Texas Guitar Directors Association

CLASSROOM SAFETY RECOMMENDATIONS

If we plan to teach with students in classrooms during the pandemic, we must take maximum possible precautions to keep everyone safe due to the severity of the pandemic dangers. The precautions described here are not intended to profess absolute safety from the COVID-19 virus as this is not possible. These recommendations are considered as part of ongoing assessments based on CDC guidelines and the best available data.

What does a safety-conscious classroom look like now and how is that created?

NY Times, July 29, 2020: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/07/29/us/schools-reopening-coronavirus.html 

Plan now for classroom safety: 1) Identify your possible classroom set up as best you can regarding class size, set up, extra facemasks, cleaning supplies (cleansers and applicators, etc., see: CDC guidelines to cleaning facilities link below). 2) Confirm with your administration the material needs to operate safely and confirm provision of these items. 3) Work with your administration to document the safety rules for your classroom. 4) Post the rules outside and inside your classroom. 5) Adjust as needed to meet high-standard safety needs and make your choices for the safety of yourself, your students, and all who come in contact with your class.

Safety takes time and inconvenience (for everything, always). If we return to the classroom in any way, we must establish classroom procedures and, once established, we should understand that safety will continue to take a big chunk of in-person instructional time during the COVID-19 pandemic. The first weeks of class will probably be dominated by establishing safe habits and understanding. Following that, the procedures will continue to take time to implement before and during class.

  • Schools must provide all needed supplies and PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) such as antiseptic wipes, hand sanitizer, masks and disinfectants. It is unreasonable to expect individual teachers will pay for these items. Hand sanitizer, antiseptic wipes and extra face coverings must be available for student/staff/visitor use at all times.
  • Maintain minimum safe distancing (“MSD”) of at least 6 ft. (circular radius)—blue masking tape on the floor can be used to defining seating. Breakout groups with seating movement are not recommended since they decrease safety measures significantly.
  • All persons in the room must wear cloth facemasks at all times completely covering the nose and mouth. This applies to students, teachers, custodians, administration, and all visitors to the class at all times.
  • Negative airflow is ideal, but many schools have little air flow in classrooms. Given the best data on COVID-19 transmission vectors, airflow/exchange should be a high priority.
·     Keep doors and windows open as reasonable to increase air exchange rate without creating directed airflow from one person to another.
·     Place a fan in a window to create an exhaust from the room to create negative airflow, if possible.
·     Use portable air scrubbers (HEPA filtration system) when open windows are not available.
·     Explore outdoor class possibilities to maintain prescribed safe distancing and other priority safety standards.
  • Everyone washes or sanitizes hands upon entry into the room.
  • Commonly touched surfaces must be sanitized with a 70%, or greater, alcohol-based solution, or other CDC-approved sanitizing cleaner, before and after use (desktops, folders, keyboards, etc.) and surfaces should be washed with soap and sanitized at the end of the day. Care must be taken to store, keep from student contact, and use all potentially harmful and/or flammable materials safely.
  • All School Personnel Must Model Safe BehaviorStaff members must demonstrate and model appropriate safety precautions at all times. This includes wearing masks, hand cleaning, and distancing. Wearing a mask covering both the nose and mouth is especially important.
  • Teachers MUST NOT physically adjust student technique (by touching) as this negates Minimum Safe Distance.
  • Floors are cleaned daily with a disinfectant solution and disinfect carpeted areas. 
  • Post simple rules and even engage students in activities of understanding and safety improvements.
  • Plan traffic flow for your classroom processes that are one way only so students don’t crowd each other or fill a small space like a doorway.

CDC guidelines to cleaning facilities:  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/disinfecting-building-facility.html

List of cleaners suggested by the CDC:  https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2-covid-19

INSTRUMENTS

Very Low Risk: Each student should have their own instrument. This is the safest and best practice. Every avenue to reach this goal should be explored for student success and healthy learning. Nothing in school engages a student more in a classroom than when they play an instrument or sing! This may require additional modest school investment, an “Instruments in the Attic” community donation program, a loaning or rental program,  or other avenues you can pursue to ensure students have access to equipment necessary for safest learning.

Increased Risk: Sharing instruments may increase the risk of transmitting the COVID-19 virus. Assign instruments to students only if three students or fewer use the instrument in day. Given the individual circumstances, it will likely reduce risk of infection if students are assigned instruments for consecutive days each week with thorough cleaning and sanitizing before loan to another student. If using instruments for live classrooms, sanitize the instrument before and after use. Sacrificing the finish of a guitar might be necessary to maintain safety. Carefully sanitize the strings, fingerboard, neck, and buttons on tuning machines and then the guitar body after each use. STUDENTS MUST WEAR MASKS WHILE PLAYING as breath droplets are deposited on the guitar while playing.

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