Back to SVA: What to Expect When You Return
March 19, 2021
A grid of six photos showing people wearing face masks and engaged in various facility-maintenance or educational activities.

If you have been away from SVA for many months, you’re no doubt excited to return to campus and get back to some version of life as it was pre-pandemic. And if you’re a new student, you probably have many questions about what your experience will be after you arrive in New York City. Here’s our guide to what to expect at SVA this fall, based on the latest information and guidelines. To keep updated on operations-related news and announcements, be sure to visit

Academic Life

Classes will return to in-person instruction for the 2021 – 2022 academic year, with some modifications:

  • Most studio classes will meet in-person, with a class size of between 10 – 12.
  • Hybrid instruction will be used for most courses that are taught in a computer lab. In order to limit lab capacity to 8 – 10, classes will be split into two cohorts that will alternate in-person and remote weeks.

Fully online classes in Art History and Humanities and Sciences will continue for 2021 – 2022, as will certain lecture-based classes.

Fully online classes will be offered for international students who cannot travel to the U.S. because of visa issues or travel restrictions.

Residence Life

SVA plans to open its residence halls to capacity, with students sharing common spaces and bathrooms. Space will be available for students who need to quarantine. Determinations on changes to other Residence Life policies for 2021 – 2022 (e.g., guest visitation, other interim COVID-19 policies) will be made and announced in early to mid-summer, guided by and in conjunction with New York State COVID-19 guidelines, CDC recommendations and vaccine availability. 

For more information, visit Residence Life.

A photograph of two people wearing face masks and standing in a lobby space on opposite sides of a narrow table.

An SVA student checks in at the 24th Street SVA Residence Hall.

Credit: Stefanie Joshua

Prevention, Vaccinations and Testing

Anyone who enters an SVA building will be required to wear an approved face covering and follow all posted policies and protocols, including requirements for physical distancing.

Every member of the SVA community is strongly encouraged to receive a full course of one of the three COVID-19 vaccines that has emergency use authorization (EUA) through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), or an acceptable equivalent of those vaccines administered outside of the U.S.

SVA community members who will be on campus for the fall 2021 semester will need to comply with requirements for initial COVID-19 testing and ongoing surveillance testing. SVA will make the necessary arrangements for these tests; there will be no cost to you or your health insurance. More details on SVA’s testing protocols will be provided closer to the start of the semester.

Facilities Maintenance 

SVA Facilities maintains clean and safe spaces at SVA by following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and New York State. These efforts include:

  • frequent cleaning and disinfecting throughout all campus buildings, including the use of electrostatic sprayers to sanitize surfaces; 
  • flushing and treatment of domestic water lines and tanks;
  • disinfecting heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems and using high-efficiency filters to help reduce transmittal of airborne viruses and bacteria;
  • campus-wide posting of signage to foster social distancing, directional markings for traffic flow and reminders to wear masks and follow proper hand-hygiene protocols;
  • installing protective shields in close-contact areas such as security stations, libraries and equipment check-out stations;
  • providing sufficient cleaning and sanitizer supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE) for the entire campus population.

Travel to the United States

The College anticipates that most, if not all, travel restrictions into the U.S. will be lifted or significantly relaxed by the summer, and that once all U.S. embassies and consulates resume normal operations, student visa issuance will be prioritized. This will allow international students to participate in the fall semester in person.

For students unable to enter the U.S. because of visa issues or the continuation of travel restrictions, SVA will continue to offer remote learning.

Stay in contact with the International Student Office at for updates.  

Student Health and Counseling Services

SVA Student Health and Counseling Services continues to provide free and confidential short-term services for current undergraduate and graduate students via secure video sessions. To set up a meeting with a clinician or for assistance with accessing additional health resources, email

Stay well, and be sure to regularly check the reopening page,, for a comprehensive look at all of SVA’s efforts to keep you safe.