The Tullahoma Band’s plans to travel to Hawaii in 2022 have been approved by the school board.
At its last meeting, the Tullahoma City Schools Board of Education unanimously (Amy Dodson absent) approved the band’s out-of-state travel plans for Hawaii during the district’s spring break in March. The band was previously planning to travel to Ireland to take part in the St. Patrick’s Day Festival in Dublin, but COVID-19 travel restrictions proved too burdensome for the band, and the directors shifted gears and elected to return to the island state.
The Ireland trip was originally scheduled to take place in March of 2021, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the 2021 festival. The festival invited the band to return in 2022.
According to Director Justin Scott, the shift from an international trip to a domestic one brought multiple advantages, including the directors’ previous experience and knowledge of logistics for the trip. The band last traveled to Hawaii in 2017, giving the band administration expectations for travel and security issues. The international trip, he said, would not have allowed any pre-visits for band leadership to get a feel for how travel and security issues may affect the trip.
“We are much more comfortable going back to that location than we would be with Europe right now,” Scott told the board.
At the meeting, Scott said he presented information to the parents of students who were going to travel and received many concerns about refunds should the trip have to be canceled completely.
In altering the trip plans, Scott told the board that the travel company has given the band until Dec. 6 to pull out of the trip for any reason and still receive a full refund. After that time, Scott said, cancellations would result in some fees being held by the company. He recommended all band parents elect to purchase the “cancel for any reason” travel insurance, which would allow them to receive the majority of their money back should COVID force the band’s hand for cancellations.
“We’re going to continue to monitor health protocols on the island of Oahu and see what that looks like,” he said. “If, by Dec. 6, things are looking more on the up, we will move forward. If not, if things still look too restrictive, we can still pull out and all of our passengers will receive a full refund. We’ve got a good few months to make a decision.”
Board member Sid Hill asked how the change in trip plans was viewed by students and parents, to which Scott said it was viewed “very favorably.”
“When we relocated, a lot of people were actually more excited,” he said. “They were very excited about the trip.”
School Board Chairman Kim Uselton thanked Scott and his leadership team for all the work involved in trying to make the international trip happen.
“I know it was disappointing to y’all,” she said of the decision to pull out of the St. Patrick’s Day parade, noting that the whole process has been “a lot” for the band program and its families.