Friday, March 19, 2021
While this March marks the anniversary of Covid-19 lockdowns and the beginning of what would become an unprecedented year, it also ushers in a celebration of music. Across the country, March is Music in Our Schools Month; it's a time for communities to showcase the hard work and dedication of their music students and to celebrate the importance of music education. In Plainedge, March is usually full of district-wide performances which act as a musical coming together.
When setting safety standards and guidelines for this school year, New York State established that band and choral students needed to play and sing twelve feet apart. To comply with this requirement, Plainedge had to get creative with its rehearsal spaces for band students. Accommodating the need for space included restrictive schedules, which significantly cut the ability to rehearse. Choral students in Plainedge haven't sung this year due to concerns about safety even with masks on at twelve feet. Music, something that has always connected us, became clinical and distant. Our music students had to adapt from a familial ensemble experience to a solo experience or no ensemble experience at all. We've learned a lot this year: about resilience, about reaching out across the digital and physical divide, about this virus. Twelve months in, we know that the twelve-foot rule for band and chorus is unnecessary. Not only is it highly restrictive, but many studies show that it is much farther than needed to prevent viral spread; six feet of space between masked singers and band students is safe and more practical. Our lawmakers, however, overwhelmed by the many changing guidelines surrounding health and safety, have yet to change the twelve-foot guideline.
As educators, we have seen the profound impact distance learning has had on our students. At the secondary level, it has been a relief to hear students talking to one another in classrooms now that they're mostly all back in school. It has been encouraging to see the team-building that comes from the return of seasonal sports and extra-curricular clubs. It's time to afford our music students these opportunities too. Please help us to bring music back to the Plainedge community and to your own community by demanding Albany change the health and safety guidelines.
Please send this letter to your local representative(s) using the following email and business addresses.
Mail:The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of New York State
NYS State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224
Plainedge Senator Thomas
Mail: 990 Stewart Ave.,
Suite LL 45A
Find your local State Senator:
Plainedge assemblyman Mikulin
Mail: 1975 Hempstead Trnpke
East Meadow, NY 11554
Find your local Assemblyperson:
Nassau County Supervisor Curran:
Office of the County Executive
1550 Franklin Ave.
Mineola, NY 11501