Updates on Reopening SVA
Click below for information on our current operations and plans for 2021-2022.
Reopening SVA

Our Plans for Returning to Campus

February 12, 2021
A photograph of the facade of SVA’s building at 209 East 23rd Street in Manhattan.

School of Visual Arts is committed to providing an excellent academic experience within an environment that is safe, healthy and supportive of its entire community.

For the current 2020-2021 academic year, academic instruction is being conducted fully online. On our campus, residence halls, administrative offices and some academic spaces are open at a reduced capacity, adhering to the latest health and safety protocols. Our plan is to return to in-person instruction for the fall 2021 semester. See the February 10, 2021 notification from Provost Christopher J. Cyphers, below, for the latest information.

Our plans for a safe reopening have been created by SVA’s academic and administrative leadership in accordance with New York State’s plans for reopening New York City as well as the guidance of federal, state and local health authorities. For a PDF of the College's reopening and operating plan, click here or scroll to the end of this page.

For more information about SVA's response to COVID-19, visit sva.edu/coronavirus

February 10, 2021 Notification

Dear SVA Student:

Greetings. I hope your spring semester is off to a great start, and that you are keeping yourself healthy and safe. After living nearly a year in the grips of the COVID-19 pandemic, and all the disruption to our lives it has caused, there is some glimmer of hope that by summer, life might return to some semblance of normalcy. The rollout of two very effective vaccines (with the hope of others to follow) to large segments of the population, and the continuation of social distancing and mask wearing, are vital to bringing the pandemic under control.

What does this mean for SVA and you? It is our plan to return to in-person classes on our NYC campus for the fall 2021 semester. At the undergraduate level, art history and humanities and sciences classes will, with a few exceptions, be conducted online. Doing so will allow us to free up space necessary to accommodate smaller studio class sizes, thereby making it possible for students and faculty to properly social distance. We also hope that by September, we will be able to reopen our galleries and the SVA Theatre.

Moreover, for the 2021-22 academic year, SVA expects that the residence halls will resume shared and normal room occupancy. Policies for residence hall guests, the use of masks, and social distancing, for example, will be set by early summer and will be informed by guidance from New York State health officials.

The Office of Residence Life will, during the last week of February, contact students regarding the 2021-22 room selection process. If you have questions about any aspect of residence life, please email reslife@sva.edu. It is suggested that you check the Residence Life section of the College’s website for updates and FAQs. 

Undergraduate students will be emailed information regarding registration for summer 2021 and the 2021-22 academic year during the week of February 22. Graduate students will be contacted by their departmental advisors. Students currently on a leave of absence will be emailed soon with instructions on how to get registered for the upcoming year.

SVA’s Pandemic Recovery Team is considering policies concerning COVID-19 vaccine and testing requirements for those attending in-person classes for the fall semester. We understand everyone is eager to have more information about these items, and we assure you that it will be done carefully and distributed to you immediately upon its completion. 

The Biden-Harris administration offers hope for renewed visa policies that are more welcoming to international students. The US Embassies and Consulates abroad are expected to resume routine visa processing as soon as they are able. For now, the COVID-19-related US entry restrictions remain in place. Please refer to the International Students, International Travel section for the latest updates, and stay in touch with the International Student Office at iso@sva.edu.  

I have learned from your VASA representatives that students would like more frequent communication from the College about our fall reopening plans. Therefore, I will be providing an update, similar to this one, every three weeks.

It has been a very difficult year for each and every one of us. The SVA faculty, staff, and administration are eager to return to campus to do what we do best: educate and support the work, goals and aspirations of our students.

I wish you all the very best, thank you for your continued patience and resilience, and look forward to welcoming you back to NYC and SVA.


Christopher J. Cyphers, Ph.D.


  • Latest Updates

    • February 15, 2021: The current number of COVID-19-positive cases on SVA's campus is: 2. Daily updates can be found on New York State's COVID-19 tracker page for SVA.
    • February 10, 2021: Notification to students about Summer and Fall 2021 is released.
    • November 20, 2020: Notification about SVA operations. (See Archived Notifications, below.)
    • November 2, 2020: Temporary SVA non-residential facilities closure is announced to take place from noon, November 3 through Friday, November 6. See page introduction above for full update.
    • October 2, 2020: "SVA Library" section is updated.
    • October 2, 2020: "SVA Alumni" section is released.
    • September 17, 2020: Health Resources section is updated.
    • September 14, 2020: Fall 2020 Online Resources information is updated. See "Online Resources and Tech Support" section.
    • September 14, 2020: Fall 2020 Library Access information is released. See "SVA Library" section.
    • August 25, 2020: Student Academic Facilities Access Agreement is released.
    • August 12, 2020: SVA will conduct all undergraduate programs, and the great majority of its graduate programs, fully online for the fall 2020 semester.
    • July 28, 2020: Student Code of Conduct: Student Responsibility and COVID-19 released; please see "Campus Health and Safety."
    • July 28, 2020: Employee Policies for Returning to Work released; see "Campus Health and Safety."
    • July 28, 2020: SVA's International Student Office has added additional updates to its section and FAQ.
    • July 14, 2020: The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) requirements for the fall 2020 semester, announced July 6, were rescinded on Tuesday, July 14. Please see the "International Students" section, under "Fall 2020 Academics and SVA Programs," for more information. 

2020-2021 Academics and SVA Programs

SVA began its fall 2020 semester on Monday, September 28, as online-only instruction. The semester lasted for 12 weeks, ending on Tuesday, December 22. To ensure that SVA students received the full benefits of instruction—and to meet the required number of class hours for a regular 15-week semester—the typical 3-credit course was conducted for three hours and 10 minutes per class, as opposed to the usual two-hour, 50-minute class length.

The online model continues for the spring 2021 term. The spring semester began on Monday, January 11, 2021 as a regular, 15-week term; unlike the fall semester, a typical 3-credit course meets for 2 hours and 50 minutes. Many classes are a mix of synchronous and asynchronous instruction. Spring break will remain as scheduled (March 1 – 7), and the semester will end as scheduled on Monday, May 3.

  • Online Courses

  • Attendance Policy

  • International Students

  • Online Resources and Tech Support

  • SVA Library

  • SVA Alumni

Campus Health and Safety

  • Healthy Status Verification

  • Employee Policies—Return to Work (NY Phase II)

  • Cleaning, Safety and Disinfecting Protocols

  • Health Resources

  • Student Code of Conduct

  • More Information and Resources

2020-2021 Residence Life

SVA reopened its residence halls in fall 2020 for the 2020-2021 academic year with students' health and safety as the top priority. The protocols listed below may change in accordance with public health guidelines and policies dictated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the New York State Departments of Education and Health. 

Visit Residence Life for full information about SVA residence halls, protocols, policies and plans for the upcoming 2021-2022 academic year.

  • Move-In Procedures

  • Cleaning and Disinfecting Protocols

  • De-Densification Measures

  • Guest Policy

  • Masks/Face Coverings

  • Residents' Responsibilities

Archived Notifications

  • February 10, 2021 Notification from the Provost

  • November 20, 2020 Notification from the SVA Emergency Management Committee

  • November 5, 2020 Notification from the Provost

  • November 2, 2020 Notification from the EMC

  • August 25, 2020 Notification from the Provost

  • August 12, 2020 Notification from the Provost

  • SVA Virtual Town Halls: July 14 and 16, 2020

  • July 16, 2020 Notification from the Provost

  • August 2, 2020 Notification from the Provost

  • June 17, 2020 Notification from the President

  • May 8, 2020 Notification from the Provost