Orange County schools considering special face masks for band members, covers for wind instruments

Orange County School board to discuss mask changes for band members, recess

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Orange County Public School board members are set to discuss changes to face mask rules Tuesday for students, including requiring band members to wear masks with mouth-piece openings and bell covers for wind instruments to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The school board is scheduled to review changes to the school district’s mask rules during a workshop on Tuesday.

According to the proposal, band members would be required to wear special face masks with slits while playing their instruments and use fabric covers over the end of wind instruments.

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According to the agenda, the district is also considering limiting indoor and outdoor band practice to 30 minutes.

This comes after OCPS reversed course, allowing marching band and cheerleaders to take part in home football games.

OCPS Communication Director Scott Howat said school officials wanted to see how the first week of games went before allowing the band and cheerleaders to join the football team under the Friday night lights.

Pinellas County spent an estimated $40,000 to provide these bell covers and face coverings to their band students, according to the OCPS workshop documents.

A survey was sent to Orange County schools to determine the number of bell covers and face coverings needed district-wide to ensure equitable access to these materials but it’s estimated the face masks and instrument covers would cost an estimated $100,000. The items would be paid for with “unspent monies in the arts access transportation budget not used because of travel restrictions," according to the district.

The proposed changes to school face mask policies also include requiring masks during recess and while using playground equipment but not requiring them during physical education classes if social distancing is maintained.

If approved, the new rules would go before a vote on Oct. 13 during a regular school board meeting.

Review the items on the OCPS agenda for the workshop here.