At Hawken, we understand that the performing arts are an essential part of the student experience. We also believe that our performing arts programs are more vital than ever, given their ability to support the social and emotional well-being of Hawken students. The healing and unifying power of the performing arts has been evident as the COVID-19 pandemic swept the country, and we are committed to providing meaningful and safe opportunities across all grade levels and disciplines. 

While our commitment to provide excellent performing arts experiences remains unwavering, we acknowledge that how we deliver our programs will be different than in the past. Our instructional decisions are based on the ongoing research and preliminary results of the International Coalition of Performing Arts Aerosol Study, a national scientific research study being conducted at the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Maryland that is used to inform decision-making in leading performing arts programs across the country. 

Below is an overview of the instructional opportunities for the 2020-2021 school year for students who are physically returning to our campus, as well as those who are working remotely from home: 

  • Virtual music performances and events 
  • Virtual theater performances for Hawken Players Society and Hawken Jr. Players Society
  • Rotation-based general music classes for Early Childhood and Lower School students
  • Outdoor rehearsal spaces with physical distancing and masking for choir and band classes
  • Appropriate mitigation and coverings for woodwind and brass instruments
  • Indoor physical distancing and masking for string ensemble classes
  • Chamber music with small groups of students 
  • Master classes and guest artist sessions 
  • Mini lessons, recitals, and online tutoring sessions
  • Virtual recording projects incorporating audio and video editing techniques
  • Blended learning and flipped classroom technology platforms

For the first two weeks of school, we will be monitoring our in-person activities carefully as more data-driven evidence becomes available and as our students and faculty learn the new protocols already in place. The current plan is:

  1. Strings players will be able to continue playing indoors, following our regular mask requirements. 
  2. Chorus students will be singing outdoors only and will be masked until further notice. 
  3. Woodwind and brass players will not play at all for the first two weeks of school, at which point we will review the policy and decide if we are ready to start playing outdoors only, with new mitigation equipment specific to these instruments in place.

You can expect to receive direct communication from your student’s teacher with new protocols or changes as the year gets underway. We remain committed to doing performing arts the right way –safely, and with the best interests in mind for all of those involved.


This restart guide represents our best thinking, as well as that of experts at some of the top medical and educational institutions in the nation. Thank you to all of our medical advisors and peer schools for your guidance in helping to identify the specific protocols and resources referenced in this comprehensive plan.