The Department of Education is pleased to share the most recent guidance from the medical and community health experts who have aided our schools in remaining safe and open. Based on additional studies and information as it relates to COVID-19, updates have been made for choral and singing instruction in Maine schools.
Universal Considerations for Choral Ensemble/Group Singing Instruction
- Masks should be worn at all times for all who are in the rehearsal room. Because singing is a higher risk activity, well-fitting, three-layer, surgical-style masks are recommended.
- Maintain minimum indoor physical distance of 6x6 between each singer, instructors, and any other people such as conductors, other musicians, audiences or accompanists. All performers should be facing in the same direction to the extent possible. Avoid singing in a circle or semicircular formation.
- Indoor rehearsals should be limited to 30 minutes followed by a break before the room is used again to allow the central HVAC system to exchange the air in the space. A minimum of one air exchange (which 20 minutes will generally achieve) prior to the next use of the room is required, with three air exchanges preferable.
- Ensembles meet in either the music classrooms, theater, or larger area depending on their class size. Schools should consult DHHS Guidance to ensure that practice and performance spaces have ventilation systems that are well maintained and operate as designed.
- Larger groups that preclude appropriate distancing should meet in a larger area (e.g., theater, cafeteria, gym, etc.) or use any outdoor space that meets mandated student distancing requirements.
- Indoor choral performance should only occur in spaces where proper ventilation systems are compliant with DHHS guidance.
- One-way traffic patterns should be established for entering and exiting the room, pick-up, and storage of materials.
- Transition to small group experience whenever possible, especially when facilities and space considerations are limited.
- Focus on solo and small ensemble playing/singing when the ability to maximize physical distancing is limited.
- Pivot instructional strategies to reduce the number of students musicians performing at any given time (e.g., small ensembles perform while others listen and assess.)
- Utilize alternate performance venues including outdoor spaces, large activity centers, etc., to the extent possible.
- Produce performances of individual ensembles rather than full program concerts, to the extent possible.
- Use live streaming in combination with, or in place of, in-person audiences, to the extent possible.
- Maintain observance of all standing Executive Orders from the Governor’s office related to indoor and outdoor public gatherings.
- Consider having students sing softly/at a lower volume than usual.
- Consider having teachers use portable amplifiers so they can keep their voices at a low, conversational volume.
- Students should not share classroom materials such as pencils, sheet music, music stands, etc.
- Doors should be opened at the beginning and end of class to ensure students are not touching door handles.
- Use physical barriers (e.g., face shields, free-standing acoustic shields) between rows and/or between individual musicians, if available; clean and disinfect each barrier using approved products after each use.
NOTE: These guidelines are largely consistent with those outlined in documentation from the National Association for Music Education/National Federation of State High School Associations.
Previous and current versions of the guidance and considerations document are available on DOE’s PK-12 and Adult Education Public Health Guidance webpage.