2021-2022 Season

At the end of last season NOCC announced that we would be back in September for our 40th Anniversary season with in-person rehearsals indoors and our usual Winter, Spring and Broadway Concerts. That is still our plan for the year, although we are monitoring the situation due to this recent spike in Covid cases due to the Delta variant, and will tweak our plans as needed to comply with medical and government guidance.

We have been carefully monitoring the Delta variant in other countries and researching what medical experts are saying. Most expect it to peak within a week or two and then for cases to decline. I am also happy to hear that vaccinations in Louisiana have quadrupled last week, as compared to previous weeks. Hopefully that trend will continue. We understand that vaccination is a personal and family choice, but we encourage our families with singers aged 12 and older to get vaccinated for their safety, as well as others. All NOCC staff members are fully vaccinated. We are still 6 weeks away from our first rehearsal on Monday, September 13, and we are hopeful that the Delta variant will spike and greatly decline during that time period.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, we and our choral colleagues throughout North America have relied on the educated guidelines issued as a result of an intensive study, which was commissioned by the American Choral Directors Association and many other performing arts organizations in North America. The study has been conducted over the last 18 months at the University of Colorado and the University of Maryland, with periodic updates to mitigation guidelines. As the study of aerosols produced by singing and playing musical instruments has progressed, the guidelines have become less stringent with increased knowledge.

St. Paul’s is currently open to having us back for rehearsals at this point, and we are collaborating on mitigation procedures to make sure that indoor singing is safe for all. Hopefully it will all work out with St. Paul’s, and these are the mitigation procedures we are planning on, following the performing arts study guidelines:

  1. All singers and staff must wear masks for the duration of the rehearsal. All NOCC staff are fully vaccinated.
  2. Singers will be socially distanced at least 3 feet apart.
  3. The church will have HEPA filters for their air conditioning system, and these will be supplemented by the four portable HEPA air purifiers that NOCC currently owns. We will purchase more, if needed for safety.
  4. Singers can sing masked and distanced for 50 minutes, then leave the room to let the air exchange before returning to resume rehearsals. This mostly affects Concert Chorus, since their rehearsals are longer. We will move to another room or outdoor space, depending on weather.
  5. Each singer will have a folder which will be handled only by that singer except for distribution by Teena or one of the directors, who will wear disposable gloves. All folders will be sanitized before and after rehearsals. Songbirds generally do not use folders.
  6. Until this spike eases and vaccinations increase, parents will be asked to drop off and pick up singers at the door, so as to minimize the number of people in the church. We will make an exception for the first rehearsal for anyone who wants to come in briefly just to see where we are rehearsing, or to escort the youngest singers in. Only one parent may accompany the singer, and must be masked. Parents must then leave and pick up singers at the exterior door at the end of rehearsal. We will relax these policies when it is safe to do so.

We expect that things will improve, and we will continue to respond to current conditions in adapting our procedures to ensure everyone’s safety.

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