Arts Ed NJ, a statewide nonprofit education organization, issued new guidance on March 29, saying that instruction in the arts is essential to the mental health of students as they prepare to re-enter school for in-person instruction.

“As we prepare to bring many of our students back into our schools, their social-emotional learning needs will be a central concern. This is why it is critical that our students have the opportunity to participate in those programs and activities that define who they are and bring them joy,” said Bob Morrison, director of Arts Ed NJ. “For many students, it is the visual and performing arts.”

As schools begin the transition from remote to hybrid learning and from hybrid to fully in-person instruction, Morrison said, Arts Ed NJ reminds schools that, under current guidelines, they are free to make the visual and performing arts available to all students in the public schools.

According to Arts Ed NJ, the visual and performing arts may occur in-person, following proper mitigation strategies in all New Jersey public schools.

There has never been any prohibition of public school visual and performing arts classes and activities by the New Jersey Department of Health and the New Jersey Department of Education, Arts Ed said in its March 29 press release. The group also pointed out that the governor’s Executive Order 230 allows for in-school rehearsals and performances.

“As an educator and a parent, I’ve witnessed firsthand how arts education allows a child’s imagination and talents to soar,” said Dr. Lawrence S. Feinsod, NJSBA executive director. “The only thing better than art is more art.”

To see the full Arts Ed guidance, go here.

For the full text of Executive Order 230, go here.