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Cavalier Marching Band’s wind instruments sidelined from playing in the stands

Published: Oct. 20, 2021 at 4:55 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - If you flip your television on to a college football game, chances are you’ll see the marching band playing in the stands. That’s the case at almost every university, except the University of Virginia.

“We just want to play in the stands one last time before we graduate college and probably never have that opportunity again,” fourth-year student Maria Parnell said.

For Parnell and her bandmates, like Elizabeth Stone, this fall was supposed to be a return to normalcy.

“The morning of our very first game we got an email, and it was truly heartbreaking to see that we had to perform on the field but not performing in the stands,” Stone said.

A statement form UVA says, “playing wind instruments in a large crowd is a high-risk activity that our public health experts recommended we should curtail in order to reduce the potential for viral transmission at the game.”

“It’s very clear that the biggest COVID risks are not happening within the band section,” Parnell said. “It’s just very apparent.”

Parnell says the ruling shows the university’s priorities when it comes to gamedays: “It’s hard to stay cheering for our school for four hours straight when we just aren’t feeling like they’re valuing that the value that we bring when we play our music,” she said.

In a last ditch effort to change the policy, Parnell started a petition that has so far gained more than 6,000 signatures.

“It’s really heartwarming to see,” she said. “We get comments on the petition even from the schools that are usually our rivals.’”

“Anything it takes to get us playing in the stands, we will do,” Stone said.

UVA says it is committed to letting the community know by November 1 if these COVID-19 policies will be adjusted.

The full UVA statement is below:

Like many other elements of University life this year, the University’s approach to the recent football game was centered on enabling members of our community to partake in the activity while mitigating as much risk of viral spread as possible. The band has played on the field, as they usually do, and in advance and after the game. In the stands, however, the wind instruments present quite different risks.

Playing wind instruments in a large crowd is a high-risk activity that our public health experts recommended we should curtail in order to reduce the potential for viral transmission at the game. We are evaluating all of our COVID policies based on the prevalence of the virus and have committed to updating our community about any changes before November 1.

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