Wilmington Students Told To Pretend To Play Instruments Due To Coronavirus

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2022/01/05/wilmington-students-told-to-pretend-to-play-instruments-due-to-coronavirus/

Is it O.K. for students in band to play their instruments at school?

It depends upon what the meaning of the word “play” is.

Some fourth and fifth-grade students in Wilmington, Massachusetts who ordinarily play an instrument at school will have to pretend to play their instruments for the time being. They’ve been instructed to continue practicing their instruments at home, but if they play either a brass or woodwind instrument, they cannot blow into their instrument at school. Instead, they are being told to keep their mask on and use the proper finger technique to practice the song.

The rule applies to a pair of schools in the town’s public school district:  West Intermediate School and North Intermediate School. Both schools serve Grades 4 and 5 only.

Anita DiLullo, who serves as the elementary school band director for the district, announced the decision in an email message to parents on Sunday, January 2. The new practice does not apply to middle and high school students in the district, because the vaccination rates against coronavirus are considered high enough to justify continuing to blow into their instruments while at school. 

NewBostonPost obtained the original email message sent by Anita DiLullo from Bring Back Kids MA, an organization that supports full-time, in-person public school education. Here is what it said:


Dear Band Parents:

Happy New Year to you and your families!

All of our Band students have made terrific progress this fall and are on track to continue that progress this winter.  Many students are already looking ahead to their performances at the Annual Band Festival (May 5) and the Wilmington Memorial Day Parade (May 30). As we return to school this week we will continue to have weekly group lessons, however, for the next few weeks (possibly until the end of January) Band lessons are going to look/sound a little different. 

Students who play woodwind or brass instruments (Flute/Clarinet/Alto Saxophone/Trumpet/Trombone) will NOT be permitted to play/blow into their instruments at lessons in school. During lessons, students will assemble their instruments (without the mouthpiece) and move their fingers through exercises and songs, as well as participate in music and rhythm reading lessons while being fully masked for the entire lesson. Students are expected to practice their instruments at home and continue to attend band lessons during this time. Percussion (drums) students will continue to have their lessons as usual since those instruments do not involve blowing aerosols into the classroom.

We are making this decision after considering the reportedly high transmission rate of the Omicron variant and the lower rate of vaccination levels among our 4th and 5th grade students as compared to older students who have had a longer amount of time to receive their vaccination. After consultation with Becky Brown, our Interim Coordinator of Health Services, we have determined that while not optimal for music education, these steps will lead to keeping our students safer right now.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.

Here’s to a happy and healthy 2022!

Anita DiLullo

Elementary Band


The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention only expanded coronavirus vaccine eligibility to children ages 5 to 11  on November 2, 2021; it expanded vaccine eligibility to 12- to 15-year-olds in May 2021. Fourth-graders tend to be 9 to 10 years old, while fifth graders tend to be 10 to 11 years old.

The school district has not released its vaccination rate for students the in 5-to-11 age range or for the 12-and-older range.

Wilmington is a town of about 23,000 about 14 miles northwest of Boston. The town’s public school district serves about 2,800 students.

Wilmington Public Schools superintendent Glenn Brand, school nurse coordinator Rebecca Brown, and band director Anita DiLullo could not immediately be reached for comment on Wednesday, January 5.


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