Quaker Valley High School Marching Band Resocialization Plan 2020-21

LAST UPDATED: September 20, 2020.  Information no longer current.  Will be updated if/when needed.


The COVID-19 pandemic has presented countless challenges to the way marching bands and other large music ensembles typically operate. The purpose of this document is to inform our stakeholders of how the Quaker Valley High School Marching Band will be approaching practices/rehearsals throughout this season, and to provide some guidance as to how our practices/rehearsals, procedures and schedules will be different from what we would usually do under normal circumstances.

This document is primarily adapted from the 2020-21 QVSD Athletic Department Health and Safety Plan and is intended to provide specifics about issues unique to Marching Band.  While Marching Band is not recognized as an athletic activity by the PIAA (Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association) or by the Quaker Valley School District, decisions about how the Marching Band will proceed this season are based in some part upon our close associations with Varsity Football and Cheerleading and the guidance they have received and are abiding by from the PIAA and QVSD Athletic Department.

In addition, this document is informed by the latest guidance on COVID-19 from the Pennsylvania Department of Health (PA DOH) the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the most recent findings from an ongoing study on the aerosols produced by wind instrument playing and singing commissioned by an international coalition of performing arts organizations and conducted by the University of Colorado Boulder (referred to hereafter as “the Colorado Study”).

The Quaker Valley High School Marching Band, as part of the Quaker Valley School District, will follow the recommendations and guidance from all of the aforementioned in order to operate in as safe a manner as possible.  It is important to understand that due to the nature of how most band instruments produce aerosols as a byproduct of sound production, there is no completely risk-free way to participate in ensemble band when considering the potential ability of contagions to travel through those aerosols.  We realize knowledge about COVID-19 is continuously changing and we will adjust our plans as needed and recommended to us as further information becomes available in order to continue to minimize the risk of exposure for all of our stakeholders.


The following will be mandatory for all practices/rehearsals and performances in the 2020-21 season until further notice:

  • The Marching Band may utilize indoor rehearsal spaces if/as necessary by doing the following:
    • All of the mitigation strategies contained in this document including but not limited to face masking, instrument masking and physical distancing are strictly followed.
    • Restrict the number of individuals in a single area to 25 or fewer AND only areas where physical distancing requirements can be easily met (ex. band room, choir room, auditorium).
    • Stagger start times of multiple sections scheduled to meet indoors and/or if coming indoors after beginning rehearsal outdoors, enter rehearsal spaces at different times and/or through different entrances to prevent large groups from crossing paths and/or being in one place at one time.
    • Areas in which students can and cannot be present will be clearly articulated.  Restroom use should be on an as-necessary basis only and staggered if needed by multiple individuals.
  • Outdoor rehearsals may continue normally following all of the mitigation strategies contained in this document.
  • All students and staff will undergo a COVID-19 health screening before any meeting of Marching Band members to check for signs and symptoms of COVID-19.
    • Locations and procedures of this screening will be announced prior to the event with designated pick-up and drop-off times and locations. No one other than the participating student should exit the vehicle at the designated drop-off location.  Rides should not leave until the student passes the screening.  Students may drive themselves to practice. Carpooling by anyone is discouraged.
    • The screening will involve a temperature check by staff with a temporal thermometer, and participants will be screened with the following questions:
      • “Do you have any new or worsening symptoms associated with COVID-19 in the last 14 days?”
      • “Are you aware of any contact in the past 14 days with someone who has had a fever, shortness of breath, cough, or COVID-19 diagnosis?”
      • “Do you have a fever, shortness of breath or cough?”
      • “Have you traveled outside of the Pittsburgh area in the past 14 days?”
        • This question is to determine whether a student has been to a “high risk location.” as designated by the PA DOH as being high risk for COVID-19 exposure. More information is found in the Quaker Valley Marching Band Masking and Travel Information letter (shared separately) and also may be found on the PA DOH website here.
      • Presence of a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher, and/or showing obvious signs of illness and/or a “YES” response to any of the screening questions prohibits that person from participating that day and they will be asked to leave school grounds, at which point parents/guardians should contact their primary care provider or other appropriate health care professional for guidance.
      • Attendance records, and records of screening information (including for staff) will be kept for contract tracing purposes.
    • Healthy hygienic practices to limit the spread of COVID-19 must be followed including:
      • Hand washing (20 seconds with warm water and soap)
      • The wearing of masks (not face shields) by students and staff at all times except for:
        • If the individual has a reason that the wearing of a face covering jeopardizes their health -OR-
        • When it is necessary for an instrumentalist who plays a wind instrument to remove their face covering for the purposes of playing their instrument -OR-
        • Anyone briefly removing the wearing of a face covering to hydrate
      • Use of hand sanitizer
      • Use of wind instrument “masks” (specifics listed in next section)
    • Specific Masking Requirements
      • For the purposes of the Marching Band, acceptable face coverings follow the following PA DOH and PDE language excluding the language about face shields:
        • “…a covering of the nose and mouth that is secured to the head with ties, straps, or loops over the ears or is wrapped around the lower face.”
        • “Face coverings may be factory-made, sewn by hand, or improvised from household items, including but not limited to, scarves, bandanas, t-shirts, sweatshirts, or towels.”
        • “…procedural and surgical masks intended for health care providers and first responders, such as N95 respirators, would meet these requirements…”
      • While face shields are currently deemed to be sufficient by the PA DOH and PDE for regular school activities as of this writing, the Colorado Study currently asserts that face shields are not sufficiently effective at blocking instrument-related aerosols. Therefore, face shields are not permitted to be used during Marching Band activities unless a face mask is also worn under the shield.
      • Masks will be worn at all times (save for the previously listed exceptions) both indoors and outdoors during Marching Band activities regardless of spacing due to potential spread of aerosols associated with wind instrument playing, as per the results of the Colorado Study.
      • Wind Instrument Masking
        • It is important to understand and be aware that the playing of wind instruments produces aerosols which may contribute to the spread of contagious illnesses. Brass instruments produce aerosols primarily from the bell of the instrument and from water keys.  Woodwind instruments produce aerosols both from the bell and from the individual tone holes. The playing of any wind instrument produces aerosols around the embouchure.  The Colorado Study recommends the following statistically significant methods for mitigating these aerosols:
          • Flutes:
            • If possible, wear a mask with elastic and/or a mask that unties at the bottom and place the flute under the mask to play. If you do not have a mask option that allows for this, placing a t-shirt over your head to cover your nose and mouth and playing the flute under the shirt will have the same effect.
            • Cover the end of the flute with a homemade “flute sock.”
              • Improvise a layer of cotton or other thick fabric held on to the end of the foot joint with rubber bands or masking tape.
              • More information
            • All flutes will play flute this season/until further notice as it is unclear at this time how to best mitigate aerosol spread from piccolo.
          • All other winds:
            • If possible, wear a mask with a slit to allow for mouthpiece insertion without mask removal. More information
            • The next preferred option is to wear a mask with elastic and/or a mask that unties at the bottom. Leave the mask on and place the mouthpiece under the mask to play.
            • If you have not obtained/cannot obtain a mask as described in the above two points, you may remove your mask to play by releasing it from one side of your face, but should replace your mask when not playing.
            • All brasses and woodwinds (excluding flute) have bells that should be covered.
        • Uniform masks and bell covers will be provided and will be required to be used for performances.
      • Social distancing between individuals will be enforced through increased spacing, small groups and limited mixing of groups to the extent feasible. Staff and students should maintain social distancing at all times possible and should not congregate during downtime.  All unnecessary physical contact is prohibited.
        • Default social distancing when inactive in rehearsal is at least 6 feet per CDC guidelines. The Colorado Study also asserts that 6 feet distancing is sufficient for all instruments under all outdoor circumstances, except for trombone, which requires 9 feet.  However:
        • During rehearsal for non-wind players, as an extra precaution and to reinforce concepts to marching band, we will maintain “four step” spacing, or 7.5 feet.
        • During rehearsal for wind players, as an extra precaution and to reinforce concepts to marching band, we will maintain “six step” spacing, or 11.25 feet.
          • In addition, per the Colorado Study, wind players must all face the same direction in straight lines to reduce risk of aerosol spread.
          • Flutes should stand slightly angled so that the foot joint of the flute is pointed behind the person standing to their right.
        • Anyone who is sick must stay home. Anyone who becomes sick while at practice/rehearsal or a performance will be isolated from others and should be picked up immediately at which point parents/guardians should contact their primary care provider or other appropriate health care professional for guidance.
        • Activities that increase the risk of exposure to saliva must be limited to the extent possible, including but not limited to the following guidelines:
          • No eating, chewing gum or spitting at practices/rehearsals or performances.
          • Outdoors, brass water keys and slides may be emptied as necessary, but directed close to the ground while using a slow gentle air stream. Empty water keys away from other people and away from chairs, music stands or other equipment.  Extra care should be taken in windy outdoor conditions.
          • Indoors, or in outdoor conditions where it is not possible to empty water keys directly into the ground (such as in the stadium bleachers), water keys should be emptied directly into a trash can, or onto a piece of absorbent material such as a piece of cotton towel or cut piece of puppy pad, to be washed or disposed of properly by the individual student.
          • Woodwind swabs should be stored in instrument cases when not in use. Swab instruments away from others. Machine wash swabs in hot water daily (having multiple swabs is an inexpensive and convenient way to help make this more manageable).
          • Flute and clarinet players should be cognizant of condensation buildup at the foot/end of bell, respectively.
        • All participants must provide their own water/filled water bottles for hydration. Water bottles cannot be shared and students should clearly identify their water bottle(s) with their name.  Access to fixed water fountains or communal water coolers will not be provided—students must plan to bring all of the water they may need with them.  At the Band Staff’s discretion depending upon the practice/rehearsal plan and weather conditions, if a student does not bring any water to an event or shows signs of dehydration, they may be required to return home.
        • All participants must provide their own hand sanitizer for use as needed during rehearsal and it should be labeled clearly with their name.
        • Food may not be brought to practice/rehearsal unless deemed medically necessary. This should be documented and shared with Mr. Neville and Nurse Gilmore ahead of time. Medically necessary food should be clearly labeled with the student’s name and not shared with anyone.
        • A nut-free snack and water may be brought to game performances and may not be shared.
        • No meals will be served within the context of any Marching Band activities.
        • No equipment or accessories may be shared at any time for any reason. Student-specific equipment should be clearly labeled.  Specific examples include but are not limited to:
          • Percussionists should not borrow from another student or share sticks, and should have their names or initials on their sticks.
          • Guard members should not share flags or other equipment. All guard equipment should be labeled with the name of the student who will use it.
          • Woodwind players should not borrow from another student or share reeds, neckstraps, swabs, key oil or any other personal items.
          • Brass players should not borrow from another student or share mouthpieces, oils, greases or any other personal items.
          • No members should borrow from another student or share instruments, accessories (such as those already mentioned and also lanyards, marching gloves, hats or shoes, clothing articles, lyres, flip books, etc.) or handle equipment that is not their own.
          • All students must come to practices/rehearsals with their own personal items such as face coverings, instrument coverings, pencils, lanyards, coordinate cards, lyres, flip books, music, instrument and accessories. To the extent feasible, personal items should be clearly labeled with the student’s name.
        • No visiting rehearsals/practices is permitted by anyone. Only staff and participating students are permitted to be present at any Marching Band-related gathering.
        • Parent chaperones will not be utilized until further notice.  All activities of the Marching Band should be conducted and supervised by staff.
        • The Marching Band will not participate in any event that requires bus transportation until further notice. This includes but is not limited to recruitment trips, parades, band festivals and away football games.
  • School-owned uniforms will not be issued or worn in the 2020-21 season as they cannot be routinely washed. A washable uniform option (uniform hooded sweatshirts) will be provided.
  • Staff and students who are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 due to underlying conditions must be identified. Staff members and parents/guardians should inform Mr. Neville if any of the following apply to them/their child respectively:
    • Age 65 or older
    • High blood pressure
    • Lung disease, moderate-severe asthma
    • Serious heart conditions
    • May be immunocompromised from cancer treatment or otherwise
    • Obesity
    • Diabetes
    • Kidney or liver disease
  • Regular communication and monitoring of developments will take place between staff, parents/guardians and students regarding cases, exposures and/or updates to policies and procedures. Students and staff will be kept up to date on the latest health and safety protocols.


The Quaker Valley High School Marching Band returned to operations in three phases in four parts—mirroring the phases that were observed by our athletic teams.  Proceeding to the next phase was contingent upon each phase remaining COVID-19-free.

Phase 1—Education Phase Late July through August 2

  • Purpose: To ensure education of our stakeholders of our policies and procedures this season; to educate our stakeholders about COVID-19 symptoms, spread and prevention as it relates to marching band activities; to inform parents/students of our revised calendar, their responsibilities, and give them time to complete those responsibilities prior to our first in-person meetings.

Phase 2a—Small Groups Part 1 (“Pre-Camp”) August 3-9

  • Purpose: To introduce band members back into band activities in small groups/sections to 1. Help maintain maximum social distancing, 2. Address musical/technical skills in a way that is targeted toward the needs of one specific group, 3. Address typical beginning-of-season clerical/procedural issues.
  • Groups will be created as close to 10 students per group as possible within reason based upon instrument/section. Drumline will meet as one group as will Colorguard, regardless of number of students in those sections.  Winds will be split logically into two small groups based upon available instrumentation.
  • Sessions will not exceed 60 minutes. Wind sessions will not consist of more than 30 minutes of playing activities as per the Colorado Study.
  • Band staff will place music stands, instruments and/or equipment out with the required spacing for social distancing (min. 4 steps, 6 steps in winds) and to teach student procedures for handling their own equipment.

Phase 2b—Small Groups Part 2 (“Band Camp”) August 10-16

  • Purpose: To allow regular music rehearsals to begin to resume, to allow multiple small groups to connect their work in larger groups.
  • Groups will average about 25 students in size, based upon available instrumentation and within reason upon instrument/section. Likely examples of these expanded combinations include 1. All Winds, 2. Partial Winds and Drumline, 3. Partial Winds and Colorguard, 4. Drumline and Colorguard.
  • Sessions will not exceed 90 minutes, with no more than 30 minutes of consecutive playing activities in Winds without a minimum 10 minute break as per the Colorado Study.
  • Band staff will supervise student placement of music stands, instruments and/or equipment with the required spacing for social distancing (min. 4 steps, 6 steps in winds).

 Phase 3—Full Return Phase (Routine Practices) August 17-Present

  • Purpose: To allow for the regular teaching of marching and music typical to the full group setting (still following all aforementioned guidelines).
  • All marching will maintain minimum 4-step spacing with no Winds playing.
  • No marching will take place with Winds playing.
  • Sessions may exceed 90 minutes.  Outdoors, there should be no more than 30 minutes of consecutive playing without a minimum 10 minute break.  Indoors, there should be no more than 30 minutes of consecutive playing without allowing for at least one air change (time dependent upon the room being used).  All winds will be spaced by 6 steps (11.25 feet) when playing both indoors and outdoors.
  • Band staff will supervise student placement of music stands, instruments and/or equipment out with the required spacing for social distancing (min. 4 steps, 6 steps in winds).

 All of the aforementioned phases are contingent upon conditions and subject to change in accordance with the most up-to-date local, state and/or federal guidance, and/or new research findings.

For More Information

Primary Point of Contact:

  • Cory Neville, Director of Instrumental Music, Quaker Valley High School
  • Office: 412-749-6009
  • E-mail: nevillec@qvsd.org

Other Information Feeds for the Quaker Valley High School Marching Band:

  • Remind: @qvmb (Text @qvmb to 81010 to join, or search for @qvmb in the Remind app)
  • Twitter: @QVHSBandOrch
  • Website: qvsdmusic.com

Other Relevant Information: