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Long Island High School For The Arts Allowing Students On Campus For In-Person Classes; Precautions Include Special Masks For Singers

SYOSSET, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) - The coronavirus pandemic has devastated the performing arts community. But, there is an artistic oasis where performers are still singing and dancing.

They're doing it safely and in person, CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff reported Thursday.

When COVID-19 struck, schools shut down.

Virtual classes just were not the same for students at Long Island High School for the Arts.

"We don't always hear each other at the same time, as we should be," said student Kevin Woska.

Kevin is one of 125 students who are now back on the Syosset campus five days a week.

Each day starts with a health screening.

Tents are set up for outdoor classes.

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"Vocal performances are very challenging with COVID because of the possibility of... airborne particles traveling a great distance... we knew that we needed to find a solution that included the outdoors," said Principal Chris Rogutsky.

The solution included special masks, designed by Broadway professionals, for singers.

"Even though we have the masks on, I feel there's moments we share together that we forget that everything else is going on," said Kimberly Larkin, who teaches theater and voice.

Schools: The New Normal

Theater and dance warmups are also outdoors.

Students are spread apart in small groups for anything indoors.

"I think it's really amazing that we get to come and do what we love and be able to express ourselves during this craziness," another student said.

Many high school arts programs have been put on hold for safety. Educators at Long Island High School for the Arts say the programs are every bit as essential as others.

"We need music, we need dancing, we need theater. That's through humanity, through history. That's what has helped people cope," said Mark Cocheo, a music teacher.


"We can serve as an exemplar for what's possible, and hopefully an inspiration for other schools around the country to bring back the arts," Rogutsky said.

The school plans to continue outdoor classes for as long as possible while the weather gets colder.

As they say, the show must go on.

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