CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice said that marching bands will be allowed to perform at public school football games amid the coronavirus pandemic, reversing a governing body’s ruling from a day earlier.
The Republican governor said the Secondary School Activities Commission’s earlier decision was made without his input.
“As a coach and someone who is in our schools all the time, I appreciate how much our extracurricular activities, including our marching bands, mean to our students, parents, and communities,” Justice said in a statement.
Justice said he directed medical experts to work with the SSAC and the state Department of Education to “go back to the drawing board to find a safe way for our marching bands to do what they love to do: perform.”
The plan will require band members to maintain social distances while performing in stadiums on game days. Their families will be allowed to watch their performances.
Tammy Winters said the word spread fast Tuesday afternoon at Spring Valley High School, where her daughter is the field commander for the marching band.
“I just dropped my daughter off at band practice,” Winters said. “There were a lot of kids, like, yelping in there. Some happy band kids today.”
The SSAC’s earlier decision had caused such an uproar that a protest was being organized at the state Capitol in Charleston on Friday. Parents had argued that if football players could collide on the field, band members should be allowed there as well.
Marching bands already had lost their competition season, wiped out by the virus, as well as opportunities to perform at now-canceled fall festivals.
Under updated guidelines released by the commission Tuesday, [August 25] band members will be seated in a separate, designated area. Pregame and halftime performances will be allowed, but percussion will be the only band section permitted to play during the game. Band members must wear face coverings when not performing.
Justice’s reversal came as the state’s death toll from the coronavirus climbed.
Updated by The West Virginia Daily News.
The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources reported as of 10:00 a.m., on August 30, 2020, there have been 430,940 total confirmatory laboratory results received for COVID-19, with 10,110 total cases and 213 deaths.
CASES PER COUNTY: Barbour (33), Berkeley (798), Boone (139), Braxton (9), Brooke (88), Cabell (530), Calhoun (9), Clay (26), Doddridge (6), Fayette (268), Gilmer (18), Grant (139), Greenbrier (106), Hampshire (92), Hancock (122), Hardy (73), Harrison (265), Jackson (201), Jefferson (355), Kanawha (1,393), Lewis (32), Lincoln (115), Logan (479), Marion (217), Marshall (133), Mason (102), McDowell (70), Mercer (297), Mineral (144), Mingo (236), Monongalia (1,113), Monroe (117), Morgan (37), Nicholas (52), Ohio (290), Pendleton (44), Pleasants (15), Pocahontas (42), Preston (140), Putnam (278), Raleigh (356), Randolph (223), Ritchie (5), Roane (29), Summers (19), Taylor (105), Tucker (11), Tyler (15), Upshur (43), Wayne (248), Webster (7), Wetzel (46), Wirt (9), Wood (305), Wyoming (66).
Please note that delays may be experienced with the reporting of information from the local health department to DHHR. As case surveillance continues at the local health department level, it may reveal that those tested in a certain county may not be a resident of that county, or even the state as an individual in question may have crossed the state border to be tested.
Please visit the dashboard located at www.coronavirus.wv.gov for more information.
The state has issued a color-coded county map for thresholds for in-person attendance and extracurricular activities at schools and allowing visits to nursing homes.
The virus usually results in only mild to moderate symptoms, but is particularly dangerous for the elderly and people with other health problems.