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Safety Protocols for Returning to Face to Face Instruction in the Music Performance Classroom

August 31, 2020

Dear RMS and RHS Parents and Guardians,

The Rye Middle and High School Music Department is looking forward to making music again with our students this school year. Given our desire to resolve questions we had received and in order to meet the current challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, we reached out to the National Association for Music Education, the National Federation of High School Associations, and the New York State Department of Health who provided us with guidance on safely returning to face-to-face teaching in the instrumental and choral classroom. This guidance is based on CDC guidelines and aerosol studies undertaken jointly by the University of Maryland and the University of Colorado, Boulder. A link to the referenced study is included below.

Safety Protocols:

Classroom Preparation and Hygiene:

  • Band and Orchestra instruments will not be shared by students.
  • Percussionists will not share sticks/mallets. They will be provided for each student.
  • Wind/Brass instrumental students will have masks with slits at the mouth to fit mouthpieces for playing their instruments only. At all other times when not playing, the students will wear the mask they bring to class.
  • Choral students will wear the masks they bring to class throughout rehearsal, which allows for proper vowel formation while keeping the mouth and nose covered.
  • In Band, students will also be provided with MERV-13 material bell covers, recommended by the joint study referenced earlier, which, in preliminary findings, significantly reduce aerosol emissions from the instruments.
  • Students will sit in straight rows, with chairs separated to ensure proper social distancing. While the CDC recommends 6 feet with masks, the NYS Department of Health recommends 12 feet. We will adhere to the NYS DOH recommendation. In Band, percussionists do not emit aerosols to play, so they will be 6 feet socially distanced behind the last row of wind and brass players.
  • On days when students will be engaged in non-performing activities, (creating, responding, critiquing), social distancing of 6 feet will be maintained with masks.
  • For larger ensembles, the Rye Performing Arts Center will be used to ensure 12 foot social distancing is maintained.
  • Rehearsals will be limited to 30 minutes of playing/singing, based on preliminary recommendations from the COVID-19 aerosol study.
  • In the Band classroom, students will be seated first, then sent, socially distanced, to retrieve and set up their instruments. Each student will have their own stand and copies of music.
  • In the Choral classroom, students will each have their own folder and copies of music.

Link to COVID-19 Aerosol Study

Please know we take your child’s safety very seriously, as we do our own. At the same time we seek to provide them with an experience they value greatly: that of making music collectively and collaboratively. We are committed to making this experience both safe and enriching. Do feel free to reach out to us should you have any questions or ideas to support our efforts.

The Rye Middle School and Rye High School Music Department