The Ranney School Performing Arts Department, through exhaustive research and expert consultation, is ready to move forward to the next step towards normalcy. With an abundance of caution, reflected through implementation of all of the recommendations given by the International Coalition of Performing Arts Aerosol Study team, CDC, NFHS, and NAfME, Ranney Performing Arts has transitioned woodwind and brass instrumentalists indoors as of March 1, now that many safety precautions have been implemented.
A few examples of some of the key safety implementations are below:
Students wearing special playing masks provided by the Performing Arts Department
Students seated physically distanced (minimum 6 feet), in front of open windows or HVAC returns (analyzed and approved by the Operations Director)
Bell covers with protective parafilm on all woodwind and brass instruments, including Win-D-Fender for flutes and playing bags for clarinets (all provided by the Performing Arts Department)
Wenger Protective Shields in front of each instrumentalist provided by the Performing Arts Department
Adjusted class/rehearsal schedule allowing for breaks to ensure air circulation and cleaning of the instruments, which will be implemented by the Performing Arts faculty
“The Performing Arts Department's main goal and concern is the safety of our students and our faculty,” said Performing Arts Department Chair Dr. Dorothy Sobieski. “Safety was the driving factor in taking time to carefully and diligently study and look into the scientific findings before making recommendations for our students. We will continue to keep up this conservative approach. We are also very excited to offer all our students an opportunity to more fully participate, learn and grow in our instrumental ensembles. Let the music sound again on Ranney campus (with caution of course!)”
Dr. Sobieski, along with the other Performing Arts faculty members, spent the summer studying all the possible ways in which risk could be mitigated while still allowing all of the students in orchestra, band, and chorus to continue honing their skills and enjoying the work that they are passionate about. There were many creative ways in which performances still happened, such as YouTube premiere Radio Play for the Upper School fall drama. There will also be a Lower School play specifically tailored to Zoom, and virtual Coffee Houses. When weather allowed it, practices were held outside. All of those creative solutions allowed the Performing Arts Department to adapt to a world disrupted by the pandemic.
But now, after careful consideration and an investment into necessary resources, the department is ready to take a step back into the classroom, where music can be made together.
“It is impossible to entirely remove risk, but we can make large strides towards mitigating those risks,” said Head of School Dr. John Griffith. “We have explored all possible avenues to create this plan of slowly providing our students an opportunity to do something they love and are so passionate about.”
The Performing Arts students are so passionate, in fact, that they participated, and at times led, some of the research components.
Most recently, Ankush Govil’23, who is a member of the Upper School Jazz Band and Upper School Tri-M Music Honor Society, conducted his own research regarding the safety of musicians playing indoors.
“Ankush is a fine young musician and he combined his passion for music with his love for science and presented to the school leadership the outcome of the trials he conducted with mitigations, including parafilm inserts in bell covers,” said Dr. Sobieski.
His findings confirmed that of the findings from Dr. Sobieski’s research. Both consulted results of Dr. Shelly Miller from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and Dr. Jelena Srebric from the University of Maryland, as well as several other professionals who took on the task of studying aerosol production in performing arts activities since the offset of the COVID-19 pandemic.