High school band member leading Rose Parade back with COVID, school moved away

An unknown number of students in the band and student body at Homewood High School in Alabama tested positive for COVID earlier this week, days after the school’s 410-person marching band returned from their performance at the Tournament of Roses parade last Saturday. Tested positive, prompting the school. To switch to distance learning on Tuesday.

An email sent from the school to the parents of the band members, obtained by the Associated Press, did not extensively specify the number of positive tests in the band or the student body, but simply said that the school was planning to switch to remote classes. was making a decision.

“We apologize for this late notice, but we continue to receive additional reports of positive cases this afternoon and evening. We understand that this is not the norm, but we believe there will be an e at HHS this week.” -learning will limit the potential exposure to anyone who may be a close contact of positive individuals,” said a note from Superintendent Justin Hefner on the system’s website.

The band, advertised as the biggest high school marching band in Alabama, performed four times at the New Year’s Day parade in Pasadena, California, before accepting the invitation again this year.

The school said the decision was prompted by “abnormally high” COVID positive numbers, the same day the band members’ parents were informed about positivity among the band.

Members of the Homewood High School Patriot Band from Homewood, Ala., perform during the 133rd Rose Parade on Saturday in Pasadena, Calif. Band members have tested positive for COVID-19 since returning home, and entire schools have switched to virtual classes due to an outbreak.
Michael Owen Baker / Associated Press File

Merrick Wilson, a spokesman for the Homewood School System in suburban Birmingham, said Friday that the district does not release COVID-19 case numbers by class or organizations, according to The AP.

Wilson said the district sends reports about COVID-19 cases to the Alabama Department of Public Health, but officials from both the state and county health departments said they were unaware of any problems at the school.

Alabama has the nation’s highest rate of positive results on COVID-19 tests, about 44 percent, and does not include people using home tests. Alabama has the nation’s third-highest COVID-19 death rate, with more than 16,580 dead from the disease across the state, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

Hefner’s public Twitter feed includes photos from a trip to California that show band members and others in close proximity on the bus and elsewhere and many not wearing face masks, which are recommended to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. . Health officials say social distancing and masks have become even more important because of the Omicron variant, which is more contagious than older versions of the virus.

Candy Carlson, communications director for Tournament of Roses, said that the organization was saddened to hear of Homewood’s affairs, although no information was provided to the authorities as a result of the band’s visit to Pasadena.

“The recent surge of COVID-19 as a result of the Omicron edition is worrying for all of us. However, we are confident that our strict COVID-19 related protocols have enabled us to minimize the impacts they have for our parade participants and patrons, The statement said.

It said that 91 percent of the more than 6,500 participants in this year’s parade were vaccinated and another 9 percent were required to provide proof of a negative test within 72 hours of the event.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.