COVID-19 has claimed another popular event this year.
Or, well, a significant portion of one.
Citing a lack of safety from the threatening disease, Abilene ISD officials have decided not to allow student participation in City Sidewalks and other activities surrounding the evening celebration this December.
It’s a Christmas-time experience that has been joyful to me personally since I arrived in 2014. This year, the entire experience may go dark.
While it’s not affiliated with the other two events that night, City Sidewalks has been a real joy to experience, both as a fan of music and the city’s education reporter.
The city’s Parade of Lights, which I’ve participated in twice with Abilene Community Theatre, and the ceremonial Christmas tree lighting, will be without AISD students.
Cooper and Abilene high school marching bands typically perform in the parade.
“The Parade of Lights is one of the best things we have going here in Abilene,”said Jay Lester, AISD Executive director of fine arts. “But we do not feel it’s a safe event for us to put parents in the audience.
“It’s a hard choice and others are having a similar experience. So, we’re not going to do it.”
More: COVID has Abilene high school marching bands on the run but they’re winning the race
Lester helps organize the downtown fun that night, so not having students from the district participate is a tough decision for him. But with the combination of events drawing thousands to downtown, the risk of infection jumps exponentially.
One saving grace that may allow the parade to occur is expanding the route, allowing the crowd to spread out more. It won’t bring the AISD back into the mix, but it might help families braving the atmosphere.
A face mask requirement would be impossible to enforce, so the next best thing would be to spread it all out.
It’s just one of the disappointments — but completely understood with the potential for spreading life-threatening sickness — of 2020.
AHS student is scholarship winner
Abilene High School senior Keegan Copher has been named a Great American Rivalry Series Scholar Athlete for 2020, according to a release from the organization.
Copher, one of 144 recipients across the country, will receive a $500 scholarship and, through a partnership with the Pro Football Hall of Fame, is eligible to become a member of the inaugural Great American Rivalry Series Scholar Athlete Hall of Fame Team, the release said.
More: Lights were back on Friday at Shotwell Stadium for the first football game in Abilene
A total of 25 recipients, based solely on voting by the public, will become members of the inaugural team, the release said. Voting will run from Nov. 16 to Dec. 14.
Those 25 will receive an additional scholarship.
Information is available online at greatamericanrivalry.com.
School is back in session. But that doesn’t mean the COVID-19 nightmare is finished. We still need your support helping us cover what’s happening inside schools across the city. Please consider, if you’re able, purchasing a digital subscription to ReporterNews.com to help support the hard work of education reporter Timothy Chipp and the rest of the staff so Abilene’s entire story can be told. Without you and your support, this operation is impossible.
This article originally appeared on Abilene Reporter-News: Education Notebook: Thinking ahead to December, Abilene ISD opts out of City Sidewalks