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  • 1.  California indoor performance restrictions versus indoor sports restrictions

    Posted 12-01-2021 13:14
    Our District (in Orange County, CA) sent out the revised guidelines for indoor sports and performances protocols, and I was more than angry to sports such as wrestling, basketball, volleyball and cheer get a pass on wearing masks at indoor competitions as long as the players tested negative during the week of games while performing arts are to be masked while performing regardless of testing negative. I was told that this is following the State guidelines for performing arts not a District developed policy. Where's the equity? Are my audiences really more at risk from singing and speaking students (who have tested negative to covid) in a theater with masked audiences and socially distanced seating than (mostly) maskless fans at a basketball or volleyball game where the air if often humid from the sweat and running and limited ventilation?

    Are EdTA and CETA at the table and providing input into the State of California's Performing Arts policies for performing in a covid world? Because the athletic federations most definitely are and I don't see concrete results that protect AND benefit our programs coming from the State, Counties or Districts. What I am seeing is the power of might makes right, and that is a very concerning position to be in as educators.

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    Joseph D'Aquino
    Newport Harbor High School
    Theater Department Program Director
    Newport Beach, CA
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  • 2.  RE: California indoor performance restrictions versus indoor sports restrictions

    Posted 12-02-2021 09:54
    Personally, I would be angry that no one is concerned with the well being of the players and spectators and thankful my students and audience are being protected.  I WISH ours were, especially now with a new surge and a new variant. Of course, as a COVID long hauler (month nine), my view may be skewed.  My philosophy with COVID has been, just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

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    Carmen Caldera-Brzoska
    Elizabethtown High School
    KY
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  • 3.  RE: California indoor performance restrictions versus indoor sports restrictions

    Posted 12-02-2021 10:33
      |   view attached

    Hello Joseph (and colleagues) –

     

    After seeing the huge disparities between performing arts and athletics we recently fought for equal consideration in our state of Washington, which has some of the most stringent guidelines in the country. It took several months of meetings and revisions but we finally got equitable guidance from our state Department of Health. I'm attaching the original document I created and sent on behalf of WA Thespians to our state DOH, WIAA (interscholastic association), as well as the district and state superintendent's office. In addition, I sent to our local school board and shared all the correspondence with our troupes and theatre teachers through our chapter director, Kristina Cummins. I say all that only as a mention of our process for including teachers throughout the state so they could advocate within their own districts. I am proud to say that our advocacy paid off but it took a lot to get there.

    BOTTOM LINE: Our outcome in our state is that student performers (specifically THEATRE) either submit proof of vaccination OR agree to twice weekly testing. They can only be unmasked ON STAGE for rehearsals and performances. There are far more details and recommendations regarding keeping ensemble members masked for musicals, etc. but they finally changed the wording to match the athletic programs. It is different in our state for CO-CURRICULAR activities. Just like Fitness/PE has to be masked, all our classes and required class performances (think choir) have to still be masked. But extracurricular can unmask just like all the athletics. You can see links to the current state guidance here.

    I hope that some of this helps for you in California!

     

    I am happy to answer any questions or help in any way I can. I learned a lot through the process and recognizing that NO theatre teacher representation was at the table and the DOH assumed music and theatre all fell under the same type of risk categories. It took a LOT of explaining of the differences to get the needle moved in our state but it did happen and they were willing once they realized we would move to let community members know of the incredible disparities for extracurriculars for students. Thanks for advocating for students in your state!

     

    Suzanne Maguire – Teacher

    Glover Middle School | Lewis & Clark HS

    Email: suzannem@spokaneschools.org

    Phone: 354-5335 (Glover) or 354-5687 (LC)

    Associate Director, Tiger Drama

    Board Secretary, Washington State Thespians

     

     

     

     






  • 4.  RE: California indoor performance restrictions versus indoor sports restrictions

    Posted 12-02-2021 16:21
    Joseph D'Aquino

    Thank you for your post. CETA has been working diligently with the other 4 Arts Ed Orgs (CMEA, CDEA, CAEA) regarding this guidance and we have made significant headway. That includes fixing some of the guidance so that music students could find ways to actually play and sing inside with proper protocols. Something they had not been able to do.

    Districts are making decisions based on info they are receiving from the county and CDPH. Some interpretations of this are very loose, which is evident by the numerous school performances I have attended where students are wearing a spit guard style mouth shields, which does not protect anyone from Covid aerosol sprays, the foundational purpose of masking.

    To be clear all audiences in a theatre or a gym MUST be masked. If that is not happening on your site, it needs to be addressed with your administration and the district.

    We realize that there is a discrepancy with how the CDPH sees sports and the performing arts. They see masks with student athletes as choking hazards but not the same with performing arts students. We are still in a world wide pandemic and I as CETA President am not willing to strong arm anyone to dodge masks as they have done with student athletes. Rest assured we have been at the table as decisions are being made and we have been advocating for the same testing protocols for our student performers. Sports seem to be an area where everyone has knowledge and it has been a process to teach others how there are many similarities in the performing arts. This learning curve has been difficult. The work the the 4 Arts Ed Orgs have done to advance our cause of getting students back on stage in front of audience is very evident this school year and we are doing this with out the same requirements that theaters like the Pantages and the Ahmanson have to follow. That includes mandatory vaccinations and testing.

    I personally am not comparing what I am doing with our student athletes. I am doing what is best for my program and my students. I have had ZERO covid cases within my program because of the masking protocols I am following from the CDPH, and maybe some luck, but this is after three productions with full houses. The same cannot be said for the athletes on my campus.  I get that this is frustrating but our bodies are our instruments and long covid or lung damage does not help that future broadway star who will need to rely on those tools for success.

    I encourage you to read  Aerosol study completed by the NFHS to understand how we have used science to guide our conversations with the CDPH and other state entities:
    https://www.nfhs.org/articles/unprecedented-international-coalition-led-by-performing-arts-organizations-to-commission-covid-19-study/

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    Michael Despars
    Theatre Educator
    Fullerton Union High School
    CA
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  • 5.  RE: California indoor performance restrictions versus indoor sports restrictions

    Posted 12-03-2021 06:23

     

    Good morning everyone,

     

    I too would encourage everyone to check out the articles and videos provided by the NFHS Aerosol study. In Ohio the approach has been to create policy at the local level based on local conditions combined with guidance from CDC and local health boards. I am so grateful for the information and guidance from the aerosol study as it enabled us to continue our performing arts programs starting last fall. We actually provided more performance opportunities than pre-COVID seasons.

     

    Yes, we took a different approach than the athletic department however, to date, we have not had to cancel due to COVID. Our primary questions have been what is best and safest for all involved in our programs and what can we do to best insure that events are not cancelled. Our administration (we presented the study to them summer of 2020) has supported our decisions as we continue to adjust policy based on current conditions.  

     

    Peace and blessings,

    t






  • 6.  RE: California indoor performance restrictions versus indoor sports restrictions

    Posted 12-02-2021 22:58
    This has been happening everywhere across the country. The focus should be keeping everyone safe without have two different standards.

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    Crit Fisher
    Lighting/Sound Designer
    New Albany High School
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  • 7.  RE: California indoor performance restrictions versus indoor sports restrictions

    Posted 12-03-2021 00:32

    As has been echoed in most of the threads, safety is foremost – we're educators not commercial producers and directors looking to maximize profits, we're trying to educate and provide experiences before our students move on to their next journeys. It's great to hear educational groups are working with state officials to implement safety plans maybe monthly or quarterly updates would serve us well so we don't feel so isolated at times. With that said, it's still my view, albeit limited, that the standards being used by K-12 districts related to covid protocols tend to be risking ahead of the curve for sports (not good) while being six months or more behind the curve for the performing arts (not good either). Much of the data forwarded to me from this link tends to be from August and June which is unfortunately no longer up to date since vaccines and boosters are now available to all. The data we're using for theaters should be based on what professional theaters have done to safely opened without masks: ensuring artists are vaccinated and tested regularly during rehearsals and performances, and audiences are masked and show proof of vaccination. We could follow the professional guidelines and be doing the same. Sports setting do not replicate in the theater so following their lead seems to make little sense. For the cynics in the group, I too take the health of my students, their parents and my co-workers seriously; I'm not interested in going to funerals or anyone going to mine, but the general lack of regard for anything not sports as an educational is pretty evident.

     

     

    Joseph D'Aquino

    Newport Harbor High School

    Drama Department Program Director

    I.B. Assistant Coordinator






  • 8.  RE: California indoor performance restrictions versus indoor sports restrictions

    Posted 12-03-2021 14:34
    New guidance has been disseminated by the California Department of Public Health, which indicates the most comprehensive guidance for "performing groups" so far. While it is the most comprehensive, in my opinion, I would like to also make sure you understand that much of this is left up to interpretation.
    We must remember that these are recommendations that all districts have received and they must interpret the guidance with help from individual county departments of health and county departments of education. You will need to check with your individual sites as to what will be allowed at your particular site within your district. 
    Below I have underlined the passages of interest and bolded my interpretation of the guidance. Again this is an interpretation of the guidance and the first time that the word "performing" has appeared in this document.
    Section 16, School-Based Extracurricular Activities, has been updated.
    16. School-Based Extracurricular Activities
    The requirements and recommendations in this guidance apply to all extracurricular activities that are operated or supervised by schools, and all activities that occur on a school site, whether or not they occur during school hours, including, but not limited to, sports, band, chorus, and clubs.
    Activities may be performed outdoors without masks.  Indoor mask use remains a critical layer in protecting against COVID-19 infection and transmission, including during sports, music, and related activities.  Accordingly:
    • Masks are required indoors at all times for teachers, referees, officials, coaches, and other support staff.
    • Masks are required indoors for all spectators and observers. 
    • Masks are required indoors at all times when participants are not actively practicing, conditioning, competing, or performingMasks are also required indoors while on the sidelines, in team meetings, and within locker rooms and weight rooms. 
    Bullet point 3 above indicates that masks are required when indoors except when "performing", but also states as we move to bullet point 4 that masks should be worn everywhere else when not performing. This includes backstage areas etc. This also means that performers on stage can be unmasked but everyone else including audience, director, backstage crews etc must be masked (Bullet points 1 and 2) 
    • When actively practicing, conditioning, or competing in indoor sports, masks are required by participants even during heavy exertion, as practicable. If masks are not worn due to heavy exertion, it is strongly recommended that individuals undergo screening testing at least once weekly. An FDA-approved antigen test, PCR test, or pooled PCR test is acceptable for evaluation of an individual's COVID-19 status.
    Bullet point 4 indicates that if masks are not worn indoors testing/screening should occur weekly. You cannot unmask without testing. Some districts are allowing vaccinated student athletes to submit vaccination records to bypass testing but this is district by district but can be applicable to performing arts students.  
    • Individuals using instruments indoors that cannot be played with a mask (e.g., wind instruments) may perform if bell coverings are used when playing wind instruments AND a minimum of 3 feet of physical distancing is maintained between participants. Modified masking may be considered in addition to, but not in place of, bell covers. If bell covers are not used, it is strongly recommended that individuals undergo screening testing at least once weekly. An FDA-approved antigen test, PCR test, or pooled PCR test is acceptable for evaluation of an individual's COVID-19 status.
    Bullet point 5 specifically references instrumental music which is of interest to us as we head into Spring Musical season.  
    To read the entire document click below (#16 is the guidance for extra-curricular): 
    While I am not an expert from the CDPH, I can try to answer any questions you have. Please let me know if you have any.
    Michael J. Despars
    President, California Educational Theatre Association


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    Michael Despars
    Theatre Educator
    Fullerton Union High School
    CA
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  • 9.  RE: California indoor performance restrictions versus indoor sports restrictions

    Posted 12-03-2021 14:38

     

    Thank you, Michael.

     

    Joseph D'Aquino

    Newport Harbor High School

    Drama Department Program Director

    I.B. Assistant Coordinator