As dance studios across Australia prepare to reopen from as early as May 18 in Western Australia and June 8 in South Australia, it is important that studios have COVID safe plans in place. Developing a plan for your studio helps ensure the safety, and peace of mind, of your dancers, educators and dance parents, as well as your wider community.
But what should your COVID Safe Plan entail? Ausdance National is currently working with Live Performance Australia and the Royal Academy of Dance to develop detailed Work Health and Safety Guidelines for dance studios, but in the meantime, Dance Informa has outlined some key areas to consider for your studio or school. As the government, and bodies such as Ausdance provide further clarity, Dance Informa will add further details to this list.
Key COVID Safe Considerations for Dance Schools
In addition to the Safe Work Australia Guidelines for COVID-19, consider the following for the dance studio environment:
- Keep accurate roles for all classes and staff. As children generally do not have phones, the COVID Safe App will not provide tracing information in the event of a COVID-19 case at your studio. Ensure accurate roles are kept for anyone who enters the facility for more than 15 minutes.
- Recommend that all staff, parents and teen students download the COVIDSafe app: www.health.gov.au/resources/apps-and-tools/covidsafe-app.
- Update contact details for all students and staff, with permission to pass these onto the authorities for the purposes of contact-tracing if needed.
- Where there is a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 in your studio environment, contact the National Coronavirus Helpline (1800 020 080) which operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for further advice.
- Establish your procedure for notifying parents in the event of a confirmed case at the studio.
- Limit the number of people in your facility at any one time to comply with current state gathering limits (Currently we are being advised that the gathering limits are per premises and not per studio space, but contact your state government to clarify this). Decide how this will be monitored and enforced, and communicate this to parents. It is encouraged that parents drop and go.
- Communicate with staff, students and parents that social distancing must be maintained at all times. All studio spaces must meet social distancing occupancy requirements.
- Refrain from partner work, unless with members of the same household, and limit use of shared equipment such a barres, props, etc.
- Consider scheduling a 5 or 10 minute cross over time period between classes so students can leave the premises, before the next group comes in, to adhere to gathering limits and avoid crowding at check in points.
- Consider how you will enforce social distancing in the waiting room and bathrooms, and limit access to staff room facilities.
Sanitation and Hygiene
- Develop regular cleaning and waste management protocols and communicate these clearly with staff, adhering to the “Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection Principles” outlined by the Dept. of Health: www.health.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/2020/03/environmental-cleaning-and-disinfection-principles-for-covid-19.pdf
- Consider hot spots/high touchpoints like barres and door handles and create a cleaning schedule for them
- Provide hand sanitizer to all students and teachers upon entry and exit
- Encourage hand hygiene and ensure all bathrooms have adequate soap available. Download the “Good Hygiene is in your Hands” poster from the Department of Health and place on bathroom walls www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-print-ads-good-hygiene-is-in-your-hands
- Turn off water fountains and encourage students to bring their own water bottles from home.
- Develop your procedure for lock down and deep cleaning in the event of a confirmed COVID-19 case at your studio.
- Encourage all staff to undergo the free COVID-19 Infection Control Training from the Department of Health: www.health.gov.au/resources/apps-and-tools/covid-19-infection-control-training
General Health and Considerations
- Implement a health policy where no staff or student are to come to the studio if they have any COVID-19 like symptoms. If they are a suspected COVID-19 case, notify them that they must self-isolate and seek testing in accordance with state or territory guidelines.
- Staff or students at the studio experiencing symptoms compatible with COVID-19 should be isolated in an appropriate space with suitable supervision, and collected by a parent/carer as soon as possible.
- Consider requiring high-risk individuals, as defined by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, to attain a medical clearance prior to returning to classes
Extra Resources and Sources
COVID-19 Information for workplaces: www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/covid-19-information-workplaces
Safe Work Australia COVID 19 Resource Kit: www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/collection/covid-19-resource-kit
The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee latest advice: https://www.health.gov.au/committees-and-groups/australian-health-protection-principal-committee-ahppc
The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee recommended special provisions for vulnerable people in the workplace: www.health.gov.au/news/australian-health-protection-principal-committee-ahppc-advice-to-national-cabinet-on-30-march-2020
Re-opening considerations of fitness facilities in Australia