Studio owners across the globe are thinking about how to stay afloat, when they get to re-open, and how to open safely.
Each location has its own guidelines and safety checks to complete, which can make opening quite dizzying. While this article is not an authoritative source on how to open, it is a general list of things to think about when opening your studio, from one studio owner to another.
The simplest place to start is with making sure your poles are six feet (two meters) apart. Any that aren’t could be removed or marked off to let students know they can’t be used.
Items that are porous (yoga mats, yoga blocks, stretching straps, heels for rent, etc.) can be put away as they are harder to keep clean. If your studio has a waiting area, be sure to strategically place any furniture a safe distance apart or make squares on the floor for people to wait in.
Pole sharing should be minimized as it’s going to be hard to make sure it’s cleaned properly in between each student’s pass.
If spotting is something of a concern for you, use this time to work on tricks that students are more comfortable with or offer more choreography related classes. Classes could also be offered as a series so that it is the same students in class every time, making it easier to contact trace.
Cleaning products are slowly becoming less mythical, but not all of them are the same quality. If you aren’t sure of which ones to actually use, check the EPA’s website for approved cleaning products, along with how long each product needs to remain on the surface before it is effective. Be sure to find products for porous and hard surfaces!
Having the right products is a great step, but using them correctly and safely is equally important. This CDC article gives a great overview of how to clean each kind of surface and critical information such as any bleach mixture is only good for 24 hours.
Each location has different guidelines for reopening, so make sure to read yours.
These guidelines typically cover employee education, required signage, occupancy limitations, and rules about masks. Don’t forget about updating your studio waivers to include language about COVID-19.
Why Should Studio Owners Take These Precautions?
Why do all of these things need to be considered?
With each extra step that is taken to ensure the safety of the community, the risk of transmission is slightly lowered.
Currently, the CDC’s research shows that each infected person will infect 5.7 people on average given that the population has not been infected or had a vaccine. They’ve also estimated that the incubation time is 4.2 days.
Let’s walk through an extremely simplified example of transmission using my studio where I, the head instructor, am infected and have the most mild symptoms.
Also, we will assume that no one is wearing a mask, the capacity is still 11 people, I’m not doing any extra cleaning, and I’ll infect 6 people on average (rounding up from CDC number of 5.7 to make the math easier.)
Day 1: 7 People
It’s opening day and I’m super excited! I won’t let what I think are allergies get me down. Two back to back classes of unicorns and glitter later, 6 people are now infected and they won’t know until 4 days from now.
Day 5: 41 People
I’ve still got the headache and a slight cough, but that’s normal for me. Those 6 people have been coming to classes and each person has infected 6 new people inside the studio over that time.
It’s another 4 day waiting game for the newly infected people, but the 6 original people are starting to show signs. Now 36 people have been infected plus the 7 of us that were already sick.
Day 9: 257 People
You guessed it! Even more people are sick now and the virus keeps silently spreading. You don’t need me to keep multiplying the numbers by 6 to let you know that this spread quickly. Day 9 would be 216 new people and 257 total people infected if we kept up with this simplistic model of disease spread. That could be your entire community.
The studio example is great for understanding the basics of spread on a personal level, but what happens when we apply this other fun pole activities like competitions or conventions?
If even 100 people show up sick to a convention, whether to work or to enjoy, that’s 600 people that could walk away infected. All of those people could infect another 3600 people trying to get home. Again, this is with no precautions taken.
It’s important to note that I am not an epidemiologist and the spread of any disease is much more complicated than this example I’m giving.
The most important takeaway is that with every precaution that studio owners take to protect their students and staff, the average number of people someone can infect becomes smaller.
The CDC’s article on Considerations for Daily Life does state that “there is no way to ensure zero risk of infection”, so do your best to stay safe and remember to find time to destress.