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PLANO – As the high school football season is moved to the spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic, high school band directors are thinking through what it means for their programs at their schools.
Susan Webb, director for the Plano High School marching band, said the information provided by the Illinois High School Association – including football having a spring season instead of fall – is still so new that there's still a lot to be determined from a marching band perspective for her program. She said the plan is still to have a socially distant summer band camp starting on Wednesday, Aug. 5, for all students to learn the same music, but rehearsal format was already going to look a lot different due to the number of people being allowed in one area, per health and school safety guidelines.
Webb, who has directed the band for more than 16 years, said staff was going to find ways either stream performances for the band – which is set to have roughly 100 kids for the 2020-2021 school year – or edit video footage including all band members together so families can watch. She said it's still unclear whether there still will be Friday night football games with the new IHSA schedule and what the band's role would be in that new schedule.
“I don’t know what the format would look like,” Webb said.
Webb said weather will also play a part in whether there will be outdoor performances for the marching band, should they perform in the spring. For example, she said, St. Patrick’s Day has been 75 degrees and sunny in the past, along with having ice storms other years.
“It’s all going to depend on what weather is going to look like, whether we can take instruments outside or not,” Webb said.
Once band staff can see what the football schedule will look like for the school, Webb said, they will work with that and figure out where to go from there performance-wise.
“But it’s just going to be just an ongoing flexible process,” Webb said.
Webb said the band is expected to be broken down to three groups, all groups having less than 40 students each. She said band members will be rehearsing outside as much as possible, instruct students to stay at least 6 feet away from each other while inside and ask them to wear masks.
Webb said she's fortunate to have a large classroom for rehearsal purposes and she already has distanced chairs accordingly. She said all of the marching band groups still will be working on the same music.
Webb said the marching band generally participates in parade competitions but not field show competitions. She said the band is made up of woodwind, brass and percussion players.
At any rate, Webb said, Illinois clearly has passion for sports. But Illinois also has a clear passion for marching band and it'll work out one way or another, she said.
“I can’t wait to see all of the ways that teachers … will absolutely make the best experiences that they possibly can,” Webb said.
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