Grade school students in Wilmington, Mass. will "NOT permitted to play/blow into their instruments" due to the omicron variant. Instead, students will "...move their fingers through exercises and songs" while "...being fully masked."
According to an email from the district posted by parent group Bring Kids Back MA, "Students who play woodwind or brass instruments (Flute/Clarinet/Alto Saxophone/Trumpet/Trombone will NOT be permitted to play/blow their instruments in lessons in school."
Under the district’s new approach, "…students will assemble their instruments (without the mouthpiece) and move their fingers through exercises and songs, as well as participate in music and rhythm reading lessons while being fully masked for the entire lesson." Despite the complete lack of constructive work for the students, the district still expects the children to "…attend band lessons during this time." Nothing was mentioned with regard to concerts or performances.
The email added that "Percussion (drums) students will continue to have their lessons as usual since those instruments do not involve blowing aerosols into the classroom."
The district justified the decision due to "…the reportedly high transmission rate of the omicron variant and the lower rate of vaccination among our 4th and 5th grade students as compared with older students who had had a longer amount of time to receive their vaccination."
The email went on to say that "After consultation with Becky Brown our Interim Coordinator of Health Services, we have determined that while not optimal for music education these steps will lead to keeping our students safer right now."
Similar COVID restrictions were enacted in Wenatchee, Wash. during the pandemic. In February 2021, students in the Wenatchee high school band were photographed being forced to play instruments inside of individual pop-up tents inside the music room.
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