Amador band students begin weekly COVID-19 testing


Carol Xu

Volunteers get students ready for registration and testing in front of the band room.

Carol Xu, AVT Page Editor

As of Monday, Sept. 27, all Amador band students are required to take a COVID-19 test in class every Monday after the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) updated their guidelines on playing with wind instruments in schools. 

“At least one of the following options is required: conduct these activities outdoors, use modified face coverings and bell coverings when playing wind and brass instruments and maintain six feet of physical distancing, [or] perform at least weekly screening testing with either PCR testing (1:1 or pooled PCR) or antigen testing of all individuals, including those who are fully vaccinated,” said the CDPH

After carefully discussing the available options, Amador band directors Jonathan Grantham and Edward Cordoba announced in an email that weekly COVID-19 testing would be held in class every Monday. 

“Without the testing, we have to follow the CDPH’s guidelines that students making music indoors have to be six feet apart, and we don’t have room to do that [because] none of our classes would fit indoors, so the testing allows us to not have to do six-feet distancing,” said Grantham

Results from the PCR test can be viewed on the Primary Health website approximately two to three days after taking the test, and students and parents are notified via email and text. (Carol Xu)

All wind students were required to register with the Primary Health portal, which notifies families once their test results are available. 

“A lot of students had to log on for the first time, and we knew that it was going to take a few extra minutes [of class time], so we were just patient with that process. Already this week it’s going much faster, probably just because people don’t have to log on in the same way,” said Grantham.

The band is using the PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) test kit, which is considered the most accurate COVID-19 test. Students take nose swaps with a Q-tip from each nostril for fifteen seconds each, and deposit it in a small test tube after they’re done. 

“At first it was very nerve-wracking, but the way it was run was really efficient and good. All the people were nice, and it was quick and easy,” said flutist Amishi Jha (‘25).

Grantham observed that all the students acted mature and helped the procedure run more smoothly, but he was amused by some of the freshmen’s antics while taking nose swabs. 

“It was kind of funny, to be honest, because we were all joking about how weird it was and also the plastic bags had “biohazard” written on them,” said clarinet player Bella Bian (‘25)

French horn player Benjamin Brunner (‘23) experienced some awkwardness his first time testing last Monday, but is grateful that this allows him to continue making music at school. 

“It’s a bit annoying to stick a Q-tip up your nose, but besides that it’s fine. It’s really necessary, because we can still do band with this,” said Brunner.

As for how long the band must continue the weekly testing for, this rests on when the CDPH decides it’s safe to change their health guidelines for school bands. 

“We’re hoping that the California Department of Public Health will follow guidance from the State Music Education Music organization, which says that we don’t have to abide by six feet of distancing,” said Grantham