Updates on COVID-19

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Updates on COVID-19

All School Email, July 1, 2020, 10:32 a.m.

Dear Members of the Yale School of Architecture Community,

As you know from the letter you received earlier today from President Salovey and Provost Strobel on the University’s plans for Fall 2020, Yale will open for the fall term in August. The School of Architecture will follow the University’s protocols and calendar. As such, please read their letter carefully. The information below is specific to us and conforms to Yale’s campus-wide mandates on COVID-19 operations and health precautions.

The School of Architecture will begin classes on 28 August with the advanced studio lottery remotely in the morning, and first meeting of the advanced studios that afternoon. All classes begin on the regular schedule the following Monday, 31 August.

Here is some specific information about our fall term:


All academic courses may have, at the discretion of the faculty member, synchronous and asynchronous components to accommodate students not able to be on campus.


Following University guidelines, the studios will be open with social distancing and other health protocols required. Students will be assigned desks and work areas and must adhere to an occupancy schedule established by the School in accordance with health requirements. All studio courses will be taught remotely; however, individual faculty may decide to also teach in-person.


All lecture courses will be taught remotely; however, sections may also be taught in-person.


All seminar courses will be accessible remotely; however, faculty may elect to teach in-person should schedules and classroom space permit.


Mid-term reviews will be held during the week of 19 October in person (if possible) and remotely. Consistent with Yale’s overall calendar, the last week of classes, final reviews and exams will be conducted remotely.


The sub-basement shops will be closed at least until the spring term and may remain closed for the duration of the academic year depending on conditions at the time. The 3D printers and other equipment on the studio floors will be available for use.


Consistent with University policy there will be no YSoA-sponsored international travel during fall term. Outdoor-only trips to sites in neighboring states may occur with prior approval of the Dean if directly relevant to the course.


There will be a full fall-semester lecture schedule offered remotely, as well as a fall symposium.


There will be no exhibitions this fall. We are currently planning to reopen the gallery in the spring semester if conditions allow.


Plans for the Class of ’21 to have travel opportunities they were not able to have in summer 2020 are being considered, but no commitments can be made at this time given the lack of certainty about global health conditions going forward. Similarly, plans for the Class of ’22 to travel in the summer of 2021 cannot be guaranteed at this time. The School recognizes the significance of these programs in its offerings and will make meaningful effort to provide comparable experience if at all possible.


Students in the Class of ’22 will be able to take ‘BP 3’ this fall as an elective to obtain experience on site if regulations in the State of Connecticut and University policy allow. Similarly, if possible, the Building Project will be undertaken as it always has been in Spring and Summer 2021

You will also be receiving a separate document on FAQs from us shortly, and I am scheduling several student town hall meetings in early July to answer questions and provide further information.

I want to thank everyone in our community for your patience and understanding as we navigate the challenges of a global pandemic together. The past several months have been difficult in ways far beyond what we imagined when we did not return to campus following spring break in March. We are optimistic about returning to Rudolph Hall and to the studio environment even given the limitations outlined above and in the University’s letter to you. The conditions in the United States and elsewhere make clear that education, research and creativity are more necessary than ever, and that we, as the makers and visionaries of the built environment, have a significant role to play in shaping a better world. We look forward to working together with you all towards that goal.

Stay well,

Deborah Berke, FAIA, LEED AP
Dean, School of Architecture

Previous Updates

All School Email, June 8, 2020, 10:08 a.m.

Dear Members of the Yale School of Architecture Community,

First, many thanks to you all for your patience, energy and perseverance as we collectively did our best to successfully complete the spring semester. While certainly different from the norm, final reviews, exams and even graduation were accomplished remotely with aplomb, and we now turn our attention to the start of the fall 2020 semester.

We have been working hard over to create a plan for the fall that will provide what we feel is essential to a Yale School of Architecture education: a sense of community, strong teaching, and if possible, hands-on studio experience. That said, that plan must be consistent with both State of Connecticut guidelines and Yale University policies. Yale will be providing additional information in early July, but has announced it will begin classes on schedule in the fall. Architecture will do the same. The advanced studio lottery will be held on Friday morning, 28 August at 10:00 AM and advanced studios will meet immediately thereafter. The regular class schedule will begin the following Monday, 31 August.

All decisions about our operations will be developed with personal safety and health considerations paramount, so working with colleagues around the University we have created an approach to the fall that we hope will take maximum advantage of our resources and talents. If the University approves, we will open Rudolph Hall to the extent possible prioritizing access to and use of the design studios. It is critical to understand that we can only do so if public health guidance and Yale policy permit. If there are the necessary external elements in place—including testing, quarantining, contact tracing, and building maintenance—we have some confidence that we may be allowed to teach selected elements of our curriculum, particularly studio, in Rudolph Hall next term.

The faculty is working now to consider the implications of the pandemic for both how we teach, and what we teach. We are committed to making next year, even under these circumstances, a rich and rewarding experience for everyone as we navigate these new realities together. We know that we’ll be teaching in online modes next term, with “in-person” teaching potentially possible but not guaranteed. Not all students will be able to return to campus due to health, visa or other personal reasons, and the same is true of members of our faculty and staff. The use of spaces in Rudolph—particularly classrooms—will be significantly limited by the requirements of social distancing, and therefore it is not possible to teach every class in person even if all students and faculty were able to be in the building. The possible occupancy of the studios will also be limited by space and duration to maintain health requirements. Therefore, every course taught in the fall, whether we are in Rudolph Hall or not, will be available via remote instruction

There are several other important aspects of our program that are affected by the pandemic. Proper training for and supervision of shop equipment is not possible under social distancing, so the fabrication shops will be closed, at least through the fall term. Lectures will need to be remote (since audiences are prohibited). The University currently has prohibited all travel, both domestic and international.

To set the schedule for the fall we have followed the template for the calendar established by Yale College and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences where classes officially begin on 31 August and run straight through, without a break, until the November recess. If we are permitted to use Rudolph Hall we will operate in a hybrid fashion, both “in-person” and “remote,” until the Thanksgiving-week break, after which the last week of classes, final reviews and exams will be delivered entirely online. We also believe that online final reviews are the most equitable to all students by not disadvantaging those who may not be able to return to campus for reasons described above.

We await further information from the University regarding approval and timing of any return to campus for testing and/or quarantine, and will continue to communicate to you about these issues. In the meantime, please consult the “Returning to Yale” section of the COVID-19: Yale Actions and Response website for regularly updated information.

The world faces daunting challenges in the coming months, as events of the past weeks have demonstrated. Architects and architecture will be as important as ever as we search for solutions, and our work together must and will continue. As the late Dean Cesar Pelli once said, “constraints are opportunities” so we choose to see the upcoming year as rich in new and unanticipated possibilities. We will work together to make it successful. Please stay safe and well, and I will write again soon with more information as it becomes available.

Best regards,

Deborah Dean

All School Email, March 20, 2020, 5:23 p.m.

Dear students and faculty,

Courses resume online on Monday and we will be following our normal schedule - though it may take some getting used to, I am confident that we will be able to continue in our educational mission thanks to your dedication, hard work, and flexibility. As we embark on this academic experiment, I would like to make a few reminders to be sure that we all move ahead with everything we need to succeed:

  • The building remains open to student access for packing and cleaning only—no working!—until 11:59 p.m. on Sunday night (March 22). Richard has provided some packing cartons for those who need them. Faculty access to offices is still possible at this time, but the Provost sent a message earlier today strongly recommending that faculty plan to work remotely. Please maintain social distancing and hand washing, and plan to spend not more than 30 minutes in the building. We are working on plans to get everyone’s stuff back to them later in the term.
  • Classes begin online on schedule first thing Monday morning. Please be sure to test out your technology before your first class meeting. We have also received several questions about withdrawing from classes during this term. Our policy for this (for non-studio courses) was announced yesterday, and we want to emphasize that (1) faculty will make every effort with students to complete the semester successfully, and (2) it’s important to make sure you are maintaining the proper number of credits relative to your visa and, as importantly, graduation requirements. Credit targets necessary to grant a degree cannot be relaxed, particularly in the M.Arch I (accredited) track. The Poorvu Center has provided direction about academic integrity during remote teaching: a sample honor code here, and remote proctoring information here.
  • Vin and the AT team are responding to requests for technology support, and particularly the provision of laptops to students who do not have functional machines. We understand that word is traveling that these machines are available. Please understand that we purchased a few “minimum capability” laptops last week during a world-wide run on machine purchases, and therefore have a very limited supply to distribute. Based on responses to the survey sent several times last week, Vin is connecting with anyone who has requested a laptop to determine if one is necessary and how it can be provided. When Vin contacts a student we would appreciate complete honesty and directness about your need as we have a very limited supply intended only for those do not have a functioning computer. If you have tried your machine and it is “lagging” or not as responsive to remote desktop access as you would wish, this is a function of your internet connectivity, not your computer. Your old college laptop is up to this task, please plan to use it.
  • Zelma, Rose, and Andre from the Business Office continue to work, in accordance with University direction, remotely. Please reach them by email if necessary.
  • We still need complete responses to the location survey of students. Please complete it here as soon as possible.

Thank you all for your efforts in preparing for online education. I look forward to seeing your creativity and innovation in response to this new mode of working. Stay safe and support one another. Empathy and generosity, as well as patience, will matter a lot in the upcoming weeks.

All my best to you all,

Deborah Berke, FAIA, LEED AP
Dean, Yale School of Architecture

All School Policy Statement, March 19, 2020, 7:28 p.m.

Dear Architecture students and faculty,

I appreciate that we are going through a time of many anxieties and uncertainties, and some of these have to do with this transition to online learning. I want to let you know of several special academic policies that we are introducing for this semester. We have made these changes in order to give you maximal flexibility, recognizing that you may be facing learning situations that are challenging, and we want to make sure you have the best chance of success. Therefore we’re making the following changes to School policy effective immediately:

  1. You may withdraw from one or more of your non-studio courses up until the end of the final exam period, 6 pm on May 6th. No “W” will be entered into your transcript. You should, however, consider possible consequences of falling below full-time enrollment (e.g., visa requirements, loan deferments, etc.). Since studio comprises 50% of course load in a given semester, this policy can’t, as a practical matter, apply to those courses.
  2. We are suspending the attendance/absentee requirements whereby two unexcused absences from any class results in automatic failure, and leaving attendance policies to the discretion of the individual faculty teaching each course. We have asked the faculty to set rules for attendance at the resumption of their class after break, and consider the individual circumstances of each student to participate as appropriate in class sessions and other activities.

I hope that these changes will help all of us—teachers and students—to successfully complete the semester under what are trying, but achievable circumstances.

Reach out to me, Phil or Sunil with any questions. I send each and every one of you my best.

Deborah Berke, FAIA, LEED AP
Dean, Yale School of Architecture

Updates From Associate Dean Phil Bernstein, March 17, 2020, 6:39 p.m.


As promised, here’s a compendium of updates for the Architecture community for Tuesday, March 17th:

Using Rudolph Hall: A reminder that the access to the building will be restricted starting Sunday at 11:59 PM after which all the studio floors will be cleared of occupants and locked. We encourage any of you remaining in New Haven to visit your desks, gather up important materials and if possible pack things up for the term, remembering that we have very limited custodial staff, and you should limit your time in the building as much as possible while maintaining proper social distancing protocols. Students may not work in Rudolph; you may be in the building for packing/cleaning only. While we know it’s still vacation, we encourage you all to finish packing as soon as possible and get settled in your new workspaces at home.

Academics: Faculty are setting up Zoom class sessions on Canvas and reaching out to students. We expect that all faculty will have emailed their students in each class prior to the resumption of classes next Monday morning.

Technology: Please read the following, it’s important: The School is fortunate to have a capable technology team to support this transition to remote teaching, however, each of us has a responsibility to get their own digital tools in place and ready to go. Please read the instructions we’ve sent for setting up your technology, test your software, and use online help resources before reaching out to our support staff, who are currently inundated with service tickets for mostly very simple problems. I ask the faculty in particular to read the instructions and reach out to your teaching assistant before filing a support ticket lest we exhaust our limited support capabilities. In order to manage this, if your question can be easily answered by reading the instructions we have sent I have directed the support team to politely decline the request for help.

When those tickets come in they often contain the phrase “others are having similar issues.” Everyone with a legitimate support request should file an individual support ticket rather than as a group, as problems often have different causes. Also, if multiple users are having the same issue and are working within the same building or location, please make that information available to the AT team when you file your ticket.

Finally, an important notice to students: Last week Vin sent a survey to all graduate students to verify if your home technology was sufficient for remote access to our resources. For those of you who requested additional help, it is critical that you get in touch with Vin to validate your request and make proper arrangements. Vin has attempted to reach everyone that we’re aware of who needs such help; if you requested same, please contact him immediately.

Business Office: Zelma, Rose, and Andre continue to work, in accordance with University direction, remotely. Please reach them by email if necessary.

Registrar’s Office: All M.Arch I, II, MED and PhD students are requested to complete the location survey that Tanial sent yesterday. As of this writing we have received about 150 of 220 responses, and this information is important. Please complete it here as soon as possible.

Publications and Events: All events remain cancelled; contact AJ for questions.

Other University Organizations: University Libraries have changed their staffing policies and the libraries are now providing services online only. For more information about how to access library resources see here.

Other Notes: The Graduate School (GSAS) has made a lot of useful information available online here.

Thanks for everyone’s continued cooperation and patience as we prepare to resume classes next week. Next message is scheduled for delivery tomorrow afternoon.


Phillip G Bernstein FAIA RIBA LEED AP
Associate Dean and Senior Lecturer

Updates From Associate Dean Phil Bernstein, March 16, 2020, 5:23 p.m.

Dear YSoA Community,

As we get closer to the start of remote classes next Monday, there are a number of issues that we’ll need to communicate with you on a regular basis. As of today we’ll be sending out a daily compendium of things you need to know and/or act upon, and this information will also be provided on our COVID-19 communications website. As the list is getting lengthy, we’ll be sorting into categories for your reference. Although I know this can be tedious, please read this information carefully as it pertains to much of how we’re going to be running the School going forward. Here goes:

Using Paul Rudolph Hall

Our building has been “red-lighted” by Security and as such is only accessible by Yale ID. As of today our access policy remains in effect: students may enter the building to retrieve items and pack up, but may not linger nor settle down to work. The Fabrication Labs remain closed. All Yale libraries are closed to students until further notice, see below. Staff are working remotely and the third floor is closed. Our custodial staff is finishing up disinfection and cleaning and will soon be re-assigned elsewhere. This means routine maintenance, including the emptying of the trash, will end as of today (Monday March 16th). Please do not leave moldering food or other stuff in the trash cans, particularly in the studios. Faculty may access their offices as needed but please work remotely if at all possible. If you are in the building for any reason you must observe all social distancing protocols and wash your hands frequently.


Remote classes begin online on Monday, March 23rd, on the regular class schedule. If you are a student now located in a different time zone, please plan accordingly. Faculty will be reaching out to students in each class to confirm plans for restarting classes. We expect every class in the curriculum to be run via Zoom and Canvas.


We have received responses from most students about their technology capabilities, and will be reaching out individually to help folks who need more assistance. Please use the reference materials we’ve provided, and read here for information about academic continuity and digital tech. We encourage all students and faculty to test out their systems on Zoom and Canvas before classes start. If you need help, please file a ticket with our AT Team by emailing support@ysoa.zendesk.com. Don’t write or call individuals on the AT team for help as we need to maintain an orderly system for helping everyone.

SPECIAL NOTE TO THE STUDENTS: We have provided instructions to all M.Arch I and II as well as MED and PhD students about how to access your desktop machines remotely from your location. This does not require a particularly powerful computer, and while certainly not the same experience as being in studio will give you access to all your software. We are reserving access to the virtual desktops to some of our undergraduates, please leave those stations open accordingly.

We have also received questions about whether students can remove computer equipment (particularly monitors) from the studio floors and take them home. While this sounds like a good idea, it’s not something that we can do—not everyone has an equal chance to do this (as many students have left campus not to return), and managing the mass exodus of University equipment from the building isn’t possible for both logistical and staffing reasons.

Business Office

The Business Office will make reimbursement forms available electronically to anyone who needs to file them, you can reach Zelma at zelma.brunson@yale.edu or Rose at rosemary.watts@yale.edu for questions. An email was sent earlier today to all students with these forms.

Registrar’s Office

Students should fill out the survey sent by the Registrar as soon as possible to provide us with your contact/shipping information. It will also be helpful to instructors to know where students are located in order to deal with time zone differences and other logistical concerns.

Publications and Events

All in-person events, including evening lectures, special seminars, Open House, gallery openings, etc., have been cancelled. Proposals for Perspecta 56 should be submitted digitally as a PDF file via email to arch.info@yale.edu on Monday, 23 March, 2020 by 12pm. These files will then be distributed to members of the Perspecta Board. Please write to AJ Artemel with questions.

Updates from Other University Organizations

  • University Libraries are closed, for more information about how to access library resources see here.
  • Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) is now operating remotely, for details see here.
  • Yale Health has additional information about off-campus health coverage here.

Additional Notes

  • Getting your stuff out of Rudolph Hall: We have received several messages of concern from both graduate and undergraduate students about removing their stuff—tools, models, drawings, etc.—from Rudolph Hall. We realize that some of you, particularly the undergraduates, will not be returning to campus this term. We are currently figuring out if we are going to allow further access after break and handle organizing/storing/returning all of the stuff on your workstations, but this is going to take some time and right now attention is focused on getting classes started. Once we have a plan for this we’ll communicate it, but rest assured there are no plans to purge the studios of personal belongings.
  • Payments to TAs/TFs will continue despite our remote working arrangements. Students should continue to support courses and perform these jobs as if they are happening at Rudolph and payments are not expected to be interrupted.
  • Commencement: We’ve gotten a few questions about Commencement. The President’s Office will let us know about the plans for that weekend, and we’ll communicate what we know as soon as we’re told.

That’s it for today’s updates. We are going to try and over-communicate about everything, so apologies to your overburdened email inboxes. Please reach out to any of us with questions and further concerns. And please stay socially distant, healthy and safe!


Phillip G. Bernstein, Associate Dean

March 15, 2020

After last night’s message from President Salovey regarding the University’s schedule for classes and final examinations for the balance of the term, I’m writing with a few updates on our plans for the School of Architecture. We have been working hard to navigate through this difficult period, and are fortunate to have spring break to make plans in uncertain times. We will do our best to keep everyone safe and healthy, and we are committed to completing the semester successfully.

Now that we know more about the term’s schedule, here is information you need in order to be ready when classes resume online on Monday, March 23rd, and to complete the balance of the academic year:

  • The faculty has been given information on technology and remote teaching techniques and is preparing to resume classes. Classes will meet online following the regular schedule starting Monday, March 23rd. While there might be initial moments of confusion, we are all working together to ensure a productive online learning experience. We appreciate your patience, understanding, and support.
  • We are working on plans for holding final reviews online, more information on that will follow in a few weeks.
  • Yale has asked that all staff work remotely at least until March 31st, and Rudolph Hall is now restricted to ID-card access. We have asked our entire staff to work remotely during that period, and possibly beyond. Please don’t have packages or mail delivered to Rudolph Hall, as there will be no one to receive or distribute them.
  • As we described earlier, students will be able to access the studio floors until 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, March 22nd (the end of spring break), after which they will be locked. Students may return to their desks to retrieve personal items and pack up for the year this week only. Please maintain proper social distancing while visiting the studios to get your stuff. There will be limited or no custodial support in Rudolph Hall; you may not linger or work in the building longer than is necessary to retrieve your belongings and secure your desk.
  • I encourage students to respond to the Advanced Technology team’s survey about your computer/connectivity so we can get out ahead of any tech issues before classes begin.

An important note about student plans to return home: The University recommends that all graduate and professional students remain off-campus through the academic year and finish the term remotely. We leave it to your judgement to decide whether to remain in New Haven or return home, but promise that we’ll make every effort to figure out how to make those arrangements work since they will likely be challenged by quarantines, connectivity, and time zone differences. We understand this differs somewhat from our original guidance, but circumstances have changed and therefore so has our approach.

This is uncharted territory for all of us. I am confident our community will rise to the occasion. Please be empathetic and encouraging with your classmates, the school’s staff and faculty, and your family and larger community.

As always, feel free to reach out to me, Phil, Sunil, and our able faculty and staff, and we’ll answer as many questions as we can.

Thank you in advance for your generosity of spirit. Be safe, take care of yourselves and one another!

Deborah Berke, Dean

What to do if you become ill

If you experience fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, stay home and contact a healthcare provider for guidance—do not go to a healthcare facility before you have called your doctor or a hospital emergency room for instructions.

  • If you are a Yale student or Yale Health member, you should contact Internal Medicine (203-432-0038), Student Health (203-432-0312), or Pediatrics (203-432-0206) from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. For urgent attention 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, please call Yale Health Acute Care (203-432-0123).
  • If you are an Aetna member or have other healthcare coverage, please contact your physician.
  • Avoid contact with others to limit spread.
  • Cover your cough/sneeze with a tissue or sleeve, not your hands. Wash your hands with soap and water after coughing, sneezing, and blowing your nose. (See CDC handwashing video.) Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable.
  • Facemasks are recommended for people with symptoms of respiratory infection to minimize the risk of spread of infection.



For questions about access to School technology and tech resources, as well as any technical problems, please email support@ysoa.zendesk.com.

For questions about events or general inquiries, please email arch.info@yale.edu.

For questions about Open House or admissions, please email gradarch.admissions@yale.edu.

For questions about financial aid, please email archfinancialaid@yale.edu.