Note: This is not an exhaustive list and there might be additional steps in each community to help prevent the spread of virus. Even when taking all precautions, there will still be risk of transmitting illnesses. Everyone should stay vigilant about the health of members of their performing groups. The situation with Covid-19 is rapidly changing. Please keep up with the latest from the CDC and the Mississippi Department of Health. Make sure both your principal and athletic director have a copy of your event plans.
MHSAA Guidance for Music and Choir Indoor Performances
The National Federation of High School Activities Association (NFHS) partnered with many music and choir organizations to study how playing instruments and singing/voice performing produces aerosolized droplets (liquid particles dispersed in the air small enough to remain floating). Knowing how much aerosols are produced helps us understand the risk of performing arts much better than we can in other sports/activities that have not done this level of research. As a result of their work, we can make some very solid recommendations on how to reduce the risk of COVID spread during indoor music and choir activities. Their entire study, plus links to several Youtube videos explaining their recommendations more in depth are available through a link on the NFHS website.
Here are the key findings/recommendations from their research:
- Masks are essential to limiting the potential for spread of COVID. They should be closely fitted, at least two layers of cloth or better, and worn at all times, including when singing or speaking. Wind instrument players can either pull their masks down to play, promptly replacing them when not playing, or cut a small slit in the middle of their masks in one of the folds that allow them to play their instrument, but when is covered in the folds of the mask when talking.
- The instruments need to be “masked” as well. The bells of wind instruments need to be covered with cloth at least two layers thick and sealed closely to reduce the amounts of aerosolized droplets produced.
- Attention needs to be paid to spacing. 6 feet to each side is the recommended distance between students, with the exception of 9 feet to the front for trombone and oboe players.
- Limit indoor sessions to 30 minutes, followed by a break to allow the air in the room to turn over. In outdoor session, the break is 5 minutes. The ability of your air filtration systems in closed rooms will determine how long you can need to break between sessions. The recommendation is that practice and performance sessions be limited to 30 minutes with a break in between to allow for the air in the room to turn over. Schools will need to get an understanding of how often their HVAC systems are already turning over the air in their performance or rehearsal spaces, and if that is too slow, they should consider investing in portable air purifiers of adequate size to turn over the air in the room quickly. This seems complex but the root is simple: It is recommended that you cycle the entire air volume of the room at least once (preferably 3 times) between 30 minute sessions to scrub out any aerosolized droplets in the air. The better your filtration system, the faster this happens, and the shorter the breaks you have to take between sessions. Here is a website more info about calculating this air turnover.
- Post social distancing signs inside & outside of venue.
- Follow local health department and/or state mandates for audience capacity.
- No mask no entry.
- Attendees should consider wearing mask where social distancing is not feasible.
- Students should wear mask when not performing.
- All personnel involved in the event should be screened prior to working the event.
- Hand sanitizing stations.
- On duty personnel should wear mask/gloves.
- Any auxiliary persons (ticket takers, concession stand workers, security, media, and volunteers) should be screened prior to working an event. Method of screening may be determined by host school.
- Any auxiliary participant who experiences any symptoms of COVID-19 must follow CDC and MDH guidelines before being allowed to work an event.
- Restroom attendant mask/gloves.
- If there are concessions these workers should wear mask/gloves.
- Create a plan for line management.
- Establish a plan for proper food preparation per FDA/CDC guidelines for food.
- Use single-serve condiment packets if offering concessions.
- Announce social distance reminders.
- Restrict pedestrian flow in common areas.
- Create media guidelines and communicate these prior to and at each event.