Members of the South High School marching band watch the Bison lose to the Kelly Walsh Trojans 47-8 Friday, Sept. 13, 2019, at South High School. Wyoming Tribune Eagle/file

CHEYENNE – At least one member of the South High School band has tested positive for COVID-19, Laramie County School District 1 Superintendent Boyd Brown confirmed Monday afternoon.

The school band had been holding daily, outdoor and socially distant summer practices. The district transitioned all students to remote learning in March in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, which has seen a spike in Laramie County in recent weeks.

According to Brown, the students and staff who participated in the summer band practices closely followed guidelines from state, local and federal health officials. Wearing masks when not playing instruments, and maintaining at least 6-foot distances from each other whenever possible were both pieces of the practice plan.

“We’re feeling like there might not be a whole lot of risk there for some of the other kids, but we won’t know until we do contact tracing,” Brown said. “We don’t have any evidence there is spread in the band group. If there is, that might give us some more cause for concern.”

The positive case was discovered sometime over the weekend, and South High did not host a band practice Monday. It is unclear if or when practices will resume – that decision will be based on direction from public health officers.

In a phone call with the Wyoming Tribune Eagle, South High School Principal Phil Thompson said his top priority is “doing what is best for our kids,” and deferred all further comment on the situation to Brown.

“County health officials will be working with us on what we can do to start again,” said Brown, who added as of Monday afternoon, the district was still in the process of refining those details with Dr. Stan Hartman, the county health officer.

The band practice case comes as Brown, along with other district leaders, is in the middle of drafting a school reopening plan based on guidance from the Wyoming Department of Education. It could require schools to shut down and sanitize for several days if a student or staff member tests positive.

In Brown’s view, the student-musician testing positive this week is a window into what the district will likely grapple with this fall.

“It’s going to be something we’re going to have to deal with at different times throughout the year – I expect we’ll have issues like that,” Brown said. “It’s just like anywhere else where people are at. Things might happen.”

In light of the band practice situation, Brown had one more message for all students eager to return to in-person learning and activities: “If you’re not feeling well, we just really want you to stay home.”

Kathryn Palmer is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s education reporter. She can be reached at kpalmer@wyomingnews.com or 307-633-3167. Follow her on Twitter at @kathrynbpalmer.

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