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Guidelines: Gov. Justice right to let school bands play

If any group of students can maintain a required distance from the people around them while performing, it is marching band members. Thank goodness West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice understands that.

As confusion and concern arose Tuesday morning over the news that the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission planned to order that high and middle school bands not be allowed to perform at football games this fall, WVSSAC Executive Director Bernie Dolan said his concern was in the possible aerosol transmission of COVID-19, as band members played their instruments.

“When … you’re playing in the stands, then you’re blowing down upon someone else,” he said.

If that is, indeed a concern, one wonders how the WVSSAC plans to protect football teams who line up with less than three feet separating them, breathing hard toward each other’s open facemasks while the quarterback yells signals and then they all prepare to chase and tackle each other.

“We’ve been practicing for five weeks …” said Parkersburg South High School band director Christopher Shew. “We can practice but we can’t perform? That’s strange.”

Justice said the WVSSAC’s decision was made without his input. That seems to have been a mistake.

“Our medical experts evaluated guidelines from the National Federation of High School Sports and the West Virginia Bandmasters Association and put a plan together that keeps our band members socially distanced and as safe as possible, while allowing them to perform in the stadium on game days and allowing their families to watch their performances,” Justice said.

Good. If it is safe to play full-contact football, it is safe for band members to follow whatever guidelines are set and perform.

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