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Teaching Music during the Coronavirus Outbreak

Guidance for musicians who teach, following updated Government guidance for England July 2020

The advice on the following pages covers:

Access to Statutory Sick Pay, Universal Credit and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) will depend on your employment status. See the Government's website for the latest guidance.

Please contact your regional office or email teachers@theMU.org if your education work has been affected and your particular circumstances have not been addressed by the announcements so far.

Returning to face to face teaching

Following the recent publication of government guidance on working safely in the performing arts and working safely in out of school settings in England during Coronavirus (Covid-19), we have updated our advice for members who teach.

Here we aim to cover as many scenarios as possible so that you are able to make a decision about returning to face to face teaching, confident that you have practically considered all the issues so that you minimise the risk to yourself and to your students.

The MU’s advice is for general guidance only and does not represent any instruction or encouragement to return to or begin work. The MU can accept no liability for the consequences of your decision, including any illness or other adverse impact.

Your MU Public Liability Insurance (PLI) is valid provided you, and any venue in which you are working, are following the current government guidelines and subject otherwise to the MU’s PLI policy terms and conditions.

Teaching at home or in studios

If you are a private tutor and normally offer provision in your own home or another home, this is now allowed in England under the updated guidance and your Public Liability Insurance is valid for this work.

Before restarting your provision, it is important that:

  • If you are based in premises which have been closed for several weeks you have confirmed with the owner that all health and safety compliance checks have been renewed. If you are the owner then you should refer to the Government’s guidance on managing school premises during the coronavirus outbreak.
  • You carry out a revised Risk Assessment in line with HSE guidance, identifying protective measures, including the following:

Social Distancing

Look at your teaching environment and seek the maximum distance possible between you and your students when teaching.

According to the latest guidance those working with singers, wind and brass players – especially in groups – are considered to be a higher risk activity, and therefore a three-metre distance between musicians should be implemented if no other precautions are taken.

Aim to keep any groups as small as possible, taking into account the space available. And have adequate ventilation in place (using natural ventilation whenever possible). Whilst positioning students, using side to side or back to back positioning (rather than face to face if possible) and consider the use of barriers or screens.

Avoid any physical contact with the student throughout the time they are in your home. Gloves will be advisable in some circumstances. Similarly, masks can be considered if practical.

Cleaning

It is absolutely vital to ensure highest cleanliness standards. Surfaces must be fully cleaned before and after sessions, along with door handles, switches, plugs, any instruments used etc.

Toilets and wash basins must be cleaned before and after sessions (when used) with hand cleanser and sanitisers, or wipes available in the teaching area (wipes to be disposed of in a foot pedal swing bin). It is advisable to carry hand sanitiser or wipes with you.

Instruments

Usually the student will use only their own instrument. Do not share instruments, mouthpieces, reeds etc. Where large instruments are used by the student in the lesson, such as pianos/keyboards/double bass etc, then strict cleanliness regimes are necessary.

Students

  • Consider the issues surrounding students who are in vulnerable groups, including those with underlying health conditions and those over 70.
  • Check with students about their health and their situation at home and how they travelled to their lesson. Students should avoid public transport if possible.
  • Encourage students to pay for lessons using bank transfers to avoid cash transactions.
  • If the student is under 18 then always check and details with the parents/guardian.

If you are teaching in other people’s home then an agreement needs to be reached as to what is acceptable for both parties considering all the issues listed. A Risk Assessment will still need to be completed.

Teaching in schools

It is the Government’s plan that all children and young people, in all year groups, will return to school and college full time from the beginning of the autumn term.

If you are employed to work in a school and have been asked to return to work then you can request to see a copy of the school’s risk assessment to make sure it addresses specifically the circumstances in which you work. If you feel that you are being pressured to return to work in a school and have concerns about the circumstances being unsafe, then do raise this with the school or your line manager and ask if there are other options available such as teaching online.

Some schools will not want Visiting Music Teachers returning in this first phase of re-opening, and it is worth exploring how music education can continue for your pupils who are back at school.

We have information about instrumental and vocal online teaching as well as rehearsing ensembles and choirs virtually here.

Teaching in other educational establishments

If you are teaching in a space that someone else is responsible for, then there needs to be a Covid-19 Risk Assessment in place along with an action plan to deal with all identifiable hazards.

The Risk Assessment should consider the following points:

  • Clear signage throughout the workplace to encourage at least 1m social distancing. Areas should be marked using tape to clearly identify 1m rules and an internal pedestrian one-way system for any aisles less than 1m with agreed flow.
  • Full cleaning of all touch points at least once a day and more regularly where required. Daily cleaning of all other areas. Full facilities for personal cleaning with instructions (incl. visual aids) on use and waste disposal facilities.
  • Provision of handwashing facilities and sanitisers particularly at entrances and exits.
  • Provision of adequate facilities (e.g. toilets, changing areas, rest areas).
  • Refreshment and rest areas chair numbers are limited to maintain 1m control at all times.
  • Any air extraction or air conditioning in use has been individually risk assessed.
  • Where limited catering facilities are provided, food to be wrapped and only disposable cutlery and cups provided.
  • Rooms labelled to identify maximum number of people to respect social distancing requirements. Minimise the number of meeting rooms/spaces available where possible.
  • Provision of an isolation area where those showing symptoms or feeling unwell can wait until they are able to leave.
  • Staggered start and finish times to reduce contact at work and whilst travelling to and from work.
  • Controlled and limited access for people visiting or delivering to your place of work.
  • Management of deliveries to minimise contact with other people whilst loading and unloading. Access given for visitors/deliverers to handwashing facilities.

Additional considerations

Aim to minimise the joint handling of sheet music and possibly explore using personal phones/tablets etc.

The Government advises use of masks, face coverings and gloves in different situations (e.g. when using public transport). Gloves can protect against contact with surfaces in a work area; if masks are worn they need to be changed regularly and if not disposable, fully cleaned between use periods.

Given Covid-19 could be with us a long time. To minimise contact you could consider if changes could be made in your teaching environment such as sensor or elbow control water taps, swing or auto opened doors and Perspex screens in the teaching area for example.

Further medical and government advice can be found from: