Resources from PMEA to Begin The 2021-22 School Year
Updated COVID-19 Precautions
As most schools and students return to in-person instruction, we believe it is appropriate for students to participate in music making activities in individual and ensemble settings provided appropriate precautions are taken based on local guidelines and the comfort level of those involved. Just this week NAfME & NFHS released New Resources to help music educators, stakeholders and decision-makers ensure that music education is available to all students and provided safely.
Currently, there is no mask mandate in Pennsylvania. However, local school districts may require masks or other mitigation strategies. It’s important to be aware of the current guidance in your school or community. Download a poster for your classroom or to share with your administrators, students, and community members about ways to make music with COVID-19 precautions in mind. This poster has been updated to reflect updated guidance from July 2021. Instrument bell covers and a three foot distance is still recommended in addition to other mitigation guidance.
As decisions are being made in schools, it’s important for you to know funding realities. This information is designed to arm you with the knowledge to make the case if there are threats to your program. Schools have been faced with an unprecedented amount of challenges in the last year and a half. Many of those challenges caused school budgets to be strained. The good news is that there is more money flowing into education to help schools.
In Pennsylvania, $200 million was added to the basic education subsidy that schools receive. And $100 million was added as part of the “Level Up” initiative which provides funding to the most underfunded districts in the state. Your school district likely has received more funding from the state than they did last year. The federal government has provided relief funds specifically for education through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER). These funds can be used through September 2024. You can view a PMEA webinarabout these funds. The United States Department of Education specifically called out how these funds can be used for music education in guidance published in May.
These funds may also be used to support an educator’s salary. If a program was hurt because of COVID-19 (ex. low recruitment numbers for music programs) and a school district wants to reduce or eliminate a position because of the impact of COVID, ESSER funds can be used to support the salary of an educator as they rebuild the program to pre-COVID levels when the school district was able to fully fund the position.
The biggest challenges music programs may face this year is scheduling. There is a possibility that remediation in some subject areas will cut into learning time in music and the arts. The Pennsylvania ESSER Guidebook provided to school districts specifically states that schools should provide equitable opportunities for students. This language is another tool for you to share with decision makes if music programs are marginalized by other subject areas.
The guidebook states that schools should:
· Refrain from scheduling tutoring or other supports at times when students would need to miss opportunities for enrichment and critical and creative thinking in order to participate. Rather, create more opportunities for disproportionally impacted students to close opportunity and access gaps.
· Take care not to make students feel inferior because of their participation in interventions to address educational harms.
· Avoid punishing students by taking away their recess, specials, or other social activities to gain learning time.
· Provide opportunities for students to be immediately successful with accelerated learning activities. Build on student strengths.
· Ensure that school time is used especially well to maximize learning time. Extended learning time can only be effective if time during the regular school day is also used as effectively as possible.
PMEA will continue to work with various stakeholders and advocate for music programs as we face continuing and varying challenges of the pandemic. The science shows us there are ways to mitigate risk while making music. We know the value of music making for our students and ourselves. To that end, PMEA will continue to to work towards providing opportunities for in person music making across Pennsylvania.
If you have questions or need specific assistance, you can always reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org