Update for music in schools

Covid 19 update 10th Sept

This from Music Mark...

Dear Colleagues,

With this update, I think that all of you will value some thoughts on the guidance which is flying around Whitehall, especially in light of the new plan of limited contact inside and out to just 6 in England. 

  1. We have updated Music Unlocked – please do read this as it is likely to answer many of your questions
  2. It remains that this virus is spreading and ways to stop that happening are many, but the simple rules of social distancing, ventilation and sanitising are probably at the heart of what you might do.
  3. Research has demonstrated that the majority of instruments and singing are safe to resume if children and young people are kept at 2 meters apart.  It is however recommended that the leader/conductor considers 3 metres or more if they can as they are, generally, facing the group.  Additional safety measures such as masks or screens for the leader may well be worth considering in some cases.
  4. Aerosols build up over time so be careful not to run activities for significant periods without allowing breaks to ‘air’ the room – consider the size of the room (not just floor space but also ceiling height) and the number of participants. 
  5. In school, pupils are being taught in ‘Bubbles’.  These bubbles are not socially distanced (to enable lessons to resume in standard classrooms etc) and a music tutor can teach a ‘bubble’.  Again they should – especially as a visiting teacher – socially distance from the ‘bubble’, but the children in that bubble don’t need to do so. 
  6. In out of school hours activity however children are expected to socially distance.  It is not expected that additional ‘bubbles’ will be created where social distancing does not apply.  It is also within the DfE guidance that OOSS activity must not be in groups of more than 15.  There is a discrepancy between the DfE guidance and the DCMS guidance here in that no maximum number is given for amateur or professional music making, but with the new ruling which comes into play on Monday 14th September, we believe the DCMS guidance may well be updated again.  We would therefore suggest that the maximum of 15 is what you should adhere to.  OOSS guidance which says that more than one activity can take place in a large space – ie two or more socially distanced groups of 15 in one space (such as a school hall or gym) – is again perhaps confusing, but we do understand that it does not mean you can put your ensemble into a set of groups and work with all of them simultaneously.
  7. The new guidance that no more than 6 people can meet indoors or outside does not apply to Music Education activity regardless of whether it is part of curriculum learning or is an OOSS activity – all education activity covered by the DfE guidance is exempt from this ruling (despite the likelihood that the DCMS guidance may well have to be updated).

We appreciate that finding ways to make educational activities possible whilst still trying to contain the spread of the virus is really challenging, but we're hopeful that the above will help you to plan and set up activities (live, blended or online).