Students performing in school plays will need to be masked under Gov. Murphy orders

Schools across New Jersey will have their fall plays soon. The question remains if the actors will be required to wear masks while on stage.
Under Gov. Phil Murphy’s executive order, students will be required to wear masks while in school, but there are a few exceptions.
Bob Morrison, director of Arts Education New Jersey, says that schools are now utilizing various protocols to safely bring the art back from virtual to in-person.
“Doing the arts remotely is very difficult. You’re not doing it together and that’s what’s important about the arts,” he says.
Last week, New Jersey educators received guidance on indoor performances which includes concerts, plays, recitals and exhibitions on school grounds during and after the school day and on weekends.
“One of the things everyone is concerned about is aerosols that are generated when you speak or when you sing or when you scream or when you play a musical instrument,” Morrison says.
Since returning to in-person instruction, the state has seen 126 total outbreaks of COVID-19 in schools. According to the scholastic indoor performance guidance, which follows the governor's executive order, students must be masked while singing and during theatrical performances.
“Not only do we recommend masks, but we also recommend using microphones as well, so that way performers are not having to exert much energy when speaking in order to be heard,” Morrison says.
So when is it OK for students to be unmasked during a performance?
“If you're doing a dance recital or a dance performance, for example, and you're involved in a high aerobic activity, which dance is, there is an exemption for that in the governor's executive order,” Morrison says.
Students playing musical instruments can also take their masks off, but their instruments have to be masked to keep the aerosols being generated through the musical instrument from going into the air.
This past spring, indoor school performances followed the executive orders for New Jersey performing arts venues. Most of those venues now require proof of vaccination. This doesn't apply to school shows, but audience members must be masked at all times. Right now, there are no bans on indoor performances for schools and students can also perform outdoors.