The new low-latency studios for voice lessons are just one of many extensive adaptations and updates undertaken to prepare for a spring semester of hybrid instruction at the Peabody Institute. From housing and dining to academics to important new COVID-19 testing protocols, virtually every aspect of life at Peabody has been tweaked, adjusted, or completely overhauled with the well-being of the campus community in mind.
“The health and safety of our students, faculty, staff, and neighbors in the City of Baltimore have always been our core consideration as we have responded to this pandemic,” notes Peabody Institute Dean Fred Bronstein. “In the time since COVID first impacted Johns Hopkins last spring, we have learned a great deal about how we can best keep everyone safe in a variety of environments. And the decision to offer students the opportunity to return to campus for some in-person activities was predicated — in part — on our commitment to taking every precaution.”
Those precautions included significant upgrades to campus buildings, and in particular the HVAC/air-handling systems, to ensure proper ventilation and fresh air intake in accordance with Johns Hopkins guidelines. Facilities-related changes have also included determining the safe capacity of every practice room and studio, setting aside appropriate spaces for isolation and quarantine should those become necessary, and ensuring that common areas and teaching spaces are cleaned and disinfected. Dorm rooms are single-occupancy only, and the dining hall is strictly grab-and-go.
In reconsidering the academic experience, Peabody’s priority was to focus on performance-related activities for in-person instruction while keeping most academic courses in a remote format in order to minimize density on campus. With some members of the faculty not able to be on campus due to virus-related restrictions, and students having the option to continue their studies completely remotely, provisions were made to allow for remote participation even where in-person instruction was possible.
Standard public health protocols — masking, handwashing, physical distancing — are reinforced by signage across campus as part of the JHNeedsU campaign. In addition, Peabody students and faculty are expected to adhere to discipline-specific precautions, such as bell covers for brass players and physical distancing of at least 12 feet in dance classes. Class times are limited and a new practice room reservation system ensures that rooms are left unoccupied for periods throughout the day, allowing for proper air exchange.
Underpinning all of these precautions is a robust, universitywide COVID-19 testing program, which requires that everyone on campus be regularly tested.
“The testing is really key,” notes Interim Associate Dean for Finance and Administration Andrew Kipe, “in enabling us to manage the impact of the virus through the spring semester. If we start to see any concerning trends in that data, we will not hesitate to further adjust our operations in response. With the testing in place, we have the information we need to continue to protect our community.”