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What Will Marching Band Look Like In 2020?

As cherished memories of standing at attention during hot summer marching band practice make us smile with pride, and stir our hearts with eager anticipation, we cannot help but wonder what might be different in the coming season. Social distancing due to COVID19 has changed the way we interact with one another, but it has not diminished the value of music education and the benefits of a musical life. The situation will continue to evolve and we can best prepare for changes by considering the possibilities.

UIL UPDATE 7/8/2020

"For the purposes of marching band rehearsals and practices, schools must require students, staff, and visitors to wear face coverings when entering and exiting facilities and practice areas, and when not actively practicing. Face coverings must be worn anytime six feet of distance cannot be maintained unless it is not practical to do so while practicing. Schools may, for example, allow students to practice while playing wind instruments. However, schools must require students and staff to wear face coverings as they get into positions that allow for safe spacing."

The National Federation of State High School Associations www.nfhs.org has issued a document outlining recommendations for Returning to Marching Band in three phases.

The complete document is available www.nfhs.org

The 3 phases outlined below are based upon the White House document releases in April 2020.

“Vulnerable individuals” are defined by CDC as people age 65 years and older and others with serious underlying health conditions, including high blood pressure, chronic lung disease, diabetes, obesity, asthma, and those whose immune systems are compromised such as by chemotherapy for cancer and other conditions requiring such therapy.

It is recommended that online education courses take the place of “hands on” or in-person training, whenever possible.

3 Phases

Phase 1 = no more than 10 people at a time inside or outside Phase 2 = no more than 10 people at a time inside, up to 50 people at a time outside Phase 3 = up to 50 people at a time indoors or outdoors

Each phase specifies requirements for Pre-rehearsal Screening, Limitations on Gatherings, Facilities Cleaning, and Hydration.

These changes will affect athletic programs as well as music programs, and may provide opportunities to share support staff for the benefit of both programs. 

Phase 1

Pre-rehearsal Screening: 

  • All directors and students should be screened for signs/symptoms of COVID-19 prior to a rehearsal. Screening includes a temperature check. 
  • Responses to screening questions for each person should be recorded and stored so that there is a record of everyone present in case a student develops COVID-19 with appropriate attention being given to privacy and confidentiality. 
  • Any person with positive symptoms reported should not be allowed to take part in rehearsals and should contact his or her primary care provider or other appropriate health-care professional. 
  • Vulnerable individuals should not oversee or participate in any rehearsals during Phase 1.

Limitations on Gatherings: 

  • No gathering of more than 10 people at a time (inside or outside). 
  • Storage and changing rooms should not be utilized during Phase 1. Students should report to rehearsals in proper gear and immediately return home to shower at end of the rehearsal. 
  • Rehearsals should be conducted in “pods” of students with the same 5-10 students always rehearsing together. This ensures more limited exposure if someone develops an infection. 
  • Social distancing should be observed when music is being taught. Students should learn the music standing still, spaced at a minimum of 6-foot intervals. If teachers need to move within the 6-foot area to correct a student’s playing position, embouchure, posture, etc. they should do so briefly and then move back away. 
  • Students should be spaced at a minimum of 3 step intervals (22.5” per step) for all drill and on field formations. 
  • Rehearsals may take place only outdoors. If weather prevents outdoor rehearsals, rehearsals should be canceled until the weather cooperates. 
  • There should be no car-pooling to or from rehearsals. 
  • Additional guidance will be forthcoming with regard to putting marching drill to music once the NFHS/CBDNA aerosol research study is completed and results have been published. 
  • Instruments, equipment and sheet music should not be shared without proper cleaning and disinfecting including drumsticks and color guard equipment. 
  • Each student should have their own area (4’ x 3’ square) designated for their case and other equipment that is their space alone and not touching other students. Students should be encouraged to use the center of that space and then move outward as needed.

Facilities Cleaning: 

  • Adequate cleaning schedules should be created and implemented for all facilities used to mitigate any communicable diseases. 
  • Prior to an individual or groups of individuals entering a facility, hard surfaces within that facility should be wiped down and sanitized (chairs, furniture, storage rooms, instrumental equipment, bathrooms, etc.). 
  • Individuals should wash their hands for a minimum of 20 seconds with warm water and soap before touching any surfaces or participating in rehearsals. 
  • Hand sanitizer should be plentiful and available to individuals as they transfer from place to place. 
  • Shared musical equipment should be wiped down thoroughly before and after an individual’s use of equipment. 
  • Appropriate clothing/shoes should be worn at all times. 
  • Students must be encouraged to shower and wash their rehearsal clothing immediately upon returning to home.

Hydration: 

  • All students shall bring their own water bottle. Water bottles must not be shared. 
  • Hydration stations (water cows, water trough, water fountains, etc.) should not be utilized. 

Phase 2 

Pre-rehearsal Screening:

  • All directors and students should be screened for signs/symptoms of COVID-19 prior to a rehearsal. Screening includes a temperature check. 
  • Responses to screening questions for each person should be recorded and stored so that there is a record of everyone present in case a student develops COVID-19, with appropriate attention being given to privacy and confidentiality. 
  • Any person with positive symptoms reported should not be allowed to take part in rehearsals and should contact his or her primary care provider or other appropriate health-care professional. 
  • Vulnerable individuals should not oversee or participate in any rehearsals during Phase 2.

Limitations on Gatherings: 

  • No gathering of more than 10 people at a time inside. Up to 50 individuals may gather outdoors for rehearsal.
  • Rehearsals should be conducted in “pods” of students with the same 5-10 students always working together. 
  • Directors must create a plan for getting instruments from the band room to the practice facility that allows for social distancing and sanitation. 
  • Social distancing should be observed when music is being taught. Students should learn the music standing still, spaced at a minimum of 6-foot intervals. If teachers need to move within the 6-foot area to correct a student’s playing position, embouchure, posture, etc. they should do so briefly and then move back away. 
  • Students should be spaced at a minimum of 3 step intervals (22.5” per step) for all drill and on field formations. Rehearsals should take place outdoors. If weather prevents outdoor rehearsals, rehearsals may be allowed indoors as long as a minimum of 10 feet between each individual can be achieved. Drastically reducing the number of students in an indoor setting will be likely.

Facilities Cleaning:

  • Adequate cleaning schedules should be created and implemented for all facilities used to mitigate any communicable diseases. 
  • Prior to an individual or groups of individuals entering a facility, hard surfaces within that facility should be wiped down and sanitized (chairs, furniture, storage rooms, instrumental equipment, bathrooms, etc.). 
  • Individuals should wash their hands for a minimum of 20 seconds with warm water and soap before touching any surfaces or participating in rehearsals. 
  • Hand sanitizer should be plentiful and available to individuals as they transfer from place to place. 
  • Shared musical equipment should be wiped down thoroughly before and after an individual’s use of equipment. 
  • Appropriate clothing/shoes should be worn at all times. 
  • Students must be encouraged to shower and wash their rehearsal clothing immediately upon returning to home.

Hydration:

  • All students shall bring their own water bottle. Water bottles must not be shared. 
  • Hydration stations (water cows, water trough, water fountains, etc.) should not be utilized. 

Phase 3

Pre-rehearsal Screening:

  • Any person who has had a fever or cold symptoms in the previous 24 hours should not be allowed to take part in rehearsals and should contact his or her primary care provider or other appropriate health-care professional.
  • A record should be kept of all individuals present. 
  • Vulnerable individuals can resume public interactions, but should practice physical distancing, minimizing exposure to social settings where distancing may not be practical, unless precautionary measures are observed.

Limitations on Gatherings: 

  • Gathering sizes of up to 50 individuals, indoors or outdoors. 
  • When not directly participating in practices or contests, care should be taken to maintain a minimum distance of 3 to 6 feet between each individual. Consider using tape or paint as a guide for students and directors.

Facilities Cleaning: 

  • Adequate cleaning schedules should be created and implemented for all facilities used to mitigate any communicable diseases. 
  • Prior to an individual or groups of individuals entering a facility, hard surfaces within that facility should be wiped down and sanitized (chairs, furniture, storage rooms, instrumental equipment, bathrooms, etc.).
  • Individuals should wash their hands for a minimum of 20 seconds with warm water and soap before touching any surfaces or participating in rehearsals. 
  • Hand sanitizer should be plentiful and available to individuals as they transfer from place to place. 
  • Shared musical equipment should be wiped down thoroughly before and after an individual’s use of equipment. 
  • Appropriate clothing/shoes should be worn at all times. 
  • Students must be encouraged to shower and wash their rehearsal clothing immediately upon returning to home.

Hydration: 

  • All students shall bring their own water bottle. Water bottles must not be shared. 
  • Hydration stations (water cows, water trough, water fountains, etc.) may be utilized but must be cleaned after every practice/contest.

Contests 

  1. Transportation to events Schools must consider social distancing requirements when scheduling contests and events for the fall. Social distancing (as required by state or local health department) will need to be maintained on buses/vans. Thus, multiple buses/vans and/or parental/guardian transportation will likely be needed. 
  2. Social distancing during Contests/Events/Activities 
    1. Warm up / Clinic Rooms Appropriate social distancing will need to be maintained during contests and events. Consider using tape or paint as a guide for students and directors. 
    2. Who should be allowed at events? Group people into tiers from essential to non-essential and decide which tiers will be allowed at an event: 
      1. Tier 1 (Essential): Student participants, directors, adjudicators, event staff, medical staff, security 
      2. Tier 2 (Preferred): Media 
      3. Tier 3 (Non-essential): Spectators, vendors Only Tier 1 and 2 personnel will be allowed to attend events until state/local health departments lift restrictions on mass gatherings. 

Athletic Training Services 

Given the coming financial crisis at the state and local levels, the NFHS SMAC fears that athletic trainer positions will be seen as a “luxury” and those positions will be at risk during the budgeting process. It is also assumed that athletic trainers supplied to high schools by hospitals and sports medicine clinics are also at risk as many medical clinics and hospitals have suffered severe revenue loss during the pandemic. 

  1. Athletic trainers in high schools are positioned to play a vital role as sports and activities return following this pandemic. As health-care professionals, they can take lead roles in developing and implementing infection control policy throughout the school. Whenever needed, state associations, their SMACs and music committees should promote the importance of athletic trainers in high schools and their role in injury evaluation, treatment and risk minimization as well as being a vital component of any return-to-school and activities plan. 
  2. Return to Physical Activity Current pre-season conditioning and acclimatization models assume that participants have deconditioned over the summer months. The current pandemic may result in students being deconditioned for four to five months. The NFHS is currently involved with a number of other organizations in developing consensus guidelines for fall practices. These guidelines will be sent to state associations immediately after they are finalized and approved by all involved organizations. 
  3. Hygienic 
    1. Illness reporting Create notification process for all event participants, directors, event staff, media, spectators and vendors if the organizers/medical personnel learn of suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the event. 
    2. Considerations for Adjudicators, Directors, Other Personnel 
      1. Vulnerable individuals should not participate in any practices, conditioning activities, contests or events during Phases 1 and 2. 
      2. Masks may be worn, social distancing enforced and “Hygiene Basics” adhered to in all situations. 
    3. Hygiene Basics 
      1. CONTINUE TO PRACTICE GOOD HYGIENE 
        1. Wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer, especially after touching frequently used items or surfaces. 
        2. Avoid touching your face. 
        3. Sneeze or cough into a tissue, or the inside of your elbow. 
        4. Disinfect frequently used items and surfaces as much as possible. 
        5. Strongly consider using face coverings while in public, and particularly when using mass transit. 
      2. PEOPLE WHO FEEL SICK SHOULD STAY HOME 
        1. Do not go to work or school. 
        2. Contact and follow the advice of your medical provider. 
      3. OTHER CONSIDERATIONS 
        1. Wide availability of hand sanitizer at contests and practices. Participants, directors and adjudicators should clean hands frequently. 
        2. Wiping down equipment frequently. 
        3. No handshakes/high-fives/fist bumps. 
        4. Adjudicators and volunteers should be given options
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