CMEA Response to Updated Guidance from the California Department of Public Health – September 1, 2021

CDPH Guidance Continues to Fall Short for Music Education

The California Music Educators Association (CMEA) is once again sorely disappointed in the guidance released on September 1, 2021 (click that link, item #16) by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). In our efforts to work with the CDPH, we find them lacking in their ability to listen to us as professionals in the field of teaching music education in California. In June 2020, in a virtual face to face meeting, we asked them to separate in-school music teaching and learning from activities that take place after school, such as sports and clubs. We explained that music taught in the classroom to thousands of students daily is not “extracurricular.” When addressed in this manner, and in state guidelines by a state agency, they are reinforcing what we do as music educators and what our students do as music learners is not as important as math or science or other subjects taught in our schools.

The inability for the CPDH to differentiate in-class instruction from after school activity demonstrates a lack of knowledge and understanding of the California education code that states music is a required subject in schools. In addition, California has adopted music standards and a state adopted framework to guide instruction. Their inability to do so disrespects all of the work that music educators must do to provide music instruction in our schools, TK – 12, their efforts to follow the CDPH guidelines, and shows little respect for every student in our band and choir classes, that what they receive as part of their K-12 education in music is just an “extracurricular activity.”

It is difficult for CMEA to respect the agency that continually fails to support what music teachers and students are doing each and every day to have music education in our schools.

Research has shown that wind instruments can be played with appropriate bell covers with students wearing face coverings, and all singing can take place wearing a face covering. CMEA has provided this information since July 2020 based on the peer-reviewed, University of Colorado/University of Maryland Performing Arts Aerosol Study. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) has been designed specifically for wind players and singers, as well as covers for all wind instruments. The fact that the guidance still does not specifically acknowledge that indoor instruction can take place with these appropriate face coverings and instrument covers falls short once again, and is left to interpretation by health departments, school administrators, and district/school legal councils. We believe the CDPH is more interested in activities such as sports and clubs than what is mandated as inclusive of an education for all students.

Finally, many schools do not have the capacity to maintain six feet of physical distance, and the science has shown that it is not necessary with the correct PPE and coverings for wind instruments and singers. Just as the guidance points out on page 4, item 2: Physical Distancing a. “Recent evidence indicates that in-person instruction can occur safely without minimum physical distancing requirements when other mitigation strategies (e.g., masking) are implemented. This is consistent with CDC K-12 School Guidance.” This is the same guidance when masking the wind player, the wind instrument, and the singer. We see a disparity between sports guidelines—which does NOT have physical distancing requirements, allows for full contact, and does not require  students to be masked—compared with the guidance for music education. CMEA feels there is an inequity in the CDPH’s approach, which highlights a disparity between activities, is a safety hazard, and creates confusion for many.

We once again implore CDPH to clarify its guidance and that California Administrators and Legislators work to help CDPH make these clarifications. We call on Governor Gavin Newsom, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, State Board of Education President, Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond, California School Board Association President, Dr. Susan Heredia, Assembly member and Chair of the Assembly Education Committee, Patrick O’Donnell and Senator and Chair of the Senate Education Committee, Connie Leyva on behalf of music education and music students in CA schools to correct the language in the guidance dated September 1, 2021 to allow music students—singers and wind players—to sing and play wind instruments with appropriate coverings and face coverings and place music education where it correctly belongs, as part of the school day instruction for all of our students in California.

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Update on CDPH Guidelines

CMEA met with California Department of Public Health in early June to discuss recommendations for getting music education back into the classroom safely. 

CMEA has since also provided the July 16 updated guidelines from the aerosol study, posted here. Currently, the CDPH language for guidance regarding the music classroom is included in the following places on their website, but they have also posted a statement that updated guidance will be forthcoming.

We are continuing to work on proposed guidance for music education / performing arts post June 15th. In the interim, for consistency in youth settings, please see current CDPH masking guidance and associated FAQ regarding masking indoors for youth settings. When we have updated guidance, we will be sure to let you know. 

What is covered under “youth settings?”
  • “Youth settings” include K-12 schools and child care, and also cover day camps for youth, youth sports and other youth activities, including theater and music performances and band. Updated CDC guidance is forthcoming for youth settings.”
  • “During activities when increased exhalation occurs, such as singing, shouting, band, or sports and exercise. Move these activities outdoors or to large, well-ventilated space, when possible” (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/operation-strategy.html).

CMEA is actively engaging with CDPH to encourage the release of the updated guidance and are hopeful that it will be posted soon. Please watch our CMEA News feed and the CMEA FaceBook page for updates and please feel free to reach out again if you have further questions.

CMEA Recommendations for State and Federal Funding

CMEA has seen in the news and heard from education colleagues about the current available funds being allocated towards education. Indeed, there are unprecedented dollars that have arrived, or will soon arrive, to school districts. There are definitely opportunities for many of these funds to be spent on music education, but an allocation towards music will not occur unless we make a case and asks for funding for music education.
The purpose of this post is to detail the different funds that are best suited to music education, and the types of things in music that you could ask to be funded. Depending on the structure of your district and the process for financial planning, some of these funds may already be at your site. Your first point of contact should be your site administrator, who then may refer you to central office staff like an arts administrator (if you have one), curriculum and instruction leader, or finance officer.

CMEA recommends using funds for purposes specific to music education identified below:

  • Summer or extended day opportunities which can also support recruiting efforts for fall music classes
  • Backfilling salaries in case of low-enrollment due to lack of recruiting opportunities during the pandemic
  • Subscriptions to online learning platforms
  • Coaches for “small group instruction”
  • One-time capital expenses such as instruments and mitigation such as instrument and choral masks, bell covers, and wireless microphones
  • Professional learning for educators

State Funds

Please see this template provided by the state for more information. The state has been clear that these funds are not solely intended for remediation – there is great potential for innovation in music education and high engagement learning.  Expenditure Deadline is August 31, 2022

  • In-Person Instruction
    • Salaries
  • Expanded Learning Opportunities: As part of a learning recovery program, funds are to be used for supplemental instruction and support, including:
    • Expanded learning – extending the school year or day, or otherwise generally increasing the amount of instructional time/services provided
    • Learning supports – tutoring or similar small group instruction, learning recovery programs, training on accelerated learning strategies
    • Community learning hubs – includes access to technology and Connectivity

Federal Funds

Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Funds/ESSER (from Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security/CARES Act and American Rescue Plan/ARP Act)

ESSER I, March 13, 2020-September 30, 2022

Relevant Uses of Funds

  • Purchasing educational technology
  • Summer school and after school programs,
  • Funds for principals to address local needs
  • Other activities to continue school operations and employment of
    existing staff

ESSER II, March 13, 2020-September 30, 2023

Relevant Use of Funds–same as ESSER I plus:

  • Preparing schools for reopening

ESSER III, March 13, 2020-September 30, 2023Relevant Use of Funds–same as ESSER I & II plus this statement:

An LEA must reserve at least 20% of its total ESSER III allocation to address learning loss through intentions such as summer learning, extended school day/year, or after school programs. Any such intervention must respond to students’ academic, social, and emotional needs and address the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on underrepresented student groups.

For more information on Federal funds, consult this webpage from NAfME.

Keep Music Alive in California

On March 30, 2021, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued revised public health guidance for K-12 schools. The current guidance states, “Outdoor singing and band practice are permitted, provided that precautions such as physical distancing and mask wearing are implemented to the maximum extent possible. Playing of wind instruments (any instrument played by the mouth, such as a trumpet or clarinet) is strongly discouraged.”

This language negatively and unnecessarily impacts music education by restricting band, choir, and also theatre, and dance. As shown in the third report of the International Coalition of Performing Arts Aerosol Study, the transmission of aerosols during indoor music-making can be significantly reduced through the adoption of specific mitigation strategies. These include specified face and wind instrument masks, along with 6 feet physical distance, ventilation recommendations, HVAC specifications, and other precautionary steps (such as washing of hands, using sanitizers).

We ask you to contact your state legislators and Governor Newsom to contact the CDPH to keep music alive and make the necessary changes that follow the science while also providing children with the social-emotional learning experiences that music and arts education provide. Click here to send a pre-written letter to your legislator and our Governor. You can add a personal message about who you are and your role in supporting music and arts education. When entering your information into the system it will automatically send the letter to your state legislators and Governor Newsom.

This will only take a minute please act now!

UPDATE: CPDH Guidelines for Performing Arts Activities

On March 22, the California Department of Public Health updated their guidelines regarding Performing Arts activities. Previously, the guidelines stated that such activities were “highly discouraged” and only allowed in very specific circumstances.

For more information these new developments regarding Outdoor and Indoor Youth and Recreational Activities, click here.

Relevant requirements, recommendations, and resources for Performing Arts activities can be found here.

UPDATE: CDC & Performing Arts Activities

With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announcement of reduced physical distancing on March 19, 2021 many questions have been asked about whether performing arts activities can be also have reduced physical distancing. We applaud the CDC on removing the requirement for plexiglass barriers. The CDC’s new distancing recommendation only focuses on seated classrooms. With the rapid spread of more aggressive variants such as the B.117 variant, health officials do not recommend a change in physical distancing for activities that have increased exhalation.

However, with further research in the aerosol study being completed the following are the recommendations for performing arts activities:

  • Bell covers for woodwinds and brass should be made with a multi-layer cover with the center layer being made of MERV-13 filter material, or a 3-layer surgical style mask using an ASTM F2100 or GB/T32610 standard.
  • Singers produce aerosol at similar rates as woodwinds and brass. The amount of aerosol varies depending on consonants, vowels, intensity, and pitch. Singers wearing a well fit 3-layer surgical style mask that meets the ASTM F2100 or GB/T32610 standard reduces aerosol emission.
  • Face shields are only effective at close range to stop large droplets; they do not prevent aerosol from being inhaled or released unless a mask is also worn.
  • Reduced time in performing arts activities:
    • Indoors: 30-minute restriction followed by a minimum of one(1) air exchange
    • Outdoors: 60-minute restriction followed by a five(5) minute break (New3/19/21)
  • Practice good hygiene by washing hands, using sanitizers, and preventing uncontrolled spit valve release.
  • Rehearsal space recommendations in order of preference:
    • Outdoor rehearsals using individual mitigation techniques described above,
    • 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 cleaners,
    • Indoors with outdoor air exchange rate from open windows supplemented with appropriately sized HEPA air cleaners when air flow is reduced under certain outdoor wind conditions.

Please refer to the Association for Heating, Ventilating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) guidance on ventilation during COVID-19: https://www.ashrae.org/technical-resources/resources

For more information on aerosol in Performing Arts activities please click here.

California Superintendent Nominated for Department of Education Position

CMEA announces that President Biden has picked an Arts Education-supporting Californian to be Deputy Secretary of Education, Cindy Marten.

Marten currently serves as Superintendent of San Diego Unified School District, where she has been recognized for her support for arts and music in the district. CMEA awarded her its “Administrator of the Year” award in 2017 because of her consistent presence at music and arts events in the schools and community, as well as her continued supportive words that have translated into a vibrant visual and performing arts program in San Diego Unified. In support of CMEA, Marten spoke at a recent Stand Up 4 Music rally on the Capitol steps in Sacramento.

Along with Biden’s pick for Secretary of Education, Dr. Miguel Cardona, who currently serves as Connecticut’s education commissioner, these appointments represent stark departures from the previous administration and reflect President Biden’s desire to bring expertise back to the government.

Marten comes highly recommended by CMEA President-elect Anne Fennell and former CMEA President and current CMEA Advocacy Representative Russ Sperling, who both work with Marten in San Diego. They refer to her as “a firm believer in educational access and equity,” and both speak of her efforts to support arts and music education in SDUSD. She supported changes in policy to eliminate “student pull-outs” from music class for remediation and supported the purchase of instruments so students could use one free of cost. During her tenure as SDUSD Superintendent, Marten shepherded through a new strategic plan for the district that boosted arts education funding by several means, including Title I funds into “Learning Through the Arts,” an arts integration program. This investment, which amounted to $5 million over six years, is the first of its kind in the state of California.

Ms. Marten also exhibits a personal commitment to the arts in her community. Having lost her husband to a long illness, she realized that the arts were necessary for her to get out in the world. Sperling explained that Marten would sit down with him quarterly to create an arts calendar and that she has now attended events at virtually all arts venues and organizations in San Diego. Both Sperling and Fennell described Marten as “authentic” and “a true supporter of the Visual and Performing Arts,” and commended her ability to speak eloquently about the value music and the arts provide students.

A lifelong champion of equity, San Diego Unified labels itself as an “anti-racist” district and has implemented a Restorative Justice discipline policy and Standards-Based Grading to make ensure the success of all students.

Marten’s nomination is supported by California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, Secretary of State Shirley Weber, as well as educational leader Diane Ravitch.

CMEA believes that both Dr. Cardona and Ms. Marten will be staunch supporters of music and arts education, and we applaud their nominations to lead the U.S. Department of Education. CMEA looks forward to working with this administration to address the many challenges that lay ahead.

CMEA Response to California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Update

On October 14, 2020, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) posted updated guidelines regarding singing and playing wind instruments. The CMEA response to this update is below and available to download as a PDF by clicking this link.

CDPH Update:

California Department of Public Health Schools Guidance updated on October 14, 2020 

“….. outdoor singing and band practice is permitted provided that precautions such as physical distancing and mask-wearing are implemented to the maximum extent possible.”

Does this guidance allow for singing or playing instruments?
“Yes, outdoor singing and band practice are permitted, provided that precautions such as physical distancing and mask wearing are implemented to the maximum extent possible. Playing of wind instruments (any instrument played by the mouth, such as a trumpet or clarinet) is strongly discouraged. School officials, staff, parents, and students should be aware of the increased likelihood for transmission from exhaled droplets during singing and band practice, and physical distancing beyond 6 feet is strongly recommended for any of these activities.

CMEA’s Response

Please note that playing and/or performing is one of four artistic processes in the California Music Standards, in alignment with California State Education Code, Section 51210 and 51220.  For outdoor only, CMEA recommends: see references below for guidance on each point:

  • to only sing or play wind instruments outside with the correct PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) and physically distanced six feet or more.
  • wearing correct fitting masks for singers, all instrumentalists of all ages, instructors, and instrument covers are required. 
  • correct face masks and bell covers with MERV 13 for singing and playing wind instruments. 
  • teachers use a voice projection system to avoid voice and aerosol projection. Limit talking. 
  • to identify an outside location where spit valves can be emptied safely with physical distancing
  • to maintain hygiene.

References

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  2. NAfME Guidance for Music Education
  3. NFHS Aerosol Study – Round Two 
  4. NFHS Preliminary Recommendations
  5. NFHS Aerosol Study FAQs