Changes in Saskatchewan Rivers plan include temporary halt to band and music

The Sask Rivers Education Centre/ Daily Herald File Photo

The Saskatchewan Rivers School Division released another update to their School Re-Entry Plan on Friday, September 4. One major change in this revision is that music and band are no longer permitted but that may change at a future date.

After direction from the local Medical Health Officer, guidelines for band and music changed on September 4.
Extracurricular band is not permitted, initial guidelines for regular band and music have also changed and it is no longer permitted.

Band classes will be permitted once classrooms can be co-mingled. The use of wind instruments is not permitted. When a broad range of instruments can eventually be used and music classes are approved, no aerosol-generating instruments or activities will be allowed. Instead alternative instruments such as drums or hand bells will be permitted.

In that case, participants must adhere to proper hand sanitization requirements. Instruments cannot be shared unless properly cleaned, items that can’t be disinfected, like sheet music, must not be shared. Instead a focus in music theory, history appreciation, cultural importance and other alternatives that address outcomes in Band and Music class will be used.

Singing indoors is not permitted, this includes singing in classrooms and singing-based learning. This is because “the deeper breathing and voice projection involved in singing is a much greater risk of generating and dispersing aerosols that can transmit COVID-19,” according to the new guidelines. Choir and singing is expected to be phased in at a future date. Singing outside can only occur if all participants are wearing masks and properly socially distanced, choir members all face forward and the conductor is four meters from the nearest participant and wearing a mask and face shield.

Other changes in the update on September 4 include for shared book or text resources. It is best practice to have each student have their own book but with appropriate hand hygiene and Grade 4 to 12 mask use, there is risk mitigation for sharing of books.

Transportation protocols also saw changes. Grade 4 to 12 students who do not or cannot wear masks will not be provided transportation unless previous arrangements for accommodation have been made with Saskatchewan Rivers. As well, hand sanitizer will be available and is recommended for students as they board the bus each day.

The division also sent out a welcome back message to parents and students on Monday, September 4.

“Our Board members, teachers and staff are determined to care for the physical and mental health of our students and provide another year of excellence for every learner. The COVID-19 situation continues to evolve and we will adjust our plans for safe operations of schools as needed. We are ready to care for our students and staff when school resumes,” the message said.

The division explained that they used the extra preparation time to reconnect as staff and work together to finalize plans to reach the goals of students.

“Staff spend time working on plans for literacy achievement in math, writing, reading and other subject areas, to reviewing strategies for building relationships and engaging students and families.They also spend time reviewing plans and processes for start-up when students arrive, that includes the maintenance and caretaking staff ensuring work is done so schools are ready,” it explained.

The gradual return for students in Grade 1 to Grade 12 is from September 8 to 11. Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten have their own schedule for start-up. The division advised parents to contact schools for information.