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NFHS Joins 52 Other National Organizations to Support Arts Education as Essential for Students During COVID-19 Pandemic

By NFHS on July 09, 2020 nfhs news Print

As policymakers plan for schools reopening in the fall, the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) joins 52 other organizations in a statement that supports an arts education for all students.

In the statement, “Arts Education Is Essential,” the signing organizations convey that the arts have already played a pivotal and uplifting role during the health crisis, and that arts education can help all students, including those who are in traditionally under-represented groups, as students return to school next year.

“Arts Education Is Essential” speaks to arts education’s role in supporting the social and emotional well-being of students – an area that administrators, educators and parents have highlighted as essential to student safety and success during the pandemic and as students return to school this fall, whether in-person, online or in a blended fashion. Arts education also creates a welcoming school environment and a healthy and inclusive school community, helping students, educators, parents and the community at large build and strengthen their connectedness during this time of social isolation and social distancing.

The statement also reminds the public that arts education is a part of a well-rounded education as defined by the federal education law – the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) – and supported in state laws throughout the country. Forty-six states require an arts credit to receive a high school diploma, and 43 states have instructional requirements in the arts in elementary and secondary schools.

“The NFHS, its member state associations and other statewide governing organizations for performing arts believe these programs are as important as the classroom work and are, in essence, the other half of education,” said Dr. Karissa Niehoff, NFHS executive director. “There are more than four million participants in performing arts and other related school activity programs in our nation’s high schools, and it is critical that these programs remain in our schools during these challenging days ahead.”

Through the work of Dr. James Weaver, NFHS director of performing arts and sports, the NFHS has been on the frontlines to ensure that precautions are in place for students, teachers and administrators in high school performing arts programs when schools open in the fall. Among those efforts are instrument hygiene guidelines (https://www.nfhs.org/articles/covid-19-instrument-cleaning-guidelines/ ) in partnership with the NAMM Foundation and the National Association for Music Education (NAfME), explaining how instruments can be safely returned and cleaned for use next school year.

The music and arts education community has been active during this pandemic in providing administrators, educators, and other stakeholders guidance and support, as well as forward-thinking planning for music educators and district arts supervisors to take a lead as school districts make plans for the next school year. In any decision about how school districts will operate in the next and future school years, music and arts education will be essential in providing all students equitable educational opportunities that also continue to prepare them for an ever-changing world.

To add your voice to this statement, your organization can sign on to the statement by emailing Essential@nafme.org.

Signing organizations as of May 26, 2020. Click here to view updates to this list. (continued on next page)

Afterschool Alliance

Music for All

American Choral Directors Association 

Music Teachers National Association

American Composers Forum

NAMM Foundation

American Orff-Schulwerk Association

National Art Education Association

American String Teachers Association

National Association for Music Education

Americans for the Arts

National Association of Elementary School Principals

Barbershop Harmony Society

National Association of Secondary School Principals

Carnegie Hall

National Coalition for Core Arts Standards

Casio America Inc

National Dance Education Organization

Chorus America

National Education Association

CMA Foundation

National Federation of State High School Associations

College Band Directors National Association

National YoungArts Foundation

Conn-Selmer, Inc.

Organization of American Kodály Educators

D’Addario Foundation

Quadrant Research

Eastman Music Company


Education Through Music

Recording Academy

Educational Theatre Association

Save The Music Foundation

Give a Note Foundation

State Education Agency Directors of Arts Association

Hal Leonard

The Rock and Roll Forever Foundation

Historically Black Colleges and Universities National Band Directors’ Consortium

United Sound, Inc.

Jazz at Lincoln Center

Varsity Performing Arts

Jazz Education Network

West Music Company

KHS America



Yamaha Corporation of America

League of American Orchestras

Young Audiences Arts for Learning

Little Kids Rock


Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation