Thursday, April 2, 2020

The Unthinkable & Unbelievable

Yesterday, 4/1, Governor Brian Kemp declared that all Georgia schools would be closed for the remainder of the school year. He said that he made his decision based on new information that COVID-19 can be spread by those who are showing no symptoms, and he felt that this is the best course of action.

While I've suspected that this could happen, it still came as a shock to me. In all the years I've been teaching, I sometimes think I've seen it all, but this is unprecedented. I wish I had answers to all of your questions, but the truth is I have no idea what happens now. I wish I could say something to make sense of all of this, but I'm simply at a loss. My heart aches for all of the students who've lost a quarter of their school year. You have no idea how much I miss all of you, and how much I miss just having band with you every day. Most of all I hurt for the Seniors. Their Senior year, and there's no Spring Trip, no Spring Concert, no Band Banquet. I've been told that there WILL be a graduation ceremony at some point when the social distancing and shelter-in-place orders are lifted, but there is not even a guess right now as to when that could be. Most health experts are saying that we haven't reached the top of the curve yet, so we can't project when life might start returning to normal until we're on the back side of this. "I don't know" is not a good answer, but it's all we've got to most questions right now.

I had a video chat earlier this week with Erik, Mr. Fortner, and Miss Donna, and we talked about options for things that we had planned and things that we normally do in the Spring. I can tell you that Erik has decided to cancel both the Jekyll Island trip and the Troy Summer Percussion Camp. No money has been paid for Jekyll Island, and no money has been sent to Troy, so everything students paid will be rolled into their band accounts for next Fall. The four of us talked about the options if we didn't return to school this semester, so we have some preliminary ideas on what directions we will go with officers, auxiliaries, drum major, and awards, but right now most things are not finalized and can't be announced. The easiest to handle is the Officer Application for next year. Soon I will convert the paper application into a Google Forms document, and those of you who want to apply will be able to fill that out online. Mr. Fortner is going to be heading up the Drum Major tryouts, and he and I will be figuring out how we can best conduct those online. Miss Donna has looked at some options for Visual Unit, and we'll be making some final decisions on how we can handle that as well. I'm going to create a Google Docs form to allow students to vote on the yearly awards online instead of on paper, I'll still make the Year End Video, and we will still announce award winners before the end of May. Again, this all uncharted waters for us, so we're having to figure it out as we go along, and details may change as we try to navigate. I also plan to schedule some Google Meet group video chats over the next few weeks so we can hang out and talk through anything you might have questions over. I don't think we can get the whole band on at one time, so we'll do them by grade or section.

I know you all miss band, so I've revived our Marching Band Google Classroom so that we can interact. It has a few pieces of marching music (along with recordings) that you can practice on, and I'll be adding more as time goes by. You know how I like quirky music-related stuff, so there's some interesting articles, YouTube videos, and a message from Dr. Tim Lautzenheiser. Because I know you miss them so much, I'm also going to post our daily Musician Birthdays and Music History! April 1st and 2nd are already online, and I'll post a new one each day. To join, log into http://classroom.google.com with your school email address and password, and join the Marching Band class with the code a7wlpjp.

I miss you all more than you know! PLEASE stay home and wash/sanitize your hands. COVID-19 is no joke, so take all precautions. The most important thing right now is that you and your family stay safe!

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