Office-Based Dance Workers

Last Updated: 9.22.2021

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


A Note on Equity

As you think through safety for you, your space, co-workers, and audiences while you practice, teach, manage spaces and even perform again, consider that these practices and regulations do not affect everyone equally, and that efforts should also be made to create equity among peers as well as the people attending events and lessons. Building regulatory measures for safety from the spread of COVID-19 has required the implementation of tracing protocols, data gathering, health screenings and behavioral guidelines, and these measures are being deployed in contexts where there already exist other systems of surveillance and security that disproportionately affect people along lines of disability, race, immigration status, and gender. Furthermore, during a health care crisis just as the one we are living through, access to vaccination, stable housing, testing, employment, reliable information, and even personal protective equipment has been more challenging in working class communities of color.  What this could mean to your organization is that while COVID-19 safety is a priority, you and your coworkers should manage to navigate how each regulation affects people from various social backgrounds differently. 

Protocols around whether a person is vaccinated, on what type of documentation they carry, or how their employment networks are informed during tracing processes, while addressing efforts to control the spread of a virus, carry a variety of biases that fall on racial and class lines, potentially making your spaces more difficult and indeed less safe for disabled people, working class folk, people of color, and non-citizens. Sharing disability status, or it becoming known due to surveillance, can be quite punitive. For this reason, providing accessibility accommodations, even if not requested, supports disabled folks who do not feel safe openly identifying. What you can do to address this systemic bias is to adapt regulations to make space for the needs and requests of the people you work with and your audiences. For example, valid and important concerns about data gathering might arise from immigrant folk in your working community, and you’ll need to adapt those regulations in ways that honor those concerns. You might need to speak with directly affected folk about what other systems of care, tracing and travel safety you can set up that are informed by their needs and concerns. Before thinking about security or law enforcement support for de-escalation needs that might arise, you should look into other alternative ways of upholding your space regulations and meeting de-escalation needs. Directly affected communities can perhaps point to wants that you should consider when training staff and co-workers. 

A safer space is not made through a proclamation of safety or welcoming, but through listening and adaptation processes that involve the wellbeing of people that are affected by an issue. As you review these guidelines and different scenarios, consider their implementation as opportunities to create listening space for directly affected communities and to adapt to their needs and concerns. You’ll have a stronger sense of unity, and ultimately, safety, this way.


ARCHIVED: Office-based dance workers, note that your activities are likely considered lower risk due to your ability to maintain physical distance, perform duties individually, avoid shared equipment, and, in many instances, engage in remote work. The “type of risk” will vary based your position and the actual activities you need to engage in and when, such as: on-site or remote individual or distanced group activities; on-site or remote organized no/low-contact group activities for specific, consistent groups; on-site or remote organized no/low-contact group activities for public groups; on-site or remote local performances and/or showings; and/or on-site or remote touring engagements of multiple performances and/or showings, requiring travel. 

Physical Distancing

BEST PRACTICE: Office-based dance workers, be aware of the various pod, bubble, and cohort systems that your employer or dance company may employ to ensure the safety of its artists, such as:

  • A “bubbling” model, 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. 
  • A cohort model for internal groups, like a 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 member’s 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
  • Business model adjustment to create a cohort model for external groups, like dance classes and client rental bookings:
    • Note that when the individuals are not employees, the cohort model will need to be more lenient and focused on internal management and on-site health screenings as opposed to the individual testing, quarantining, and travel decisions of external parties.
    • Internally, the goal would be to reduce exposure by:
      • Instead of drop-in classes offered to the public at large, making 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, prioritizing 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

ARCHIVED: If you are an office-based dance worker whose role requires you to be on site, help prevent lingering on site by encouraging all parties in the space to use the “get in, dance, get out” approach, as coined by Ausdance NSW, for all on-site dance activity, and by following the “get in, work, get out” approach yourself.

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

Gatherings in Enclosed Spaces

BEST PRACTICE: Office-based dance workers, be aware of the increased risk of exposure that comes with regularly using shared and/or enclosed spaces like elevators and restrooms. Avoid them when possible, and when this is not possible, be sure to have PPE and practice thorough hand hygiene.

On-Site Activity

BEST PRACTICE: Office-based dance workers, ask what the “whistleblowing” method (that allows for real-time reports and ongoing, anonymous reports/surveys) is for you to share if you feel unsafe or uncomfortable, or if you see someone not complying with health and safety measures.

Workplace Activity

BEST PRACTICE: If you are an office-based dance worker who does not feel safe returning to your place of work, consider discussing options with your employer:

  • If you are considered “non-essential” staff that does not need to be on site to complete your job, have a conversation about extended or continued remote work.
  • If you are considered on-site “essential” staff, have a conversation about your desire to be furloughed so that you 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 your role can temporarily shift until you feel comfortable to safely return.
  • Discuss the potential for temporary assignment to remotely support reopening planning.
  • Discuss the potential for temporary assignment to remote administrative duties or to a team in need of additional support.
  • Encourage remote professional development activity, mentoring, or shadowing colleagues working in other areas of interest.
  • Discuss the possibility of being deployed remotely as a representative and information gatherer across fieldwide calls, meetings, conversations, panels, webinars, etc.

BEST PRACTICE: If you are an office-based dance worker, review, edit, and implement safe workforce policies and procedures around workday schedules, remote time, lunch breaks, sick leave policy, and benefits.

BEST PRACTICE: In addition to general cleaning and training, consider placing your on-site “essential” workers (or asking to be placed) in customer service training, de-escalation training, and COVID-19 management training. As you consider de-escalation training, look or suggest to look for training that offer an anti-oppressive lens, which could mean that they don’t rely principally on calling police or other law enforcement agencies.

Movement & Commerce

ARCHIVED: Office-based dance workers, consider the following for travel to and from your office:

  • Whenever possible, and if your position allows, avoid working on site, eliminating the need for travel.
  • If you need to travel to the office, plan your travel time to avoid rush hours and discuss staggered work hours with your employer.
  • If you must work on site due to the nature of your position, ask if you can be provided transportation or a transportation stipend for non-public transit.

ARCHIVED: If you are an office-based dance worker working in person, whenever possible, keep all common doors open to minimize high-touch surface contact and promote air circulation.

ARCHIVED: Office-based dance workers, 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.
  • The New York State Department of Health updated the COVID-19 Travel Advisory so that as of April 10, asymptomatic travelers entering New York State from another country, U.S. state, or territory are no longer required to test or quarantine. Quarantine, consistent with the CDC recommendations, is still recommended for all travelers who are not fully vaccinated or have not recovered from laboratory confirmed COVID-19 during the previous three months. Symptomatic travelers must immediately self-isolate and contact the local health department or their healthcare providers to determine if they should seek COVID-19 testing.


Air Handling Systems

ARCHIVED: Office-based dance workers, be mindful of the air-conditioning and/or fan direction within your space, and minimize the number of dance workers lined up or working within that airflow path.

  • 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. 
  • Talk to your manager or the manager of the space about what has been implemented to ensure proper ventilation. 
  • Follow any directions or signage in the space about keeping windows/doors open.
  • Follow any direction or signage in the space about adjusting fan or AC settings.

Protective Equipment

  • ARCHIVED: Acceptable face coverings are required in all indoor public gathering spaces unless otherwise specifically excused by necessity (drinking water) or work requirements (performing).
  • ARCHIVED: Acceptable face coverings should be worn in all indoor public spaces even if you are alone, as someone could enter the space.

Hygiene, Cleaning & Disinfection

BEST PRACTICE: Office-based dance workers, consider having additional hand sanitizer for your regular use after using enclosed or shared spaces.

ARCHIVED: Office-based dance workers, participate in digital training on COVID-19 safety including hand and respiratory hygiene, PPE protocols and access, and cleaning and disinfection protocols and procedures, and explore ongoing, regular training sessions. Example resources include: 

Phased Reopening

ARCHIVED: Office-based dance workers, consider and ask your employer for phased-in activity, such as:

  • Getting tested and, as possible, quarantining for 14 days in advance of resuming a regular in-person office schedule, especially if returning from out of state.
  • Clearly identifying who your organization’s “essential” on-site staff are.
  • Creating staggered shifts/work schedules and hybrid remote/on-site schedules for all “essential” staff.
  • Retaining “non-essential” staff’s remote work for as long as practicable.
  • Setting clear testing requirements of on-site staff (e.g. every two to three (23) weeks).
  • Modifying office layouts prior to transitioning any “non-essential” staff back on site to adhere to social distancing.

Communications Plan

BEST PRACTICE: If you are an office-based dance worker involved in external messaging and communication, 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.

ARCHIVED: Office-based dance workers, consider asking for your employer’s reopening plans, safety protocols, and contact information for points of contact/site safety managers/liaisons if it has not been readily provided to you. If not explicitly included, additionally ask for:

  • A plan for addressing those (employees or public) who refuse to comply with NYS guidance and/or the facility safety protocols.
  • A written agreement in place for staff to confirm agreement or discuss alternate options.

ARCHIVED: If you are an office-based dance worker who leads staff/organizations or works in Human Resources, consider establishing a written agreement with your staff to ensure that your reopening plans, safety protocols, points of contact, and site safety managers have been reviewed and agreed upon by all.

  • 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/protocol 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 an hybrid in-person and remote activity, etc.), ideally without loss of payment, job, or original pre-COVID position.
  • Include a disclaimer of your plan for data gathering and confidentiality for health and tracing purposes, along with how data will be erased or destroyed, with an option to sign, date, request higher levels of confidentiality or opt out of this part of the agreement.
  • 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.

BEST PRACTICE: If you are an office-based dance worker who leads staff/organizations or works in Human Resources, 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.

To all office-based dance workers, 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 squarely to the person and not their companion.

BEST PRACTICE: Office-based dance workers, 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.


Screening & Testing

BEST PRACTICE: Office-based dance workers, encourage all workers 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.

ARCHIVED: Office-based dance workers, please understand that Responsible Parties may require more than one (1) health screening per day (e.g. if you exit and re-enter the facility).

If you are an office-based dance worker who does not have health insurance, know that COVID-19 testing is free, confidential, and available at various locations. Those seeking health insurance may consider visiting:

ARCHIVED: To all office-based dance workers who are participating in a regular testing protocol with their employer:

  • Remember that COVID-19 testing is free, confidential, and available at various locations
  • Confirm what the accountability plan is for test monitoring, which may look like sending a screenshot of confirmed test results with your employer’s point of contact or HR department, sending an email confirming confirmed test results, reporting on test results verbally, showing test results in person, showing test results while on a video conference, and/or a combination of any of these methods based on individual comfort level.

Office-based dance workers, know one’s rights when it comes to the HIPAA Privacy Rule and guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission regarding confidentiality of medical records from health checks. Health checks that use only pass/fail are permissible, whereas actual temperature and/or additional health details are one’s private information and are not to be shared or tracked).

  • For disabled artists, also note 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 consistent 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. 

ARCHIVED: Office-based dance workers, be aware of and, when relevant, communicate in advance what individuals are required to disclose in daily health screenings and temperature checks and what happens if someone contracts COVID-19.

Communicate contact tracing procedures that come into place when someone from the group is infected, which can include where data is stored, how it is used, how long it is maintained. Communicate if there are various ways to notify other employers or spaces in ways that are anonymous, or that don’t require personal data about individuals’ families, addresses, etc, that might be of particular importance to undocumented workers.

ARCHIVED: Office-based dance workers, ask or determine who the Responsible Parties’ central point of contact is. 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.


As per Mayor de Blasio’s announcement of the Key to NYC program, starting August 17, people 12 and older will be required to show proof they have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine approved by or authorized for emergency use by the FDA or WHO for indoor dining, indoor fitness (includes dance studios), and indoor entertainment. Resources on vaccines and the Key to NYC program can be found on the Resources page of this website. Responsible Parties should be prepared to, at any time, adjust and adapt between various levels of risk in the event of a spreader event or rise in COVID-19 infection rates.

Excelsior Pass is a digital ecosystem that enables individuals to store digital proof of test results and/or vaccine status and businesses and venues to verify these items without accessing personal health data. Learn more and download the app on the New York Forward website. In considering the use of Excelsior Pass, account for the many data privacy and legitimate concerns from immigrant communities all over New York.

NYC COVID Safe App is part of the “Key to NYC Pass” initiative to provide proof of vaccination. Many New York City employers, businesses, and venues are requiring verification of immunization or weekly proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test for their workforce and patrons. Use this app to store and present the necessary documentation to verify that you have met these requirements. The documentation you upload into this app is not shared with anyone and stays on your phone only.

Tracing & Tracking

ARCHIVED: If you are an office-based dance worker covered by Worker’s Compensation Insurance, reach out to your point of contact to determine if it covers you in the instance that you contract COVID-19 while on the job.

ARCHIVED: Office-based dance workers, remember that if you are alerted, via tracing, tracking, or another mechanism, that you have come into close or proximate contact with a person with COVID-19, you are required to self-report to any and all employers at the time of alert and shall follow any protocol provided.

  • The best practice would be to self-quarantine for a period of 14 days after learning of your potential exposure.
  • Request to discuss ways to notify other employers or spaces in ways that are anonymous, or that don’t require personal data about your family, addresses, etc, if you don’t feel safe with other employer’s knowing of your contact tracing and risk.


On September 6, Governor Kathy Hochul designated COVID-19 a highly contagious communicable disease that presents a serious risk of harm to the public health under New York State’s HERO Act, which requires all employers to implement workplace safety plans to prevent workplace infections. The NY HERO Act mandates extensive new workplace health and safety protections and workplace safety plans. Employers can adopt a model safety plan as crafted by the New York State Department of Labor, or develop their own safety plan in compliance with HERO Act standards.

ARCHIVED: Office-based dance workers, ask for and/or follow the protocols provided to you by your employer. Remember that Responsible Parties may vary depending on where and how you are engaging in your office-based work. Whenever working within a physical office, the facility/business in which the office is located is the Responsible Party. The protocols of each Responsible Party may vary. If you are not comfortable with a Responsible Party’s safety measures or lack thereof, consider discussing this with the Responsible Party, reconsidering your engagement, establishing increased safety measures for yourself, and/or filing a general or zone-based report.

ARCHIVED: Office-based dance workers, please note how Responsible Parties are determining their industry classification, their ability to reopen, and the complexity of their reopening efforts:

Please note that:

  • Organizations that align with multiple industries may have more than one industry classification that is relevant. This may allow them to open certain parts of their business, but not all, which will affect how they phase their reopening. E.g.:
    • NAICS 561110 – Office Administrative Services is currently “open for business” (as of 01/27/21) — which likely applies to you; however,
    • NAICS 711510 – Independent Artists, Writers, and Performers is currently “operating with restrictions (as of 01/27/21); 
    • NAICS 711120 – Dance Company is “currently closed” (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); and
    • 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 a business selects. If they do not agree, and feel the classification should be under a different industry that is not yet allowed to reopen or has different requirements, the business may be subject to violations and/or closure.
  • Beyond the guidance that is associated with the industry, further guidance may be required and may need to be integrated into the business’ reopening plans depending on its 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.
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