WELLS SCHOOL OF MUSIC INTRODUCES NEW SAFETY PROTOCOLS FOR STUDENTS RETURNING TO CAMPUS
The Wells School of Music has been busily preparing for students to return to hybrid classes this fall and recently introduced new safety protocols and measures to combat the spread of COVID-19.
Christopher Hanning, Dean of the Wells School of Music says, “Music learning is collaborative, and music students were given the option to return to in-person classes. We spent an extraordinary amount of time figuring out how to welcome students back into the Swope Music Building in a way that ensures both safety and optimum learning outcomes. Most of the precautions we are implementing are recommendations found in scientific studies that detail best practices for music making during this pandemic.”
Approximately 290 students will take in-person, hybrid classes in the Swope Music Building, while 120 will live on campus in music communities, housed in close-proximity to each other to make practicing together easier and safer.
In addition to measures enacted across campus – mandatory mask wearing, enhanced facilities cleanings, and sanitation stations with hand sanitizer and wipes – the School of Music is introducing additional protocols specific to music learning.
Large, open spaces across campus will be transformed into rehearsal rooms to accommodate large ensembles. Weather dependent, choirs will rehearse in parking garages and other outdoor spaces, and ensembles will rehearse in spaces not typically reserved for music students - Madeleine Wing Adler Theatre, Asplundh Hall, Hollinger Field House, and the Foundation ballroom.
Specialty safety items proven to lower aerosolization rates are on-order. Brass players will cover their bells, voice students will use masks designed for singing, woodwind and brass players will wear masks with a Velcro opening that allows for an instrument mouthpiece while still covering the mouth and nose, and gloves for moving percussion instruments have all been purchased courtesy of the Wells School of Music and will be distributed free-of-charge to students. And there is no sharing of instruments this fall.
Moving through the building and reserving rehearsal spaces will be run like a well-tuned orchestra. Students are required to lock-in practice rooms ahead of time with 30 minutes of “down-time” for the diminishment of air particles programmed into each reservation. Many rooms have been outfitted with large protective screens that run almost floor to ceiling, benches and desks in the building will be marked for socially distant seating, and some lessons will move from one room to another at the 30-minute mark to minimize airflow issues.
Performances will continue, but live audiences will not be invited to attend. Rather, students and the general public will be invited to view livestreamed performances that they can access online. Virtual performance links and information can be found at www.wcupa.edu/arts.