Local marching bands plan for football game performances, no UIL competitions

El Paso News

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM)–Friday nights may soon start to feel a bit normal again with the high school football season hoping to return in the fall and with football, comes the sights and sounds of the marching bands.

Traditionally, bands hit the practice fields before school starts in the summer to prepare for the first football game. Local school districts say as of now, plans will allow students to hit the field once again for marching band students at football games.

Judith Olivas is a freshman at Hanks High School. She picked up the trombone in fifth grade and said since then, she aspired to join the marching band in high school and compete.

“They were teaching us about the high school band and you know you’re going to do marching band you’re going to travel and then when you finally get there, you’re not able to do that,” Olivas said.

As of now, students have been rehearsing remotely using tablets or laptops since El Paso school districts required at least the first four weeks of school to be online.

The local high school football schedule is set to begin in October.

“We’re so tied to the football season, it goes hand in hand,” SISD Director of Fine Arts, Armando Martinez, said.

Socorro ISD, Ysleta ISD and El Paso ISD all said band, cheer, dance and flag teams will resume performances at home games, but UIL competitive marching is cancelled for local schools.

“UIL has left that up to the local decision as far as today, everyone from West Texas to the Panhandle has decided not to participate in UIL this year for that competitive aspect,” Martinez said.

School districts are requiring students to wear facial coverings when they return, as well as other changes.

“We will also have our marching bands on the field, of course it will be in a different format than traditionally and its going to be socially distanced, things of that nature,” YISD Director of Fine Arts Scott Thoreson said.

Some other changes include limited time rehearsing in an indoor setting and spacing students at least six to ten feet apart outdoors. For some bands, it may change how formations are done for performances.

For some students it’s even a matter of adjusting their instruments. Olivas said she has a special covering for her trombone, where she places it over the bell to limit the spread of air droplets.

“You put it over the bell and what its supposed to do is act like a mask for the trombone so that there’s no possibility of germs or bacteria coming through the bell when you blow through it,” Olivas said.

It’s with these changes students hope to play under the Friday night lights once again.

“It’s the little performances that add something else to the game that wouldn’t be there without the band,” Olivas said.

School districts say they are still discussing if fans will attend the football games and if so, how many. Some also mention the possibility of streaming the games for parents to watch online.

Marching students can expect to return to face-to-face rehearsals after Labor Day.

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