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Arts Ed NJ Partners with More Than 125 Organizations

to Generate Second Round of Performing Arts Aerosol Study
WARREN, N.J. (August 6, 2020) — An aerosol study commissioned by the National
Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), the College Band Directors
National Association (CBDNA) with the support of Arts Ed NJ and a coalition of more
than 125 performing arts organizations has generated a second set of preliminary
results that provides further optimism for the mitigation of Coronavirus’ impact on
performing arts activities. Screen Shot 2020-08-06 at 15.28.14
Preceded by initial results released July 13 that centered on aerosol pathways from a
soprano singer and subjects playing four different musical instruments, the second
phase of experimentation investigated aerosol from additional singers and instruments,
as well as theatre performers. A final report, which will incorporate more testing on the
aforementioned areas along with speech and debate activities and an aerobic
simulation, is expected with the completion of the study in December.
“The goal of this study from the beginning was to identify the issues of aerosol
production in performing arts activities, and to find a way forward so these activities will
survive the pandemic,” said study co-chair Dr. Mark Spede, CBDNA President and
Clemson University director of bands. “We are identifying ways performing arts
participants can meet in person with the lowest risk possible.”
Powered by research teams at the University of Colorado and the University of
Maryland, the study’s second round of findings is highlighted by five principal takeaways
related to masks, distance, time, air flow and hygiene with the goal of creating the safest
possible environment for bringing performing arts back into classrooms, band rooms,
rehearsal spaces, performance halls and on athletic fields.
The most recent findings for performing arts participants in music, band, choir, speech
and theatre reinforced the masking measures from the original study results. Those
results found that affixing masks to participants and applying bell cover “masks” to
musical instruments significantly reduced the range of aerosol particle emissions.
Personal masks should be well-fitting, multi-layered, washable or disposable, and
surgical in style. Ideally, bell covers should be made of non-stretchy material that has a
Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) of 13 – a rating known to protect against
cough and sneeze, bacteria and virus particles. However, any type of covering is better
than nothing.
Long-established social distancing guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (6 feet by 6 feet) should be applied at all times, with additional space (9 feet
by 6 feet) allocated to accommodate trombone players. Masks can be optional but are
strongly recommended while performing or rehearsing outdoors; instrument bell covers,
however, should be used in all settings.
Study statistics indicate limiting rehearsal times to 30 minutes or less significantly
reduces the quantity and spread of aerosol among the individuals involved. Following
an indoor rehearsal, activities leaders should wait until at least one HVAC air change
has occurred prior to using the same room again. Outdoors, playing should stop for
approximately five minutes after each 30-minute segment to allow the aerosol to
As can be expected, optimal air flow is achieved during outdoor rehearsals. For
programs looking to use tents as a means of sheltering performers outdoors, open-air
tents – those with high rooftops and without walls – should be employed. HEPA filters
are strongly recommended to increase the amount of clean air and the number of air
changes per hour for indoor rehearsals. Additional guidance can be found on the
American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)
Finally, the second round of results places a strong emphasis on hygiene. In addition to
basic hygienic measures like keeping common areas sanitized and encouraging
frequent handwashing, it is recommended that instrument spit valves be emptied onto
absorbent sheets such as puppy pads rather than directly onto the floor.
While several months of research remain ahead for the aerosol study, co-chair Dr.
James Weaver, NFHS Director of Performing Arts and Sports, believes the preliminary
findings and subsequent recommendations have already made a great impact on the
feasibility of conducting performing arts activities in the near future.
“We know there are elevated aerosol productions that exist in performing arts activities,”
Weaver said. “We feel strongly that the performing arts field is committed to the safety
and well-being of all students, with a clear desire to understand what happens when
instruments are played, or people engage in singing, theatre or other expressive artistic
experiences. We are beginning to understand what steps can be taken to mitigate
concerns and allow students to engage in the many life-affirming experiences that are
central to the arts.”
“Going back to school has risks. School administrators and educators are working hard
to reduce that risk with approaches including the use of masks, social distancing, proper
hygiene and other mitigation strategies to reduce the level of risk,” state Bob Morrison
Director of Arts Ed NJ. “The same is true for arts education. With proper mitigation
performing arts classes and activities can occur. Our position is clear. If our students
are in school the arts are in school, period.”
To learn more about the researchers and contributors, view past preliminary results and
For more information about Arts Ed NJ, visit