Wellesley Public Schools Performing Arts students and staff have shown creativity and perseverance in producing virtual events during the pandemic, but the reality is that it’s just not the same as live performances. If all goes as planned, live classes, rehearsals, and performances will be back this school year.
The Wellesley High Rice Street Singers belting out the Star Spangled Banner at Fenway Park in late August got things off on the right foot.
Director of Performing Arts Michael LaCava gave an update on what’s planned during the most recent Wellesley School Committee meeting (about 20 minutes into the Wellesley Media recording). He shared the latest K-12 safety guidance, which we’ve embedded below. LaCava said the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has been relatively silent in terms of issuing specific performing arts guidance, so the school system is trying to figure out how to move forward with performing arts given the in-school mask mandate.
“The overall theme here is that we’re hoping to do as much performing arts this year that is safe…” LaCava said.
Starting with K-5, general music returns to classrooms, which means singing and dancing without spacing restrictions. But note that those nasty spittle machines otherwise known as “recorders” will be banished to outdoor use only. Chorus makes a comeback as well. Band members will wear special masks indoors and use bell covers on certain instruments, but will have much more freedom outside.
The middle and high school program rules will be pretty similar. Big news for middle schoolers is that musicals will take place. Auditions for Matilda, Jr., take place Sept. 8-9. At Wellesley High, a new tech director is coming on and the school has decided to push its usual fall musical, which will be Mamma Mia, to March. Some smaller performances with smaller casts have been shifted to the fall.
LaCava says he’s not quite sure what the situation will be for show audiences, but one possibility could be to have limited audiences but more performances. The annual Acatober show could be the test for that.
While distancing rules have been relaxed, LaCava said efforts will still be made to keep students apart when possible. The pep band will be able to let loose at the stadium in the stands.
After school programs will at least initially include both virtual and in-person lessons.
“We’re in a much better position than obviously we were last year. at this time,” he said.