Arts|Learning is one of the leaders of the Arts for All Coalition, a group of non-profit organizations, state agencies, and professional arts education associations. Together we work in collaboration to ensure all students have equitable access to and active participation in a robust arts education through the entire public education spectrum.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced all Massachusetts public, charter, and private schools to close in March, 2020, AFA has been working tirelessly to ensure the arts do not get lost in the resulting teaching and learning restrictions. This has continued through the current academic year as many schools continue to use distance learning models exclusively or are only open partially in hybrid models.
Arts Education And Racial Equity: A Call To Action
Check out this powerful OpEd published by WBGH (July 20, 2020) and written by Jonathan C. Rappaport, Executive Director Emeritus of A|L and Barbara Wallace Grossman, Theatre Professor, Tufts University.
This is the Wrong Time to Cut Arts Education
Another timely and powerfully written OpEd published in Commonwealth Magazine, July 30, 2020. By Brenda Cassellius, Superintendent of the Boston Public Schools and Marinell Rousmaniere, President and CEO of Edvestors,
Keep it simple. Discard what’s nonessential. Spark joy. MIT and Harvard researchers recommend strategies for teaching this fall
By Naomi Martin, Boston Globe, July 15, 2020. Interesting article articulating what schools need to do to successfully re-integrate their students into school, regardless of whether fully in person, or a hybrid model, or completely virtual. This includes a strong call for arts education as a key element.
Advocacy Alerts and Action Items
Please check this page periodically for updates and support mechanisms to help arts educators cope with the changing arts education landscape. Here are some tools and information to help you:
- OUR NEW ADVOCACY EFFORT–ESSER FUNDING: Massachusetts is receiving over $1.8 billion as part of the American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) It is the hope of the Arts for All Coalition to help arts educators in advocating to utilize a portion of these funds for arts education.
Please share our advocacy document broadly. Included are links that will inform the reader about ESSER, grant amounts per district, along with information from MAEA, NAEA and NAfME. Our advocacy plan is to PASS (Plan, Ask, Show, Succeed). We encourage everyone to share their successes with us at email@example.com and on social media with the hashtags #ArtsPASS & #ArtsMA.
- MAY 12, 2021. The Arts for All Coalition sent a letter to Commissioner of ESE Jeffrey Riley and key policy makers across the state requesting that MA match CDC guidelines to allow singing and wind instrument playing inside school buildings with distancing of 6 feet instead of 10 feet. Here is the letter. Plus our Arts|Learning research on what East-Coast states and the CDC are doing on this same matter.
- Singing finally allowed! DESE Commissioner announced in his March 1 letter that singing is now allowed within school buildings but at a distance of 10 feet between each student.
- THIRD RELEASE OF AEROSOL STUDY. The third release of the ongoing Aerosol Study led by research teams at the University of Colorado and the University of Maryland became available on Friday, November 13. This has important considerations for how the performing arts may be more safely practiced in school settings.
“A third set of preliminary results has been released in the unprecedented aerosol study commissioned by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), the College Band Directors National Association (CBDNA) and a coalition of more than 125 performing arts organizations… which focused on the distribution of respiratory aerosol generated while playing wind instruments, singing, acting, speaking and dancing…”
- BREAKING NEWS–Oct 14, 2020.
The MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has updated its Guidance for Courses Requiring Additional Safety Considerations for Fall 2020 that align with the University of Colorado aerosol study released in late July.
When in-person school is occurring, wind and brass instruments may be used indoors or outdoors with 10 feet of distance between individuals. Masks, including instrument masks that have a slit for the instrument, and the use of bell covers are encouraged if possible. Spit valves should be emptied onto a disposable, absorbent pad rather than the floor so that contents can be contained. The updated guidance will be posted on this page: http://www.doe.mass.edu/covid19/on-desktop.html.
- GREAT NEWS! The State has committed to holding onto 2020 levels of local aid funding, including Chapter 70-B. This will save many teaching positions including arts educators in the public schools across the Commonwealth.
- For help with advocating for the arts in your district, check out our Arts|Learning Toolkit.
- Check out the Arts for All Coalition page on the MASSCreative website for additional advocacy tools.
- Take this quick survey so we can collect data for our Arts Education Advocacy Database to keep you, your district arts leaders, and parent arts support groups informed of critical arts education advocacy alerts. (Massachusetts schools only, please)
- If your district is facing arts education cuts in staffing and programs, let us know via this Potential Arts Education Cuts 2020 Survey. (Massachusetts schools only, please)
Guidelines for Reopening Schools During COVID-19
- New York Times August 28, 2020: Reopened Schools Find Health Risks in Water After COVID-19 Lockdowns. A number of schools found the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease in their water, and experts say more should expect to see it.
- July 24, 2020 Arts Education Safety Considerations from the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education as well as Commissioner Riley’s “From the Desktop” cover letter.
- Joint statement by the Massachusetts Arts Coalition on general guidelines for re-opening schools and the arts
- Dance Recommendations from the Massachusetts Dance Education Organization
- Music Recommendations from the Massachuset Music Educators Association (Pending)
- Theater Recommendations from the Massachusetts Educational Theater Guild
- Visual Arts Recommendations from the Massachusetts Art Education Association
- University of Colorado & University of Maryland Ongoing Aerosol Study in Performing Arts:
- Part 1 July, 2020 (see pages 40-48 for a summary of findings)
- Part 2 August 2020: Starting on Page 32 recommendations, including for singing, theatre, and instrumental playing–how to mitigate problems
- Part 3 November 13, 2020–respiratory aerosol generated while playing wind instruments, singing, acting, speaking and dancing
- New Evidence Suggests Young Children Spread Covid-19 More Efficiently Than Adults. Two new studies, though from different parts of the world, have arrived at the same conclusion: that young children not only transmit SARS-CoV-2 efficiently, but may be major drivers of the pandemic as well. A must read.
- Harvard School of Public Health, Schools for Health–Risk Reduction Strategies for Reopening Schools. See page 54 for the Arts. June 2020
- Recommendations from the Massachusetts Teachers Association.
- Recommendations from the State of New Jersey Arts Education Guidelines–extremely helpful.
- Recommendations from the State of Arizona Arts Education Guidelines–also very helpful
ARTS FOR ALL Coalition Members include the following:
- Boston Area Kodály Educators
- Boston Public Schools Visual and Performing Arts Department
- Massachusetts-American String Teacher’s Association
- Massachusetts Art Education Association
- Massachusetts Association for Jazz Education
- Massachusetts College of Art and Design
- Massachusetts Dance Education Organization
- Massachusetts Educational Theater Guild
- Massachusetts Music Educators Association
- Mass Cultural Council
- New England American Orff-Schulwerk Organization