When it comes to school extracurricular activities this fall, high school band members should be allowed the same hope as everyone else that they might be able to participate.
But the band members, who already have had their fall competitions canceled, also should brace themselves for another disappointment.
The West Virginia Secondary Schools Athletic Association, which is going forward with a high school football season despite the coronavirus pandemic, had ruled this week that marching bands couldn’t play at football games, citing health concerns. That would seem reasonable, if the SSAC weren’t also allowing large rosters of football players to travel around the state and collide with each other over four quarters on a Friday night.
After a lot of justified noise from band parents, Gov. Jim Justice overturned the SSAC’s decision, saying bands would be allowed to perform at home games. They’ll have to follow social distancing guidelines and wear masks when not playing.
All of this hinges on schools reopening and the resumption of extracurricular activities without a spike in COVID-19 cases. That’s hardly a given. Some colleges and universities have already shut down their campuses because of new COVID-19 cases. Secondary schools are a much more controlled environment, but states that have already gone back to in-person learning, such as Georgia, have seen the virus tear through their schools.
While just about everyone wants schools back in session — and fall sports with them — the situation in West Virginia remains in flux. Schools could reopen without a hitch, but even the governor and public health officials have acknowledged that’s unlikely. It’s just a matter of how imperfect things are, and weighing the risks.
Everyone involved in extracurricular activities should be allowed hope that they’ll get to participate in the things they love. But that hope has to be tempered by realism.