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COVID-19 guidance

The HMS guidance, approved by the County Council Health and Safety team

 

The operational guidance confirms that in school you can:

  • teach music to whole-class groups in schools; indeed the DfE expects schools to teach arts subjects (School guidance p. 54)
  • welcome peripatetic (visiting) teachers in schools (p. 54)
  • allow peripatetic teachers to move between schools without restrictions on the number of settings they visit per day or week (p. 39)
  • allow all staff including peripatetic teachers to move between class bubbles, taking care to maintain distancing especially from other adults (p. 54)
  • sing and play any and all combinations of instruments in class, including woodwind and brass (p. 55)
  • teach individual and small group lessons (p. 57).

The guidance recommends playing and singing outdoors if possible and prioritises social distancing and ventilation if playing or singing indoors (p. 55).

 

After school you can:

  • run clubs in school for all children, using school staff or outside providers, e.g. Hertfordshire Music Service teachers (School guidance p. 50)

 

In schools, you cannot:

  • play woodwind or brass instruments, or sing in "larger groups", which we understand in schools to mean larger than a class bubble, unless distancing, ventilation and other mitigations can be maintained (School guidance p. 55)
  • use physical correction or allow contact between pupils, as either would compromise social distancing (p. 55).

 

Guidance on keeping lessons COVID-secure

Individual and group teaching

Teachers should keep at least 2m distance from pupils and all other adults at all times. If distancing between the teacher and pupil is 1m+ then robust control measures should be applied including higher ventilation, use of face coverings and screens.

HMS teachers can move between bubbles however the teacher must remain at a 2m distance in every classroom.

For group lessons, pupils should be drawn from the same clear and consistent groups (bubbles) in place at the school. No coming together of pupils from different bubbles in small group lessons. Where this is not possible, alternative arrangements e.g. shorter individual lessons could be used only whilst this restriction remains in place.

Social distancing should be observed, which may limit group numbers.  Teaching rooms must be of a size that allows the group to social distance, particularly for singing, woodwind and brass tuition.

Chairs and stands should be positioned a minimum of 2m apart. The Music Teacher/ leader must be a minimum of 2m from the group.  Players must be one to a stand.

Pupils should be seated or standing side to side or back to back and not face to face.

 

Ensembles and whole class tuition in schools

HMS teachers can move between bubbles however the teacher must remain at a 2m distance in every classroom.

Pupils should be drawn from the same clear and consistent groups (bubbles) in place at the school. No coming together of pupils from different bubbles in ensembles.

Pupils should be positioned back-to-back or side-to-side when playing or singing and not facing each other.

Position wind and brass players so that the air from their instrument does not blow into another player.

In schools, any group drawn from the same bubble can sing and play woodwind and/or brass instruments in a class (c. 30 pupils) but schools should limit the numbers based on the capacity of the teaching space to account for social distancing and/or adequate ventilation. For instance, where using a classroom room for First Access, schools may need to be split classes into e.g. 2x 15 pupils.

Chairs and stands should be positioned to enable social distancing and must never be placed so pupils are face to face.

The Music Teacher/leader must be a minimum of 2m from the group. Players must be one to a stand.

Keep background / accompanying music to levels which do not encourage teachers or other performers to raise their voices unduly.

Larger groups e.g. more than a single class of c. 30 would need schools to undertake a specific risk assessment and demonstrate robust controls e.g. larger space, social distancing and good ventilation (min of 10l/s/person for all present).

If possible, use microphones.  If used, microphones must not be shared. Clean equipment before / after use and between users / groups.

A screen/ barrier should be placed in front of the Teacher in ensemble rehearsals where social distancing cannot be maintained.

 

Performances

We have agreed with the HCC Health & Safety team that all schools and HMS music centres should keep performances ‘virtual’ until after the commencement of Step 4 of the easing of government restrictions, likely to be from 21 June 2021.

More guidance and updates will be communicated in advance of this date in line with an update to national guidance on performances from DCMS and other government departments to allow live performances to a face to face audience later in the summer term.

 

General guidance

  • Where possible, pupils should write in their own practice books using their own pencils and pens. However, we recognise that this might not always be possible, therefore, should a teacher need to write in a practice book the they will wash their hands or use hand sanitiser before and after writing in the practice book.
  • When they are used, visors and/or roller screens must be cleaned before, after and between each group/student using COVID safe wipes, sprays or hot soapy water.
  • Any shared equipment (e.g. drumsticks, kits or piano keyboards) must be cleaned between students, using COVID safe wipes, sprays, or hot soapy water. Please also clean any shared equipment (e.g. drumsticks, kits or piano keyboards) before your first lesson and after your last lesson.
  • If a pupil forgets their instrument, then an HMS teacher or pupil owned instrument must not be shared. If it is a school instrument, provided it is agreed with the school, then it can be shared provided that meticulous cleaning before and after the instrument is shared happens happen in line with the school’s guidance, which should meet the standards within this guidance.
  • In cases of additional control measures or ‘robust’ control measures, these should be set by your school and briefed to any visiting HMS teachers ahead of any planned activities.
  • Pupils must use their own music, or music could be projected.
  • All pupils need to use their own music stand in lessons and any ensembles. Equipment (stands) and any touchpoints must be cleaned between each new group/student using COVID safe wipes, sprays or hot soapy water.
  • Pupils should be drawn from the same clear and consistent groups (bubbles) in place at schools. No coming together of pupils from different bubbles in group lessons or ensembles.
  • Tuning instruments – tutors must wipe down instruments before and after handling stringed instruments. All other instruments should be adjusted by the pupil, where possible.

An updated generic HMS risk assessment (PDF, 314KB) for Music Teaching in Schools is available to download, just for your own reference and/or your records. You must still maintain your own school risk assessment for music tuition at your venue.

Instrument specific guidance

HMS has agreed some instrument specific guidance with the Hertfordshire County Council Health and Safety team which is detailed below:

Guidance for singing

Singing in schools is safe.

Schools opened in September 2020 with a limit of 15 children singing together but this limit was quietly dropped with the publication of the PERFORM study in October 2020, in favour of advice on ventilation.

At no point did the guidance expressly say that the limit on numbers was no longer in place but the current school guidance says: 'Singing, wind and brass instrument playing can be undertaken in line with this and other guidance'.

We have had many enquiries about how to sing safely. Music Mark Unlocked resources include a 'Singing Guidance and Risk Assessment' document updated 7 May 2021. Please read this for more detailed guidance on how to include singing in your school safely.


 

Safe use and sharing of instruments in a First Access/PMC session

  • In order to deliver First Access sessions and/or PMC music lessons, instruments can continue to be used following the advice outlined in this guidance.
  • Sharing of woodwind / brass instruments must not take place, however individual pupils and staff can still use their own, individual instruments.
  • Avoid sharing instruments and equipment wherever possible - place name labels on equipment to help identify the designated user, for example, a violin case or Djembe drum.
  • Increased handwashing should be used before and after handling any instruments, especially if being used by more than one person.
  • Sets of ‘non-blown’ instruments (e.g. violin, cello, guitar, djembe etc.) for First Access sessions can be used by another class, as long as they are cleaned appropriately before and after use, preferably by the pupil using the instrument. Please see the specific instrument cleaning guidance below for more details.
  • HMS teachers can move between bubbles however the teacher must remain at a 2m distance in every classroom.
  • Any shared equipment (e.g. drumsticks, kits or piano keyboards) must be cleaned between students, using COVID safe wipes, sprays, or hot soapy water.
  • Any background or accompanying music should be kept to levels which do not encourage teachers or pupils to raise their voices unduly.
  • Pupils should be positioned back-to-back or side-to-side when playing or singing and not facing each other.
  • Position wind and brass players so that the air from their instrument does not blow into another player.

Cleaning instruments

All instruments present a risk of contact transmission. This is similar to the risk of transmission via door handles, handrails etc around the school. Instruments that are only used by one person should be cleaned as usual but with additional care. If instruments are used by more than one person (e.g.  classroom percussion), or taken in and reallocated (e.g. at the end of a whole-class programme or hire period), meticulous cleaning is called for.

This advice may be shared with schools and contextualised as needed. Some processes are not intended to be taught to or carried out by pupils. Not all will be practical or even desirable every time an instrument is played. The guidance is written with normal school and student instruments in mind. It is not intended for higher quality or antique instruments.

 

Woodwind

Disinfectant wipes and/or sprays are effective but bear in mind that most instruments contain multiple materials.  Some disinfectant products will damage the pads of woodwind instruments and varnished or polished finishes. Hot, soapy water is just as effective as disinfectant wipes.  Instruments or parts of instruments made entirely from plastic may be submersed.  The same applies to brass instruments but take the valves out first and set them aside. Recorders can even be cleaned in the dishwasher in the top rack. 

Do not immerse or soak woodwind instruments with cork joints or with keywork as it may damage pads: this includes flute head joints, as it will damage the handcrafter playing, woodwind instruments should at minimum be dried in and out with swabs or pull-throughs to limit microbial growth. 

 

Brass

Fully drying even small brass instruments is not practical but it is extremely important to clean the mouthpiece using an appropriately sized mouthpiece brush, to ensure that all dirt and debris are removed. 

 

Piano

Piano keyboards must be cleaned before and after each use. Plastic piano and electronic keyboards can be sanitised with disinfectant wipes (unplug electronic equipment first). Do not spray them as residues may harm key mechanisms. It is a good idea to dry keys off afterwards. Ivory keys will be damaged by most disinfectant products. Clean them with a cloth dipped in soapy water and wrung out; leave the residue on for thirty seconds and wipe with a dry cloth.

 

Drums

Handles and straps of percussion instruments and beaters should be wiped similarly. Primary school percussion trolleys may not be practical for now unless all instruments and the trolley can be cleaned after each use. Instruments might be allocated to classes or set aside for 72 hours between uses to avoid cross-contamination. Schools will need to respond according to their stocks, circumstances and needs. 

 

Strings / guitar

For wooden instruments, follow manufacturers’ instructions or test your cleaning product on an inconspicuous surface. You may want to wipe the chinrests of violins or violas, but it probably is not necessary (pure sweat is not thought to carry viruses). The neck and fingerboard and the lower end of the bow of all bowed strings may also be wiped.

 

Music Tech

Knobs, buttons, sliders etc on ICT equipment, amplifiers, backlines, CD/MP3 players and so forth should be wiped with antiseptic wipes. Do not use sprays or soaked cloths, to avoid liquids getting inside equipment. 

Areas such as the home button on iPads and the mesh of microphones are particularly bad for harbouring microbes. As prevention is better than cure, using a pop screen with microphones will reduce contamination.  Always unplug equipment from the mains before cleaning. 

After five days of not being played, normal cleaning of any equipment will suffice.

 

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