As we make our way through the coronavirus pandemic, we are starting to see areas that are lifting stay at home restrictions and you may be planning to reopen your music studio soon. In order to keep everyone safe and make them feel comfortable, you will have to have certain precautions in place. We aren’t out of the woods yet and may not be for a while, so it’s best to err on the side of caution! Remember that the number one priority should be keeping everyone and their families safe and healthy.
1. Keep the online option
Many people, students and teachers alike, may be at higher risk of getting infected or are in contact with people who are at-risk and will continue sheltering in place accordingly. Others may still be uneasy about returning to such a close-contact, shared environment. While you may feel comfortable reopening, others may not, so it will be best to keep the online model integrated into your studio’s options. You can offer online lessons, in-person lessons with precautions in place (outlined below), and part online and part in-person (for example if you offer a lab with lessons). See which options your teachers (and you) are comfortable with offering and encourage students to attend the options they see fit.
2. Precautions to Take
1. Prop door open or make it so people can push open the door without hands.
This tip is for doors that require turning a knob or handle to open. You can tape over the door latch (the clicky part) so people can push the door open without using the handle (and then simply remove it at the end of the day). Doorknobs/handles can easily become dirty since everyone who passes through will touch it.
2. Temperature checks.
Buy a no-touch thermometer and check each student & staff before they enter the building. Remind students that if they have any symptoms at all, they can do online lessons instead of coming in.
3. Require face masks.
Whether your state requires them or not, it’s still better to be careful, especially for the safety of teachers who will be coming into close contact with many students a day. Keep a box of face masks available for anyone who might have forgotten to bring one.
If someone makes a fuss over it, be firm in your stance and explain to them that you want to keep yourself, the other teachers, and all of your students & families as safe as possible.
4. Have students wash hands before doing anything else.
As soon as they walk in, it’s straight to the washroom! If there is no washroom/sink available, keep hand sanitizer at the entrance (or ideally, have both). If they are washing, make sure to leave doors propped open there as well and provide disposable napkins to dry.
5. Wipe down/spray all shared instruments/seats/tools between classes.
Make sure you use something that says it kills viruses, not just bacteria, like this and this. If you teach piano and every student that comes through uses your piano, wipe down the keys! Make sure you wipe down the bench/chairs as well, since people often rest their hands there while idle. If you share tools like tuners, stands, pencils, etc. give those a quick wipe as well.
If you also played on the same instrument or used shared tools, don’t forget to wash/sanitize your hands before the next lesson.
6. Space out classes by 15 minutes.
Instead of back-to-back lessons where your lobby and doorway will get crowded, space out your lessons to minimize contact. You can also schedule some online lessons between in-person lessons to keep schedules tighter and still reduce contact.
7. Air purifier with HEPA filter + UVC light.
High efficiency particulate air, or HEPA, filters (like this one) will catch 99.97% of particulates 0.3 microns in diameter. While the coronavirus itself is smaller, the droplets it travels in are well within the range to be caught in the filter and having a filter running can, at the very least, reduce the amount of virus floating around in the air. The UV light is necessary to disinfect, or to break down viruses, bacteria, and other microbes. Please note: air filters that create ozone can trigger asthma.
In this current world of uncertainty, it’s important to communicate with your families and let them know exactly what you plan to do and how they should expect to return to lessons. Let them know of the options they have (online, in-person, or both), the precautionary measures you will instate, and show that you are staying informed with local guidelines. If you are having to make changes to your studio rules (e.g. how you are dealing with makeup lessons & cancellations due to symptoms), make sure you communicate that clearly ahead of time.
It will be exciting to see everyone’s faces again (or at least the top half of everyone’s faces?) but we have to tread carefully. Putting these precautions into place will ensure your studio is a safe place so that eventually everyone can enjoy the return back to ‘normalcy’. Please share with anyone looking for tips, and let us know if we missed anything in the comments below!