COVID-19 Information


Highlights for Fall 2020

  • Fall Semester begins Wednesday, September 9.
  • All lessons and classes will begin online for the start of the school year.
  • Some lessons and classes will transition to a hybrid model, as soon as it is practical to do so, based upon (1) the preference and scheduling of individual student families and their teachers; (2) the need to limit capacity within the building; and (3) best practices for health and safety. 
  • Hybrid teaching (which includes some in-person instruction and some online instruction) will be introduced in phases for those teachers and students who prefer that model. Hybrid teaching may be modified or discontinued at any time based on health and safety metrics.
  • Teachers and students who prefer online learning can continue that model for as long as needed.
  • Woodwind and brass instruments, as well as singing, will be taught online only at this time.
  • Group classes and ensembles are being evaluated on a case-by-case basis for online or hybrid learning.

Online Learning Resources

Guide to Remote Learning & Technology

Ready, set, go! We've put together a list of suggestions and tips to help prepare for your remote lessons or classes, including guidelines for equipment, internet speed, and video conferencing platforms. Email our registrar if you have questions or need help with remote learning.

Guide to Remote Learning

Best Practices for Videotaping a Home Recital

At the end of the semester, many teachers may choose to organize a virtual studio recital. If your teacher asks you to pre-record your performance, here are some tips for sound, lighting, and setting up for success.


Latest Update

August 7, 2020

Throughout the current pandemic, since closing our building in mid-March of this year, Winchester Community Music School has pursued a single enduring goal: to keep the music playing and keep teaching music in our community. Our teaching artists and staff worked tirelessly this spring to migrate our music instruction online, and we finished out the semester with dozens of online recitals featuring our amazing students. A record number of those students continued their lessons online during the summer months, and our teaching artists have made several wonderful online videos for our "Music from Home" series. For nearly 40 years, our mission has been to provide outstanding and diverse musical education and performance that is accessible to all. We look forward to continuing that mission when the fall semester begins on September 9. Through the generosity of our donors, tuition assistance is available and we have extended the application deadline to September 1. (Please visit our Financial Aid webpage for details and to apply.)

WCMS is committed to the health and safety of students, faculty & staff while being a vibrant, high-quality resource for music education and performance. To address the challenges of operating during the global pandemic, we have formed a task force of faculty, staff, adult learners, trustees, and parent advisors to formulate a detailed plan and programming that is in accordance with public health guidelines. The safety of our community is a shared responsibility and will require a partnership with our students, faculty and staff, and families, based on a foundation of mutual trust. Our plan will continue to be reviewed and updated as we learn of any new information.

The current fall semester plan is to begin all lessons and classes virtually (online) starting  September 9, and work towards implementing an optional hybrid (modified in-person learning) model later in the semester. Many faculty and families have opted to take classes and programs entirely online, and WCMS fully supports each individual decision. All classroom-based lessons and classes (music theory, song writing, recording & production) will be taught online only.

The in-person teaching component of the hybrid model will be dependent on faculty choice, student demand, and health & safety guidelines (community COVID case count, MA phase designation, guidance from health professionals, and best practices for similar organizations). All WCMS activities will allow for a complete pivot to remote learning if public health requires the closing of the facility.

The faculty and students of faculty that choose in-person instruction will need to adhere to new protocols, and it will be the combined responsibility of all community members to comply with these recommendations and policies. Parents and guardians, we particularly ask you to join us in the responsibility of keeping our community as safe as possible.

Primary Safety Protocols

Staying Home When Not Well

Students and faculty are required to stay home if they are not feeling well, or if they have had close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19. Students and employees will need to follow a health check and symptom screening before entering the building. Anyone who displays symptoms will be moved to a specific room designed for medical isolation until they can be sent home.

Face Coverings

All students, faculty and staff are required to wear face coverings while in the building.

Physical Distancing and Reduced Capacity in Building

Our home for music will have reduced operating hours, limited to Monday-Friday from 3-8 PM; Saturdays 9 AM-2 PM. (Note: remote lessons can continue to be scheduled outside these times.) Note that these times are subject to change based on lesson demand.

Students and adults will maintain physical distancing in and out of the teaching studios in accordance with state guidance. Movement in the building will be managed through both the use of staggered timing and direction. Staggered timing will be used during drop-off, pick-up, and in movement to studios.

Students and faculty will have designated entrances and exits (dependent upon studio location) with greeter/screening desks. The school will install clear plexiglass shields in areas where there is frequent face-to-face interaction (greeter/front desks). Students aged 8 and younger may be accompanied into the facility with a caregiver but the caregiver must leave the building once the lesson begins. Directional hallways will be used to decrease contact and promote distancing.

Faculty will be assigned days to be in the building to reduce room scheduling conflicts and assure the lowest possible population density. There will be no public waiting areas. (We may provide areas for students to wait for lessons outside of the building for those that cannot wait in a car). We will have protocol for the parking lots to facilitate drop-off/pick up of students.

Each in-person teaching artist will be assigned a pair of studios on their teaching day and will alternate their lessons between the two studios to allow for sanitizing and additional HVAC air exchange in each room between lessons. Each teaching studio will allow for 6 foot social distancing between faculty and student.

Hand Hygiene

Hand-washing and hand sanitizing will be required for students and faculty. In accordance with state guidelines, students and adults will be required to practice hand hygiene when they arrive at the school, and before dismissal. In addition, students and adults will have access to hand-washing at any time in the assigned bathroom area for their studio as well as access to hand sanitizer provided in every classroom. Hand sanitizer stations will be at entrances and in each studio. Gloves will be made available, though use of gloves while playing an instrument is optional.

Additional Protocols and Procedures

Several school health policies and protocols have been enhanced or revised in response to state guidelines and best practice to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Policies will continue to be enhanced or created based on state guidance released over the summer and updated accordingly.

Air Circulation and Ventilation

We recognize the importance of ventilation and air cleaning to create safe environments that will reduce risk with an airborne virus. We have worked with our HVAC company to do an evaluation of air filtration, ventilation, and air handling systems in every room of our building. We have upgraded air filters to the CDC recommended MERV13 standard. Routine maintenance, and special disinfecting procedures will have been performed on all HVAC systems to verify the operation of all air handling and ventilation equipment.

Cleaning Practices

Sanitation will be provided by a combination of faculty, staff and our janitorial contractor. All shared spaces will be cleaned and disinfected at least daily and high-touch surfaces will be cleaned multiple times per day on a regular schedule using CDC approved products. Special attention will be given to studio surfaces, bathrooms, door handles, shared objects, and high-traffic areas. Disinfecting supplies will be available for use in each studio.

The school will install clear plexiglass shields in areas where there is frequent face-to-face interaction (greeter/front desks).

If There is a Case of COVID-19 at WCMS

WCMS will work with the Department of Public Health to support all efforts for identifying, quarantining, and contact tracing should a student, faculty or staff member become symptomatic or test positive for COVID-19. Massachusetts has released an initial set of protocols for a school response to COVID-19. In addition, we will conduct a thorough 'Decontamination' cleaning procedures, including changing HVAC filters; sanitizing the facility; and working closely with our vendors to ensure proper materials, equipment and procedures are used.

Over the next week, all private-lesson students will receive more information about options for their specific lessons, as well as links to submit any information that we will need from you in order to schedule your lessons. A plan for group classes and ensembles will be formulated once we know how private-lesson teaching schedules and room availability will look in the fall.

Thank you for your partnership, your trust, and your continued support.


Previous Updates

July 12, 2020

Dear members of the WCMS community,

As we move through the summer, many of us at Winchester Community Music School are focused on preparing for the fall semester. We are committed to protecting the health and safety of the WCMS community and being a vibrant, high-quality resource for music education and performance. The School has formed a task force of faculty, staff, adult learners, trustees, and advisors which is hard at work formulating a detailed return plan and programming that is in accordance with public health guidelines. 

We look to provide a hybrid model that includes teaching in person when it is safe to do so, as well as continuing to provide remote offerings for those who prefer its convenience or who prefer not to enter the building at this time. All activities are being designed to allow for a complete pivot to remote learning if public health or another emergency requires the closing of the facility.

Our task force is gathering input from our community regarding plans for in-person instruction and remote instruction. If you would like to contribute, please complete this short survey no later than July 20. Your answers will provide us with helpful data to determine trends for demand and how to set up the infrastructure to support it.

We are hopeful for a return to our beautiful home for music in the fall, while mindful of the need for robust health and safety precautions. Certainly, it will be imperative that everyone contribute to the health and well-being of the community by demonstrating responsibility and care in following all safety protocols, and we will hold each member of our WCMS community accountable.

There will be further updates coming in the weeks ahead as we formalize our plans. We look forward to an exciting fall semester of music making with you.

Stay safe, stay well, and stay musical!

June 30, 2020

Summer Programs: To ensure everyone's safety, our summer offerings in 2020 are completely online. We're pleased to report that more students than ever have enrolled in summer private lessons this year, and our Summer Piano Festival is set to begin in mid-July. Here are more summer music opportunities at WCMS:

Fall Semester: We are enrolling now for Fall Semester private lessons. Our plan is to open our building to students and faculty insofar as possible, with modifications that meet local and state health guidelines. New students interested in Fall Semester private lessons should submit an inquiry. Financial aid is available.

Have a happy and safe summer!

May 22, 2020

Dear members of the WCMS community,

As our spring semester draws to a close, we're heartened and inspired by all of the hard work done by our teachers and students to continue their music education online. We know it isn't ideal or easy, but this phase won't last forever. And we have heard many wonderful testimonials from families about how glad they are to continue their relationship with the school and continue their students' musical development.

We will return to teaching in the building when it is safe to do so from a public health perspective. As of now, our plan is to re-open in person for the Fall Semester, with modifications as needed to meet local and state health guidelines. It is a work in progress, so we appreciate your understanding and ongoing support.

Summer Programs: Given the manifest challenges and uncertain timing of the Massachusetts phased re-opening plan, our summer offerings will be completely online. Online private lessons can be scheduled June through August in many instruments, plus we are developing online versions of our Summer Piano Festival and Summer Chamber Music Festival. More programs might be in the works as well. Submit an inquiry for online summer lessons, and stay tuned for more details on other offerings.

Fall Semester: We are enrolling now for Fall Semester private lessons. Our plan is to open our building to students and faculty insofar as possible, with modifications that meet local and state health guidelines. New students interested in Fall Semester private lessons should submit an inquiry. Returning students should re-enroll by May 31 to reserve their lesson slot; our refund policy is flexible in case you need to make a change later. Current students should submit a change/drop request if they want to modify their lesson (new time/day, teacher, or length of lesson) or to withdraw from a lesson. Financial aid is available.

Registration Help Desk: Questions? Ask our registrar! Samara Martin will be hosting a virtual Help Desk via Zoom next week at the following times. Please email Samara for the Zoom link or to ask any registration questions.

  • Tuesday, May 26, 3:00 - 6:00 pm
  • Wednesday, May 27, 11:00 am - 2:00 pm
  • Thursday, May 28, 3:00 - 6:00 pm
  • Friday, May 29, 11:00 am - 2:00 pm

If you need anything at all from the faculty or staff at WCMS, please feel free to reach out. We may be working remotely, but we are available by email and by phone at 781-721-2950.

Stay safe, stay well, and stay musical!

April 30, 2020

Message from Executive Director Laurie Russell

Dear members of the WCMS community,

Our WCMS facility is currently closed to the public until at least Monday, May 18, and remote learning will continue during this time. WCMS will continue to follow the guidance of state and local officials about public health safety in regards to the potential of reopening our building to the public. We are also evaluating our options for summer programming. If you would like to offer your input, please share your ideas by taking this survey.

At this time, our plan is to teach the fall semester in our building, but we will pivot to remote learning if public health deems it necessary to do so. Current private lesson students may re-enroll for the fall semester as of May 1. We welcome inquiries for new students at any time. You can learn more and submit an online lesson inquiry here.

March 31, 2020

Message from Executive Director Laurie Russell

Dear members of the WCMS community,

WCMS is currently closed to the public until at least Monday, May 4. I hope you are safe and well during this unprecedented time. Thank you for adapting and evolving with WCMS over the past two weeks. Our devoted teaching artists and admin staff have been working tirelessly to quickly evolve the school’s offerings to distance learning. We are adapting to new ways of leveraging technology to keep the music playing and to offer you continuity in learning. I realize that not everything is up and running yet, but we are trying our best to find more ways to do so soon. 

As WCMS continues to develop this new adventure in teaching and learning, we know that there will be bumps in the road. We are entering each other’s homes and lives in a more direct and visible way than ever before. We will make mistakes. We will try new ideas—some will fail, more will succeed. We ask for everyone’s flexibility, sense of humor, and willingness to try new things to help us all learn together. I foresee many moments for growth as distance learning offers new and connective experiences for our WCMS community. We are all in this situation together and if you have feedback or suggestions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me or any member of our admin staff to share your thoughts.

I want to offer my sincere appreciation for our amazing faculty. Over the past two weeks, they have reimagined how to deliver music lessons and classes and done so with grace and positivity. Music matters because it elevates society and connects people. WCMS may be physically closed, but we are keeping the music playing! We invite you to continue to connect with us through WCMS’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube channels. 

FAQs

Q:  How can I learn more about the technology of taking my lesson or class online?

A:  Please see the following guides for tips, suggestions, and ideas:

Q:  What if I get sick?

A:  As always, the health and safety of our community is our top priority. If you are sick and cannot take your lessons, please email the school and we will let your teacher know not to expect you.

Q:  Who should I contact if I am struggling with online learning?

A:  Your first point of contact should be our registrar, Samara Martin. Please email her directly or contact the admin staff by phone (781-721-2950) or by email. Our staff members are all available to support students as much as possible.

March 28, 2020

WCMS is currently closed to the public until at least Monday, May 4. We will continue to encourage and facilitate distance learning for as many of our offerings as possible. Many private lessons are now being taught remotely, as well as some group classes. For the remaining group classes, and for our ensembles and bands, we continue to explore online solutions.

  • Group Classes: If you are enrolled in a class which is not yet being offered online, your teacher or a WCMS staff member will reach out by early next week with an update about how class content will be delivered until WCMS is back open to the public. In the event that a class cannot be offered remotely, the teacher will make up as many sessions as possible once the school re-opens to the public. Refunds/credits will be issued for any sessions which cannot be made up.
  • Ensembles: We are currently researching options to see how we might be able to take ensemble rehearsals remote during this time. Some ensembles have already begun working on their own creative solutions—but if not, you should hear from your ensemble coach or a WCMS staff member by the middle of next week with an update on whether remote rehearsals during this time are a possibility. Similar to group classes, if an ensemble cannot be offered remotely, the coach will make up as many rehearsals as possible once WCMS re-opens to the public and refunds/credits will be issued for any rehearsals which cannot be made up.

Thank you for your patience while we work as quickly as possible to move as much instruction as possible to online platforms.

March 19, 2020

WCMS is currently closed to the public through at least Monday, April 6. We will continue to encourage and facilitate distance learning for our private lesson and group class students (as  arranged directly with teachers), and to provide further updates as soon as possible. Please feel free to reach out to our staff for resources or assistance (we are working remotely): 781-721-2950 or email us.

March 13, 2020

Message from Executive Director Laurie Russell

Dear members of the WCMS community,

WCMS has made the decision to close to the public as of today, Friday, March 13 and remain closed through at least Saturday, March 28. This aligns with the actions of many of our local schools, other organizations in our area, and recommendations from State and Local government officials. We hope that supporting one another during these unprecedented times will help serve the greater good in our community.

What does this mean for you?

Private and Semi-Private Lesson students: WCMS would like to provide as much continuity as possible for its students and faculty while you are practicing social distancing. We know that you may be looking for activities to fill up your time at home. The school is supporting distance learning via video conferencing. Your lesson teacher will reach out to you directly in the next few days to communicate about online learning. We realize that remote lessons will be new for many of you and the experience will be different from your in-person lessons at WCMS. We ask for your patience as you and your teacher work together in this new learning environment. WCMS is working with the Zoom video platform and the administrative staff can help support it. However, you are welcome to discuss other video conferencing options (e.g. FaceTime or Skype) with your teacher. Those who choose not to take advantage of distance learning will be on a hiatus from lessons, which will be made up either during April break or at the end of the school year.

Group Class Students: All group classes are on hiatus through and including Saturday, March 28. We intend to make up these classes either during April break or at the end of the school year. Going forward, if we need to be closed longer term, our faculty and staff will look to develop plans to continue your learning in new and creative ways.

Ensembles and Bands: All ensembles and bands are on hiatus through and including Saturday, March 28. We intend to make up these rehearsals either during April break or at the end of the school year.

All concerts and events previously scheduled through the end of March are cancelled.

As we move through this public closure, we will stay in touch to keep you connected with our WCMS community. Thank you all for your cooperation and understanding. Be well!

March 12, 2020

Message from Executive Director Laurie Russell

Dear members of the WCMS community,

Thank you very much for your patience and understanding as we continue to assess and respond to the current health situation and recommendations of local authorities. The safety of our community continues to be our top priority. As of today, WCMS is operating as normal for the teaching of all lessons, classes and group classes, but have cancelled events through the end of March (see below). We will continue to evaluate the situation as we receive new information.

Here are additional news and updates that are important for you to know:

Disinfecting Policies: We are sanitizing all shared instruments (e.g. pianos, hand-held percussion instruments) between lessons and classes. We encourage everyone to properly wash their hands before and after lessons and classes. Surfaces in common areas such as table tops, door knobs, light switches are being disinfected throughout the day to the best of our ability. The school is completely disinfected weekly. There are hand sanitizer stations throughout the building in our waiting areas, as well as in all teaching studios for you to use. (Please note that our supplies are becoming limited so feel free to help out by bringing you own.)

What we ask of you:

  • If your school has closed due to COVID-19 we ask that you stay home until your school reopens.
  • Please follow our illness guidelines and if you are symptomatic with an upper respiratory infection or you know you've been exposed to someone who has tested positive for the virus, please stay home until the illness/period of contagion has passed.
  • We ask for your patience and flexibility as we enter uncharted territory for all of us. Like everyone, we are doing the best we can, and the health and safety of our WCMS community is our top priority.

Concerts and Events: To support social distancing efforts in our community, all WCMS concerts and events through the end of March are cancelled. This includes: March 13 Beat of Life concert, March 14 Voice Dept. Honors Concert, March 19 Americana Slow Jam, March 20 Broadway On Highland, March 21 Dalcroze Workshop, March 26 Songs of Urgency, Advocacy & Hope Faculty Concert, March 29 Concert for Kids, and March 31 Adult Learner Recital. We will evaluate events going into April soon so please check our website's calendar of events for updates.

Private & Semi-Private Lessons:

  • If you are cancelling a lesson due to illness or because your school is closed due to COVID-19, we are temporarily suspending our 24-hour policy to contact the school for an excused absence. Please call us to report your absence at any point.
  • Teachers who have the capability may offer private lessons to their students via distance learning on Skype, Facetime, or Zoom (or another preferred method of video conferencing). WCMS is currently developing the infrastructure & training that could further enhance this option for more of the faculty. Your teacher may contact you to offer you this option.
  • We are looking at ways to extend the semester to offer more options for make-up lessons at the end of the school year, April break, and possible Sunday lessons.

Group Classes and Ensembles:

  • Our group classes and ensembles are small, typically 3–8 people. As of now, group classes and ensemble rehearsals will continue to meet as scheduled with the exception of the following two groups:
    • Jenks Senior Recorder Ensemble (on hiatus through end of March)
    • People with Parkinson's Ensemble (may meet via distance learning, Monika will be in touch with these adult learners)
  • Please understand that for the majority of group music activities, distance learning is not going to be a feasible option.

Please know that we are continuously monitoring information as it becomes available from the CDC, local public schools, and our state and local departments of health. We are making every effort to base our decisions on the best information available and please understand that decisions may need to change at any point. Thank you again for your understanding and help in keeping the WCMS community healthy and safe. WCMS community members with questions or concerns are encouraged to reach out to the School at wcms@winchestermusic.org or call 781-721-2950.

Helpful reminders:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. Proper handwashing technique is essential to prevent the spread of infection.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

Helpful resources:  Information is available on the CDC website about the seasonal flu and COVID-19.

WCMS community members with questions or concerns are encouraged to reach out to the School at wcms@winchestermusic.org or call 781-721-2950.

March 9, 2020

Message from Executive Director Laurie Russell

Dear members of the WCMS community,

There have been a number of recent questions about COVID-19. The safety and security of our WCMS community is always our first priority. The school continues to be open and operating on a regular schedule. We are developing plans in case the proliferation of COVID-19 necessitates a reduction in person to person contact, including possible distance learning options. We are closely following the recommendations the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and our local department of public health.

At WCMS, we have enhanced our cleaning efforts throughout the school to reduce the spread of germs. We are paying particular attention to sanitizing shared instruments (e.g. pianos & keyboards, percussion instruments). Please wash your hands before and after using shared instruments and musical equipment. There are hand sanitizer dispensers around the building and we encourage you to use them. I remind you to stay home if you are ill and to follow our illness guidelines.

Out of an abundance of caution for our community, we ask that students and their family members from schools that are closed for reasons related to COVID-19 not attend lessons or classes or enter the WCMS facility until the closure of their school is lifted.

WCMS has also suspended all school-related international travel, and outreach performances at senior living facilities, until further notice.

We appreciate that this situation personally affects many of us, and that you may be concerned about friends, family, and loved ones around the world. It is vital that we support each other and base decisions on the best information available. These are some ways we can help keep everyone well:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. Proper handwashing technique is essential to prevent the spread of infection.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

Helpful resources:  Information is available on the CDC website about the seasonal flu and COVID-19.

WCMS community members with questions or concerns are encouraged to reach out to the School at wcms@winchestermusic.org or call 781-721-2950.

Thank you for helping to keep our WCMS community healthy and well.