Southern Tier and Finger Lakes State Representatives Urge State to Update Guidelines on Performing Arts Education Based on New Scientific Recommendations

Sen. Tom O’Mara (R,C,I-Big Flats), Sen. Fred Akshar (R,C,I,Rfm) and Assembly members Phil Palmesano (R,C,I-Corning), Christopher S. Friend (R,C,I-Big Flatts), Marjorie Byrnes (R,C-Caledonia) and Joseph Angelino (R,C,I-Norwich) issued a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo urging the state to adopt newly-recommended distancing guidelines for performing arts education participants from 12x12 feet apart to 6x6 feet apart, and 9x6 feet for trombonists. Adopting this new distancing guideline would allow for more students to participate in the performing arts.

“We believe the performing arts and music education are vital to providing a rich and well-rounded curriculum for New York students. We urge the state to align its guidance with the standards followed by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) and 125 other performing arts education organizations which follow the new distance recommendation findings,” wrote the legislators. “When our policies are grounded in up-to-date scientific research, we set up our state for a more successful recovery.

“We have seen the positive impact of lifting excessive restrictions on school athletics on our children. Performing arts education and activities should be given the same consideration. Programs of enrichment such as the performing arts provide an outlet for expression and enjoyment for New York children who have bravely faced a world entirely changed by COVID-19. If we can provide some normalcy and activities that are good for their emotional and mental well-being, this will be a great benefit to our students, families and our communities as a whole,” they concluded in their correspondence to the governor.

New findings from research teams at the University of Colorado and the University of Maryland indicate that by following previously recommended guidelines such as wearing masks and the use of instrument bell covers, participants can safely be distanced at 6 feet. According to the research, by continuing to follow surgical mask and bell cover guidelines, aerosol emissions are reduced by 60 to 90 percent, depending on the instrument, voice type and usage (theater versus singing).

The letter may be viewed here.

Published findings can be found here: