Chesterfield mom concerned some performing arts students may get sidelined — again

Chesterfield County

CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WRIC) –Some Chesterfield County parents claim the performing arts are not being treated fairly when compared to indoor sports. Melissa Newby, a Clover Hill High School parent says the shows must go on — but fears they won’t.

In an interview with 8News Thursday, Newby said if sports like indoor basketball are able to compete, her son in show choir should get that same opportunity.

“He’s a senior and this is everything he loves to do,” she said. “I don’t see the difference between huffing and puffing on the basketball court and huffing and puffing on the stage.”

The mom said she’s unsure if her son’s show choir will get to compete after almost every performance was canceled last year.

“Football was given a season, basketball was given a season, wrestling was given a season. Show choir was allowed to perform one time outside,” she said.

Newby said usually around this time of year the show choir has competition details set. Now, she worries about the next few months.

“There are competitions that we would like to go to,” Newby told 8News. “The competitions have been submitted, we submitted mitigation strategies that are in place to try to make them as safe as possible and as of yet they have not been approved.”

Newby added that she’s been in contact with the show choir’s director and the school’s principal, who have both been supportive. Meanwhile, “it looks like winter sports, basketball, volleyball, wrestling, are all moving forward,” she said.

Newby said she doesn’t want anything taken away from those athletes, but she just wants her son to have the same opportunities. 

In response, CCPS spokesperson Shawn Smith said nothing has been denied for the show choir. He said because competitions are still several months away, details are still being finalized.

Newby said she hopes that’s actually the case, after getting the runaround when almost everything was canceled for her son last year.

“We never got a straight answer as far as who we were supposed to talk to. Whenever we tried to escalate our concerns, we were told that it was being decided at a different level,” she said.

Newby not only has issues with the school district – she’s frustrated with the state as well. Late last month, VDH released new guidelines for k-12 performing arts students, including students wearing masks unless they are actively playing an instrument, maintaining six feet of distance between performers, and cutting down on the length of indoor rehearsals.

The mom said compared to indoor sports, “they seem like they are a lot more strict.”

“I just want to make sure that the performing arts kids are given the same opportunities,” Newby said.

Local school boards ultimately decide what COVID-19 protocols should be taken for k-12 sports. VDH currently recommends that indoor k-12 athletes wear masks while exercising “if tolerable.”

It’s not recommended that they maintain six feet of distance while playing or limit indoor practice time. 

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