Where do I even start... this situation is dicey to say the least. Regardless of anything that happens, your collective safety is priority one for me as we try to figure out how to safely handle all the band ensembles moving forward. That fact is non-negotiable.
In an effort to have everything in one place, this blog will be the main source of all information related to the Otterbein Bands moving forward in this new landscape. Keep an eye here, and for updates on our social media outlets.
Here's what I know, and I wish I had more...
On Monday, 7/13, Colorado State University is scheduled to release a full blown scientific study exploring how wind and brass instruments disperse aerosols related to the spread of the COVID-19 virus. This is going to give us (hopefully) some solid information on how to safely handle band instruments and best protect the students that use them. I'm waiting to read this study before releasing any plan for the Otterbein bands, but the marching band, wind ensemble, studio lessons, and chamber ensembles will all certainly be part of it. Here's a link to the initial announcement of the study:
A further complication is that plans will be different for each ensemble, each studio teacher, and for each area in the Music Department - the wind ensemble, jazz ensemble, and marching band will have different needs, as will the orchestras and choirs in their respective areas. This will not be a one-size-fits-all solution.
Over the past two months, I've been collecting information from government agencies, K-12 schools and Universities, and various music organizations about reopening plans and details of alternate uniforms, various face coverings, distancing suggestions, cleaning/sterilization, indoor/outdoor rehearsal protocols... the list is extensive and exhausting. But, it's important to remember that literally all of this is speculation loosely based on a very small chunk of common information about what COVID-19 is, does, and how it moves. That's why the Colorado State study is so very important.
MARCHING BAND: This all being said, I've been in regular contact with athletics and campus housing about band camp and upcoming football events. There are no official announcements, save for the Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) reworking its season schedule to include ONLY conference games starting on September 19, and those games are being rescheduled within the existing schedule for this fall (link to the OAC announcement). I was told that I would have some information related to how this plays out for Otterbein next week. There is also a possibility that games will be played without spectators in the stands, which then brings into question whether or not the marching band will be considered part of that audience and, if so, how do we keep everyone safe. But if not, then what?
I am tap dancing around a firm answer, and I apologize for that - I'm just as anxious to have a working plan as anyone. I'm hoping to hear something very soon (next week?) about what the fall athletics schedule will look like, which will then inform what summer campus housing/residence life is able to accommodate, which will then help me fill in the blanks on what we are going to do about band camp and football games moving forward. As a tangent, the plans for wind ensemble, jazz ensemble, and other band area ensembles and lessons will be informed primarily by the Colorado State study (because science, y'all). I will post a master plan as soon as all the information has been thoroughly reviewed and discussed with other area directors and studio teachers (now collectively referred to as "the gang").
Above all, be excellent to each other. Wash your hands. Wear a mask.
Otterbein University's ongoing COVID-19 announcements: https://www.otterbein.edu/covid19/return-to-campus-information/