Marching toward normalcy: Bands now allowed to perform at SD Unified football games

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SAN DIEGO – More changes are on the way at San Diego’s largest school district after its board announced Tuesday bands and color guards will be allowed to perform at football games and other outdoor functions.

The decision comes a day after the San Diego Unified School District welcomed back some 50,000 students in all grades to classrooms in a new on-site/online hybrid model. School administrators Monday said they were “fired up” about the return of their students after largely doing distance learning for more than a year.

But some parents Tuesday questioned why it took the district so long to bring bands back.

“Band is a part of football,” parent Ally Murray said. “Guard is a part of football games. Why were these students overlooked? Why were parent spectators invited to come in yet our own students were overlooked?”

The announcement as well as the decision to open up in-person learning has been a welcome change in the march toward normalcy for the district’s students and parents. In a video played during Tuesday’s meeting, students shared what they enjoyed most about coming back to the classroom, including a renewed social connection with others.

“Just being able to wave at all of my friends and being able to say, ‘Hey, we’re here, right?'” one student said. “It’s so crazy to see all of these people.”

Still, with excitement comes challenges, such as a lack of high-speed internet for some. Multiple students said that’s been frustrating while trying to learn this past year.

“In one of my classes, the internet kept cutting out both on the teachers end as well as the students,” a student said.

“A challenge I saw today was definitely some connection issues,” another student said. “Both on our end and to a lot of kids who were at home learning, they were getting kicked off the Zooms.”

Many San Diego Unified students are still completing their studies from home. The district has an option for students to continue through the end of the school year with distance learning.

Some parents argue the district isn’t doing enough to get all students back on campus.

“Even the board members … have called this the ‘first day of school'” one parent said. “I think that just speaks volumes to the amount of problems that we have had with the online learning thus far in the school year and this truly is the first day of school, which is very troubling.”

Students now will have a maximum of three classes per day and will rotate into classrooms, according to the district. Students are still wearing masks and the district has implemented measures to maintain social distancing in its buildings.

UC San Diego also is assisting in the reopening process by testing students for COVID-19.

Nearly 6,000 students had taken advantage of on-site COVID-19 testing as of April 6 with only 10 positive cases reported. Only four positive cases were reported from the roughly 7,000 staff members who were tested.

With vaccine eligibility expanding in California this week to include people ages 16 and older, parents are urging the district to start planning for full-time, in-person instruction in the fall.

“To get ready for fall, I ask that the district hold a workshop specific to hearing parent concerns before it negotiates with the union on any terms for reopening for fall,” a parent said.

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