MHSAA releases list of COVID-19 guidelines for band concert season

Published 7:00 am Saturday, November 21, 2020

The Mississippi High School Activities Association has released a list of COVID-19 guidelines and rules for bands as they transition into concert season.

All of the guidelines are subject to alteration as the situation regarding COVID-19 changes.

One of the main recommendations from the MHSAA regarding indoor performances and rehearsals is the usage of masks on both musicians and instruments.

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Students are expected to wear a mask whenever they’re not playing, while it’s also recommended the instruments are covered to prevent the majority of aerosols escaping the instrument as it’s being played. Pearl River Central High School’s Band Director Kelcey Becnel said her program was already adhering to those restrictions prior to the release of the guidelines, so nothing will change for her musicians.

“That was one of our protocols for indoor (rehearsals). The students have to maintain wearing a mask while not playing, and while playing we utilize bell covers.  We had ours made and it’s a drawstring that covers the end of the instrument to prevent aerosols from coming out of the end of instrument,” Becnel said. Proper spacing between students is another recommendation from the MHSAA along with limiting the run time of a rehearsal or performance.

The guidelines state that any indoor meeting should last only 30 minutes or so before all participants clear out of the room to let the air in the room to be refreshed.

How long bands and performance attendees will have to spend outside is dependent on the facility’s air filtration system and its ability to cycle in new air.

In order to try to bypass the difficulties that come with having an indoor show, the Picayune Memorial High School band is looking to host its Christmas concert outside this year.

Picayune Memorial High School Band Director John Cockrell said the Dec. 3 concert might be hosted at Crosby Commons, weather permitting.

However, if the weather doesn’t allow for an outdoor event, then the concert will take place inside and be livestreamed so parents, friends and community members can enjoy the musical performance.

“We want to do it outside so people can come and enjoy the concert, but we don’t know if that will happen,” Cockrell said.

The Picayune band has avoided any outbreaks or infections this year thanks to stringent guidelines set in place. Students have their temperature taken prior to entering the building, are immediately given hand sanitizer, wear masks when not playing and Cockrell has a disinfectant device he uses to sanitize the entire band hall and other rooms the musicians may use.

Members of both bands are hoping they are able to avoid infection while continuing to perform and participate in band activities.