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Singing School 2020 (Coronavirus Statement)

Singing School 2020 (Coronavirus Statement)

We have been getting so many requests for information about how and if the worldwide Coronavirus pandemic will affect the 2020 Texas Normal Singing School. Although many other beloved annual events have been canceled this season, we’re pleased to announce that Singing School is still on for our original dates of July 26-31 in Abilene, Texas.

The Board of Directors has been engaged in much prayer, deliberation, and the seeking of counsel from civil and medical authorities in coming to this decision. Our priorities have always been that our actions honor the Lord and serve the worldwide church, while protecting our students, staff, and faculty.

Our decision to continue with plans for TNSS 2020 are contingent upon continued progress of the State of Texas through the official phases of reopening as determined by the administration of Governor Greg Abbott in conjunction with federal guidelines as issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). On May 1, Texas entered into Phase One of the Open Texas procedure. Based on official data from the county and state-level, Phase Two began on May 18, and Phase Three on June 12. Each stage runs for approximately two weeks to allow for sufficient time to see if the enacted social changes continue to support positive public health goals. If Texas remains solidly into Phase Three, we will consider that our final “green light” to hold the school. At this point, data-based evidence looks promising. However, should the State of Texas – or specifically Taylor County (Abilene) – regress back to Phases Two or One, we will have to cancel for health’s sake.

We know there are concerns about social distancing practices, wearing masks, and deep cleaning and disinfecting efforts for our school. By Phase Three – and especially a month into Phase Three – extreme masking and social distancing will no longer be mandates as they have been. Churches will have resumed services, the virus’ curve will have been flattened, and more typical activities will have resumed. Be assured, we will not be holding the Singing School if it jeopardizes the health of our student body or faculty and staff, nor if the federal- and state-level regulations continue to be restrictively austere. Unless we can safely and within the spirit of the law conduct the Singing School in a more-or-less typical fashion, we will not be having it.

TNSS cannot operate without five essential components: classroom facilities, lodging, food service, our faculty and staff, and our student body. If any one of those factors becomes undependable, the school is at risk of not happening. We’re trying to adapt where change is necessary and we’re thankful for our partners who are making this possible.

Classroom Facilities (Oldham Lane Church of Christ)

We received notice that, due to the Coronavirus, the administration of Abilene Christian University has closed the campus until the fall semester of 2020. Understandably, our reservation was canceled along with all other summertime activities on campus. The Oldham Lane Church of Christ has graciously, hospitably agreed to host our classroom campus for 2020.

Lodging (Whitten Inn)

As of June 3, we were informed that the University Park Apartments would not be able to house us this year. We have negotiated with the Whitten Inn for double-occupancy rooms. As this is a full-service hotel, bed linens (sheets, blankets, pillows, towels, etc.) and basic room amenities (trash cans, shower curtains, etc.) will be provided – as is the norm in hotels. These items were not provided by the UPA, but will be included this year. There is no need to make separate reservations – your housing reservation must be made under the Singing School’s contract with Whitten Inn in order to qualify for special pricing (in other words, we’ll take care of it with your Singing School registration and non-refundable housing deposit).

It is a short 10-minute drive from the Whitten Inn to the Oldham Lane Church of Christ (see route here). Daily shuttle service will be provided for those who need transportation.

Foodservice (Catered)

The ACU cafeteria, like the rest of the campus, will be closed. Chartwells, the vendor which runs the cafeteria, has been very accommodating and has offered to prepare and cater lunch meals just for us at the Oldham Lane facility.

TNSS will provide a continental breakfast Monday – Friday mornings; a full, hot lunch (entree, sides, salad, drink) will be provided by Chartwells (Monday – Thursday); we will provide a sumptuous, genuine Texas BBQ meal on Monday evening; the evening meals will be on your own Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

Once final negotiations with Chartwells is completed, whatever we save, we will pass on those cost-reductions directly to our students to help you offset your evening meal costs.

Faculty and Staff

At this point, we know seven – possibly eight– faculty members will not be able to join us. We have a very talented faculty, but we try to structure things so that no one person is irreplaceable. There are no plans to cancel classes; our remaining faculty can cover the classes and continue to provide you with a quality education and coaching experience in the science and art of congregational singing.

Student Body

Right now we understand that it is challenging to forecast what next week might hold, let alone July. We have had a healthy number of potential students already inquiring about TNSS2020, so we’re confident that we will have numbers to make a good school. That being said, we would really appreciate your touching base with us to let us know that you’re planning on attending (806.777-8417). This will help us as we negotiate with housing and food services.

We know that so many other wonderful singing and music events for the church have been canceled. We would love for you to consider including TNSS in your amended plans for 2020.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”