Pandemic plan for high school band students

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MADISON, Ala. – With school starting virtually for many school systems, what does that mean for activities like the band? It will be different for every school district, but some basic guidelines from the state remain the same.

Even though it might look a little different during the pandemic, the show is on for James Clemens High School Band this year. The Madison City Schools band directors are planning several ways to keep performers safe going into this marching season.

“What does band look like in this kind of environment? What can we do primarily to keep our students safe? What can we do to give them the experiences that they have grown accustomed to?,” asked James Clemens Band Director Keith Anderson.

At this time, the band plans to march during football season this fall. Students will practice during a designated block during the school day or after school hours.

Keith Anderson says COVID-19 could cancel competitions and marching season at any time, but the main focus is giving students the opportunity to continue doing what they love with their peers.

“Right now we’re just looking forward to any kind of opportunity we can have to get together,” says Anderson.

With the current mask order, facial coverings must be worn when indoors which is major roadblock for people who play wind instruments. Anderson says they’re looking at every option available for rehearsals. Right now, Madison City Schools guidelines say bands must practice outdoors.

“Since we don’t have the option right now of being inside… Shorter rehearsal times… Obviously more frequent breaks and it may be that we rotate through the groups so not everyone is outside for as many hours at a time,” says Anderson.

Anderson says they also plan to choreograph marching maneuvers to maintain more than a six foot distance between performers.

“Normally our standard marching step is eight steps for five yards. But we are not unfamiliar with a four-step interval so that gives us seven and a half feet,” says Anderson.

No matter what Anderson says the goal is for instruction and teaching to continue and for students to have a familiar band experience during these uncertain times.

Huntsville City Schools says it’s still examining the logistics surrounding band and fine arts and will yield to guidance from the Alabama High School Athletic Association. Madison County Schools says band practice is scheduled for after school hours and will follow all health guidelines.

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