COVID-19 Updates

As we continue to monitor updates on the Coronavirus (COVID-19), we have created this webpage as a hub for all CYSO updates. We will continue to send email and social media updates as appropriate, but also please check this page ( to stay informed. CYSO takes the health and safety of our students and families seriously and will continue to evaluate this situation to take appropriate action to avoid further spread of the virus.

April 9, 2020

CYSO Programs Continue Virtually, New Small Grants for Students, Conductors Connect Online

Dear CYSO family,

We hope this email finds you safe and well at home. We are so grateful for everyone who has reached out over the past few weeks to offer support, advice, and reassurance. We are so proud of our young musicians who are committed to making joyful music now more than ever. The resilience of our young players never fails to give me hope, and we are doing everything we can to provide the kind of engaging and responsive music education they deserve.

CYSO continues to bring our ensembles together virtually to learn and grow together. Given what we know now about the length of the “shelter in place” ordinance, we are now providing both musical and social engagement opportunities weekly for our students through a variety of digital platforms throughout April and May. We are committed to offering high quality learning opportunities for all our students, although all continued CYSO activities are optional out of respect for the incredible amount of stress and disruption our students and families are facing. All CYSO auditions for 2020-2021 will take place via video submission, and small grants are available for any student who needs help accessing online learning resources. Read on for more information on what students are learning and how CYSO remains their musical home during this time.

  • CYSO orchestras have moved to online learning, with weekly activities hosted in Google Classroom and Zoom calls with conductors. Recognizing the unusual amount of stress and disruption our students and families are facing right now, students’ participation is entirely optional. That said, we’ve been overwhelmed by the resilience and creativity our young musicians have displayed already, sharing videos of impromptu concerts, practice sessions, drawings and paintings, short compositions, music that’s inspiring them, and so much more.
  • With the health and safety of our community in mind, CYSO has moved to video auditions for the upcoming 2020-2021 season. Students who had already signed up to audition earlier in the spring received instructions this week on how to prepare and submit videos (including a blog post with lots of tips). We are still actively recruiting for next season, so if you were thinking of signing up to audition, now’s the time! More info
  • We know this is a difficult time for all of our families, and especially those who may have experienced loss of employment due to COVID-19.  For this reason, we are offering small grants (up to $500) to CYSO students who need assistance to participate in online music activities this spring. These grants can be used to help fund access to high speed internet, rented instruments, practice mutes, and access to a recording device for auditions for the upcoming season. Learn more
  • Over the past three weeks, our CYSO community has demonstrated again and again that the music continues. Current CYSO students as well as alumni have been sharing their in-home performances and practice sessions with us on social media using the hashtag #CYSOplayson. One of our favorites, pictured above, is Symphony Orchestra cellist Elijah Park joined by his sister, CYSO alum, Christi Park on violin, performing a memorable 20 seconds of Michel Corrette’s Concerto Comique no. 25, Les Sauvages for hand-washing purposes 🙂 If you need a little pick me up, we encourage you to check out that hashtag, and post your own #CYSOplayson content! See more
  • Maintaining our connections with each other is more important than ever as we continue to social distance. To help, our artistic staff are now going live on Facebook two times a week to keep in touch with the CYSO community. In case you missed it, Daniella Valdez answered questions about practice habits, Anne Huynh McTighe (and her dad!) demonstrated their knowledge of Baroque bow-making, and Allen Tinkham shared some of the music that’s keeping him inspired. Tune in to CYSO‘s Facebook page on Tuesday and Thursdays at 3:00 pm cst, and watch the archives from past videos. Watch more

We wish you all safety and comfort in the stressful weeks ahead. Please know that CYSO is here for you and we will be so excited to welcome everyone back to the Fine Arts Building to make music together again as soon as we possibly can.

Warm regards,
Susan Lape

March 13, 2020


CYSO Programs Suspended Beginning Saturday, March 14

Dear CYSO Students and Families,

Following the mandates issued by Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot yesterday evening regarding the COVID-19 global pandemic, and with the health of our students and families in mind, CYSO will move forward with new efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Effective Saturday, March 14, all CYSO activities including: rehearsals, auditions, concerts, and performances have been suspended.

We will continue to closely monitor the situation and keep families informed when it has been determined that programming can resume. Our students come together from all across the region and we hope that this break will help efforts to prevent the community spread of COVID-19.

We know that you may have questions and concerns about what this suspension means for the rest of the season and auditions for next year’s orchestras. We will continue to communicate with parents regularly via email and reach out with more details as they become available. The CYSO office will be closed beginning Saturday with staff working remotely thereafter. Email will be the best way to reach us after Friday, though we are happy to schedule a time to talk on the phone if needed.

It is our hope that with quick community action, we can help to be a small part of the solution to this global problem. We know that the skills that make CYSO musicians great can also help carry us through challenging situations and we encourage everyone to continue to demonstrate empathy, respect, collaboration, and creativity as we navigate these uncertain times.

From the Chicago Department of Public Health:

Current information suggests that person-to-person spread will continue to occur and more cases will be identified in the US and in Chicago. CDPH’s goal is to reduce the impact of COVID-19 in Chicago by detecting new cases quickly, minimizing transmission and developing guidance to prepare communities to respond. The virus seems to be spreading easily from person to person and we encourage everyone to take measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19. Everyone has a role to play in getting ready and staying healthy.

  • Individuals and communities should familiarize themselves with recommendations to protect themselves and their communities from getting and spreading respiratory illnesses like COVID19.
  • Older people and people with severe chronic conditions should take special precautions because they are at higher risk of developing serious COVID-19 illness. They should limit travel and should not attend large gatherings unless it is essential.
  • Help reduce the spread of rumors. Let people know that viruses cannot target people from specific populations, ethnicities, or racial backgrounds. Being of Asian descent does not increase the chance of getting or spreading COVID-19.
  • Fight stigma and fear by supporting people who may be coming back to school or work after traveling internationally or completing a quarantine or isolation period for COVID-19. We encourage our families to continue to keep the mission of the CYSO at heart and support each other through this trying time.


March 11, 2020

CYSO is actively monitoring the updates on Coronavirus (COVID-19) and evaluating our upcoming rehearsals and events. At this time, we will still hold regular rehearsals and the Accelerando Strings Community Concert this weekend. We will continue to evaluate this situation as it unfolds and will keep families updated of any future cancelations.

1. If you are sick, please do not come to rehearsal. If you attend a school or another organization that has recommended a self-quarantine, you should not attend CYSO. According to the Centers for Disease Control, COVID-10 is thought to spread mainly from person to person through coughs or sneezes. This is why it is crucial that students stay home if they have symptoms of the virus (fever, cough, and shortness of breath). Absences from illness/self-quarantine during this time will not count against you, should you exceed your absence limit.

2. If you or someone in your household is diagnosed with COVID-19, please inform CYSO immediately. This will ensure that we can take appropriate action to keep the rest of the CYSO community safe and avoid further spread of the virus.

3. As we learn more about the spread of COVID-19, we trust our families’ decisions in determining whether they are comfortable sending students to CYSO rehearsals and events, even if they are healthy. Those who feel uncomfortable attending rehearsal should contact Karen and fill out an absence form. Absences during this time due to illness or as a precaution for students/family members at greater risk for infection will not be cause for dismissal or penalization, should a student exceed their absence limit.

4. We have created a dedicated page on the CYSO website to house all updates about our response to COVID/19. We will continue to send email updates as usual, but if you’re ever concerned you’ve missed an email from us, check for the latest.

We take the safety and health of our students and families very seriously. The response to the COVID-19 involves a community effort to raise awareness and prevent further spread. As always, please be mindful of recommended health practices, as detailed on the CDC website for prevention and treatment:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when sick.
  • Cover their cough or sneeze with a tissue to be immediately discarded, or into the elbow rather than hands.

CYSO is committed to keeping our students and staff healthy. We plan to keep you informed of this public health concern as information becomes available. Please feel free to reach out to us at 312-939-2207 if you have any questions or concerns.


March 5, 2020

CYSO wants our students & families to know that we are aware of and monitoring the additional alerts surrounding coronavirus (COVID-19) during this cold & flu season, given the announcement of confirmed cases of the virus in the Chicago area. We have no reported cases of COVID-19-related illness at CYSO currently, but want to make sure that our students, parents, staff, and anyone else interacting with CYSO are practicing good habits to prevent the spread of germs and viruses.

CYSO is actively monitoring local organizations like the Cook County Department of Public Health (CCDPH) and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), in order to provide updated information to parents, students, and staff.  We are following recommended guidelines to prevent the spread of the virus, which include:

  • Encouraging students and staff to wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

  • Asking students and staff to avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

  • Asking students and staff to avoid close contact with people who are sick.

  • Instructing students and staff to stay home when sick**.

  • Asking students and staff to cover their cough or sneeze with a tissue to be immediately discarded, or into the elbow rather than hands.

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces, such as door handles, shared writing utensils, etc.

**We are committed to working with families if a student exceeds their CYSO absence limit due to illness. As always, please complete an absence form at if you will not be in attendance. For day-of absences, please call the CYSO office or email Karen at to report your absence in addition to the online form.  

We also have increased our efforts in cleaning and disinfecting our common spaces, focusing on high-touch areas such as door handles and faucets.

Additional information about influenza, coronavirus, and how to prevent the spread of illness within an educational  setting are available on the CDC webpage. For younger students, this comic is a good resource to help lessen anxiety and drive home the importance of hand-washing.

CYSO is committed to keeping our students and staff healthy. We plan to keep you informed of this public health concern as information becomes available.  Please feel free to reach out to us should you have any questions or concerns.