As we continue through these unprecedented times, we know that many of you are experiencing competing narratives about varying distance expectations for music learning as your district shapes its approach to reopening school. We understand that districts throughout the state have had little to no conversations, have resolved to cancel ensemble classes, or even worse, eliminate music instruction all together. Additionally, a new guidance document sent out on July 17, 2020, COVID-19 Industry Guidance: Schools and School-Based Programs has caused us all serious concern on the advice provided relating to the teaching of music in our school settings.
On Monday, July 27 CMEA sent letters to the following entities:
- Ms. Sum, Director of Cal OSHA
- Ms. Hagen, Director of CA Department of Industrial Relations
- Dr. Angell, Director of CA Dept of Public Health
CMEA also sent a letter to SSPI Thurmond seeking his assistance in correcting the guidance. CMEA asked the entities that the guidance be updated to reflect the preliminary results from the International Coalition Performing Arts Aerosol Study.
CMEA requests that CDPH and CAL OSHA publish, as soon as possible, an update to the July 17, 2020 “Covid-19 Industry Guidance: Schools and School-Based Programs” with the requested revisions to page 12 to halt the elimination of music education courses.
Our letter provided the following suggested revisions:
CMEA’s Recommended Revisions
We recommend changing the wording of bullets seven and eight, page 12, to match what was published in the preliminary recommendations stated by the International Coalition Performing Arts Aerosol Study.
The rehearsal space recommendations from International Coalition Performing Arts Aerosol Study are:
Outdoor rehearsals are permitted using individual mitigation techniques described in the preliminary guidance document.
- Outdoor gazebo style tents with open sides and a high-pitched ceiling with mitigations.
- Indoors with elevated outdoor air exchange rate from HVAC.
- Indoors with typical outdoor air exchange rate from HVAC plus recirculation air through MERV 13 filters or addition of appropriately sized HEPA air purifiers.
- Indoors with outdoor air exchange rate from open windows supplemented with appropriately sized HEPA air purifiers when airflow is reduced under certain outdoor wind conditions.
Some of the solutions districts are exploring for re-opening music education may be growing out of decision makers’ limited perception of music learning. They may only be considering the physical, face-to-face rehearsals and performances aspects of music teaching. However, we know there is much more to music education beyond rehearsing for performances as we support students in becoming lifelong music makers. In the unpredictability of the months ahead, students who have been involved in music classes will once again experience a sense of loss by having their ensemble classes taken away from them. Simply eliminating music from their lives communicates to students and communities music education is no longer important during this period of distance learning. More importantly, we must be mindful of our students in rural areas, inner city schools, and communities of poverty that their music education is not disproportionately elminited compared with students attending schools in more affluent areas of our state.
We can create solutions so that all aspects of instrumental and vocal music education can be adapted and safely taught in a virtual or hybrid environment. This spring many of you demonstrated such abilities as you quickly adapted to addressing all aspects of music learning to ensure your students were not experiencing major learning loss. The solutions are many, but cancelling or removing music education is not the solution. Advocacy is needed at the local level to help individual districts in shaping their reopening plans. To access the letters to use for your own advocacy work at the local click here. CMEA, like you, will be actively waiting to hear from these state agencies regarding our request. It will continue to be of highest importance in our advocacy efforts to support continuity of learning in music education for all students in California.
Thank you for continual advocacy efforts in your local schools and districts. It will take all of us to keep a watchful eye on leaders at all levels so that the California Education Code and the UC/CSU A-G requirements are implemented. Equity for all is, and will remain, an integral component of a well-rounded music education that we consider a social justice issue for all students in the state of California.
Armalyn De La O