A song of social distancing: Band camps resume under new precautions

Students must have a temperature check before they can practice

ROANOKE, Va. – As school districts hammer out plans on how to reopen, some students in the Star City are already getting back into the swing of things at band camp.

Students in William Fleming High School’s marching band are marching to the beat of a different drum this year, thanks to the coronavirus.

“It’s a little inconvenient but you know, it’s what we have to do to keep safe,” said Bryan Moctezuma, a rising senior at William Fleming High School.

“We’ve been out of school since March 13 so we know they’re ready to get back, but we want to make sure number one safety is the priority for all, including the staff members,” said Archie Freeman, principal at William Fleming High School.

Before students can enter practice, they must go through a temperature check. Inside, face masks and social distancing are required. Practices are staggered, limited to small groups at a time and done outside whenever possible. No one is sharing equipment and there’s lots of cleaning.

Each Roanoke city high school has its own plan, in line with guidance from VDH and the CDC and approved by the district.

“It’s good for their social, emotional learning to get them back with their friends while being safe and to just bring them back some sense of... not normalcy because we’re not going back there, but some sense of community,” said Cari Gates, supervisor of fine arts for Roanoke City Public Schools.

The band is practicing for performances that may never happen, with the fate of fall sports still up in the air.

“What makes it all worth it is just having the experience one last time and also knowing that we’re safe while having that experience is pretty reassuring, and even if the marching season gets canceled, at least we will have had some fun,” Moctezuma said.

The full band is expected to start practicing together outside next week.

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