Dear Homeschool Music Co-op Family,
Our 2019-2020 school year did not end the way we wanted, and our 2020-2021 school year is not beginning the way we had hoped. The leadership of our co-op has been working all summer to make the best decision for our student musicians. Unfortunately, at this point, that means that things will not look like they normally do when we start back to school. Please read the following information closely, as there are many changes for Fall 2020.
Due to the challenges presented by the coronavirus, and especially the recent increase in the spread of the virus, we will not be able to offer all three choirs this semester. Currently, we have only been able to secure a rehearsal location for our Concert Choir (ages 12-18), so we will only be offering the registration for Concert Choir for the Fall semester. This group will meet at Starkville Community Church, located at 1004 Lynn Lane in Starkville. In addition to a change in venue, there will be some changes as to how the class is conducted.
Current studies of choral music show there is some increased risk of exposure to the virus during extended periods of singing. To best protect our students, we will decrease the class time to one hour. While in class, the students will be seated and placed at a distance to afford as much protection as we can. Choir students will also be required to wear masks during class. There are masks specially designed to best facilitate singing. Those can be purchased by each family at:
https://www.broadwayreliefproject.com/singersmask Families will need to order the mask as soon as possible to insure a timely delivery.
Starkville Community Church is currently in the process of having a new air filtration system installed. While not impregnable to the virus, most studies show that improved ventilation systems help decrease the spread of the virus.
Dr. Taylor has already emailed information regarding band. If you have not received that email, please let Dr. Taylor know, so that he can assure you are included in all future correspondence.
We are excited to start a beginner band this semester. Early studies have indicated that instrumental playing does not increase virus exposure risk as much as some other activities. However, we will still be taking steps to mitigate any spread to the best of our ability and provide the safest learning environment possible.
The first change is that both bands will be meeting off campus in the fall semester. We will meet at Grace Presbyterian Church, located at 525 Academy Road in Starkville. The classes will meet as in previous years: Beginner Band from 12p-1p and Advanced Band from 1p-2p.
The following was provided in the email from Dr. Taylor, but I will include again for information.
Unfortunately, we can’t conduct business as usual in the current environment. The following procedures are subject to change, but here is the plan for now:
- All students should wear a mask when they are around others, even outside the building. We will be masked at all times when we are not actually playing our instruments.
- If you arrive early, please consider staying in your vehicle. If you wish to talk with friends, please maintain at least a six foot distance.
- Please enter the building through the central doors under the drive-through cover. To maintain a one-way traffic flow, at the 1 pm class change beginners will exit the building from the west side door near the playground.
- If you are an advanced band member and you arrive early, please do not enter the building until your class time. The beginner class will end by 12:55 to allow for chairs and stands to be sanitized prior to the advanced class.
- Chairs will be arranged in straight rows and spaced six feet apart. There will be no sharing of music stands.
- Brass players who need to empty water keys should bring a washcloth, paper towel, or something similar to avoid emptying water directly on the floor.
- In the advanced band, our yellow “Habits” book and sight reading book will not be shared between players, nor will they be passed out and taken up each class like normal. I have ordered additional books so that everyone will be issued his or her own copy. Like the sheet music, these must be cared for and returned at the end of the semester.
- Each student must have personal items to use at class—music folder, book, pencil, valve oil, etc. There will be no sharing of items. We also can’t pass out and take up the “magic pencils.”
- I will provide a new music folder for each student at the first class meeting.
- Finally, our change of venue will require an extra measure of personal responsibility. I will not be a fifteen second walk from my office and won’t be able to magically produce replacements for forgotten copies of music.
We will begin classes on Thursday, August 20. Due to the changes to the Mississippi State University calendar, we will not observe Fall Break. We will complete the semester on Thursday, November 12. We will not have an in-person parent meeting or fundraiser this semester.
It will be incumbent on families to monitor the health of their students and family members. Please do not send students to class if they have had a fever, cough, or exhibited any other symptoms. In addition, if there is reason to presume a positive case due to exposure to the virus, please keep your student home until a negative result can be confirmed. We understand that means there will be more absences this semester, but it is the only way we can ensure that classes can continue throughout the semester.
We are heartbroken that we cannot welcome all of our students back and conduct our classes as we always have. We are confident that we can still provide a quality music education. However, it will require much patience and grace from everyone involved. We will hold all our plans loosely, as we may be required to make changes along the way. If changes are required, we will notify parents via email, social media, and the website. We will be placing all of this information and post any updates on the website so that there is a central place for parents to access the most up-to-date information.
We thank you for joining with us to provide a music education for our children. And we thank you for your understanding. No matter what it looks like, we are looking forward to another great semester and we can’t wait to get started. Come join us!