What Some Schools Are Doing to Reopen (And What This Might Mean for Your Music Program)

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What Some Schools Are Doing to Reopen (And What This Might Mean for Your Music Program)

September 9, 2020

music room social distancing

As a portion of schools throughout the county are returning to in-person classes, you’ve probably already heard about all of the new procedures they’re going to have in place to help keep everyone safe, but we’ll do a quick recap. Surface cleaners and hydrating hand sanitizer will be used regularly, schools may update their air filters to a higher MERV rating, social distancing will be followed, and temperatures will be taken.

Some schools have opted to not return to in-person classes yet and are continuing remote learning this fall. If you’re a music director who’s continuing with remote learning this fall, your plan will look quite a bit different from those who are teaching in person. Check out this short series we released this spring of educators from around the country sharing their tips and tricks for teaching from home.

If you’re resuming in-person classes, there are few important points and things to consider for your music program when it comes to social distancing. We’ll talk about other items like cleaning in the upcoming weeks.

Marching Band

Social distanced marching band is easier than social distancing in the classroom. The major differences are to keep everyone’s gear separated and to keep everyone 6 feet apart on the field.

Band camp also probably looked a bit different this summer. Schools that usually had camp at a third-party location, would have opted to host it at the school with students staying at their homes.

In the Music Room

When it comes to the music room, it can be a bit more complicated. On the risers, musicians or choir members should be spaced out 6 feet or further apart depending on the instrument. It’s recommended that trombones should have an additional three feet in front. This means that you won’t be able to have as many students on the risers at once. You may need to clean them between each student using a manufacturer approved product. There are also singer’s masks or polycarbonate shields that can be used to help limit the spread of germs.

Another challenge with spreading out your younger students is that it may make it harder for them to hear each other when they play.

It has also been recommended that straight risers are used rather than curved ones because it can affect the aerosol movement in the room. Using only straight risers will impact the student’s ability to see the conductor. This may create a need to utilize video screens or other visual cues to help everyone see.

Move to an Alternate Space

If more room is needed because of these new guidelines, moving to a larger main stage or alternate performance space may be a good solution as long as it’s not being used by other groups at the same time. By doing this you will be able to more easily social distance. Though the acoustics may not be ideal, a large outdoor tent in the warmer regions of the country may allow some protection from the weather and give you the ability to spread out your students further.

If your school is returning to in-person classes this fall, things are going to look a little different than normal.

Every school’s plan might look a little bit different but whatever the specific solutions you implement are, make sure you’re following your local guidelines to help keep everyone safe while still returning to at least a little bit of normalcy.

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