AVA COVID-19 Recommendations
The Alabama Vocal Association is committed to the vital task of educating our students through the empirically tested medium of choral singing. The prodigious evidence that music is essential for the neurological, social and cultural development of our students not only suggests the continued instruction of our students is important but mandates we continue to do so. Current research from peer-reviewed journals and publications, as well as the endorsement of the Alabama Vocal Association Board of Directors, recommends the following for the safety of our students and teachers until such time a vaccine has been proven effective against COVID-19:
- Students and teachers should wear N95 masks for covering their nose and mouth while rehearsing in a closed space/classroom.
- Students and teachers should practice social distance protocols prescribed by the CDC and the WHO regardless of their rehearsal environment.
- Where possible, and with the safety of students as the primary concern, choral rehearsals should take place outdoors.
- If well-ventilated rehearsal areas are not feasible, an HEPA-type air purifier (such as a Winix 5300-2) is recommended for every 360 square feet of rehearsal space.
- Recommended rehearsals strategies should include wearing masks while singing or humming as a means for learning vocal parts.
- Finally, it is recommended that Fall/Winter concerts should not occur in a performance space where social distancing cannot be maintained for both the audience and the performers. Alternative solutions would include virtual concerts streamed live or recorded and made available via web services such as FaceBook Live or YouTube.
*These recommendations will be updated as more research becomes available.
From the President
President’s Address | Fall 2020
Who would have thought five months ago that the opening of the 2020-2021 academic year would be met with so many uncertainties? I suspect that for most chorus teachers in a “normal” year, the anticipation of our first days of school are filled with excitement over reconnecting with students and colleagues, picking literature for our ensembles, and coming up with engaging lessons. However, I have to admit that this year, my excitement is tinged with fear. What does the opening of school look like? How will I connect with my students? How will I prepare them for the next level? What is going to happen to my program? In fact, we are all entering unknown territory together and being challenged to make connections, teach, and assess learning in ways we never imagined. I hope your Vocal Association will be a valuable resource for you as we all navigate the unknown together.
To meet the changing needs of our organization we have formed a Task Force for Virtual Learning, chaired by Dr. Chris Brown from Foley High School. This task force has already spent many hours curating resources for virtual learning that you might find useful moving forward. These resources include engaging lesson plans, instructional videos, and links to resources featuring best practices for virtual instruction. Chris also created a guide for chorus to return to face to face instruction based on the most current research available.
In the recent board meeting, we identified Essential Standards based on the Alabama Course of Study that are critical to address the minimum skills needed for students to progress. Your board hopes that these will be helpful as you plan lessons for the school year.
If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to renew your NAfME membership so you and your students are eligible to take full advantage of AVA offerings.
Please check the AVA website for the most up to date calendar information.
Your AVA board has met virtually and face-to-face this summer to plan for the upcoming year, and to revise the AVA Handbook. We will be presenting those plans and revisions at our virtual general membership meeting as part of the Fall Workshop on the afternoon of September 10. Some highlights of our summer board meeting are as follows:
- Fall Workshop will be September 10. This year’s workshop will be virtual and will be offered to AVA members free of charge. We are planning All State reading sessions, information for new teachers, training for the All State audition process, virtual lesson ideas, and the general membership meeting. Please plan to attend the virtual general membership meeting at 4:00 PM to vote on handbook revisions. Please look for future communications regarding registration for Fall Workshop.
- All fall AVA activities will be virtual. This includes All State auditions; district level Outstanding Accompanist, Outstanding Choral Student, and Pat Blackwell Music Education auditions and interviews.
- For now, we are remaining optimistic that spring semester will look more normal. However, your board has worked on contingency plans for the spring events. Please look for a questionnaire from AVA to help us plan for best ways to serve you and your students.
- Deadline for submissions to perform or present sessions for the AMEA winter conference has been extended to September 1. Because most districts were not able to host SCPA last spring, you may submit a recording from the 2019-2020 school year.
- We have reinstated the Advocacy Committee. Dr. Khristina Motley from Hillcrest High School will serve as chair. One of the goals of this committee is to connect with educators who may not be fully engaged with the opportunities AVA provides. If you know of personnel changes in schools in your area, will you please help your district chair by sharing contact information. We want to include every chorus teacher who wants to be a part of the organization.
As we move forward, I hope that your vocal association remains as relevant as ever, providing resources for our teachers and educational opportunities of the highest caliber for our students.
Wishing you the best as you begin your school year,