Arts Ed NJ COVID-19 Resources

Updated as of August 10, 2021

The following applies to indoor visual performing arts classrooms and activities (Dance, Music, Theatre, Visual Art):

As the New Jersey and the United States continue the process of moving to post-pandemic conditions, questions about visual and performing arts activities abound. Many questions still exist for the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year. Although the New Jersey is reaching a higher level of vaccinated adults, the vaccination rates for those ages 12-17 remains lower and students under the age of 12 do not have any access to vaccinations. Importance will need to be placed on local respiratory disease transmission rates for use of mitigations. Depending on developments with respect to variants such as the Delta variant and other potential risk factor enhancements, this guidance is meant to provide some best practices for arts education as New Jersey emerges from the pandemic.

On August 6, 2021 Governor Murphy announced the signing of Executive Order 251 which requires that “all students, educators, staff, and visitors will be required to wear face masks indoors for the start of the 2021-2022 school year.” The Executive Order (EO) 251, which will mandate masking in the indoor premises of all public, private, and parochial preschool, elementary, and secondary school buildings, with limited exceptions. The EO is effective on Monday, August 9, 2021. 

Regardless of local conditions, proper hygiene and ventilation strategies should be a priority for all schools at all times. 

The Arts Ed NJ Guidance has been developed based on the policies, guidance, research and recommendations available as of this date. As conditions change this guidance will be updated to reflect current state executive orders and agency recommendations .

Outdoors (All ages): There are no mask, distancing, or time limitations for any outdoor visual and performing arts activity. Outdoors remain the safest space. No mitigations are needed (subject to level of local transmission rates). Proper hygiene strategies should remain in place.

In Schools

The following applies to indoor visual performing arts classrooms and activities (Dance, Media Arts, Music, Theatre, Visual Art):


Masks: Masks (made of appropriate material*) should be utilized by all performers except wind players where the instrument itself should be masked. Wind Players may have a normal mask around the neck when playing the instrument which should be used to cover the mouth when not playing. Specially designed player masks are not necessary. 

NOTE: Flutes and Recorders do not need any covering as they do not generate aerosols.

Timing: In spaces with good ventilation, indoor rehearsal time should be limited to 50 minutes** followed by one air exchange before resuming (A minimum of 3 air changes per hour should be used or 1 air change every 20 minutes). If there are spaces with higher air change rates, you may consider longer rehearsal times.

Social Distancing: Distancing of three feet (measured center of seat to center of seat) is suggested when feasible but should not preclude an activity from taking place. A properly ventilated space should be used. Proper hygiene strategies should remain in place.

Proper hygiene and ventilation strategies should be a priority at all times. 

*Material should consist of MERV13 material or ASTM F2100 (or similar) standard.

** For classes over 50 minutes start and end the class with a non-performance activity

NOTE: Mitigation strategies for timing and social distancing should be implemented “when feasible” and should not be used as an excuse to preclude any activity from taking place.

Note on Face Shields and Partitions: Plastic face shields do not stop aerosol, masks do; room dividers inhibit the function of the HVAC system and are not recommended.

Keeping Arts Ed Safe in School

Keeping Arts Ed Safe in Schools


Performing Arts Coalition Aerosol Study at the University of Colorado and University of Maryland.

NFHS Information Page 

Research Report 

September Ready Report 

Prior Memos 

Other COVID RESOURCE links on Arts Ed NJ

Guidance for Use of Elementary and Secondary Emergency Relief Funds (ESSER)

For information  and guidance on how the Federal ESSER funds may be utilized and how much is available for your school district visit our resources page 

Resources from the National Federation of State High School Associations (NHFS).

COVID-19 Mitigation Strategies for Wind Instruments

NHFS Return to Music

NHFS Return for Speech and Debate

NHFS Theater Safety Course – on NFHS Learn

FREE, about 1 hour to complete, lots of supplemental resources, designed for anyone who uses the theater

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