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 Department of Education Arts Education Guidance 2020-21

Share this document(s) with your school/district administration and communities about guidance and resources to support LEAs when determining how to safely provide music education in alignment with California State Education Code, Section 51210 and 51220.

High Quality Arts Education During a COVID-19 Impacted School year

Performing Arts Aerosol Study – Round two

CAL OSHA Covid-19 Industry Guidance: Schools and School-Based Programs

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.

Sincerely,
Armalyn De La O
President