Restart ESYO FAQ's

Fall 2020 & COVID-19

It's registration time! By now you should have received an email with step by step instructions on how you can register for the upcoming season. While the essence of ESYO remains the same, this season will be different, as we continue to adjust to life with COVID-19. We cannot wait to restart ESYO with you on the stage.

How big are the ensembles? The size of each ensemble varies based on rehearsal room size, repertoire, and the number of registered members. Out of an abundance of caution, no ensemble will exceed 40 members, and all ensembles will rehearse in spaces that accommodate recommended physical distancing.

Will you clean and sanitize the rehearsal spaces? Yes, ESYO staff will clean and sanitize all program spaces before each scheduled rehearsal.

Will scheduling be different from last year? In order to accommodate all of our members in smaller ensembles, we have developed a new schedule that is similar--but not exactly the same--as previous seasons. If you are a member of the Repertory or Symphony Orchestras, your rehearsal schedule may change throughout the year based on your placement. Visit for your ensembles' rehearsal schedule.

Will I be able to perform on stage with my friends? Yes, but with restrictions. This season all concerts will be recorded, in person, on-stage at Proctors in a safe-studio environment. Concerts will be performed without an audience and streamed online. Audiences will be able to stream full-length concerts at home from their smartphone, tablet, or computer. We look forward to the Grand Opening of our Virtual Concert Hall later this fall.

What happens if I get sick or someone in my family is diagnosed with COVID-19? If you are sick, you must stay at home. Before each rehearsal, you and your parents must complete a Health Check Questionnaire affirming that you are symptom and fever-free. Should you or someone in your family be diagnosed with COVID-19, you must follow all state regulations and self-quarantine for 14 days. Before returning to rehearsal, you must test negative for COVID-19 and be symptom-free. For the health and safety of you and your friends, it is important to read and follow all COVID-19 Safety Protocols and Procedures outlined in the ESYO Ensemble Handbook.

What happens if rehearsals are suspended due to COVID-19? Life during a global pandemic is anything but predictable. Should COVID-19 restrictions caused by COVID-19 result in the cancelation of more than 3 consecutive in-person rehearsals, you have the option to withdraw your membership in ESYO and receive a pro-rated refund as outlined in the ESYO Ensemble Handbook. If in-person programming becomes impossible, ESYO will shift all of its resources, energy and attention to virtual programming, optimally offering a robust and enriching experience, even at a distance.


This COVID-19 Program Safety Plan is being implemented due to the safety and health concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and is specifically needed at this time since the Empire State Youth Orchestra (ESYO) is contemplating a modified service offering for its 2020-2021 season that will blend limited live rehearsals and performances with virtual meetings, classes, rehearsals, and performances. ESYO will follow this Program Safety Plan in connection with its live rehearsals, performances, and events until such time as the appropriate health authorities determine that the health and safety concerns relating to COVID-19 are no longer present or a significant threat. Notwithstanding all the precautions that Empire State Youth Orchestra will take, due to the nature of the virus, the risk of contracting COVID-19 remains. Please be safe, respect others, and follow all of the precautions, protections, and protocols put in place during this COVID-19 epidemic.

  • All members, staff and volunteers are to be screened upon their arrival at an ESYO program site. This will include a health screening questionnaire. Any staff member or volunteer exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, either upon arrival, or at any point during program hours, will be sent home, and will need to be symptom free and test negative for the virus before returning
  • Per NYS mandate, all parents will be required to complete a simple health screening online questionnaire and temperature check for their student(s) no more than 12 hours prior to their arrival at an ESYO program site. Parents will be required to complete a paper questionnaire at drop-off if the online form has not been completed
  • Any student exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, either upon arrival, or at any point during the program, will be sent home, and will need to be symptom free and test negative for the virus before returning
  • Students may be asked to submit updated Health Forms, if and when required by NYS or the Department of Health
  • Parents must keep their child(ren) home if they are exhibiting any of the following symptoms:
    • Fever or chills
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
    • Fatigue
    • Muscle or body aches
    • Headache
    • New loss of taste or smell
    • Sore throat
    • Congestion or runny nose
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Diarrhea
    • Any other signs of illness
  • ESYO reserves the right to send students and staff members home should they exhibit any of the above symptoms.
  • Each student group will have a specific drop-off and pick-up time and location. To expedite the check-in process, families are highly encouraged to complete the health screening questionnaire online no more than 12 hours prior to arriving at the program site;
  • Staggered rehearsal times will allow for the screening and health assessment of each student without creating a long line of cars waiting
  • To ensure the safety of our students, parents and visitors will not be permitted to enter ESYO program sites. Rehearsal spaces will be restricted to students and ESYO staff only.
  • Any person entering an ESYO program site will be required to wear a mask or approved face covering; masks/face coverings must remain in place at all times while at the program site. Exception: wind & brass players may use a slotted mask (see Instrument Specific Safety Protocols)
  • Unless there is a specific invitation for visitors to attend an ESYO event, which will be accompanied by additional instructions, parents/caregivers, visitors, and others accompanying students will not be allowed to access the site used for rehearsals, performances, or events
  • Everyone must maintain at least six feet of physical distance from all other persons, even while playing. Musician seating will be clearly marked, and will be positioned to accommodate this distancing, with increased spacing for wind & brass instruments
  • Dismissal from rehearsals will be orderly, and staggered by section in order to allow for physical distancing to be maintained as musicians exit the area
  • All persons will be required to wash/sanitize their hands before entering a program space
  • Students are to bring only the personal belongings needed to participate in the program including your own music stand, and keep all personal belongings in designated areas or within their assigned seating space
  • Students are not to share stands, music, folders, pens, pencils, water bottles, or any other personal belongings brought to the program site. Exception: Percussion instruments will be shared during rehearsal; frequent hand washing/sanitizing will be practiced, and all percussionists will be required to hand wash/sanitize prior to entering and exiting the rehearsal space (see Instrument-Specific Safety Protocols)
  • All persons are to avoid touching items that do not belong to them, except for ESYO staff who are responsible for sanitizing and physically moving items relating to a rehearsal, performance, or event.


  • Seats will be separated by 10ft rather than 6ft to increase safety
  • Spit valves must not be emptied on the floor; an absorbent, disposable pad (such as a puppy pad) or small cup with an absorbent layer (such as kitty litter) should be used;
  • ESYO will provide wind players personal protection equipment designed to limit the flow of air beyond their seating area, and enhance the overall safety of the group.


  • Players are to use hand sanitizer frequently throughout rehearsal, particularly when changing instruments
  • Players are to thoroughly wash their hands immediately before and following rehearsal prior to departing from the program site

Strings, Harp, Piano:

  • Players are to wear masks at all times and maintain physical distancing, as identified by ESYO staff and seating demarcation.
  • Hand sanitizer will be available throughout the program spaces and hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes will be available to each student to sanitize their hands, belongings, music stands, and other items needed for the program
  • Students will only be able to access restroom facilities after notifying an ESYO staff member, and the number of students in the restroom will be monitored to ensure safe physical distancing
  • The cleaning staff responsible for sanitizing the program spaces will comply with ESYO’s Sanitizing Protocols, and will arrive ahead of the performance, rehearsal, or event to clean and disinfect all appropriate areas
  • After each rehearsal, performance, or event, cleaning and disinfecting will occur throughout the ESYO program site
  • Cleaning & sanitizing logs will be maintained by ESYO staff.


  • In the event that an ESYO staff person, student, or visitor is found to have tested positive for COVID-19 or exhibits significant symptoms of COVID-19, the individual must be removed from interaction with the ESYO community for at least 14 days and encouraged to isolate. ESYO will follow all State and County Department of Health guidelines to ensure the safety of all other students, staff, and families. These protocols may include 14-day quarantines, suspension of rehearsals, contact tracing, additional facility cleaning, the testing of those who may have made contact with the infected musician or staff, further quarantines or stay at home requests, as may be recommended by health officials, and any other sensible actions designed to keep the larger community safe as any impacted persons recover
  • In order for any ESYO staff person, student, or visitor to return to an ESYO work location or venue used for rehearsal, performance, or other event who has tested positive for COVID-19 or who has significant symptoms of COVID-19, the individual must meet the following conditions:
    • Lack of fever (less than 100.0˚), without fever-reducing medications; AND
    • Improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing); AND 
    • At least one negative test result of an FDA Emergency Use Authorized COVID-19 molecular assay for detection of SARS-CoV-2 RNA conducted on recommended specimens (nasopharyngeal, nasal and oropharyngeal, or nasal and saliva). For persons who were asymptomatic at the time of their first positive test and remain asymptomatic, testing may begin a minimum of 7 days from the first positive test.