High school bands prepare to march during pandemic

Local News

WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — As coronavirus cases continue to grow, students are preparing to return to school and to their extracurricular activities. Wichita Falls ISD marching bands are getting ready to perform through the fall.

Band practice just got started and kids are definitely coming to play. Even though some students and families are hesitant, band directors are getting their bands ready to play this season.

“They’ve been gone since spring break. So just getting them used to waking up and doing something again is kind of the big thing,” Wichita Falls High School band director Justin Lewis said.

As students return to school and to their extracurricular activities during the coronavirus pandemic, some students have concerns about going back to doing something they love. With protocols in place, these band directors want students to enjoy their art safely and at a distance.

“Keeping the kids 6 feet apart unless they’re actually playing their instrument and wearing masks. All the drummers are wearing masks the whole time,” Lewis said. “The staff’s wearing masks. Custodial services are coming in every day and sanitizing the room when we’re done.”

“We do one way in and out of the band hall. So they can only come in one door and they can only go out the other door. In and out they have to sanitize. I have a station set up at both entrance and exit,” Hirschi High School band director Shirley Bouquin said.

“We’re in seven different locations so we can make sure they have plenty of social distancing. We’re using all the big rooms in the building. From the band hall to the auditorium to even the ROTC room,” Rider High School director of bands and orchestra Loy Studer said.

With bands having the luxury of performing on football fields, that makes social distancing a little easier, and kids are showing up to play.

“We’re around 80 this year. Pretty good number,” Bouquin said.

“116,” Lewis said.

“We have 175 right now. And the counselors this morning said there were several more enrolling,” Studer said.

Even students that want to go to school virtually can still play in the band. Band directors want to make sure they feel comfortable doing so.

“We know that music education is vastly important to children. And we want to make that safe for them. We want to just provide that to them. We’re going to do everything in our power to make that safe so they still get that music education and that time with their peers, Bouquin said.

Hirschi expects to play at their first home game in September.

Old High and Rider expect to play at their first home games in October.

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