I know this email is long, but I ask you to read it all and hopefully it will shine some light on what Mr. Anderson and myself have been working on during the Covid-19 shutdown and first couple phases of reopening. Parents please share this email with your students.
I wanted to take some time and give parents and students an update on what we, the directors and staff, have been working on, what we know, and what we plan.
Early in the covid-19 shutdown it became very apparent that there was no way that we were going to be able to have rehearsals in June, which drastically reduce the amount of time that we would have to work on our announced show “Carnival Mystique.” During this time, I was under strict guidance to not allow colorguard auditions to happen. To counteract this, we added rehearsal dates in July and modified our rehearsal time frame to try and make up the missed hours, and fortunately we recently were able to have a round of colorguard video auditions. Because of the reduction of hours, and even with a best-case scenario for returning to marching band, there is not enough time to work on creating a nearly 8-minute marching show. The new show is closer to 6 minutes, but maintains a similar level of difficulty. It is titled “The Painted Desert,” and features “Sonoran Desert Holiday,” by Ron Nelson, “Colors of the Wind,” from Disney’s Pocahontas, and original music from our arranger, Steve Vento. The new show gives the listening a sense of the exhilaration of exploration and a sense of the beauty of the desert after a rainfall. I should be receiving parts from Mr. Vento very soon, and as soon as I get them, I will distribute them to students.
Right now, what we now know is, frankly, not a lot. Just as there have been many questions about how we return to school, there are just as many questions about how activities, such as sports and marching band can happen. Right now, we are focusing on a best-case scenario where we are able to have marching band rehearsals, performances, and competitions. As the picture of the fall semester begins to come into focus, we may have to alter our plans to fit the reality of the situation.
Mr. Anderson has worked diligently this summer on creating a plan for July and early August that falls within the guidelines of the IHSA and the NFHS guides for a return to marching band. The IHSA has released their plan for what they are calling phase 2 of return to play, but that plan has to be approved by the Illinois Department of Public Health. We have been reluctant to release our plan to students and parents in case changes need to be made to the plan to meet IDPH guidelines. As of now, IDPH has not approved the IHSA’s plan for phase 2. This may mean that we are not able to have rehearsals next week (July 6-9), we will do everything we can to update parents and students as soon as we know what we can and can’t do. The basics of the plan are that students will be groups that will not interact with each other groups (brass, woodwinds, percussion, guard), students will have to have a temperature screening and health questionnaire before rehearsals, students will need to maintain social distancing, and students will need to wear masks when not playing or doing physical activity. There are more details that will be released with the full plan, but these are just the basics.
I know there are many students and parents who are eager to start marching band, and I promise you that Mr. Anderson, myself, and the rest of the marching band staff are just as eager to begin as anyone. We are striving to follow the guidelines put forth by the IHSA, CDC, Illinois Department of Public Health, the Madison County Health Department, the District 7 School Board, and EHS, so that we can keep our students safe while doing this activity.
I’m sure that there are many more questions about what the future holds, and I welcome any questions you may have. But, for some of the questions I may only be able to answer “I don’t know,” or “I’ll let you know when I find out,” because of how in flux everything is at this point. I will do my best to answer any questions that come my way.
For the students, I know that I can’t possibly understand what you are feeling right now as Covid-19 has had such tremendous impacts on your school and daily life. I can only think back to how I think I might have felt as a teenager going through this. I hope that you are able to look back on this time and realize that you are living through something truly historic, and that it is something that will hopefully never happen to another generation of kids. All I know is that every time you miss band, I feel it just as much as you do, for each of you. I miss you all and I know that we will be working together soon.