PIERRE — The South Dakota High School Activities Association won’t decide until its March board meeting whether to hold All-State Chorus and Orchestra this year.
At a special meeting of the board on Monday, SDHSAA Executive Director Dan Swartos explained that All-State Chorus and Orchestra presents a unique problem during a pandemic because it involves so many students.
The combined event, scheduled for April 19-20 in Sioux Falls, includes approximately 1,200 students from more than 100 communities. About 150 take part in orchestra with the rest participating in chorus.
“This is going to be a tough one,” Swartos said as he went through safety recommendations from a task force made up of medical and education professionals.
While no final decision will be made until the board’s March 3 meeting, the board saw two options. One option called for social distancing of quartets, directors to monitor mask use and social distancing and 90-minute rehearsal intervals with no audience present.
Option two would be to cancel All-State Chorus and hold All-State Orchestra using 30-minute rehearsals in various locations to allow for an exchange of air in the Premier Center. Students would get ticket vouchers for attendance.
“Those on the medical side (of the task force) were quite leery of holding,” Swartos said. If any of the events get canceled, Swartos said he runs the risk of being labeled as being against the arts.
“We have to be able to justify what we’re doing,” Swartos said. “We’re going to hold off as long as we can making a decision on these things.”
All-State Band and All-State Jazz Band were approved by the board.
All-State Band will be held May 26-27 in Mitchell with four bands of 50 students each. Two bands will play on May 26 and two will play the next day. Masks and bell covers will be required for participants and seating will be blocked off for social distancing.
“We feel really confident that the event will go off without any problem,” said SDHSAA Assistant Executive Director Brooks Bowman
All-State Jazz Band includes less than 50 musicians in three groups, Bowman said. The event will be held May 6-8 in Mitchell with minimal changes and mitigation strategies.
The board approved rule modifications for track and field, golf and tennis. Each sport has mandatory and optional rule modifications.
In track and field, mandatory modifications included no awards ceremonies, no common distribution of water, cleaning frequently touched areas and restricting spectators to areas where they would not have access to athletes.
Optional modifications include face coverings for athletes, isolating athletes from spectators and limiting team camps to only team members. Meet management could consider limiting entries. Social distancing should be followed at all field events and in common gathering areas.
SDHSAA Assistant Executive Director John Krogstrand said there would be more specific recommendations coming to the board at its March meeting concerning safety recommendations for the State Track Meet.
Mandatory rule modifications for golf include the use of no-touch scorecards if available, social distancing, no awards ceremonies, no common distribution of water and cleaning frequently touched areas. Optional modifications include uninterrupted putting, wearing of face coverings and limiting galleries to paths, with social distancing.
Mandatory rule modifications in tennis include using numbered sets of tennis balls and cleaning balls with Lysol or Clorox, social distancing when possible, avoiding handshakes, using racquets or feet to move balls to the opponent’s side and cleaning frequently touched areas. Optional rule modifications include wearing face coverings and athletes bringing their own water bottles.