The Educational Theatre Association has released its Recommendations for Reopening School Theatre Programs guide. Created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is intended to help schools nationwide decide how to best restart their theatre programs safely in the fall and into the future. Written by a team of EdTA staff and vetted by the organization’s Chapter directors national Board, and Advocacy Leadership Network, the Recommendations guide suggests protocols, specific advisories, and resources regarding live and virtual performance, curriculum, instruction, and resources, and includes an extensive list of documents that also offer guidance for restarting arts programs.
According to EdTA Director of Educational Policy James Palmarini, the document seeks to support both theatre teachers and school decision makers, while being mindful that every state and district will have different parameters in place for restarting their arts programs. “The EdTA guide is not intended to be prescriptive,” he said. “Rather, it should serve as a resource that helps theatre educators and their administrators mutually determine what is safely possible for students and teachers who are engaged in theatre activities at their school.”
He added that the guide emphasizes two things: first, how theatre education can help support students’ social and emotional needs as they re-enter the learning environment after a lengthy and unanticipated interruption in their education. And second, how to provide theatre-based activities delivered through different models of in-school and at-home instruction, including virtual theatre performance.
Palamarini notes, “We know that everyone wants to get back on stage to create live performances as soon as possible, but for some schools that may not be possible in this upcoming school year. EdTA strongly supports the continued learning outcomes that have always been in place for students. So, the expectations are the same but, for the moment, how instruction is delivered may be considerably different than how it has been in the past. That is the spirit in which the Recommendations was written. We truly hope it’s helpful.”