Band Trip Canceled


Noble Avellino, Staff Writer

Two school trips proceeded according to schedule and one trip is canceled entirely under the shadow of the coronavirus.

The Bernards High School baseball and softball teams both traveled to Florida for their annual training weekend after a tumultuous week of uncertainty about whether the trips would be allowed to proceed amidst the looming threat of the coronavirus. The Bernards High School trip to Disneyland in California trip, which included the concert band, jazz band, marching band, and orchestra, was canceled.

Feelings ran high in the week leading up to the trip after speculation arose that the Board of Education might cancel the pair of trips because of recent outbreaks of the coronavirus in California and Florida:

“A lot of us had anxiety that the trip wouldn’t take place. A feeling of worry, nervousness, and unease filled the Band Room,” said Junior Rai Bindra. Having gone on the trip two years prior, Rai felt that the trip was of special significance to the ensembles. “It meant a lot especially to the seniors as it was their last chance to go on the trip.”

One of the biggest concerns among the band and orchestra students was refunds: the price tag per student was $1595 for the band trip, and it was not terribly clear whether or not students would get refunded.

There were varying levels of confidence in their trip among the baseball and softball players, who were also unaware of the fate of their training weekend in Florida:

“I was pretty confident that they [the Board of Education] were going to allow us to go,” said Junior Avery Schuller. “However, I was also relatively nervous that they were going to say yes and that something was going to happen on the trip.”

When the Board of Education called a special meeting to determine whether the trip would be happening, students, parents, and teachers filled in the rows of chairs to make their voices heard.

The public comment portion of the meeting, where residents of Somerset Hills School District are allowed to voice their opinions in the beginning of the meeting, was supposed to last no more than thirty minutes. The last student to speak, freshman Raquel Dickinson, spoke nearly an hour into the meeting.

There was a range of speakers covering all different viewpoints of all age groups. Senior James Kessler, a member of the baseball team, started off the public comment section talking about the actual risk involved for students under the shadow of the coronavirus: “We’re all ages 14-18, and according to the CDC, out of all of the cases of COVID-19 worldwide, 1.2% were teenagers.”

Mr. Herman, a parent of one of the band members, spoke about the comparability of the coronavirus to other more deadly diseases, such as the flu, which does not usually place travel restrictions on any school organization.

There were opponents to the trip as well, however. Most notable was Dr. Agapis, who argued that the uncertainty of the trips was too great a risk: “If somebody at the Disneyland park is identified for coronavirus, and you are now trapped in California for 14 days, you need to take medications with you for 14 days, you need to pay for the hotel for 14 days. That’s the difference between coronavirus and influenza.”

Ultimately, the Board of Education decided that, if students signed a waiver form that relieved the school of liability should something happen on the trip, they would be allowed to go. While the baseball and softball teams managed to round up their signatures, the band trip was in a sticky situation: they needed a certain number of ensemble members in order to perform, and parents were starting to pull their kids from the trip. With not enough members to meet Disney’s minimum requirements for performing ensembles, the trip was canceled on Wednesday before the Thursday of the trip.

On the night of Thursday, March 12, the day the band trip would’ve happened, Disneyland announced it was closing its parks until further notice.