CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Members of the University of Virginia Marching Band are speaking out on what they call unfair treatment over the university's COVID-19 policies. 

At this time, UVA doesn't allow wind instruments to be played in the stands due to an increased risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Students say the energy at Scott Stadium is flat without the whole band playing and they believe the rule is not backed up by science. 

"It didn't seem like we were actually making a difference in the safety of Scott Stadium,” said Maria Parnell, the creator of a petition on Change.org.

Parnell is a fourth-year student at UVA who plays trumpet in the Cavalier Marching Band. 

After the university ruled wind instruments couldn't play in the stands during games, she wanted answers.

"When we asked for a summary of the data behind their decision, we were given inconclusive answers,” Parnell said.

Parnell asked the university's administration to consider alternatives, like instrument covers, social distancing, and testing. 

Members of the band were stunned to receive news about the policy just before the first time the football team took the field for the season.

"It was in an email we got the morning of the first game,” said Seth Hoisington, another fourth-year and section leader in the band.

He recalls the sting of disappointment hearing the announcement just hours before their performance.

He says UVA is the only school in the ACC with this restriction.

Now, the band has started a petition, which has garnered more than 5,000 signatures in 24 hours.

"We were very excited because things seemed like they had changed for the better. I feel very personally that I would like to have those experiences again,” added Hoisington.

Band members say a recent study finds playing wind instruments is less transmissible than singing or chanting, but UVA Health's Dr. Patrick Jackson says it's still up for debate.

"Rules that have been made around COVID-19 are not perhaps 100 percent internally consistent and that's not necessarily because people are being performative. It's because the data is pretty complicated,” he said.

Complicated or not, students like second-year Molly Kennedy just want to know what it's like playing in the stands at Scott Stadium.

"We'd been working for so long, we'd been waiting," she said. "It had been two years since the band got to play together in the stadium and in the stands and I was looking forward to that, so it's really disappointing.” 

Even students who are not in the band say the restriction seems contradictory; made for optics and not necessarily for safety.

"It's not really equal and it doesn't make a difference. I mean students are putting their arms around each other and singing the ‘Good Ole Song’ after touchdowns,” said Bilge Batsukh, a fourth-year student.

In a statement about this policy, UVA wrote:   

Like many other elements of university life this year, the university’s approach to the recent football game was centered on enabling members of our community to partake in the activity while mitigating as much risk of viral spread as possible. The band has played on the field, as they usually do, and in advance and after the game. In the stands, however, the wind instruments present quite different risks. 

Playing wind instruments in a large crowd is a high-risk activity that our public health experts recommended we should curtail in order to reduce the potential for viral transmission at the game.  We are evaluating all of our COVID policies based on the prevalence of the virus and have committed to updating our community about any changes before Nov. 1.”