The purpose of this policy is to set out the processes by which Stella Mann College will implement Government guidelines about returning to work within the Performing Arts sector, and the measures that the College will put in place to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID -19 in the College as far as is reasonably practicable. This is to be taken in conjunction with all other health and safety measures normally followed by the College and does not replace any existing policy. In line with Government recommendations, the College Principal and Course Leader are designated COVID-19 officers, and any concerns about this policy or the implementation of these measures should be reported to these officers. The College will regularly review Government guidance and will communicate any amendments to this policy that are brought into force as a result of changing guidance. The College will monitor all local information.
Returning to College and Vulnerable College Members
Prior to returning to College in September, all College members (staff and students) must submit a ‘Fitness to Return to Work Form’, on which they will confirm that they currently do not have any symptoms associated with COVID-19, have not tested positive for the virus within the last two weeks and have not been advised by a doctor to self-isolate for any reason. Any College member travelling from a country on the Government’s quarantine list must self-isolate for the required length of time (currently 14 days) before entering the College premises. Any College member who considers themselves to be in a vulnerable group, due to pre-existing health conditions, or who lives with other higher risk people, must inform the College. Provision will be made for such students to study from home.
Infection Control and Response Plan
Any member of staff or student who feels symptoms of being unwell whilst at home, including but not limited to the common symptoms of COVID-19 (high temperature, new, continuous cough, loss or change to sense of smell and taste), must inform the College, and remain at home. Any College member who feels unwell whilst at College should go home immediately, and then email the College to inform us of their condition; they must not speak to a member of staff before going home. Any College member feeling unwell should contact 111, request a test and follow all advice concerning Test and Trace, and keep the College informed of test results. If the College experiences an outbreak of the virus it will contact the local Public Health Officer and the Health and Safety Executive. Should anyone test positive they must inform the College immediately and we will work with Test and Trace to isolate anyone they have come into contact with (anyone they have had face-to-face contact with within 1 metre, were coughed or sneezed on, spent more than 15 minutes within 2 metres or travelled in a car with). Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms must self-isolate for 10 days. Any household group containing someone who has tested positive must self-isolate for 14 days. As all College spaces that contain mixed household groups are socially distanced, we will follow Test and Trace guidance concerning whether student groups should self-isolate if one of their number tests positive. All College members must follow the guidance on self-isolation found via this link.
Students and teachers must wear a mask in communal areas and when walking round the building, e.g. between common rooms and studios, or when using the toilets. Masks are also strongly recommended in classes where practical; visors may be worn as an alternative if this is more tolerable. Students and teachers with medical conditions such as asthma, or those with mental health conditions such that the wearing of a mask would cause distress, are exempt from this, but it is recommended that as many students and teachers wear masks as possible. All masks should be washable, not disposable, as this would cause potentially contaminated waste. Students and teachers must bring several masks to College each day to prevent over-use and these must be taken home every day and washed. Guidelines for the correct putting on and taking off of masks must be followed.
Should a local lockdown be imposed meaning that we cannot deliver classes in the building, the whole timetable will go online and participation in all classes will be compulsory.
Timetable and Student Groups
The timetable has been organised in order to allow for social distancing in all classes and during break times. Half the student body will be in the College premises on any given day with the other half in their lodgings doing classes streamed via Zoom. Each half of the student body will work in College for two days and then alternate with the other half for the next two days. It will be compulsory for students to do the online classes and registers will be taken of all students in the College and in lodgings for each class. There will be staggered start and end times for all classes and lunchbreaks will be taken at different times throughout the day in order to reduce the number of College members entering, leaving or walking around the College at any one time. As much as possible, students will stay in one studio for all dance classes; where a studio change is necessary a longer break between classes will allow for studios to be cleaned and ventilated before the new group enters. Classes will be taught in year groups, with all members of a household within a year being in the same student group to minimise contact. Again, the College reserves the right to alter the timetable or delivery of classes if Government guidelines about attendance in schools and colleges change.
Around the Building
A one-way system has been put in place throughout the first two floors of the building:
- In the back door
- Lower corridor flows from back door to front door
- Up front stairs
- Upper corridor flows from common rooms to Studio 5
- Staff and students can pass through Studio 5 when there is a class going on – a pathway around the front of the studio is marked out so social distancing can be maintained when going through this studio
- Down back stairs
Students will only need to use the stairs up to Studio 6 for acting and singing classes, and therefore in very small groups. There must be no crossing on the stairs. Common rooms are assigned to keep household groups together and allow for social distancing within break times. In order to reduce virus expression around the building, all College members must wear face coverings in corridors and should not talk until they are in the common rooms or studios. Pass doors between studios 2/3 and 4/5 will remain closed and studios must be entered and exited through the main studio doors.
Barres are marked out in 2 metre spaces and 2 metre grids are marked on the floors of all dance studios; students must stay in their place at the barre or in their square throughout the class and there will be no rotation of lines, or travelling work across the space until it is safe to do so. Students must have their own wipeable fitness mat for floor exercises, and will not be allowed to participate in the class without this. Teachers will stay within their marked space at the front of the room and there will be no physical correction. Students will work side-to-side and teachers will teach to the mirror as much as possible in order to minimise face-to-face exposure. Perspex screens are placed on all pianos to protect pianists in ballet, musical theatre and singing classes.
All singing classes will be taught one-to-one, with the singer placed 3 metres from the teacher, who will remain behind the Perspex screen on the piano. Acting classes will be taught with small groups of three or four students. Where possible, students will work in household groups to minimise transmission, but social distance will always be maintained in classes. Musical theatre classes will focus on learning choreography as ensemble singing is not yet permitted. Vocals will be added to the work when it is safe to do so. All material worked on in class will be designed to maintain social distancing with no partnerwork or contact work, and no large group pieces. IPS presentations and lectures will be made available online. Students must watch all required presentations within the week that they are made available in order to stay on top of the work.
Teachers must limit the volume of music in order to prevent them or students having to raise their voice over the level of the music as this increases droplet expression. This will also reduce sound bleed between studios that will occur due to doors and windows being kept open.
Students may not use studios outside their lesson times for private practice.
In order to allow performances to be run in as normal a way as possible, we will not present a Christmas Show. The material that 1st and 2nd years would have performed in the Christmas and Easter Shows will be presented in a longer show at the end of the Spring Term. The musical theatre material that 3rd years would have presented at Christmas will be performed on the penultimate weekend of the Spring Term and their Performance Project (Revue) will be performed in May. We hope that we will be able to run the Summer Show as normal. If there are still restrictions in place on size of audience etc. by the times of these shows, we will follow these guidelines and, if necessary, will stream the performances online rather than performing to a live audience.
Students must not arrive at the College before 8.30am, to allow for thorough cleaning of the building every morning. If a student must arrive before then due to travel issues, they must obtain prior permission from the College Principal.
2 metre marks will be sprayed onto the ground in the car park and College members must maintain social distance as they enter the building. Upon arriving at the College, all students and teachers will have their temperature remotely tested and a temperature of 38⁰C or above will be considered evidence of fever and that person will be required to go home and call 111. Students and staff should not sign in, registers will be used in the event of a fire. Hand sanitiser must be used upon entering the building.
Any student travelling into College on public transport must wear a mask as they are travelling and must change their clothes upon arrival at the College and keep these outside clothes in a sealed plastic bag until the end of the day. Other students should come to College in fitted black dancewear under streetwear and will wear this dancewear in all classes during the day. Students should have outside shoes that they leave in their common rooms all day, and a pair of light shoes, such as slippers, that they use to walk around the building, and only change into dance shoes once they are in the studio to prevent any transmission of virus from the floors into the dance spaces. On no account should outdoor shoes be worn in the studios. Students should carry all shoes needed for the day in a small shoe bag which can be brought into the studio and left at the side of the room as lockers will not be used to prevent congestion in these spaces. It is strongly recommended that all clothes are washed as soon as possible upon getting home.
Chairs in assigned common rooms can be chosen on a first-come-first-served basis, but the student must then use that same chair as their base for the two-day period they are in the College. Students may stay in their assigned studio through a break, remaining in their square, if their next class is in that studio but must not go into any other common room other than their assigned room. They must go to the common room for their lunch break, to prevent eating in the studio, and must leave a studio straight away if their next class is in a different studio to facilitate cleaning. Students must not use equipment such as microwaves, kettles and fridges, or the gym and photocopying and IT equipment, as these common touch points are hot spots of transmission. Staff may use the facilities in the staff room but must clean them after use. No tuck will be sold until it is safe to do so. All College members must bring their own lunch into College with them, and place this on your common room chair at the start of the day. As fridges are not to be used students must bring food that will not spoil at room temperature. All College members must use their own food containers, cutlery, and drinks containers that are taken home and washed. Staff may make hot drinks in the staff room but must bring their own travel mugs which they take home every day, rather than using College mugs. No personal equipment, such as phones, water bottles, folders etc. should be shared between students or teachers. No valuables can be left in common rooms or the staff room as doors will be kept open to allow ventilation of these spaces.
No library items, such as books and sheet music should be touched during this time. PDFs of scripts and songs will be sent to students prior to classes, and students must use their own devices to read this material to prevent any transmission from sharing hard copies.
Students and teachers should have their own supply of plasters as these will not be given out by the office. Ice packs will not be given out except in the case of an emergency. First Aid will be given in the case of accident or emergency, but close contact will be minimised as much as possible.
Once College members are in the building, they should not leave the premises to go to the shops or sit in the park. At the end of the day College members should go straight home and not congregate outside the College or in any other public space.
During the time that these measures are in place students and teachers should not arrange for post or parcels to be delivered to the College as this increases the risk of transmission of the virus from outside sources.
We can only control behaviour within the College, but we ask all College members to behave responsibly when not in College too. We reserve the right to ask any College member to leave the premises if we are given evidence that they have not been following guidelines on hygiene and social distancing at any time, as this can present a great risk to others. Any College member found to be flouting the regulations outlined here on the premises will be asked to leave the building immediately, and repeated flouting will lead to exclusion or expulsion. Even if you feel that you are in a low-risk category, it is important that all College members respect the fact that there are other College members who may be vulnerable due to pre-existing health conditions or age, and we must work together to keep our whole community safe.
Admin Offices, Learning Support and Pastoral Care
Students and teachers should avoid going to the admin offices as much as possible. Whenever possible the Principal, Course Leader, Financial Manager and Admin Team should be contacted by email or phone during College hours. A response will be given the following working day should an email be sent or a message left outside these hours. There will be no face-to face tutorials during this period. Students can contact the Course Leader during College hours via email, and 10-minute zoom tutorials can be arranged in advance for additional learning support or pastoral care should this be required.
Ventilation and Cleaning
Good ventilation is a very important measure to minimise transmission, therefore, windows and doors will be left open as much as possible in studios and common rooms throughout the day. This may mean that students and teachers may wish to wear warmer clothing than normal in classes and around the building. The College will be thoroughly cleaned by professional cleaners every morning. In addition to studios being cleaned whenever there is a group change, toilets, and common touch points, such as door handles and bannisters will be cleaned frequently throughout the day. At the end of every second day, before the other half of the College who had been working in their lodgings enter the premises, the whole College will be disinfected with antibacterial foggers. There will be a schedule of fogging the toilets, and toilets must not be used for 20 minutes after fogging. There are regular cleaning stations throughout the College with hand sanitiser, which should be used frequently, and spray disinfectant and blue roll for cleaning hard surfaces. Under no circumstances are College members to fill their own bottles of hand sanitiser from College supplies as this would deplete our stock very quickly.
Sources of Information
This policy has been informed by currently Government guidance available on the gov.uk website, as well as many webinars hosted by the CDMT, Equity and One Dance UK, with advisors including Alex Rall (specialist on risk assessment within the Performing Arts) and Dr Nick Allen (Clinical Director of Birmingham Royal Ballet). The College will inform all College members of any changes made to this policy as a result of changes to the Government guidance.
Useful advice and resources can be found at the following websites:
WASH HANDS REGULARLY
MAINTAIN 2M SOCIAL DISTANCING
MUST WEAR MASKS IN COMMUNAL AREAS AND IN CLASSES IF POSSIBLE