GIPS reaches compromise on wearing masks in the spring musical

Published: Apr. 8, 2021 at 10:38 PM CDT
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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - In show business, they saying ‘the show must go on’ rings true more times than not, and for Grand Island Public Schools, that’s the case this weekend with their upcoming musical.

Earlier this week, performers were told everyone on stage needed to wear masks during the show, but the decision faced some resistance given that fall and winter sports teams didn’t have to wear masks, and administrators at GIPS knew and understood the frustrations.

“Our fine arts and performing arts especially students and staff have been so patient and so eager to get to perform, and so when we first started with the musical, we wanted to do it back in the fall, and there was just no way we could approve that,” said GIPS Associate Superintendent Robin Dexter.

Once they settled on the spring musical time frame, it was full steam ahead until the recent mask announcement. However, after plenty of angst from the performers and staff, cooler heads prevailed and reached a compromise.

“Our fine arts director came with a set of protocols,” Dexter said. “She said ‘OK, if we follow this would you allow at least the soloists to sing without masks?’ And so, lots of discussion went back and forth, and we said yes. We can allow soloists following these protocols.”

This is the latest chapter for a school district that also came under fire for not allowing road sports fans in their venues earlier in the school year, but just like that tense situation, GIPS found a way to not only appease concerned outsiders, but they kept events on the schedule safely.

“We’ve been able to stay in school, we’ve been able to have kids participate in activities, and we’ve been able to perform,” Dexter said. “Now we’re able to allow an audience to come and watch, and now we’ll start to loosen up on those protocols.”

Dexter acknowledged that not everyone will be happy with the district’s decision even though it is a compromise, and she’s also aware that some will still be upset when they compare treatments between activities and sports within the district.

“We struggled with that all year,” Dexter said. “Even at the national level, the singing and performing arts has been more questioned than athletics. We also follow the Nebraska School Activities Association and their guidelines. When you get down into the science of it, we’ve even talked about spit and how far that travels, so we’ve really tried to base it on research.”

This year’s musical is called “A Musical Showcase” featuring several Broadway hits, and it takes the stage all weekend with 7:30 p.m. shows April 9-10, and a 2 p.m. show on Sunday, April 11.

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