Grandview Heights High School band camp nixed; season up in the air

ALAN FROMAN
afroman@thisweeknews.com
Karis Brown and the rest of the Grandview Heights High School marching band play during a pre-band camp rehearsal in 2019. This year's band camp has been canceled, and the 2020 marching band season is in question.

If this were a normal summer, the Grandview Heights High School marching band would be preparing this week for its annual band camp at Wittenberg University.

But the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic forced band director Chris Herrmann to cancel all summer band activities -- and it's uncertain whether 2020 will have a marching-band season at all.

The school board was scheduled to meet July 22 to continue its consideration of whether Grandview will open the school year Aug. 17 using a traditional in-school or remote-learning model or a hybrid model combining both in-person and virtual instruction for students.

The band camp at Wittenberg originally was scheduled for July 26-31.

"Due to design or physical space limitations, the learning activities and scheduled social events which occur at our overnight band camp do not comply with Ohio Department of Health guidelines," Herrmann said.

The band camp requires two to four students housed in each room and involves indoor, full-group music rehearsals, as well as activities such as game night, an ice-cream social and dances, he said.

Updated plans still called for a pre-camp event July 22-24 and an "at-home" band camp July 26-31, but the current COVID-19 situation and the lack of new guidance from the Ohio High School Athletic Association on student group participation in activities, including band, led to the cancellation of those events, too, Herrmann said.

The annual pre-season concert at Falco Park in Marble Cliff, scheduled for Aug. 9, also has been canceled.

In announcing the cancellations to band students July 10, Herrmann noted that the health and well-being of families has been the primary concern.

"The Grandview Heights marching band is one important part of the music education opportunities we offer in the band program," he said. "Adjustments will be made to accommodate any instructional parameters set forth by the Ohio Department of Health, Franklin County Board of Health and Grandview Heights board of education."

Herrmann said he has been providing band students and families with periodic updates via email during the summer.

The annual Cake Walk held by the Grandview Heights Band Parents Association in the spring was converted into a virtual event, and "we are exploring options for the Decal Drive in August," he said.

The roster for the marching band has not been finalized due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on schoolwide enrollment, Herrmann said.

"We anxiously await the school board's decision later this month (on the model for the opening of school year) so we can plan accordingly," he said.

Herrmann said he is taking a "realist" approach to setting his expectations about whether there will be a marching band season this year.

"We will adjust our expectations, pedagogy and performance opportunities as this unprecedented health crisis continues to affect every aspect of our lives," he said.

If the district opts for a hybrid or distance-learning option, there will be no marching band season, Herrmann said.

All show planning is on hold at this time, he said.

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