Dance Studio Managers

Last Updated: 4.5.2021

The following guidance is organized around the distinct categories: people, places, processes, and operator/employer plans. Additional recommendations, unique to our industry, are denoted in pink font.

Control+F, or Command+F on a Mac, is the keyboard shortcut for the Find command. Please use this to quickly search for key words in this document. 

Table of Contents:

  1. People
  2. Places
  3. Processes
  4. Operator/Employer Plans

1. PEOPLE

Classification

Dance studio managers, note that your activities are likely considered moderate or high risk unless you are only allowing soloist work and/or a solo teacher for live streamed classes. The “type of dance risk” will vary based on the range of actual activities that you allow to occur in your studio and when, such as the following: individual or distanced group activities; organized no/low-contact group activities for specific, consistent groups; organized no/low-contact group activities for public groups; local performances and/or showings; and/or touring engagements of multiple performances and/or showings, requiring travel. 

Dancers studio managers, understand that unionized visitors/renters may have further classified their work and may have additional protocols, regulations, and requests of you in order to utilize your space. Be sure to review and familiarize yourself with available union guidelines and integrate them into your reopening plans accordingly: 

  • Reference the most updated version of the American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA) and Stage Directors and Choreographers Society’s (SDC) guidelines.
  • Reference SAG-AFTRA’s “Safety First” resources and The COVID-19 Return to Work Agreement, which is the outcome of unprecedented coordination and solidarity between the Directors Guild of America (DGA), International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) and the Basic Crafts, and Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), created in collaboration with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) to develop science-based protocols to minimize the risk of transmission, designed with the unique work environments of film and television production in mind. 

Bubble Performers:

This is applied when all members of a performance company, including and not limited to the performers and production team interact indoors without social distancing of at least 10 feet AND without the use of face coverings. 

    • Performers in a bubble must interact EXCLUSIVELY with the members of their bubble.
    • They must be tested for COVID-19 on a weekly basis. 
    • They must cohabitate or live within a bubble or closed environment. 
    • They should travel only to and from the performance space and other areas which they can use exclusively without other persons sharing the enclosed space (e.g. designated rehearsal space). 
    • They must provide daily proof to the venue that the members of the production are maintaining their bubble. They can do this via activity logs, COVID-19 test results, social media monitoring, and check in/out procedures. 
    • Each Bubble Performer’s most recent COVID-19 test results must be made available within three (3) days of the test result. 
    • Bubble Performers may perform, without masks or social distancing measures, at a venue provided there is at least 12 feet of space between the outer limits of the stage (defined as the space where the performers perform) and any audience member. 
    • See also: Pod, Cohort

Physical Distancing

Dance studio managers, take accessibility into account when modifying space layouts for social-distancing purposes:
  • Ensure wheelchair-accessible entrances to the venue, in addition to accessible bathroom facilities. 
  • Ensure the space remains in the same configuration for vision-impaired or blind people.
  • If you operate out of an older building not up to ADA codes, have explicit facility info (e.g. note any steps to doorways, restroom details such as railing positions, etc.) available on both your website and in your venue, as well as contact information for accessibility needs and/or questions.

Dance studio managers, consider establishing a pod, bubble or cohort system:

  • Invest in a “bubbling” model for internal groups, like your dance company or staff, which allows a group of select individuals to interact mask-free due to established rules (eg. living together, no interaction with anyone outside of your bubble, etc.), medical protocols, tests and vigilance. A presiding authority is required to decide what the rules, protocols, and vigilance measures should be for your bubble. See also: Pod, Cohort.
  • Implement a cohort model for internal groups, like your dance company or staff:
    • Use a survey to transparently explain the working cohort approach, expected participation, and any implications of opting out, as well as requesting comfort level ratings, questions, and concerns.
      • With members’ feedback, collectively finalize and agree on your cohort approach, with options to revisit it at any time or for members to opt out without financial repercussion at any time.
    • A working cohort approach may look like:
      • Requiring a COVID test 14 days prior to returning to work.
      • Requiring 100% participation in self-quarantine for the 14 days of quarantine, prior to returning to work.
      • Confirming COVID test results, when available, with all cohort members
        • Privacy note: Due to the HIPAA Privacy Rule, your HR department or other internal point of contact cannot legally save or track detailed personal test information; they can merely track the date and “pass/fail.” If individuals are not comfortable sharing a screenshot or paper trail of test results, they may provide this information over an unrecorded, password protected zoom meeting (visually, without paper trail, or verbally)
      • An agreement to not increase each cohort member’s social bubble throughout rehearsals/performances and/or an agreement to get additional testing or quarantine in the instance that social interaction increases.
      • An agreement around travel to and from rehearsals/performances that could be in the form of intentional studio and venue selection based on proximity, investing in a stipend for (and encouraging) non-public transit, and/or a training around how to use public transportation in the safest manner possible, coupled with travel slated in during non-peak hours.
      • Requiring testing every two (2) weeks to ensure continued safety among the cohort.
      • In some instances, this approach may allow for partnering and dancing with contact, however, masks should remain on at all times.
    • A cohort is a group of select individuals within a larger group of individuals who are kept together to engage in their activity through scheduling measures that promote consistent separation of one cohort from another and therefore control interaction. See also: Pod, Bubble
  • Adjust your business model to create a cohort model for external groups, like dance classes and client rental bookings:
    • Note that when the individuals are not your employees, the cohort model will need to be more lenient and focused on your internal management and on-site health screenings as opposed to the individual testing, quarantining, and travel decisions of external parties.
    • Internally, you could lead with the goal to reduce exposure by doing the following:
      • Instead of drop-in classes offered to the public at large, make multiple dance class sessions available for sign up over a specific time period on different days or staggered within the same day.
      • Instead of ad hoc rentals offered to the public at large, prioritize larger-scale rental commitments like lockouts, space partnerships, those with clients who have consistent space needs over a specific time period, and/or one (1) rental client per day.
    • A cohort is a group of select individuals within a larger group of individuals who are kept together to engage in their activity through scheduling measures that promote consistent separation of one cohort from another and therefore control interaction. See also: Pod, Bubble

Dance studio managers, encourage all visitors/renters to arrive with dance clothes or costumes on or under street clothes to avoid communal gathering in dressing rooms, locker rooms, and bathrooms.

Dance studio managers, do not allow lingering on site. Instead, encourage the “get in, dance, get out” approach, as coined by Ausdance NSW, for all on-site dance activity.

  • In the instance that visitors/renters are congregating and ignoring these requests from the Responsible Party (i.e., dance studio, theater, and/or performing arts space), note that state guidance empowers the Responsible Party to remove those visitors/renters to eliminate congregating in the Responsible Party’s space and may further choose to restrict those visitors’/renters’ access to their space in the future, out of respect for the entire community’s safety.

Dancers studio managers, be sure to maintain social distancing and wear an acceptable face covering when conducting any media or press interviews, as is expected as part of the NYS DOH’s Media Production Guidance.”

Gatherings in Enclosed Spaces

If you are a dance studio manager who has their own company or a consistent group like staff or faculty, consider designating a specific restroom stall or facility for your company’s, staff’s, and/or faculty’s exclusive use.

Dance studio managers, be aware of and communicate the increased risk of exposure that comes with regularly using shared and/or enclosed spaces like elevators and restrooms. Encourage visitors to avoid them when possible, and when this is not possible, be sure to encourage wearing PPE and practicing thorough hand hygiene.

On-Site Activity

Dance studio managers, clarify and specify (in contracts, etc.) your facility’s right to monitor the activity and space during any on-site activities, to ensure adherence to safety protocols.

Dance studio managers, consider providing a separate, designated holding space whenever necessary for non-dance activity (e.g. media shoots, equipment storage, auditions, green room, dancers office space) to promote increased social distancing and designated spaces for dance and non-dance activity.

Dance studio managers, consider these steps to accommodate a comfortable transition back into your indoor or outdoor studio/theater:

  • Establish clear communication, safety agreements, and protocols with all individuals, groups, and companies who engage with your space.
  • Offer collective and anonymous methods of gathering feedback and comfort level from all individuals, groups, and companies who engage with your space both prior to reopening and on an ongoing basis.
  • Be flexible as you schedule dance activity (keeping travel safety in mind) and projects, residencies, rental bookings, performances, and tours (keeping multiple ad hoc, public commitments to a minimum).
  • Explore and integrate virtual/digital processes into your studio’s workflow, and offer digital equipment access and streaming services within all studios, as requested. This is a backup measure in the instance of: 1) another lockdown and/or 2) some dancers opting out of indoor dance activity due to safety concerns.

Dance studio managers, communicate a “whistleblowing” method for dancers to share when they feel unsafe or uncomfortable, or when they see someone not complying with health and safety measures. This method should allow for real-time reports and ongoing, anonymous reports/surveys.

The following are recommendations for dance studio managers pursuing outdoor performances or festivals:

  • Define what “safe” interaction means in performance for your dance company or groups, based on individual or group comfort levels, agreements, the implementation of any bubbling, pod, or cohort model, and how many artists or groups are being presented.
  • Create an agreement with the outdoor venue or festival, who is the Responsible Party in this instance, on what their safety protocols and support will be, along with any additional measures you wish to and will independently enforce.
  • Openly communicate this agreement, overall expectations, timelines, planning, rehearsal length, and performance precautions with all performers involved.
  • Limit public interaction during on-site classes or rehearsals leading up to the performance (taped-off or otherwise marked areas for dancers, staff to enforce distance requests, etc.).
  • Determine whether or not a live audience is allowed, based on the size and nature of the outdoor space and its ability to accommodate both the performers and the public/audience members safely.
  • Determine how to navigate public interaction during performance (taped-off or otherwise marked areas for audience, staff to enforce distance requests, etc.), keeping in mind that it is best practice to maintain at least six (6) feet of distance from the public at all times.
  • Enforce strict face mask policies for all performers and audience members. 
    • Note that “Dancers may temporarily remove their face covering during performances or rehearsals, or when it interferes with a core activity such as doing hair, makeup, or wardrobe. Dancers must don face coverings as soon as practicable following the above activities.” There is no further guidance given, so this exception would need to be approved by performers and presenters on a case-by-case basis. If certain groups proceed with performance without masks, consider acknowledging this and the reasons for this decision within the program.
  • Provide a disclaimer in performance promotion about the possibility of an understudy or change of repertory in the instance that a member of the artists or groups being presented is confirmed to have COVID-19 or is experiencing symptoms near or around the performance date.

Dance studio managers, be sure to communicate how and if your limited on-site staffing affects your capacity to offer tailored on-site support for classes, rehearsals, and production as usual.

The following are recommendations for dance studio managers whose space typically welcomes on-site audiences:

  • Be sure to enforce all recommendations that apply to anyone entering the studio, theater, or performing arts center (e.g. mask wearing, health screening, social distance, etc.).
  • Consider prohibiting on-site audiences for informal gatherings like showings, open rehearsals, and classes.
  • Consider using virtual streaming as an alternative to reach these audiences.
  • If welcoming on-site audiences, carefully consider restricted capacity limits, and arrange any fixed or flexible audience seating so that individuals remain six (6) feet apart in all directions, are avoiding paths of airflow, and are located in a large open space with high ceilings, windows, and/or adequate HVAC and circulation requirements.

Dance studio managers, be sure to communicate whether or not you permit soloists or teachers with no students to train and teach in your space without a mask, assuming that the doors are closed and the windows are open.

Dance studio managers, communicate a list of “necessary items” that can be brought to and appropriately stored while on-site (e.g. medicine, diapers, water, PPE, etc.), and prohibit patrons from entering the facility with extra bags, items, and/or luggage.

Dance studio managers, consider the use of walk-through magnetometers, hand wands, or pat-downs only if necessary. Magnetometers are effective at detecting metallic objects while allowing security staff to maintain physical distance from the patron. If the venue cannot accommodate a magnetometer, Hand Wands may be considered. As Hand Wands require security staff to be closer than six (6) feet from the patron, they are less optimal from a health perspective and will require additional PPE for security staff. Pat-downs should be considered cautiously; venues may deny admission to patrons who repeatedly activate the magnetometer rather than conducting a pat-down search. Staff who conduct pat-down searches must be provided with and be required to wear a face covering and gloves and must have access to a wash and sanitizing station. 

Dance studio managers, consider reviewing and providing de-escalation training for your frontline, on-site staff. Some resources include:

Workplace Activity

Dance studio managers, the following are equitable options for those staff who may not feel safe returning to the studio:

  • Have a conversation about their desire to be furloughed so that they may collect unemployment compensation and not have the obligation of work for the time being, or to be kept on payroll and temporarily reassigned.
  • Have a conversation about how their role can temporarily shift until they feel comfortable to safely return.
  • Temporarily assign them to remotely support reopening planning with you.
  • Temporarily assign them to remote administrative duties or a team in need of additional support.
  • Encourage remote professional development activity, mentoring, or shadowing colleagues working in other areas of interest.
  • Deploy them remotely as representative and information gatherer across field-wide calls, meetings, conversations, panels, webinars, etc.

If you are a dance studio manager with a Human Resources staff or department, consider empowering these staff in your reopening efforts, especially when it comes to:

  • managing health screenings, logs, testing data, tracing communications, and other confidential information, etc., and
  • assisting with clear interstudio/staff communication and updates. 

If you are a dance studio manager without a Human Resources staff or department:

  • Nominate a leader within the staff to manage health screenings, logs, testing data, tracing communications, and other confidential information, as well as to assist with clear interstudio/staff communication and updates.
  • Take on and prioritize managing health screenings, logs, testing data, tracing communications, and other confidential information, as well as clear interstudio/staff communication and updates yourself.

Dance studio managers, review, edit, and implement safe workforce policies and procedures around workday schedules, remote time, lunch breaks, sick leave policy, and benefits. In addition to general cleaning and training, consider placing your on-site “essential” workers in customer service training, de-escalation training, and COVID-19 management training.

Movement & Commerce

Dance studio managers, consider the following for those who must travel to and from rehearsals, class, and/or performances:

  • Strategically schedule classes, rehearsals, and other dance activity so that dancers can avoid public transit during rush hours. 
  • Offer on-site digital streaming services and equipment to encourage continued digital class streaming for those who do not feel safe traveling to or participating in in-person class.

Dance studio managers, whenever possible, keep all common doors open to minimize high-touch surface contact and promote air circulation throughout the space.

If you are a dance studio manager who offers performances, create clear ingress and egress plans specific to your space in order to maintain physical distance. For instance, the venue could manage ingress/egress the same way flights do so as to clear space for patrons to enter and exit safely. 

  • Further train staff to manage crowds during emergency situations to mitigate the potential risk of COVID-19 contagion while individuals exit the venue. An emergency egress plan must be devised in coordination with the venue’s Fire Safety Official. You must have a plan posted at entry and exit points with instructions on how to exit during an emergency situation while maintaining at least six (6) feet of physical distance.

The following are recommendations for dance studio managers who sell merchandise on-site:

  • Move merchandise sales to digital only.
  • Designate an area for merchandise sales that adheres to all social distancing protocols. 
  • Limit point of sale to no-touch methods, including payment.
  • Ensure all merchandise staff members follow the NYS DOH retail guidelines applicable to their region for any retail service activities.

The following are recommendations for dance studio managers who offer food and/or beverage on-site:

  • Close dining and/or beverage service whenever possible, as these activities require the temporary removal of face coverings.
  • Designate an area for food and/or beverage, separate from any areas in which dance activity takes place, that adheres to all social distancing protocols.
  • Limit point of sale to no-touch methods, including payment.
  • Remove or modify table and chair layouts according to social distancing.
  • Ensure all food servers and/or bartenders follow the NYS DOH food service guidelines applicable to their region for any food services activities.
    • This includes a more limited capacity of at most 25% in any areas where food and/or beverage are/is being served and consumed.
  • When hiring third-party venues, acknowledge that they are responsible for the safety of all patrons within their facility. 
    • All third-party vendors must conduct their activity within the Responsible Party’s regulations AND within the regulation of the specific industry of the third-party vendor. If the third-party vendor cannot meet BOTH regulatory requirements, they must not be permitted to operate within the venue. 
    • The third-party vendor and the venue may combine their efforts to meet the regulatory requirements (e.g., contact tracing, temperature checks, etc.). 
    • The terms of their engagement, along with a specific listing of their duties and responsibilities, must be agreed upon prior to the performance or event. 
    • Certifications, Affirmations, and Certificate of Authorization of the third-party vendor, and any other documents required by the state or city, must be visible to all patrons. These and any other documents must be provided to the venue upon request. 

If you are a dance studio manager who welcomes touring engagements, note that touring/activity requiring travel is not currently permitted in New York State. The following are recommendations for planning future touring engagements:

  • Share your full reopening plans and protocols with the touring party. They will be expected to comply with them, and may negotiate any additional safety concerns prior to moving to contract.
  • Ensure your contract includes a contact-tracing clause that requires both parties to update one another on confirmed COVID cases or symptoms for at least two (2) weeks after the final date of on-site engagement.
  • Confirm if any additional studio, storage, tech, and/or performance space is needed by the touring parties and what level of exclusive use your studio can provide them during their time on site.
  • Confirm the safety measures of any travel or housing arrangements that you make or recommend for the touring party.
  • During the month prior to the engagement, notify the touring party of any updates on the virus, state guidance, and quarantine restrictions.
  • Prior to departure, confirm any audience protocols and any expected pre- or post-show activity, intensives, classes, publicity calls, etc. 
    • Wherever possible, opt for non-performance activity to be virtual.
  • Determine your “last-minute” plan of action (back-up faculty, intensive straightforward cancellation with refunds, etc.), should travel restrictions change, or should the touring party need to opt out, have a confirmed case of COVID-19, have a member with COVID-related symptoms, and/or have a member who has been exposed to someone with COVID-19.

Dance studio managers, be aware of and communicate these precautions for anyone traveling—for work or otherwise:

  • Travel enforcement teams will be stationed at airports statewide to meet arriving aircrafts at gates and to request from disembarking passengers proof of completion of the State Department of Health traveler form, which they received in flight.
  • All out-of-state travelers from designated states must complete the form upon entering New York. Travelers coming to New York from designated states through other means of transport, including trains and cars, must fill out the form online.
  • If you have traveled internationally or within a state with significant community spread of COVID-19 for longer than 24 hours, you must quarantine for 14 days.

2. PLACES

Air Handling Systems

Dance studio managers, keep in mind that running an indoor (in most cases) location has the following airflow implications:

  • Exercising indoors can pose a greater risk of transmission than exercising outdoors for multiple reasons, including less airflow and being in an enclosed space.
  • Being in an enclosed space with others for longer than 10 min increases the chances of exposure and infection. 
  • Additional measures you can take include:
    • Maximizing fresh air intake:
      • Open windows when possible.
      • Keep doors open when possible.
      • Consider adding fans in windows for increased fresh air flow.
      • Position fans to direct air in a single direction.
      • When possible, air flow should be directed above head level to prevent air blowing directly from one person into another.
      • Change all HVAC filters to at least MERV – 13 filters. 
        • Consider changing HVAC filters on a more regular and/or frequent basis.
      • Change HVAC settings to a higher percentage of fresh air intake where applicable.
      • Clean HVAC systems regularly.
      • Change settings on AC units to fresh air intake when possible.
      • Disable demand-controlled ventilation and increase ventilation rates and outdoor ventilation rates whenever possible.
      • Keep systems running longer before and after occupancy.
      • Leave adequate time between studio users to have the air completely recirculate (i.e., staggered scheduling).
      • When possible, split up groups so there are fewer people sharing space at any given time. Always follow CDC and state capacity requirements. 
      • Consider air purifiers and filters for rooms that do not have any windows, though they have not been tested and proven to filter out COVID-19.
      • If fans are being used, make sure they are being cleaned regularly with products registered by the EPA as effective to kill COVID-19.
      • Confirm exhaust fans bathrooms are running all the time and at a minimum 1.0 cfm/sf.
      • For additional advice, consult with an Industrial Hygienist for your specific space.

Dance studio managers, consider in-studio airflow signage that denotes:

  • the location and direction of air-conditioning and/or fans,
  • confirmation of an HVAC filtration rating that aligns with state guidelines and/or an outline of additional filtration measures taken, and
  • a reminder that occupants should limit the patrons/dancers/teachers/audience members within these airflow paths

Dance studio managers, strategically configure audience seating in studios and/or theaters to minimize the number of individuals within direct airflow paths.

Protective Equipment

If you are a dance studio manager whose space accommodates children, consider having a stock of child-size masks on-site for distribution.

Hygiene, Cleaning & Disinfection

Dance studio managers, consider the following recommendations for sanitizing dance flooring:

  • Most vinyl dance flooring cannot be cleaned with bleach solutions. Ammonia-based or pH-neutral cleaners that are generally used do not disinfect properly for COVID-19. 
  • At least once a day, the floors should be cleaned as usual, followed by a cleaning with 90+ alcohol in a sprayer and spread by a mop. The mop pad should be washed with soap and hot water in the washing machine between uses.
  • Disinfecting the floors with this alcohol solution should ideally happen prior to every class or rehearsal.

Dance studio managers, reduce the number of surface areas whenever possible (e.g., put away folding tables and chairs, remove unnecessary equipment, close off cubby holes, put away shelving units). Restrict access to surfaces that individuals may touch. 

Dance studio managers, communicate with your landlord to accurately develop your own safety and ventilation measures in relation to building standards.

Dance studio managers, consider hosting advance, digital training on COVID-19 safety, including hand and respiratory hygiene, PPE protocols and access, and cleaning and disinfection protocols and procedures. Promote ongoing, regular training sessions for your staff and faculty. Example resources include: 

Dance studio managers, maintain a cleaning and disinfection log that complies with NYS requirements on the regular cleaning and disinfection of facilities, equipment, and high-touch surfaces.

Phased Reopening

Dance studio managers, consider the timing of your end goal:

  • Does it make sense for dancers, companies, and renters to return to the studios to condition if it is neither possible nor safe to perform for audiences for months?
  • How will you and your faculty make space to recondition dancers’ endurance and strength after such an extended and unusual layoff/industry pause? 
    • Since dancers have had to condition in smaller spaces, on different floor surfaces, and/or with varied instruction, they will need an appropriate and graded progression of a minimum of four to six (46) weeks, depending on the company and genre, to return to full dancing.

Dance studio managers, consider implementing phased-in dance activity. E.g.:

  • Virtually stream dance training with only the dance teacher in the studio.
  • Book space for consistent, lockout rental clients to limit the public within the space.
  • Offer in-person dance classes with live-stream access for those who do not feel comfortable returning to in-person training.
  • Resume broad, public space rentals.
  • Resume live performances or showings with live audiences as your final phase of re-entry.
  • See Dance/USA’s “Return to Dancing & Training Considerations” for a more detailed example of a phased reopening approach for dance activity. (Published May 2020)
  • Encourage companies, rental clients, dance teachers, and dance workers using your space to review these phases and strategies in further detail, as presented in Performance Medicine’s Return to Dance Safely for a simple yet effective way to apply scientific loading principles and research so that your dancer(s) can return to dance in a safe and sustainable way.

Communications Plan

Dance studio managers, craft an “Exposure to COVID-19 disclaimer” and an associated “Code of Conduct” to accompany any and all communications around your reopening plans and dance activities of any kind.

Dance studio managers, when communicating about your reopening publicly consider streamlining your messages, such as:

  • What you are doing to keep others safe
  • What you are doing to keep yourselves safe
  • What your specific policies and procedures are for [PARTICULAR AUDIENCE]:
    • Resident Dance Company
    • Visitors/Renters
    • Staff
    • Faculty
    • Audiences
    • Etc.
  • Further, tailor all digital communication whenever possible to provide the recipient as much clarity on what exactly is expected of them, as well as when and why such expectations apply.

Dance studio managers, if you don’t already have one, create a “Plan Your Visit/COVID” webpage that is updated in real time with your reopening plans, protocols and procedures, COVID-19 disclaimer, and code of conduct. 

Dance studio managers, consider establishing a written agreement with your staff and faculty to ensure that your reopening plans, safety protocols, as well as lists of points of contact and site safety managers have been received, reviewed, and agreed upon by all.

  • At minimum, it should include the acknowledgement that 1) they are assuming risk of COVID-19 by entering the facility/engaging in dance activity and have read your COVID-19 disclaimer, and 2) they are practicing all mandated and recommended COVID-19 safety measures both inside and outside of the facility.
  • Include an option to sign and date in agreement with the caveat that the employee or employer can revisit and request changes to the agreement at any time.
  • Include an option to sign, date, and opt out of the agreement; provide what the implications or compromise will be (repositioned within a staff department in need of support, provided a new company role during this interim period, asked to lead or build out virtual dance activities, engaged with a hybrid in-person and remote activity, etc.), ideally without loss of payment, job, or original pre-COVID position.
  • In the instance of a significant (more than 50%) lack of consensus, your reopening plans should be revisited and amended to ensure the safety and security of your dancers and staff to the best of your ability.

Dance studio managers, consider establishing a written agreement with all regular, new, and as-needed dance teachers, collaborators, presented artists/companies, rental clients, and other independent contractors to ensure that your reopening plans, safety protocols, as well as lists of points of contact and site safety managers have been received and reviewed by all.

  • At minimum, it should include the acknowledgement that 1) they are assuming risk of COVID-19 by entering the facility/engaging in dance activity and have read your COVID-19 disclaimer, and 2) they are practicing all mandated and recommended COVID-19 safety measures both inside and outside of the facility.
  • Include an option to sign and date in agreement with the caveat that the employee or employer can revisit and request changes to the agreement at any time.
  • Include an option to sign, date, and opt out of the agreement; provide what the implications or compromise will be (repositioned within a staff department in need of support, provided a new role during this interim period, asked to lead or build out virtual dance activities, engaged with a hybrid in-person and remote activity, etc.), ideally without loss of payment, job, or original pre-COVID position.
  • In the instance of a significant (more than 50%) lack of consensus, your reopening plans should be revisited and amended to ensure the safety and security of your faculty, dance teachers, collaborators, and other independent contractors to the best of your ability.
Dance studio managers, consider digital and, if relevant, on-site signage related to your specific public reopening protocols, disclaimers, and/or codes of conduct to ensure transparency among everyone who engages with your company.
  • Further ensure that dancers or dance students with lived experience of disability fully understand the health risks and COVID safety measures and consent to participating in rehearsal, class, and/or performance with the knowledge they can withdraw, as desired, at any point.
Dance studio managers, ensure all COVID-19 information and reopening protocols are communicated clearly and accessibly, whether written or spoken:
  • For all digital communication to your dance community (e.g. via Facebook or in your e-newsletter), ensure images are verbally described in the image’s caption and ensure that information can be read via screen readers (e.g. avoid screenshots of Twitter posts).
  • Review Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) to further your digital accessibility measures.
  • Depending on student/staff/parent cohorts, consider providing ASL interpretation of health updates, Braille versions of key signage and a COVID safe badge, and Easy Read versions of all or select COVID-related communications to support those who are deaf/hard of hearing, those who are blind/vision-impaired, or those with intellectual disability.
  • For spoken communication to people with companions, ensure communication is directed straight to the person and not their companion.
Dance studio managers, consider communicating (e.g. on your website, in rental agreements, in class, and space confirmation emails) what cleaning and disinfectant products you are using to avoid any allergic or anaphylactic reactions.
Dance studio managers, the following is a cheat sheet of the top items to communicate with the public, in addition to anything mandated by state guidance:
  • Your reopening plan and safety protocols
  • Contact information for your reopening point of contact, site safety manager, and accessibility needs contact
  • A disclaimer providing a basic health risk reminder and liability release
  • The Code of Conduct for everyone participating in on-site activity
  • The plan or policy for addressing those (employees or public) who refuse to comply with NYS guidance and/or the facility safety protocols, and the whistleblower procedure for directing such concerns and instances
  • The specific cleaning and disinfectant products you are using throughout your studio, theater, and/or performing arts center to avoid any allergic or anaphylactic reactions

3. PROCESSES

Screening & Testing

Dance studio managers, encourage all to self-monitor their symptoms. This may include but is not limited to:

  • Checking for fever > 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, cough, shortness of breath twice a day 
  • Daily review of other symptoms that could be related, e.g. sore throat, congestion, headache, muscle and joint pain, chills, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, loss of sense of smell, pink eye 

Anyone who develops symptoms should leave immediately, seek care from their physician, and isolate.

Dance studio managers, consider conducting your health screenings in a flexible, equitable, and highly confidential manner:

  • Follow guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission regarding confidentiality of medical records from health checks.
  • Keep the HIPAA Privacy Rule in mind and use only pass/fail to denote results on health screening questionnaires and/or temperature checks, and do not save or share personal health information.
  • Prevent stigma and discrimination by making health screenings as private as possible.
    • Do not make determinations of risk based on race or country of origin and be sure to maintain the confidentiality of each individual’s medical status and history.
  • Understand that the ADA permits employers to exclude employees with a medical condition that would pose a direct threat to health or safety, which is to be determined based on the best available objective medical evidence. 
    • Guidance from CDC or other public health authorities is such evidence. Therefore, employers will be acting consistently with the ADA as long as any screening implemented is consistent with advice from the CDC and public health authorities for that type of workplace at that time. 
  • Offer the choice to complete a daily health screening (questionnaire and/or temperature screening) either in person or virtually.
  • If implementing in-person health checks:
    • Conduct them safely and respectfully.
    • Use social distancing, barrier or partition controls, or personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect the screener. However, reliance on PPE alone is a less effective control and is more difficult to implement, given PPE shortages and training requirements.
    • Complete the health checks in a way that helps maintain social distancing guidelines, such as providing multiple screening entries into the building.

If you are a dance studio manager who does not have health insurance or are fielding health insurance questions from constituents, know that COVID-19 testing is free, confidential, and available at various locations. For those still seeking health insurance, consider directing them to:

The following are recommendations for dance studio managers who are setting up a regular testing protocol:

  • Require COVID-19 tests for any office-based workers, staff, and/or faculty every two (2) to four (4) weeks.
  • Require COVID-19 tests for anyone who has been exposed to someone who tested positive in the past fourteen (14) days. CDC: What is exposure?
  • Reiterate that COVID-19 testing is free, confidential, and available at various locations. 
  • Create an accountability plan for test monitoring, which may look like sending a screenshot of confirmed test results to your employer’s point of contact or HR department, sending an email confirming your test results, reporting on test results verbally, showing test results in person, showing test results while on a video conference, or a combination of any of these methods based on individual comfort level.

Dance studio managers, communicate in advance what members are required to disclose in daily health screenings and temperature checks and what happens if someone contracts COVID-19.

Dance studio managers, consider the necessity of adding RT-PCR testing for various discretionary purposes including, but not limited to, adopting a “bubble” strategy (See also: Pod, Cohort). If testing is to be required, the facility must define why testing is required, who will be tested, when they will be initially tested, the frequency of testing, and what actions will be taken based on test results. 

Dance studio managers, consider maintaining a frequently updated resource list for testing and healthcare, including a list of free or low-cost testing services. Should a person screen positive for COVID-19, they should be provided with this resource list. 

Dance studio managers, clearly communicate who the central point of contact is for all patrons/dancers/teacher/audience members. This point of contact may vary by activity, location, shift, or day; they are responsible for receiving and attesting to having reviewed all health screening questionnaires, and for receiving information from patrons/dancers/teachers/audience members who later experience COVID-19-related symptoms.

  • Further consider creating a separate, universal email address for the point of contact and/or site safety monitor.

Tracing & Tracking

Dance studio managers, consider using an app to support the logs you must retain for tracing and tracking purposes: 

Dance studio managers, understand your insurance and potential liability issues should a member of your company or someone working with your company contract COVID-19:

  • Consult with your insurance broker to determine if your general liability policy covers COVID-19.
  • Know that it would be difficult, but not impossible, for the contraction of COVID-19 to be traced to your venue or company.
  • Let those employees covered by Worker’s Compensation Insurance know whether or not it covers them in the instance of COVID-19.
  • Regardless, in any instance of exposure to a confirmed case of COVID-19, you need to be ready to prove that all proper health and safety protocols were planned, clearly communicated, and implemented.

If you are a dance studio manager conducting outdoor performances, consider your ability to foster a safe environment with screening and tracing and tracking capability for all dancers and audiences by using the following:

  • Tickets and RSVPs, with all necessary contact information, required for attendance
  • On-site staff to manually collect necessary information to the best of their ability
  • A “sign-in” for the public when performing in a public space to capture necessary information to the best of your ability

Proceed with all of the above with the full understanding and transparency that you are not going to be able to enforce full public participation and/or cannot 100% ensure the safety of your dancers and the public this way.

To all dance company managers, in the instance that there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 among the company:

  • Immediately notify your supervisor, HR representative, the Responsible Party’s contact person, and/or the Responsible Party’s site safety monitor, who will notify their respective public health authority that will contact the state agency to begin contact tracing.
  • With the local public health authority and the Infection Mitigation Coordinator, help identify the areas of the facilities, housing, modes of travel, etc. where the infected individual visited.
  • Any known individuals who were within six (6) feet of the infected individual must be notified, must immediately report the instance to their employers, and must quarantine for 14 days.
  • The spaces in which the infected individual remained longer than 10 minutes will be closed for 24 hours, ventilated, cleaned, and disinfected.
  • The infected individual can return to work following:
    • At least 14 days of isolation since symptoms first appeared and at least 24 hours with no fever without fever-reducing medication and with other symptoms improving.
    • At least 14 days of isolation since the date the individual had their positive test, if the individual was asymptomatic and continued to have no symptoms.
    • Note: The infected individual is not required to undergo further testing unless recommended by their health care provider.
      • A healthcare provider may recommend that the infected individual undergo repeat testing for COVID-19 to end their isolation earlier than would be done according to the criteria above. If so, they can be around others after they receive two (2) negative test results in a row, from tests done at least 24 hours apart.
      • If the infected individual has a severe illness from COVID-19 (admitted to a hospital, needed oxygen), their healthcare provider may recommend staying in isolation for longer than 14 days after their symptoms first appear (possibly up to 20 days) and they may need to finish their period of isolation at home. If testing is available in the infected individual’s community, their healthcare provider may recommend that they undergo repeat testing for COVID-19 to end their isolation earlier than would be done according to the criteria above. If so, they can be around others after they receive two (2) negative tests results in a row, from tests done at least 24 hours apart.
      • The infected individual should only undergo repeat testing at the recommendation of their healthcare provider and that is done only if they want to end the isolation earlier than normal for the case type.

4. OPERATOR/EMPLOYER PLANS

Dance studio managers, as Responsible Parties you should confirm how your business is classified and keep this in mind when crafting your plans and proceeding with reopening.

Please note that:

  • If your organization aligns with multiple industries, there may be more than one (1) industry classification that is relevant. This may allow you to open certain parts of your business, but not all, which will affect how you phase your reopening. E.g.:
    • NAICS 711120 – Dance Company is “currently closed” (as of 01/27/21)
    • NAICS 561110 – Office Administrative Services is currently “open for business (as of 10/28/2
    • NAICS 711510 – Independent Artists, Writers, and Performers is currently “operating with restrictions (as of 01/27/21)
    • NAICS 711310 – Promoters of Performing Arts, Sports, and Similar Events with Facilities is currently “operating with restrictions” (as of 01/27/21)
    • NAICS 711320 – Promoters of Performing Arts, Sports, and Similar Events with Facilities is currently “operating with restrictions (as of 01/27/21)
    • NAICS 711219 – Other Spectator Sports is currently “operating with restrictions” (as of 01/27/21)
  • That said, there is no guarantee that an inspector will agree with or use the industry classification(s) that you selected. If they do not agree with you, and feel you should be classified under a different industry that is not yet allowed to reopen or has different requirements, you may be subject to violations and/or closure.
  • Beyond the guidance that is associated with your industry, further guidance may be required and may need to be integrated into your reopening plans depending on your business model (e.g. DOE regulations, union regulations, university regulations, office administrative service regulations, etc.). 
  • No one should reopen or re-engage in their dance activity until they can do so safely with all recommended guidance implemented and integrated into their tailored reopening plans.

Dance studio managers, a suggested step-by-step process to craft your reopening plans is as follows:

  • Confirm how your business is classified (see above) and keep this in mind when crafting your plans and proceeding with reopening.
  • Reminder: If you don’t know your industry number (NAICS), you can find it here or use the “Search” or “Filter by Category” function under the Business Category tab of the NYS Industry Lookup Tool here.
  • With your NAICS number, use the NYS Industry Lookup Tool to identify your industries’ open or closed status and associated state guidance. 
    • If open or operating with restrictions, proceed.
    • If closed, proceed with your planning and preparation as you await further guidance to reopen.
  • Read the Standard Recommendations for Dance for an understanding of reasonable fieldwide expectations at this time (note: without official state guidance in place).
  • Copy and paste the Standard Recommendations for Dance onto your branded letterhead.
  • Leave as is and/or remove only the items that are not relevant to your business model.
  • Copy and paste all applicable Dance Field Scenarios for your business model onto your branded letterhead.
  • Review all suggestions within the Dance Field Scenarios and remove, add to, edit, and/or tailor them based on your specific dance studio and business model. Note: you will need to have read the Standard Recommendations for Dance in order to do this effectively.
  • Examples:
    • Under Section: “People,” Subsection: “On-Site Activity” of this Dance Field Scenario, Gibney could denote the capacity limits of all 23 studios, ceiling heights, and windows/airflow, further mapping out the class and rehearsal maximums and the planned use of each studio as a result.
    • Under Section: “Places,” Subsection: “Hygiene, Cleaning & Disinfection” of this Dance Field Scenario, Flamenco Vivo Studios could specify the brands of cleaning products it will use and whether or not they are on The Department of Environmental Conservation’s list of products registered in New York State and identified by the EPA as effective against COVID-19.
    • Under Section: “Processes,” Subsection: “Screening & Testing” of this Dance Field Scenario, PMT House of Dance could outline, from start to finish, the screening and testing process required to enter its location, including any specific technology being used.
  • [OPTIONAL, but recommended]: Copy and paste all of your edited, tailored Dance Field Scenarios into the respective Sections and Subsections of the Standard Recommendations for Dance to create one (1) tailored plan.
  • Rename your tailored document or the Standard Recommendations for Dance + relevant Dance Field Scenario(s) to create your reopening plan.
  • Example: Movement Research Reopening Plan, as of [DATE]
  • [OPTIONAL, but recommended]: Complete the New York State Department of Health (DOH) NY Forward Safety Plan Template based on your reopening plan.
  • Compile your package of reopening plans:
    • Your Completed NYS DOH NY Forward Safety Plan
    • Your Reopening Plan
    • The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) list of products registered in New York State and identified by the EPA as effective against COVID-19
    • Any resources, supplementary materials, or articles that are particularly relevant
  • Disseminate your package of reopening plans, noting that they are subject to change:
    • Digitally share with all dancers, dance workers, dance faculty/teachers, staff, collaborators, renters, Board, etc.
    • Post the package of reopening materials throughout your space.
    • Consider posting on your website for greater transparency across the field.
    • Keep a printed copy on hand for use in the instance of an inspection.
  • Submit your plan to the state and affirm adherence to your industry’s relevant New York State guidelines for reopening. 
  • Implement your plan and lean on:
    • Supplementary Materials for samples and templates
    • FAQ for answers to common questions
    • Glossary for definitions and acronyms
    • Resources for more detailed information
  • Update your plan periodically based on the:
  • Re-disseminate, re-post, and re-implement each new iteration of your plans.

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