Keeping our Happy Feet Family Safe
COVID-19 presents an unprecedented challenge to families and businesses alike. At Happy Feet we acknowledge that children's physical and mental health and well-being are priority for parents. Dance is the second only to swimming in terms of youth athletic participation. It provides a fantastic social outlet while encouraging creativity and developing coordination, flexibility and strength. After long months of social isolation, children are in desperate need of all the attributes dance can provide. Fortunately dance studios tend to be large spaces that lend well to social distancing and other COVID precautions. There will be a lot of changes in this upcoming dance season in order to keep everyone safe; but we promise to make the season fun and engaging as any other class.
Here are the Steps and precautions we will implementing as we head back to the classroom this September:
Students will be dropped off at the front door in order to limit the number of people entering the studio. We ask that only one parent/guardian be present at drop off/pickup if at all possible & wearing a mask (unless health reasons prevent mask wearing). There will be markings on the ground to help ensure families are remaining 6 feet apart. Before entering, there will be a short health survey to ensure our little dancers are not symptomatic and have not been in contact with anyone who is known to have or been exposed to COVID in the past 14 days.
Entering the Studio
Students will be asked to arrive in their dance clothes. As they enter they will be expected to change out of their outside shoes before entering the class. Each student will then be given hand sanitizer as they enter. We ask that each dancer come into class with a personal bag. The bags should contain a water bottle, tissues, and a face mask. Students are not required to wear a face mask, but we do ask that they wear one when entering and exiting the studio if they feel comfortable. The students will then be lead to a clearly marked space that is physically distanced from all others where they can place their belongings.
Class will be active, engaging and fun as always. However we will be doing our best to maintain our distance. Dance Ontario, in coordination with City and Provincial health officials, have released a set of guidelines to help direct dance studios. In it they state that masks are not necessary during the dance class. As such, we will not require them. We will be clearly marking our dance space and allowing the dancers adequate space to move and dance with minimal physical interaction with each other. Class sizes will also be reduced/capped to facilitate social distancing.
Cleanliness and Risk Management
There are many other steps and precautions necessary to reduce the risk of transmission. These include, but are not limited to:
Class times will be staggered with a 15 minute window between classes. This will allow for proper cleaning of any touch points. It will also limit traffic/interaction between the two classes
There will be no waiting room or viewing area. Parents will be asked to stay outside the studio unless absolutely necessary to come in.
Parents days/ special viewings will be recorded and emailed to families.
We ask that children be given the opportunity to use the restroom before arriving at the facility. In the event a child does need to use the washroom, the washroom will be disinfected before anyone else enters.
All Hands on materials and equipment will be disinfected with a medical grade (child safe) product before the start of each class.
The dance floor and studio will be disinfected before each dance day begins.
In the event a child shows symptoms during class, they will be carefully moved to the side and given a mask. Parents will be contacted immediately. All other parents and Toronto Public Health will be notified (as required).
In the event we are notified of possible exposure through students or staff, parents will be notified immediately. If, for any reason, in person dance classes are not prudent or socially responsible, we will resume our online dance forum for as long as needed until we can return to the dance floor.
As you can see, there are a lot of steps in place to keep everyone safe. Studies repeatedly show that participating in dance and performing arts activities have a positive impact on self-confidence, self-esteem, resilience, relationship building, and contribute to a sense of belonging, all qualities which are associated with good mental health. Dance, much like school or going to the grocery store, presents a risk of exposure. But with proper precautions, the risk factor can be diminished drastically. An Ipsos Reid Index Poll taken after only 2 months of COVID social isolation and distancing protocols showed that 59% of parents noticed negative behavioral changes including difficulty sleeping, persistent sadness, extreme irritability, as well as drastic changes in mood, behavior, or personality. Dance has proven itself as a beneficial outlet to combat these dangerous and negative effects.
Looking forward to dancing with you safely,
Heather Brown, Artistic Director & The Happy Feet Team