In its ongoing task of identifying ways to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 in performing arts activities, a third set of preliminary results has been released in the unprecedented aerosol study commissioned by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), the College Band Directors National Association (CBDNA) and a coalition of more than 125 performing arts organizations. The intention is that a final release will be made in the New Year and in time research will be validated.
To get the most out of the release it really is worth watching the hour- long video and music teachers worldwide are recommended to do this.
This is a discussion of the release, which is available as a PDF, but the discussion iself illuminates the text to a high degree.
The recommendations are based on American Standards which of course are not replicated around the world but given the specificity of the research, music teachers worldwide should at least consider them in the context of their own settings. I imagine that for many it will be the access to sufficiently air -conditioned rooms that might be a problem.
Masks – Masks should be worn by students, and masks/bell covers should be on instruments and materials.
Distance – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) distancing guidelines of 6 feet by 6 feet should be followed, with additional space (9 feet by 6 feet) for trombone players. The distancing guidelines apply for outdoors as well as indoors.
Time – Rehearsals should be limited to 30 minutes. Indoors, the room should be cleared, and leaders should wait until at least one HVAC air change has occurred before the next rehearsal.
Air Flow – Outdoor activity remains the best place for air flow. Indoors, HEPA filters are strongly recommended to increase the amount of clean air and the number of air changes per hour (ACH).
Hygiene – The strong emphasis continues on hygiene, including frequent handwashing, and cleaning of spit valves and storage areas.
Using plexiglass masks was not as effective as face covering masks.
Marking Bells does limit aerosol release but it was found that aerosol release from woodwind keys was limited and so covering did not reduce aerosol release significantly.
Some useful takeaways conclude the report
Anecdotally it has been reported that band activities have taken place with COVID-19 students present, probably unknowingly, but as all the above precautions were in place there have been no outbreaks!
Knowing how poor rehearsal facilities are in UK schools compared to those I have seen in the USA and Australia , with poor ventilation, low ceilings and poor acoustics I wonder could this be a catalyst for change in the UK?