Gov. Justice: “High school marching bands will perform this fall”

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UPDATE 6 p.m. Aug. 24, 2020: The WVSSAC, state health officials, the West Virginia Department of Education and the West Virginia Bandmaster’s association have released guidelines for band performances at football games.

The WVSSAC says middle school and high school bands will be able to perform half-time shows and pre-game for the National Anthem at home football games. Bands will use the same spectator guidelines as football and cheerleading.

Additional guidelines for bands will include:

  • A designated separate seating area not on the bleachers for band members.
  • A designated separate seating area for band parents and families.
  • Band members must maintain a six-foot social distance as required by NFHS guidelines. The area per band member will be 6′ by 6′ and 9′ by 6′ for trombone players. The WVSSAC recommends a diamond formation.
  • Face coverings must be worn by all band members while not performing.
  • The WVSSAC recommends band members who are able to do so wear face coverings while performing.
  • It is recommended band members use bell covers on their instruments when possible.
  • The WVSSAC recommends band members and their families enter and exit facilities separately from athletes and their families.

“We fully support the participation of band at football games. After further discussion, we believe this revised recommendation will allow participation while still maintaining safety protocols for everyone involved. We will monitor the situation closely knowing we may have to adjust again as we move forward.”

WVSSAC Executive Director Bernie Dolan

CHARLESTON (WOWK) – Facing a furor of angry high school marching band students and parents, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice announced mid-afternoon Tuesday that there will be performances this year.

The announcement comes on the heels of Monday’s announcement by the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission (WVSSAC) that marching bands would not be able to perform at either away or home football games.

The WVSSAC controls high school activities including sports, bands and cheerleading.

The announcement Monday that high school bands would not be allowed to perform at home football games sent parents and students into a full press on the governor to overrule the commission’s decision, stating that health and safety rules regarding the COVID-19 pandemic had been widely circulated to band directors across the nation.

“Yesterday, the WVSSAC announced that our marching bands would not be able to perform at extracurricular activities this fall. This decision was made without my input,” said Justice Tuesday afternoon.

“Today, I directed our medical experts to work with the WVSSAC and the Department of Education to go back to the drawing board to find a safe way for our marching bands to do what they love to do: perform,” he added.

Justice said he expected the WVSSAC to release those new guidelines late Tuesday afternoon.

Parents had questioned why a contact sport like football could be safely held while non-contact band could not.

Band directors also pointed to studies conducted by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) and the College Band Directors National Association (CBDNA) which should that a wide range of activities could be performed safely by band members.

Check back later for more on this developing story!

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