Wind Ensemble Safety Plan

Plan updated 8/21/2020

The safety and good health of our ensemble student musicians and their families, our staff and our community are paramount to our consideration of how best to conduct rehearsals and performances this fall given the challenges introduced by COVID-19. At all times, we will follow the public health guidelines of the State of Nevada, the Washoe County Health District and the University of Nevada-Reno. Because those guidelines change as our state, national and global response to the pandemic improves or deteriorates, these plans will be revised accordingly and the director of bands will be responsible for informing all members of the ensemble and staff of any changes to protocols, including a decision to move to a completely remote format. In addition, research on the safety of musical performances is ongoing and we will continue to consult and respond to research that updates our understanding of the safety of various practices and instruments associated with concert band.

This plan was developed because there are unique accommodations necessary for wind instruments (informed by the NFHS/CBDNA study). And since the recommendations from this study are not reflected in the initial department/University-wide COVID-19 safety plans, these guidelines were developed to address the unique situation of wind instrument performance. The following plans provide for a modified in-person experience for Wind Ensemble and Concert Winds members that follow guidelines of our State and University, as well as best practices of our profession.

We cannot stress strongly enough that safe behavior applies not just to following the practices outlined below but also to how students behave outside of rehearsal. Student musicians should remember that they need to practice proper hygiene, wear face-masks and socially distance even when not performing or rehearsing. Conduct outside of rehearsal and performance may affect not only the health of individual students, but also the health and safety of fellow student musicians, faculty/staff, family, friends and the community.

  1. All rehearsals will occur in large rehearsal rooms with enhanced ventilation and/or outside. Ventilation techniques will include increasing the building’s HVAC system operation to incorporate maximum outdoor air exchange, and enhanced ventilation techniques using two high-volume fans (see section at 1:14 of this clearing aerosols video). Indoor rehearsals will last no more than 30 minutes with a 20 minute break between intervals (in which all students will leave the room). Outdoor rehearsals will last no more than 30 minutes with a five minute break between intervals.
    1. The recently conducted study “Performing Arts Aerosol Study,” chaired by Mark Spede, President of the College Band Directors National Association (CBDNA) and James Weaver, Director of Performing Arts and Sports for the National Federation of State High School Associations, concluded that “outdoor rehearsals are considered best practice.” Two additional preliminary studies have indicated outdoor rehearsals are safe. One study was conducted in China by Dr. Yuguo Li. Among the 7,324 identified cases in China with sufficient descriptions, only one outdoor outbreak involving two cases occurred. A second study conducted by the Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine in collaboration with the National Institute of Public Health and the National Institute of Infectious Diseases in Japan, found that infection outdoors was 18.7 times less likely to occur than indoors. This study had a 95% confidence interval.
    2. Finally, the ongoing study out of University of Colorado that is examining performing arts organizations and arts aerosols notes that “Study statistics indicate limiting rehearsal times to 30 minutes or less significantly reduces the quantity and spread of aerosol among the individuals involved… Study statistics indicate limiting rehearsal times to 30 minutes or less significantly reduces the quantity and spread of aerosol among the individuals involved.” And offers the following guidelines, to which we will adhere: “Following an indoor rehearsal, activities leaders should wait until at least one HVAC air change has occurred prior to using the same room again although three air changes is the goal. Outdoors, playing should stop for approximately five minutes after each 30-minute segment to allow the aerosol to disperse…. As can be expected, optimal air flow is achieved during outdoor rehearsals. For programs looking to use tents as a means of sheltering performers outdoors, open-air tents – those with high rooftops and without walls – should be employed. HEPA filters are strongly recommended to increase the amount of clean air and the number of air changes per hour for indoor rehearsals.
  2. Rehearsals will be conducted in small conducted chamber ensembles or in small ensembles of no more than nine students indoors and no more than 24 students outdoors to adhere to the Washoe County Health District guidelines currently in effect. Students will be spaced at a minimum of 10-foot intervals, which exceeds the six-to-nine-foot recommended distancing of most studies. When not rehearsing or performing, students will be required to practice six-feet social distancing at all times.
  3. All students will be required to wear a mask or approved face-covering that covers both their mouth and nose at all times. When indoors, woodwind and brass players will be required to rehearse and perform while wearing a mask or face covering with a small slit cut for the mouthpiece. Masks will be provided for students and they will modify with a slit to fit their instrument and physical characteristics. Students must wear a mask when asking questions and talking should be kept to a minimum. Faculty/Staff will wear masks at all times. The University face-covering policy will be followed at all times.
  4. When rehearsing or performing, those students playing wind instruments will use bell covers. Bell covers, which are essentially “masks” for instruments, have been proven to significantly reduce the spread of aerosols from wind instruments.
  5. Faculty/staff will maintain a minimal distance of 10 feet from students during rehearsing times. They will also be responsible for ensuring adequate supply of emergency face-masks, hand sanitizer and disinfecting materials are available at each rehearsal and performance.
  6. Student-musicians should use hand sanitizer regularly, especially before and after touching high-touch areas such as door handles, light switches, seating, tables, etc.
    1. This is in alignment with the NFHS’s guidance that hand sanitizer should be plentiful and available as students transfer from place to place.
  7. Each member will be assigned a designated seat within the ensemble setup (a 20’X20” square, in which the student will sit in the center — this allows for 10 feet of physical distance on all sides). Students will keep their instruments, cases and any personal items with them near their seat. Student musicians should enter the room and proceed directly to their space, taking care not to touch items in any other student musicians’ space.
    1. This is in accordance with the recommendations found in the “Guidance for A Return to High School Marching Band” published by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Music Committee and Sports Medicine Advisory Committee. This study indicates that a student should have their own area (4’x3’ square) designated for their case and other equipment that is not touching other students’ equipment.
  8. Once the semester begins, students will enter the designated rehearsal space for daily rehearsals one person at a time and will place their instrument cases and personal belongings within their designated seating zone. The same process will be used for exiting the rehearsal space.
  9. Sharing of instruments, mouthpieces, percussion equipment (whether personally owned, or studio instruments) is forbidden. Student performers will consult with the instructor to make logical/reasonable adaptations to each particular musical work in order to utilize the available equipment/instruments in accordance with this directive.
  10. Students/employees must stay home or leave work immediately if COVID-19-like symptoms develop. Students are encouraged to call their health care provider for an assessment and possible COVID-19 testing. If a student has a positive test, they are encouraged to fill out a COVID-19 reporting form to assist with contact tracing.
    1. Should a member of any section of the ensemble test positive for COVID-19, that person will be required to quarantine for 10 days after the start of symptoms and 24 hours without fever. All other members of the section will be required to be tested for COVID-19 and quarantine for 14 days.
  11. The Student Health Center has launched a new COVID-19 testing clinic. The clinic provides University of Nevada, Reno students, faculty and staff who are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 or who have been identified as a contact of an individual diagnosed with COVID-19 for free.
    1. The Washoe County District has the primary responsibility for contact tracing in our community. The Student Health Center will work closely with the WCHD to provide information about any positive tests that are reported on campus. The contact tracers at the Washoe County Health District will be responsible for contacting the positive case and getting detailed information about additional contacts as well as providing guidance about quarantine and isolation. Decisions about further notifications about classroom, laboratory, or building closures on campus will be made in conjunction with and advice from the WCHD. The COVID-19 testing clinic will be available outside the Student Health Center main entrance.
    2. Testing clinic hours (testing by appointment only. Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.)
    3. University students: 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
    4. Faculty and staff: 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
    5. Scheduling testing appointments:
      1. Those who wish to be tested need to call the Student Health Center at (775) 784-6598 the day prior to reserve an appointment time. Patients will be required to complete a COVID-19 screening form available through the Student Health Center patient portal from their phone or computer prior to their appointment. Students should contact testingcenter@unr.edu to be sure that their needs can be accommodated.
  12. Performances will be given in a live-stream, or pre-recorded moderated “watch party format.” Should a change in public health conditions occur, this policy will be re-evaluated in accordance with guidance from the Washoe County Health District; however, we do not anticipate any live audience performances for Fall 2020.
  13. The Wind Ensemble and Concert Winds curriculum will be taught on the Hy-flex model. The online units will be received asynchronously and will consist of:
    1. Study and performance of pertinent excerpts of wind band literature for each student musician’s instrument.
    2. Composition of etudes for each student musician’s instrument from the Lemon Etudes series by Steve Danyew.
    3. Should public health conditions necessitate a change to all online instruction, these units will be expanded to incorporate greater depth and breadth of each topic.
  14. The instructor reserves the right to pivot the course to fully online instruction at any time.
  15. For students who are uncomfortable about participating in Wind Ensemble or Concert winds due to COVID-19, an online course will be made available which will include the above mentioned units, plus additional online content which will bring the rigor of the online course to match the in-person instruction rigor.