Fine arts programs prepare for season amid COVID-19 pandemic

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Posted at 9:07 AM, Sep 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-03 17:09:53-04

MONUMENT — Fine arts programs like band and theatre will see many changes as the COVID-19 pandemic limits what they can do this coming season.

For band and theatre students at Lewis-Palmer District 38, the year will look a lot different. Due to the pandemic, the high school had to pivot to a hybrid model which means students will spend part of their time in-person and online. By only having half of their students at a time, teachers say it's difficult, especially since the arts are all about coming together.

"One of my bands has 35 students in it, but I see 17 on one day and 18 on another. So the idea of what a performance class is, is changing quite a bit," said Tom Chapman, Director of Bands and Popular Music Studies at Lewis-Palmer District 38.

Chapman says the pandemic has forced him to re-evaluate his plans for the year, particularly in regards to concerts that have been canceled. Usually, class time is spent on preparing for concerts so he's had to get creative.

"I am creating an independent study so we come together and I still work with kids," said Chapman.

Chapman says he's going to use the time to work with kids on their technique and skills. When it comes to social distancing, he has twice as many chairs in his room so every cohort uses a different chair. Band students will also be playing 30 minutes at a time to let the air re-circulate.

"We'll take a 20-minute break, play for another 30 minutes and that will give a 20 min refresh cycle to get the air out of the room," said Chapman.

He says parents are having a fundraiser to get humidifiers for the band room so they don't have to take as many breaks.

Every student will have a belt cover to trap anything that may come out of an instrument. He also came up with specialized masks for students to wear while they're playing.

Jordan Clark, who is the theatre director, says the pandemic forced them to push their fall musical to the spring.

"For right now I am trying to figure out some other options. I kinda have a plan A, B, C, D," said Clark. "The musical that I did have planned for this fall had kissing scenes and people falling in love in it and that obviously can't happen right now and to try and make it happen social distance would be comical."

Clark says if they continue with the model, he'll do the musical via ZOOM. He says it's also been tough having only half his students and for a short period of time.