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The rising number of COVID-19 cases among Franklin County High School students has resulted in the FCHS administration suspending ensemble band activities.

A letter from Band Director Chris Crumley to his students has been posted on the FC Rebel Band’s Facebook page explaining the details leading up to the decision to halt larger group rehearsal and performance sessions.

He said later in a subsequent post that he hopes the conditions will soon return to normal.

“I appreciate all of the concerns regarding the suspension of band activities, however this isn’t permanent,” he said. “As soon as possible, we will be back to work rehearsing and performing.

“The administration and I want only the best for the band program, and a pause is what is needed at the moment. My apologies for any confusion this may have caused.”

The Franklin County School System had 14 students quarantined Monday who were potentially exposed to the coronavirus.

Director of Schools Stanley Bean said the numbers fluctuate daily, and the guidelines on handling cases routinely change, which makes assessing reported cases more difficult.

He said the system works closely with the Tennessee Department of Health to handle cases. He added that the system also takes additional measures to inform parents that their children may have been in a classroom with an infected person.

Bean said the total number of COVID-19 cases within the school system may have reached as high as 22 with about seven of them being cleared to return to school.

He said Thursday he supports the FCHS administrative decision, headed by Principal Dr. Roger Alsup, in suspending certain band activities.

Crumley said the increase in COVID cases at the high school led to the decision to scale down the band’s rehearsing and performance routines.

“In consultation with the administration of FCHS, the band is suspending their season effective as today,” he said in the Wednesday post. “The rising number of COVID-positive members within the band program is the deciding factor behind this decision.

“This means there will be no home or away band performances until it is deemed safe to return by the administration of FCHS.”

Crumley said classes will continue to meet, and percussion classes can still rehearse. However, he said instrumental and guard classes cannot.

Crumley said activities will be structured so that students can continue their instruction and can practice their instruments from home. He added that assignments will be made in-person and through the Google Classroom internet-learning tool, and students can record personal videos to be emailed to the teaching staff for grading purposes.

After-school rehearsals have also been cancelled until the go-ahead is given to begin playing again as an ensemble, Crumley said.

Although the band program’s schedule is being interrupted, he said the students were fortunate to be able to be performing together as long as they had been.

“All during band camp and even as the school year started, I expressed to the membership, sometimes daily, that we were getting to do something that other band programs were not and that they should be thankful for the opportunity because it could end at any moment, and today is that moment,” Crumley said in the Wednesday post. “At yesterday’s rehearsal, the full band worked diligently to improve on the music … and I’m so glad we had that moment of unity.”

Crumley said football concessions will still need workers, and he encouraged the students to sign up to participate in those events.

He concluded by saying: “To all the wonderful people that are a part of this program … thank you for your support. The administration and I hope this is just a temporary measure, and we hope to be back soon.”