Marching Band Safety Plan

Plan updated 8/18/2020

The safety and good health of our Marching Band members and their families, our staff and our community are paramount to our consideration of how best to conduct Marching Band class, rehearsals and modified performances this fall given the challenges introduced by COVID-19. At all times, we will follow the public health guidelines of the State of Nevada, the Nevada System of Higher Education, the Washoe County Health District and the University of Nevada, Reno. Because those guidelines change as our state, national, and global response to the pandemic improves or deteriorates, these plans will be revised accordingly, and the director of the Marching Band will be responsible for informing all members of the band and staff of any changes to protocols, including a decision to move to a completely remote format. In addition, research on the safety of musical performances is ongoing and we will continue to consult and respond to research that updates our understanding of the safety of various practices and instruments associated with the Marching Band.

Given these starting points for our fall planning and the fact that the Mountain West conference has canceled sports for the fall, we have created the following plans for providing a modified learning experience for Marching Band members that follow guidelines of our State and University, as well as best practices of our profession. That said, we understand if some band members may prefer not to participate in person this season and we are committed to staying in touch with those students, suggesting alternative ways that they might improve their musical skills and understanding of Marching Band practices, and thus remain members of the band without any type of penalty.

For those band members who decide to return to in-person activities, we cannot stress strongly enough that safe behavior applies not just to following the practices outlined below but also to how they behave off the field. Band members should remember that they need to practice proper hygiene, wear face masks and socially distance even when not performing or rehearsing. Conduct outside of band practice and performance may affect not only the health of individual students, but also the health and safety of fellow band members, staff, family, friends and our community. Any band member caught disregarding these rules will be subject to suspension from the Marching Band. If proper precautions are not taken by students outside of Marching Band class and other activities, we may have to switch completely to remote teaching and operations.

  1. During the fall semester, Marching Band will meet at its regular time of 2 - 4 p.m. on Monday/Wednesday/Friday. All rehearsals will occur outside in intervals of no more than 30 minutes with a five-minute break between intervals.
    1. The recently conducted study “Performing Arts Aerosol Study,” chaired by Mark Spede, President of the College Band Directors National Association (CBDNA) and James Weaver, Director of Performing Arts and Sports for the National Federation of State High School Associations, concluded that “outdoor rehearsals are considered best practice.” Two additional preliminary studies have indicated outdoor rehearsals are safe. One study was conducted in China by Dr. Yuguo Li. Among the 7,324 identified cases in China with sufficient descriptions, only one outdoor outbreak involving two cases occurred. A second study conducted by the Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine in collaboration with the National Institute of Public Health and the National Institute of Infectious Diseases in Japan, found that infection outdoors was 18.7 times less likely to occur than indoors. This study had a 95% confidence interval.
    2. Finally, the ongoing study out of University of Colorado that is examining performing arts organizations and arts aerosols notes that “Study statistics indicate limiting rehearsal times to 30 minutes or less significantly reduces the quantity and spread of aerosol among the individuals involved… Outdoors, playing should stop for approximately five minutes after each 30-minute segment to allow the aerosol to disperse.”
  2. Rehearsals will begin as sectional rehearsals at the beginning of the semester and will eventually evolve into small ensembles of no more than 24 students to adhere to the Washoe County Health District guidelines currently in effect. These small ensembles will form the foundation for the “Howlers” pep bands that will perform when sports events resume. Students will remain in the same groups throughout rehearsals and will be spaced at a minimum of 10-foot intervals, which exceeds the six-to-nine-foot recommended distancing of most studies. When not rehearsing or performing, students will be required to practice six-feet social distancing at all times.
  3. All students will be required to wear a mask or approved face covering that covers both their mouth and nose at all times. The only exception is when students who play wind instruments are actually playing during which time they can remove their masks but immediately restore them when not playing. Staff will wear masks at all times. Students are required to bring their own masks each day. We will have disposable face masks available if a student comes unprepared. The University face-covering policy will be followed at all times.
  4. When rehearsing or performing, those students playing wind instruments will use bell covers, which will be provided by the Marching Band staff. Bell covers, which are essentially “masks” for instruments, have been proven to significantly reduce the spread of aerosols from wind instruments.
  5. Staff will maintain a minimal distance of six feet from students at all times. They will also be responsible for ensuring adequate supply of face masks, hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes.
  6. During semester rehearsals, hand sanitizer will be made available for all band members. Members should use hand sanitizer regularly, especially before and after touching high-touch areas such as door handles, light switches, seating, tables, etc.
    1. This is in alignment with the NFHS’s guidance that hand sanitizer should be plentiful and available as students transfer from place to place.
  7. Appropriate clothing, such as light-colored t-shirts, shorts and comfortable tennis shoes must be worn at all times and each band member should bring their own water bottle to rehearsals.
  8. During class rehearsals, students will enter the designated rehearsal area (TBA) one person at a time and will place their instrument cases and personal belongings along the fence in 4’ x 3’ squares that have been pre-marked for each band member.
    1. This is in accordance with the recommendations found in the “Guidance for A Return to High School Marching Band” published by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Music Committee and Sports Medicine Advisory Committee.  This study indicates that a student should have their own area (4’x3’ square) designated for their case and other equipment that is not touching other students’ equipment.
  9. As a further protection for the members of the band, marching uniforms will not be issued. Students will be provided with a performance t-shirt to be used once football and other spring sports events resume.
  10. Students who participate in marching band class will still remain eligible for the High Sierra Band Award Scholarship (meeting the minimum GPA requirement of 2.75, enroll in 15 credits at the University of Nevada, Reno and enrolling for Marching Band). The HSBA nomination letter will be available for students to sign at check-in.
  11. Students/employees must stay home or leave work immediately if COVID-19-like symptoms develop. Students are encouraged to call their health care provider for an assessment and possible COVID-19 testing. If a student has a positive test, they are encouraged to fill out a COVID-19 reporting form to assist with contact tracing.
    1. Should a member of any section of the marching band test positive for COVID-19, that person will be required to quarantine for 10 days after the start of symptoms and 24 hours without fever. All other members of the section will be required to be tested for COVID-19 and quarantine for 14 days.
  12. The Student Health Center has launched a new COVID-19 testing clinic. The clinic will test University of Nevada, Reno students, faculty and staff who are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 or who have been identified as a contact of an individual diagnosed with COVID-19 for free.
    1. The Washoe County Health District has the primary responsibility for contact tracing in our community. The Student Health Center will work closely with the WCHD to provide information about any positive tests that are reported on campus. The contact tracers at the Washoe County Health District will be responsible for contacting the positive case and getting detailed information about additional contacts as well as providing guidance about quarantine and isolation. Decisions about further notifications about classroom, laboratory, or building closures on campus will be made in conjunction with advice from the WCHD. The COVID-19 testing clinic is available outside the Student Health Center main entrance.
    2. Testing Clinic Hours (testing by appointment only. Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.).
    3. University students:8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
    4. Faculty and staff:10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
    5. Scheduling testing appointments:
      1. Those who are required to be tested need to call the Student Health Center at (775) 784-6598 the day prior to reserve an appointment time. Patients will be required to complete a COVID-19 screening form available through the Student Health Center patient portal from their phone or computer prior to their appointment. Students should contact testingcenter@unr.edu to be sure that their needs can be accommodated. They should also let the Marching Band staff know about their situation.
  13. For students who are uncomfortable with participating in Marching Band in the fall due to COVID-19, an alternative remote course will be made available. This will be a four-week course meeting by Zoom two times each week. Online units include the following:
    1. Marching Band performance study and practice: Students will meet via Zoom with the Marching Band director and view pre-recorded marching band performances. Synchronous discussion will be conducted during the band’s performance to examine all aspects of the show, including individual and ensemble marching technique and music execution. Discussion will incorporate how each student can integrate those positive aspects of the recorded show into their own marching band performance.
    2. Composition: Students will be assigned a list of Marching Band performances to observe and report on. Each report will include discussion about the positive and negative aspects of the performance in the areas of individual and collective marching execution, individual and collective music performance, and steps that could be taken to improve the ensemble’s total performance. Students will then discuss how they could apply these ideas to their own participation in the Marching Band.
    3. Playing/Performance: Students will be assigned sections of music arrangements to prepare and submit for evaluation via Zoom. Color Guard members will follow the same format with prepared flag/sabre/rifle routines.
  14. Should we find it necessary to move away from on-site learning, all Marching Band students will take part in the alternative remote course for the balance of the semester.