This month, we spotlight a trend of state advocacy successes addressing school lockdowns and proper return-to-school policies during the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to the scientific inquiry of the Performing Arts Aerosol study, we know that with proper mitigation strategies in place, it is possible to resume in-person music learning when students return to campus. The challenge has been to get public health and education agencies to adopt state-level policies to allow music-making in a safe environment. Many states have risen to this challenge with fantastic results.
We discussed such an accomplishment in a recent blog post detailing the victory of the Ohio Music Education Association in working with Governor Mike DeWine’s office to adopt permissive guidance for music education. This victory has since been replicated in several other states since. Most recently, the Vermont Music Educators Association (VMEA), working with NAfME and NFHS, met with Vermont Secretary of Education Daniel French to discuss the precautions necessary to provide music education during the pandemic. As a result, the Vermont Department of Education decided to move forward with music guidance using the VMEA outline as a model.
In California, the California Music Educators Association worked with officials in the state Department of Education to revise school reopening guidance in October 2020 to allow for music making to take place outdoors, where it previously was banned from taking place at all. In Washington, the Washington Music Educators Association petitioned Governor Inslee’s office to revise guidance to allow music education to take place when schools open. As a result, the state Department of Health and State Superintendent’s Office updated the guidance for music and the performing arts.
Some states have been very active in promoting the benefits of music education in the public sphere and advocating in their state. David Neves, Advocacy Leadership Force (ALF) representative for the Rhode Island Music Education Association, recently published an op-ed about the importance of music education for students. The New York State School Music Association has pioneered the #LetThemPlay social media campaign to raise awareness on the issue of music education during the pandemic. The campaign influenced multiple state Assembly members to write a letter to Governor Cuomo’s office urging music and arts programs to resume immediately.
These are just some examples of the great work state MEAs are doing every day to advocate for music education. If your state has had successful advocacy efforts on reopening guidance, we want to hear about it! If your state wants to be more proactive in advocating for music education for your students, the NAfME Public Policy team is here to help!
NAfME Public Policy Staff, March 23, 2020. © National Association for Music Education (NAfME.org)