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

April 2, 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. Read more about what to expect when you return, and see Provost Christopher J. Cyphers' March 16 notification, below.

Our plans for a safe reopening have been created by SVA’s academic and administrative leadership in accordance with New York State, 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.

  • March 16, 2021 Notification: Planning Update for the 2020-2021 SVA Academic Year

    March 16, 2021 Notification

    Planning Update for the 2020-2021 SVA Academic Year

    Dear SVA Student:

    This letter comes to you on the one-year anniversary of our transition to remote learning, in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been, to say the very least, a difficult and confusing year for every member of the SVA community—but most especially for you, our students. Besides some of the obvious challenges that come with learning and creating art online, there has been loss, as well as a sense of isolation and disconnection that many of us have experienced this past year. I commend you for your fortitude and resilience in the face of such significant challenges.

    But with the arrival of spring comes some very promising news regarding the major efforts underway to bring the pandemic under control in the United States, and for us to see a return of our lives to some semblance of normalcy, as is the case for much of the world. First and foremost is the rollout of several different COVID-19 vaccines, all of which are very effective at providing immunity to the virus, including most of the known variants you’ve heard about in the news. Eligibility and accessibility to the vaccine is increasing daily, with current projections indicating that all adults in the US will be able to be vaccinated in the summer. The vaccination program in the US and other countries does not, however, mean an immediate return to life as we knew it before the pandemic. We will still need to take precautions to protect ourselves and our friends and families.

    With this in mind, I want to update you on our ongoing plans for the reopening of SVA to in-person classes for the fall semester. I would like to provide you with a bit more detail on what the fall semester will look like:


    • Fully online classes in Art History and Humanities & Sciences will continue for the 2021-2022 school year, as well as certain lecture-based classes in your major.
    • Fully online classes will be offered for international students who cannot travel to the US because of visa issues or travel restrictions.
    • Hybrid classes will be offered in most courses that are taught in a computer lab. In order to limit capacity to 8-10 individuals in a lab, groups will alternate: half the class will meet in-person one week, while the other half follows along online; the following week, those who followed online will be in class, and so forth.
    • Most studio classes will meet in-person, with a class size of between 10-12 individuals.


    • SVA plans to open all its residence halls to capacity, with students sharing common spaces and bathrooms. Determinations on changes to other policies for the 2021-2022 year (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. 
    • Space will be available for students who need to quarantine.
    • Returning students who are interested in housing placement for the 2021-2022 academic year may email: reslife@sva.edu to inquire about housing placement options.


    • SVA’s Office of Student Health and Counseling Services continues to provide free and confidential short-term services for current undergraduate and graduate students via secure and remote video sessions.
    • To set up a meeting with a clinician or for assistance with accessing additional health resources you may email: health@sva.edu


    • Anyone who enters an SVA building will be required to wear an approved face covering and to 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 US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), or an acceptable equivalent of those vaccines administered outside the US.
    • SVA community members that will be on campus this fall will need to comply with requirements for initial COVID-19 testing and ongoing surveillance testing. SVA will make necessary arrangements for these tests, there will be no cost to you or your health insurance for the tests. More details on SVA’s testing protocols will be provided as we get closer to the start of the semester.
    • Throughout the pandemic, SVA has followed the continually evolving guidance of New York State for quarantine as well as isolation of people who have COVID-19. SVA reports cases of COVID-19 among community members recently on campus to the New York City Department of Health and has notified close contacts at SVA of their need to quarantine. SVA files a daily report to New York State and that information is available publicly at this New York State Department of Health page.


    • It is our hope that most, if not all, travel restrictions into the US will by the summer be lifted or significantly relaxed, and that once all U.S. Embassies and Consulates resume normal operations, that student visa issuance is prioritized. This will allow international students to participate in the fall semester in-person.
    • For students unable to travel to the US because of visa issues or the continuation of travel restrictions for certain countries, SVA will continue to offer remote learning.
    • Stay in contact with the International Student Office at iso@sva.edu for updates.  

    We have heard from a number of our Asian students concerns about the wave of anti-Asian activities in several American cities. A week ago, SVA’s leadership sent all students a letter https://sva.edu/features/reopening-sva condemning all verbal and physical attacks against Asians of all national and cultural backgrounds. Please know that SVA is committed to providing all students with a safe place to study and live. Our new Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Dr. Jarvis Watson, is working to create venues for students to express their concerns about these anti-Asian activities—and discrimination and harrassment of all types.

    I will continue to communicate with you every month to provide the latest updates on SVA’s reopening plans. We will also plan to conduct several Webinars later this spring with additional details about the College’s reopening. Students will have the opportunity to submit questions.

    In the meantime, take good care. As I have said all along, we will continue to get through this time of unparalleled challenges together.

    All the very best,

    Christopher J. Cyphers, Ph.D.


  • Latest Updates

    • April 2, 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.
    • March 17, 2021: Notification "Planning Update for the 2020-2021 Academic Year is released to students.
    • March 11, 2021: COVID-19 vaccine information added to "Campus Health and Safety" section.
    • March 9, 2021: Notification "We Stand in Solidarity with Our Asian Communities" is released to students, faculty and staff.
    • 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

  • COVID-19 Vaccine

  • 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

  • March 9, 2021 Notification: We Stand In Solidarity With Our Asian Communities

  • 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

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