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
Phone: 354-5335 (Glover) or 354-5687 (LC)
Associate Director, Tiger Drama
Board Secretary, Washington State Thespians
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,
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.
Newport Harbor High School
Drama Department Program Director
I.B. Assistant Coordinator
Thank you, Michael.
Newport Harbor High School
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