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Dealing with the Coronavirus in the Studio - Dr. Carol Ann Barry

I was going to post another topic today but given the issues worldwide with the coronavirus (depending on where you live) I thought I would post a timely article.  Here in North Carolina, we have had only one case of the virus–an adult that visited the nursing home in Washington state that had several cases of ill seniors.  The person is currently quarantined in home.

The past 2 weeks I have progressively taken steps to keep a cleaning and santizing program in my home studio.  Whether you teach in a music school or private studio, the issues are basically the same.  In addition to keeping my piano keys clean, I have done the following:

  1. Insisted that students wash hands either before they come or in my bathroom when they arrive.  Some parents have said they used santizer, but if their hands were dirty in the first place (ie, at school touching everything all day) my argument has been that they still can dirty up my keys.  I insist they wash hands anyway.  I also have the sanitizer handy.
  2. I have santized the door handle, door jam, places on the door that students may touch, the bathroom sink, toilet seat etc.  I even noticed my small coffee table between my waiting chairs–I cleaned that too.  It takes only a few minutes and I feel better knowing I’ve done my part to keep things certainly cleaner than the school room they just came from in the afternoon.
  3. If your students touch computer keyboards for theory, etc those must be serviced as well.
  4. I have looked into how the studio will move forward should we have a school closing due to the virus in the coming weeks.  I’ve decided to do a trial run with a student this weekend with Skype.  If the schools close for cleaning the students are welcome here provided they are not ill or have a family member ill.  Either way, I can offer Skype lessons to them during their regular lesson time if the need arises.

The “key” for us all is to plan ahead instead of becoming reactionary.  If you teach at a music school consider bringing your own hand sanitizer and cleaning wipes.  You live in that teaching room so it’s in your best interest to keep your environment clean.  For studios that are independent, consider a letter to parents assuring them of your action plan now and also should the virus come to your city or town.

Given that it is the heart of festival season, decisions will be made location by location as far as allowing events and gatherings to continue.  We have our largest event next weekend and as of now, we will be holding the event.  Hand sanitizer will be available and students will be encouraged to wash their hands.  It’s effective and cheap.

I have two weeks of “sick” leave embeded in my calendar but not every teacher has that option.  Skype lessons seem like the best option to offset either losing workdays or trying to make up lessons.  My game plan will be to offer Skype for sick students or/and if the schools end up closing for several days.   Working together and with parents for everyone’s health and safety will ensure we get through this health crisis with as much calm and common sense as possible.  Stay in touch with your colleagues and share ideas that will work for your communities.

Wishing you well for health and safety

Carol Ann