COVID-19 strategy for ESFRS

Here’s the plan:

  • We will be starting our fall 2020 season with all lessons and classes on-line.
  • The classes and lessons will be scheduled so that we can immediately change to working in person as soon as it is safe for everybody to do so.
  • We are waiting for more information before we can determine safety, so until then, we remain on-line.

We can reduce risk in four ways:

  1. Use face masks
  2. Keep our distance
  3. Reduce length of exposure
  4. Stay in well ventilated areas

How this applies in lessons and classes:

Unfortunately, it is not possible to play a wind instrument and use a face mask at the same time. Plexiglass face shields are not recommended – aerosols will float around the edge of such shield like smoke.

If a teacher cannot touch your instrument to assist you, but has to remain a minimum of 2 meters away, we might as well be working through a screen after all. The advantage here is we can really work on developing student independence!

An individual student may only have a 30 minute lesson once a week, but the teacher may have up to 6 or 8 hours of lessons in a day, seeing as many as 60 students over a week. At the time of writing, this is more that the recommended cohort size according to provincial public health guidelines. Plus the teacher usually works out of her home, so continues to breathe the air after working hours!

Current recommendations are for rooms to rest for 20 minutes or longer between use, to allow for complete air exchange before the next people enter (assuming that the ventilation system in place provides that much fresh air exchange). Most teachers’ schedules would not accommodate this requirement. The alternative is to employ ventilation systems with high air fresh air exchange rates, not just recirculation. This is not typically available in most teachers home studios, and in our climate we cannot rely on keeping windows open into the winter. Some studies show encouraging results using portable HEPA filters – we are waiting to hear more about this.

That is just private lessons. If students are attending school, and students who attend group come from different schools, we are introducing the possibility of spreading the virus through a much larger group of close contacts. However, there are some very innovative ways we can work on our ensemble skills on-line, and use the various video conferencing platforms as part of the piece.

Here’s the science (so far):

It is not possible to summarize all the studies and research happening at the moment, so here are some links if you want more information. Remember that research gets dated very quickly! There will be more information over the coming weeks: