How is your in-person studio working?

Edited: October 7, 2021, 10:04 PM · Hey guys,

I've been on a long hiatus from teaching as covid and a maternity leave coincided. I have been thinking about reopening and am trying to figure out what that would best look like as covid is still a concern.

What do you do, or does your teacher do, that has worked well for helping students feel safe and comfortable in an in-person setting? (My teaching area is my living room, fwiw. But I'm open to all ideas; just brainstorming and working out what might be realistic!!)

Replies (18)

October 7, 2021, 4:27 PM · Kathryn, I also took a long hiatus (about 1 year), and restarted teaching a couple of months ago.

I run two medical-grade filters (Austin Healthmate) while I'm teaching so the air is constantly being cleaned. In my opinion, this is by far the best thing you can do (in addition to being vaccinated, obviously). There are two primary ways that covid would be a threat to you: one is through direct droplet exposure (if they cough, sneeze, or spit in your general direction). The other is through viral particles floating around in the air. You can imagine that two people heavily breathing for 30-60 minutes in a closed room fills the air with their breath, and thus potentially with viral particles.

Using a high-grade HEPA filter with a powerful fan will constantly clean the air, so you'll primarily only have to worry about the first threat (direct droplet exposure). And if you're both wearing masks, droplet exposure risk is much, much lower. However, if you find that you don't want to wear a mask or the student doesn't want to, I recommend a large plexiglass sheet between you and them. Occasionally you may have to go around it to physically fix something, but it still drastically lowers the chances of them accidentally coughing droplets in your direction.

Unfortunately studies are now confirming that vaccine effectiveness does start dropping off after about 2 months after the second shot. Luckily, it still drastically decreases chances of hospitalization or serious illness resulting from the virus.

October 7, 2021, 8:34 PM · I'm not a teacher, but I went to my lesson today. Just a regular studio room, no air filters, etc. My teacher and I are both vaccinated, and we both wore masks. However, the student right after me was too young to have been vaccinated.

Adding to what Erik said about vaccine effectiveness, it is worth noting that people are still dying of COVID by the thousands. But, at least in the US, those thousands are almost all entirely unvaccinated. If you have a new baby at home, (s)he should be your primary concern. Also, I thought I read somewhere that the plexiglass panels were causing more harm than good, but I don't really know.

Edited: October 7, 2021, 8:43 PM · The plexiglass panels are thought to impede air flow though I have not looked for a refereed article. Air flow is your friend in this instance I guess.

My teacher is vaccinated and has had covid. He comes to my living room and sits on the sofa. He and I are pretty much isolated too. I go out to a store or something about once a week. Though now our library is open, yippee!

October 7, 2021, 11:21 PM · We pretty much just wear masks and we may use a barrier. In the piano studio the keys may be wiped down. That's about it. We maintain distance when possible.
October 8, 2021, 5:59 AM · My teacher and I resumed in-person lessons after we were both fully vaccinated. We maintain distance when possible, wear masks, and leave the windows open when the weather permits. We almost never have to get as close as 6 feet. I have a morning lesson, so students who are too young to be vaccinated would not have been in the studio for at least 12 hours. He also gives the option of having an outdoor lesson or online. We live in an area where there the vaccination rate is high and the transmission rate is low.

Like Ann, I've read articles that cast doubt on the efficacy of plexiglass panels. Here is one:

Edited: October 8, 2021, 7:57 AM · I haven't read articles about plexiglass barriers, as I've said I have not read refereed articles about it. The information I have is from my docs who do read the refereed literature. Newspapers are definitely not refereed (said with a chuckle).
October 8, 2021, 8:33 AM · July 2020: My students had mostly online and once a month outside, pretty much no physical contact.
(Sept 2020, we resumed occasional outside groups, and May 2021, I was fully vaccinated.)
July 2021: About half of my students stayed mostly online with once a month outside; half started having 3 in person per month in a spacious church basement, back to back scheduling, masks for all, with contact when pertinent. I had to limit everyone's lesson allocation because I only booked the space for 5 hours/week.
Sept 2021: I increased my church time and resumed one day of lessons at my mom's house, where it's less spacious and I schedule 5 minutes between families for transition. 75% of students have regular in person times, and I'm preparing to make the changes needed to get to 90%.

If I had to teach at home and put in safeguards to protect my family, I think I would have to insist that all eligible be vaccinated and everyone mask, including myself. (80% of students are too young to be vaccinated, I don't like the idea of asking for "business" purposes although I'm fine with and have discussed it with personal friends, and I also hate the idea of having to mask for hours in my own house.) Maybe I would try to set up a closed room with an air purifier but NOT open windows (been told by HVAC friends that these two things work at cross-purposes). Whether in a another room or the open living room, I'd probably still need the 5-minute buffer, meaning I can take one fewer student than max capacity.

By renting the church space, I can take that last student although the additional collected tuition goes to the church in rent. However, I avoid the hassle of dealing with all of the above, which is worth something unquantifiable.

October 8, 2021, 8:59 AM · I don't know how anyone teaches in a small space with one of those air purifiers running. My hearing isn't 100% but that would destroy my lesson if my professor was running a HEPA filter. If you put it off in the corner of a large space so that you can't hear it, then it's not doing you any good anyway. I teach university chemistry and I have graduate students who I work with closely, and I teach a lab course for undergraduates so I am seeing them pretty closely too, helping them with their experiments and apparatus and so forth. The main thing for all of us is to be vaccinated as far as our medical circumstances will allow, to stay masked in contact with others, and to be just as careful in the rest of our lives, too, such as trips to the grocery or the hardware. I have told my grad students that I expect them to be careful in their private lives.
Edited: October 8, 2021, 3:17 PM · I take lessons at a school of music, and they have a mask policy in place. They also have saborizarían procedures for the studio spaces between lessons. My instructor is vaccinated, and I am vaccinated as well. I don’t know if they have any special air filtration, as I haven’t inquired, but I have noticed that they have kept the studio spaces minimally furnished (although they also just moved to a new location, so I don’t know if it’s strictly due to covid, but it certainly strikes me as convenient even if not!), with the basics - chairs, stools, music stands, piano, fairly bare walls…. Items easy to sanitize and turn over the space for the next student. Nothing that would be difficult to do a deep clean of either if a student who was recently in the space were to become ill.
October 9, 2021, 3:43 PM · Thanks guys, I appreciate the discussion and the ideas!
Edited: October 9, 2021, 4:17 PM · Paul, I have two filters. One is larger, and I run it temporarily between students (usually as they are setting up). It can clean a very high volume of air in just a couple minutes. The other is a smaller version of the same unit, and much quieter. That one I run constantly. The sound still bothers me, but it's a heck of a lot better than just having stale air accumulate. The only other real solution, in my mind, would be to have the windows open, but that's usually not realistic. And simply opening up one door a tiny crack (like many classrooms are apparently now doing) is just "hygiene theater. It does nearly nothing. Schools should be investing in HEPA filters.

I also have to disagree regarding an air purifier in the corner "doing nothing." As long as it is casting a "Stream" of solid air in one direction, much of the stagnant air in the room will eventually find its way to the filter.

October 10, 2021, 2:04 PM · Wow. I just realized I have never yet tried playing with a mask on. (yes, I've been out of the playing loop!) Does that not mess with y'all?! I lose so much lower peripheral vision...I mean, I know you don't *really* need to see below your nose to play but students want to see what they're doing...I guess it must be working generally though, and not messing people up too much?
October 10, 2021, 2:04 PM · Saborizarian?

Was Saborizaria one of the SSRs that I never learned?

October 10, 2021, 2:05 PM · Kathryn you get used to it pretty fast.
Edited: October 10, 2021, 6:49 PM · I have three huge ones and they are unnoticeably quiet, though I turn the one in my music room off if I am recording (I turn off the AC for that too.)
October 10, 2021, 9:45 PM · Kathryn, Playing with the mask was easy. The only problem I had was not being able to lip read. I sometimes have "interesting" conversations.
October 10, 2021, 10:33 PM · Depends on the mask, too. N95s are a lot harder than surgical.
October 11, 2021, 1:20 AM ·

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