Edison Middle School band director Kim Branch did her best to build cohesive sixth-, seventh-, and eight-grade bands as students learned remotely, weaving together recordings to put on a virtual winter concert.

Branch admits it simply wasn’t the same, though.

So when students returned to school in person in February, wearing special masks with slits that allowed them to play and covers on the bells of their instruments so that no saliva could escape, it opened up a whole new experience.

“It was super exciting to see each other coming in during school, because they hadn’t seen each other in like a year,” Branch said. “Having it live is a different experience. There’s nothing that can replace that in-person experience.”

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