Ballet, )
  • Modern Dance Program questions: Michael Wall (Program Head, Modern Dance, )
  • Undergraduate questions: Satu Hummasti (Director of Undergraduate Studies, School of Dance, )
  • Graduate questions: Eric Handman (Director of Graduate Studies, School of Dance, )
  • Overarching School of Dance questions: Luc Vanier (Director, School of Dance, ) or Pamela Geber Handman (Associate Director for Faculty, School of Dance, )
  • Dance Minor questions: Daniel Clifton (Advisor for Modern Dance Minors, )
  • General advising: Samuel Banford (Academic Advisor, College of Fine Arts, )

Please also take the time to visit the Return to Campus website and visit it regularly between now and the start of the fall semester to keep up with the latest information as we navigate the pandemic. It is your responsibility to know what is expected of you to help maintain the health and safety of all members of the U campus community. All University of Utah students are also required to complete a mandatory safety training. Please go to Required Trainings. The most important measures to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 are 1) wearing face coverings (face-masks) over nose and mouth, 2) social distancing, 3) maintaining good hygiene (hand-washing), and 4) adequate room ventilation.  

University of Utah Fall 2020 Modalities of Class Instruction

In the Schedule of Classes for Fall 2020 you will notice that the University of Utah has changed how instruction for many courses will be delivered and it has categorized courses into five (5) modalities of instruction. Three (3) of these modalities include in-person instruction and two (2) of these modalities involve remote instruction, exclusively.

Classes using the following modalities of instruction include in-person instruction:



class is fully in-person (course content must be available for students unable to attend).


class is a mixture of in-person, and synchronous online modalities.


class is a mixture of in-person and asynchronous online modalities.

Classes using the following modalities of instruction include remote instruction only:

IVC (Interactive Video Conferencing) 

class is online through a synchronous delivery of instruction using technology (class has a time, with canvas as the location).


class is free of time and place restrictions, and all content is delivered via technology. No synchronous meetings.

*NOTE: For online classes, individual instructors will work with students in their online courses to arrange a few synchronous meetings if needed, maybe with smaller groups. Any synchronous meetings will be recorded and posted for all students to view later.


Because online components will be part of many classes, students will need access to a computer and a good internet connection. The Marriott Library has computers and other electronic equipment available for student check-out.  

University of Utah Fall 2020 Academic Calendar

Another important campus-wide adjustment to note is that for two weeks, during the week before the Vice-Presidential Debate (September 28—October 3) and the week of the Vice-Presidential Debate (October 4–9), all classes will be taught online (IVC or Online), regardless of their instructional modality. During this time, the Marriott Center for Dance building will not be able to be used for any instruction, rehearsals, meetings or office work.

All in-person instruction will conclude by Thanksgiving, Thursday, November 26, and all classes (and final exams) will be delivered in online modalities through the end of the Fall semester, which concludes on December 11, 2020.

The specific 2020-2021 School of Dance Calendar will be sent to you over email and posted soon. 

Safety Measures 

Below you will find School of Dance protocols and safety measures currently in place. All measures are being implemented in accordance with mandates and guidance from federal and local authorities. We will continue to monitor these sources and consult others. If the guidance on best practices changes we will adjust accordingly, and some of these practices may or may not be in effect by the time campus fully reopens for the semester. 

We have strong relationships with local health departments and our own University Environmental Health Services Team, with whom we are staying in constant contact to ensure that everything we are doing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 meets or exceeds their guidelines. 

School of Dance Protocols – please read carefully. 
  1. Masks are required at all time for all coming to campus. Masks are required to be worn over nose and mouth throughout ALL in-person classes including technique and rehearsals. We are creating SOD masks to give to students so they have a personalized one on hand. If a student does not wear their mask fully over their nose and mouth, they will be excused from the Marriott Center for Dance and will need to participate in class remotely. 

  2. Social Distancing - Students should keep a distance of 6 feet between themselves and others in the Marriott Center for Dance building at all times (during classes, rehearsals and throughout the hallways). See below for building flow and staggered class times. 

  3. Classroom maximum capacities and rehearsal seating plans have been redesigned to allow for social distancing. Protective shields will be used in some instructional and performance spaces, as well as public desks and administrative offices.

  4. Hygene: Washing your hands frequently is an important means of curtailing the spread of the Covid-19 virus. Students are also asked to have handy their own supply of hand sanitizer in order to minimize shared contact-use of the Marriott Center for Dance supply. The regular first-aid kits (including bandaids and tape) in all dance studios will continue to be available for emergencies only and ice (if needed) is also available in the building. 

  5. As everyone enters the Marriott Center for Dance, sanitize hands. Repeat this before and after ALL classes and rehearsals. Students should wash or sanitize their hands before and after touching a barre used by multiple users. Unless absolutely necessary, please do not touch the handrails going up and down the stairs. Avoid touching your face or adjusting your mask (unless necessary). 

  6. The School of Dance Attendance policy will be adapted differently in order to prioritize safety and good physical + mental health. The faculty will work with students individually in order to tailor their in-person involvement. Zoomed options are available. Do NOT enter the Marriott Center for Dance if you are not feeling well, have a temperature, exhibit any symptoms of COVIDor if you possibly have been in contact with someone who has COVID. Please be proactive in helping to keep our entire community safe. Instead of entering MCD, contact your instructor directly and participate in class remotely.

  7. Technique classes will have staggered starting and ending times (during the 9:40-11:35am and 11:50am or 12:15pm – 1:45pm time slots) and these will coordinate with a color coded system for the dressing rooms. Students are asked to come dressed for technique class and only access their lockers in the dressing rooms after class. Students will have a designated spot to put their belongings. The exact schedule for staggered entry/exit will be shared prior to the first day of class.

  8. In technique, students will be designated a specific place at barre or a 10x10 marked-up square to minimize shared contact. When students arrive for these classes, they are asked to follow the building flow pattern and head directly to their spot for class. No congregating in the hallways or common areas. Students are welcome to socialize but they must do so outside the building. Please minimize your personal belongings you have with you, keeping them within your designated “spot.”No use of cubbies for shoes.

  9. Bathrooms: There is maximum number of dancers who can use the bathroom at a time. Women’s bathroom: only 3 at a time.Non binary bathroom: only 1 person at a time. Men’s bathroom: only 2 at a time. Each person is asked to use a Clorox wipe to sanitize the toilet seat before & after, wash your hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds, use a Clorox wipe to sanitize sink knobs and door handles after. Remember: no changing clothes in the bathroom.

  10. Building flow – IN: through the Southeast or Northeast doors (entering in the main lobby, main floor) and OUT: through the Southwest or West doors (exiting either next to the theater & costume shop on the lower level OR the door near studio #60 on the lower level). All middle hallways will be traffic East to West only. If a student has two studio classes in a row, they will need to exit the building and re-enter at their next designated time. Please use the stairs rather than the elevator, following the arrows. If you need to use the elevator, only one person is allowed in the elevator at a time. We are working on configuring the upstairs, outdoor deck/balcony for student use. More details forthcoming. 

  11. In order to maintain social distancing for in-person studio classes, the maximum number of dancers allowed in each studio at a time is 24. Faculty in each program will do level placement in order to even out the numbers as best as possible. The theater will be used as an overflow space (with a live video stream of class) but there may likely be some classes that necessitate a rotating in-person group (with a Zoomed video stream of class for dancers to participate at home). There will be a select technique class that’s always designated as a Zoomed class for which all students will participate from home. Faculty will work individually with students to arrange a technique class configuration that suits each student, keeping in mind the maximum allowed in each studio.

  12. Curriculum Modification: Faculty will modify instruction to eliminate physical contact, eliminating the practice of instructors providing feedback with physical touching. Partnering classes usually offered in the School of Dance are not happening at this time. 

  13. Musicians will have safety boxes marked around them. Students are asked to please be respectful of their space.Students are also asked to not place any personal items on pianos or near any of the musician’s equipment.
  14. Drinking fountains in the Marriott Center for Dance will NOT be available for use. Students are asked to bring their own water bottles to the dance building with your name clearly written on the side (not the bottom). This is to minimize the possibility of picking up someone else’s water bottle by mistake.

  15. Microwaves and fridges will NOT be available for use. For everyone’s safety this year, NO FOOD is allowed in the Marriott Center for Dance. Please eat outside or at home.
  16. Ventilation: Whenever possible, outdoor spaces will be used to minimize the risk of exposure to the virus. The Marriott Center for Dance’s ventilation has been checked by campus experts and during class times, the windows will also be kept openin order to maximize the exchange of air in the building. 

  17. Studio cleaning: The studio floors, barres, door handles and any other common surfaces will be mopped with a sanitizing cleanser after every class.

  18. Students are asked to not bring any guests into the Marriott Center for Dance during class times this year. Students currently enrolled in classes are the only ones to enter the dance building.

  19. Faculty/staff offices: We will be limiting/restricting traffic to faculty and staff offices. All faculty and staff will provide Zoomed office hours in order to meet with students. 

  20. The faculty studio is restricted this year for faculty-only use.

  21. Student use of studios: For this year, student use of the large studios may be restricted or not available. More info to come with details.

  22. Auditions/Rehearsals/Performances: The School of Dance will continue to provide performance opportunities throughout the year (please see separate performance schedule) and all choreography will maintain strict social distancing guidelines + wearing of masks. No partnering. Performances will be live-streamed or video-ed. Audience will either watch performances over the live-stream or depending, attend in person adhering to social distancing (audience limited). Faculty will work with student-run shows (ex: Student Concert) to brainstorm alternative options. Rehearsals for all shows will be a combination of Zoomed + socially distanced in-person. Many of the guest artist residencies will be remote/Zoomed. We are all creatively problem solving together!

What should I do if I or someone in my family tests positive for COVID? 
Please let the School of Dance know immediately. Based on HIPAA laws, the School of Dance will protect personal health information and keep identity anonymous when we notify the class. The School of Dance will utilize the university’s confidential reporting system.  Everyone in the class may be asked to quarantine for a period of two weeks and the class offered virtually during this period. The State Health Department will also be notified, and they will determine if additional action is required.

 School of Dance students who decide to stay home for the day are asked to report online that morning (or within 24 hours) before class time using this form: Student Absence Request 

Please be responsible, proactive and communicative so that we can all remain healthy. Your individual contribution towards this is paramount.