The virus may not be spreading quickly in Connecticut right now, but COVID-19 is still carving a path of destruction in entertainment through the fall and well into 2021.

The Yale School of Drama and Yale Repertory Theatre announced Tuesday that the Rep’s 2020-21 season is canceled, as is the drama school’s plays, because of “the ongoing incompatibility of theatrical production with best public health practices in response to COVID-19.”

The Yale release also noted a structural change and said, “Practical production work is a central tenet of the school’s conservatory training; the three-year MFA program is being extended temporarily to a fourth year to best meet and overcome the current and inevitable future disruptions of the pandemic.”

YSD also indicated that the one-year Technical Internship program will be extended by a semester. The school’s next student recruitment cycle will be for admission in the fall of 2022.

A statement to the Yale community by Dean/Artistic Director James Bundy, Deputy Dean/Managing Director Victoria Nolan, Associate Dean Chantal Rodriguez and Assistant Dean/General Manager Kelvin Dinkins, Jr. also tied changes to the Black Lives Matter campaign and developments: “The coronavirus pandemic demands of us that we slow down as never before, to care for our community while bringing our best selves to theater training. At the same time, the state of our nation and field calls us more urgently than ever to continuous work toward anti-racist pedagogy and practice, in order to prepare our graduates to lead in a more just and joyful profession for which we must altogether take responsibility now.”

The release said that the additional fourth year of training is optional, but strongly encouraged, for all currently enrolled students beginning their second and third years of training in the fall; and is mandatory for the incoming class of first-year students, who will now graduate in 2024.

The cost to students of this additional year/semester will be underwritten entirely by the school, they said.

The school has identified $3.1 million of savings in its 2021 fiscal year budget, which will be put in reserve to underwrite this endeavor. These savings are realized by the absence of production, as well as sacrifices borne by the entire community in the coming year, the statement said, including a freeze on faculty and management employee salaries, elimination of clerical and technical overtime and a freeze on new hires.

“We want to emphasize that curriculum and production planning for the coming year has slowed the pace of work, and created more space for reflection. These adjustments offer our community an opportunity to continue training at a high level, while centering responsible self-care as an antidote to the exhaustion that many people regard as a field-wide norm and manifestation of a culture of white supremacy,” said the deans.

“Prior to COVID-19, our plan for next year called for spending only five days each week in production, up until technical rehearsals. Our adjusted plans call for similar restraint in pursuit of a new paradigm, and include deeper investment in the anti-racism work that must be at the heart of our training, here at Yale, within our profession, and across the country,” they said.

On Monday, it was Elm Shakespeare that canceled it signature 2020 production in August. The company said work is continuing online.

A week ago, Long Wharf Theatre announced it would scrapping its previously announced 2020-21 season for smaller, off-site shows.

Connecticut Media Group