The Solar Prairie Band instructor is asking public well being to permit indoor rehearsals

SUN PRAIRIE, Wisconsin (WMTV) – A band teacher in Sun Prairie begs public health officials to reconsider a rule currently prohibiting students from playing wind instruments indoors.

Chris Gleason is a longtime instrumental music educator at Patrick Marsh Middle School. Currently, his band students are required to play their instruments outside as Madison Dane County’s latest No. 17 Health Ordinance prohibits them from doing so indoors.

He took the same hurdle in the spring of 2021. “There were concerns about the instrumental brass playing and the aerosols that would blow up and so on, and understandably so. So we were asked to play outside in tents, ”said Gleason.

Dane County’s Public Health Ordinance No. 16 would have allowed them to finally return to class, but No. 17 reversed the course. That means he and his colleague from the music department are back an hour earlier to set up dozens of chairs and music stands in the back parking lot of the school.

Although the weather was fairly cooperative the first week of school, Gleason isn’t sure they can rehearse outside when the winter brings cold temperatures and snow.

“I mean, I have kids who cry because they haven’t been able to do what they want for the past 18 months. I have kids quitting and our numbers are half what they used to be, ”said Gleason.

He believes they can safely occur indoors by using bell covers, instrument pouches, slotted masks, and by distancing themselves to prevent the spread of aerosols.

Gleason has presented PHMDC with research from the International Coalition Performing Arts to support its position.

“Although this delta variant is more transferable, the aerosols are the same. We have research showing that our techniques can stop and mitigate our aerosols, and that’s what we just want to do, ”explained Gleason.

The Madison Dane County public health officer said they follow CDC guidelines that make no exceptions for playing wind instruments.

Public health officials also said these studies were conducted before the Delta variant became the dominant strain and that they are “unaware of any studies on wind instruments and the Delta variant.”

Public health officials said they were “unaware of any studies on wind instruments and the Delta variant.”(WMTV)

Even so, Gleason and his colleagues ask PHMDC to reconsider. “These kids want this and they need this now, and I know we can safely do that, so we’re just making a case for this to happen,” Gleason said.

PHMDC said they are confident that the current order will help slow the spread of COVID to the point where it can expire on September 16, allowing the band to play indoors again.

Always following the science and data, PHMDC has reached out to the CDC for guidance on our COVID-19 response. When it comes to singers, musicians, or performers, there are no exceptions in the CDC guidelines for these activities. Therefore, there are no exceptions in the Order for removing masks to play instruments or sing. The regulation lists the following exception: if there are people who are hard of hearing in the audience and a performer needs to remove a mask to communicate with those people, they can do so. We understand the impact this can have, but we need to remain faithful to the science and data and continue to follow the recommendations of the CDC. When we introduced exceptions in previous orders for wind instruments, this was before the delta variant was the predominant burden. All of the studies that were reviewed and supported the previous exemptions were conducted before the delta variant became widespread and we are not aware of any studies on wind instruments and the delta variant. As we have seen, this variant is unfortunately 2x more contagious than previous strains. Therefore, we cannot create such an exception in the current order. All individuals are encouraged to perform outside where masks are not required. We hope this current order will help slow the spread of COVID and will expire on September 16th without requiring another order.

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