COVID-19’s Impact on Fine Arts Students


Ashlea McIntire

Part of the Bearcat Regiment practices in the band hall while maintaining social distancing Sept. 15.

The past several months served as a learning experience for students and teachers alike. Teachers learned how to use different resources to get assignments to students on remote days and students had to learn how to get to those assignments and complete them. 

Everyone practices new sanitary procedures, such as wearing masks all day and social distancing. For most classes, the necessary procedures are just frustrating and inconvenient at times, but for the fine arts department, the new procedures are altering the way they work. 

In art classes, changes were made within the classroom to allow students to do as much as they can. One of the biggest changes is the fact that art students aren’t allowed to share supplies. Daniel Ninth Grade art teacher, Estee Diaz, for example, doesn’t have classroom supplies for students to share so students must bring all of their own materials such as colored pencils, sharpies or watercolors. 

Along with bringing their own supplies every day, students are also bringing their projects home and back to school the next morning. In an effort to try to limit the number of things students are transporting back and forth, Diaz is letting students know specifically what supplies they will be using that day in class.

“It’s kind of a struggle for my students because they’re like, ‘Oh my backpack’s already too heavy,’ which I feel bad for but we can’t leave it here, just in case something happens,” Daiz said. They have to have their supplies at home if we all have to go home.”

Another change for the department is that art competitions will be entirely remote. Students competing will take a picture of their artwork and send it in to be judged. Nothing can be mailed in because of the processing and having to touch the students’ artwork. Then, on whatever forum the judges choose, a gallery will be put together for the participants to view each other’s art. 

“In my opinion, art competitions are best in person so that you can be up close to the art and see the details you can only see up close,” junior Katelyn Walther said. “But being able to be in your own environment when taking the photos is better because you can go somewhere and be inspired and go where you want to instead of being confined to the school. So I would say that with all the COVID stuff going on, virtual art competitions are best.”

The choir, like other clubs, is taking things step by step and is unsure about how the year will go. The students have started the year warming up their voices after six months of disuse and practicing the “Star-Spangled Banner” for their performance at the Oct. 2 varsity football game. However, the singing looks different this year due to COVID-19 restrictions. 

When singing, the choir must maintain a distance of at least 6 feet and must keep their masks on at all times. If they are singing outside and spaced out more than 10 feet, then they may remove their masks while singing and put them back on afterwards. The choir is only allowed to sing for 30 minutes of the class period and then must vacate the area where they’ve been singing.  

“Something that I’ve seen so far this year with all of us coming back is we have to really rely on each other to put the work in outside of school to accomplish what we still can this year,” senior David Lasater said. “Which in my opinion is a pro, due to all of us really having to set time aside to do what we need to do to get better. We are having to wear masks while we sing, which hinders our sound and presents new problems we haven’t had to deal with before. But I believe this year, though COVID has limited us, we can, still and will accomplish a lot.”

One of the biggest changes for the Bearcat Regiment this year is the decision not to have a competitive marching season.The decision came after many hours of meetings with district administrators, press releases from competitive circuits and information from a study on the aerosols that wind instruments emit and their effect on the COVID-19 infection. 

Information coming from that study resulted in the district providing the band with bell covers and special masks that can be worn while playing wind instruments. They’ve also changed their weekly rehearsal practice by limiting the rehearsals to after school because students wouldn’t be able to effectively maintain social distancing while changing clothes between morning rehearsals and first period. 

Over the summer, the Regiment started their annual band camp with freshmen and section leaders only in an effort to reduce the size of the group rehearsing. Band Director Dexx Moore said that the band directors as well as the section leaders felt it was a positive change that helped new members situate themselves in the band before all of the members showed up. Though the year is looking different than they expected, Mr. Moore said they are very grateful for the continued support of the district and band families.

“We are very fortunate that we have band directors that care and they aren’t just telling us we won’t be marching this year,” junior Faith Rudzinski said. “They’re coming to us and saying, ‘Hey what do you want to do if nothing goes like a normal year?’ They are trying to make this as easy for us and give us the best year they can.” 

The theater arts department started the year with a significant change, as well. Since the department was not able to hold auditions in person last spring, virtual auditions were held this fall. While the auditions were different, theatre director Christi Skinner said it was a change that could be implemented in future years. The videos made it possible for the judges to be able to talk to one another without worries about interrupting the performer and being able to go back and point things out to each other about each performer. 

However, like other clubs and organizations, in class theatre students are not able to do all that they were able to do last year. Usually, the theatre department holds auditions for anyone and produces a musical that participates in the Dallas Summer Musical Awards (DSMA). This year, the musical will not take place because of safety concerns, and consequently the theatre department will not participate in the DSMA. 

At the end of every year, the students typically compete in One Act, a UIL competition, but as of now it is uncertain whether UIL will hold the competition this year. 

In the musical theatre class, the directors are hoping to be able to present two small cast musicals, and one of the other classes is going to compete in the UIL Young Filmmakers Competition. Though the year is looking different than the students or directors expected, Skinner said that the community has been supportive and the theatre department is thankful. 

“While we’re all a little disappointed about not being able to do shows right now, we are definitely trying to make the best out of it, and there are certainly some good things coming of it,” junior Jenna White said. 

Though this year is looking different and in some ways more difficult for the fine arts department, all programs, directors and students are adapting and trying to make the best of the situation they are facing.

“I’m just thankful for the things that we are getting to do and the opportunities we still have this year,” junior Amy Olazaran said.