Announcements from Dance Fremont About Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Impacts, and Information & Resources
2021-2022 School year Information:
Update Saturday, August 20, 2021
We are planning for our 2021-2022 youth and adult beginning classes to be in-person, with the option to join via Zoom. Open int/adv ballet class will continue to have in-person and Zoom options on separate days. These plans may change according to local conditions and regulations; you can read below in the 2020-2021 school year info about some of the factors we consider in our planning. Our current precautions for in-person classes include:
- all Dance Fremont teachers, musicians, and staff being fully vaccinated
- masks required when in the building
- open windows and several HEPA air purifiers in the studios to maintain good indoor air quality and circulation
- consulting with a public health expert about safety and best practices
2020-2021 School Year Information:
Update Monday, February 9, 2021
Dear Dance Fremont Community,
As Washington State has changed its Covid phase plans, and as our region has gone in and out of different phases, Dance Fremont is continuing to monitor the guidelines and how they affect our programming. It’s been a little while, so I wanted to reach out and give you an update on where we are.
Right now, even though the guidelines would technically allow us to resume some limited in-person instruction, we are going to continue to operate all of our group dance classes on Zoom. The reasons for this include:
- wanting to err on the side of safety, and not push the limit of what the law allows
- concern about the impact of new Covid variants in the region that are potentially more virulent, and wanting to allow time to better understand how they will affect our community
- consideration for members of our community, including faculty, staff, musicians, students, and their families, for whom being in-person presents a higher risk
We really miss getting to be in the studio dancing together, and can’t wait to do so again! The faculty are engaged in continuing discussion and brainstorming about when, what, and how we could bring some in-person options back into our classes.
We are also planning summer dancing!
We will have summer classes and workshops, and we are planning flexibility in their format. If we can be in-person, we would all be delighted, but we are also planning alternate options should we need to stay on Zoom, or do a hybrid setting. These alternate options would be designed specifically for their setting, and not just duplicate in-person programming.
Thank you to everyone for being part of our community. Even on Zoom, it means so much to all of us at Dance Fremont to be able to connect with you and share our love of dance. Your presence, smiles, dancing, and messages of support are what have been carrying us through these difficult times! Please don’t hesitate to reach out with questions, or just to say hi!
A reminder: for ways you can support us, such as signing up for Amazon Smile, click here!
Karena Birk, MFA
Director, Dance Fremont
Update Monday, August 3, 2020
We hope that you have stayed healthy this summer, and are doing well despite the uncertainty surrounding us all. We know that many are anxious to know about the school year schedule at Dance Fremont, and we appreciate your patience and understanding as we have been working on planning in an ever-shifting environment. At last, we’re ready to share our fall plans with you.
- The school year will start Monday, September 14.
- Proficiency Program level classes (Levels 2 through 6) will have their regular class schedule augmented with small group semi-private lessons to give everyone extra individual attention and make progress towards their dance goals.
- Primary and Preparatory Program level classes (Creative Dance through Level 1) will be capped at 5 students per class to ensure a personal experience when taking class over Zoom and proper social distancing when in-person classes resume.
- All Zoom classes will continue to be recorded and made available securely to only the students in that class, so dancers who cannot always attend at the scheduled time due to technology-sharing or family scheduling issues do not have their training interrupted.
- The Steadfast Tin Soldier will go forward in a modified form. Though we will not be able to hold our traditional performance in the theater, we will still give opportunities for the dancers to learn, perform, and be celebrated. Format and auditions will be announced in September.
- We can continue to offer scholarship support to families who have been affected by the pandemic or otherwise have need. Please contact Dance Fremont before letting finances be what prevents anyone from dancing. Scholarship funding may also be applied to materials needed to participate in class, such as uniform requirements or technology to access remote classes.
While King County is in Phase 2, all classes, including the small group semi-private lessons, will be conducted remotely via Zoom. We will also offer short lunchtime “recess” movement break classes that are open to all (including parents!) to help break up a day spent sitting at a computer!
When King County moves to a full Phase 3 (gatherings of up to 50 people allowed), Primary and Preparatory Program classes will meet in person & retain the 6-student limit. The Proficiency Program semi-private lessons will meet in person, while full group classes will remain remote. For all classes and semi-private lessons, we will continue to offer the option to keep taking class solely via Zoom for students for whom in-person is not a viable option. Safety protocols will include (but are not limited to): mandatory well-fitted masks, using hand sanitizer on arrival, regular sanitizing of barres/high-touch surfaces, social distancing in the studio, no congregating in the building before/after classes, and more.
When King County moves to a full Phase 4, all classes will resume in person, but we will still maintain the option to take class remotely.
While we are so fortunate to have the technology to conduct classes remotely, we recognize that taking class via Zoom is a challenging new way of doing things, especially if taking school classes remotely all day. Accordingly, we have adjusted the 2020-21 schedule this year with several goals in mind:
- provide students with some continuity of instructor when possible, even when moving up a level
- spread out classes for the upper levels to reduce days with long chunks of screen time and/or late evenings
- add additional options for Creative Dance, Preparatory 1 and 2, and Level 1 classes, since they have reduced class sizes
- create a schedule that can move from remote, to partially in person, to fully in person as King County moves through Phases 2, 3, and 4
It’s true that online classes, though easier in some ways (no traffic!), can be more difficult in others. We sincerely wish that we could return to the studio with our dancers right away. Our staff chose to become dance teachers because they love what they do, and we all miss dancing in person with our students. But in the process of teaching those dancers, we come to care deeply for the community we create together, and there is not one person in that community whose safety we are willing to risk for the opportunity to dance in the studios again before it is safe to do so.
Please continue reading below if you would like more information about how and why we arrived at this format for starting the school year.
In making decisions about the school year, our primary concern at Dance Fremont is the safety of our students, faculty, musicians, staff, and their families. There are a number of people in all these categories who are or live with high risk individuals, and it is very important to us that we do not put their health or lives at risk.
In addition to consulting the regulations for various phases of opening, we have been in discussion with other dance programs locally and across the country, pooling our knowledge on risks and best practices. We have also read guidelines from organizations such as the CDC, and from dance-specific organizations like NDEO. We are making our decisions based not merely on what we are legally allowed to do, but on what we think will be the healthiest for our community.
Right now, our knowledge of COVID-19 suggests:
- indoor spaces present greater risk of spreading the disease
- duration of exposure correlates with likelihood of contracting COVID-19 and with the severity of illness
- deep or forceful breathing such as when exercising presents greater risk.
In line with our organization’s existing values around the safety of our dancers and community, we are choosing a cautionary approach that is intentionally not at the edge of the legal limits of our state, county, or city’s regulations. Considering the above factors, and the situation of our community, we have decided that Phase 2 is not the appropriate Phase for us to resume in person classes, even though 5-person classes would be allowed under the letter of the law. When conditions improve enough for WA to move into a full Phase 3, we will be starting with classes outlined above that are limited in size and in duration to ensure as safe an in person experience as possible, while still preserving the option for taking class remotely.
Since we first embarked on our online class journey in March, we have learned so much about how to make our online dance classes fun, engaging, and challenging. We continue to offer live piano accompaniment for our older classes. We find joy in our Zoom classes each time a dancer does something silly, makes an inspired connection between ideas, or achieves something for the first time, and we all connect to each other through sharing stories about our lives, dancing together, and learning new things- just as we did in person. We hope you’ll join us this school year to bring movement, creativity, and community to your child’s daily life as they navigate growing up in turbulent times.
As always, feel free to contact us if you have questions or concerns not addressed in this message, and we look forward to sharing our fall class schedule with you on August 7th.
Karena Birk, MFA
Update Thursday March 12, 2020
After today’s announcement of the regional school closure being extended to April 24, I know that a lot of people have questions about what will be happening at Dance Fremont. Right now, I can not give you definitive answers, but I can tell you what we are working on. The staff, faculty, and board members at Dance Fremont are currently researching and brainstorming different ways to offer dance instruction remotely, and offer other ways for our community to stay engaged in dance and with each other. We are considering both the different offerings we could create to best serve our various levels and populations, and the logistics of how to implement anything that we do.
Our in-person classes remain cancelled, but if the local recommendations on social distancing change, that is a decision we will re-evaluate.
The best possible outcome in our current situation is that a couple weeks or months from now. all the closures look like an overreaction. If that is how we look back at this time, it means we succeeded. I know I am not alone in having several people very close to me who are in high-risk groups, and I hope that I will still have each of them in my life when this is over.
Everyone at Dance Fremont thanks you for your understanding and support, and we hope to be dancing with you soon, one way or another!
Update Wednesday March 11, 2020
We are sorry to announce that effective immediately, we will be closing the studio for all classes for two weeks, in accordance with our policy to close with the Seattle Public School District emergency closures, and in accordance with health agency recommendations to try to slow the spread of COVID-19.
As plans are changing rapidly for all families, the building will be open today, Wednesday March 11 for students to stay who may not have an alternate plan after school. If you are able, please have your child plan to return home after school. For those who are not, we will be available here for them until you can pick them up.
We will announce additional details regarding the closure soon. We are deeply saddened to have to close, and thank you for your patience as we navigate this unprecedented situation.
March 6, 2020
Because this is an evolving situation, we will be monitoring the guidance issued by Public Health Seattle – King County, the Washington State Department of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We will follow the recommendations of our local agencies, and will communicate with you right away if anything in our situation changes. The health of our community is our priority!
One of the best things we can do as a community is to try to relieve strain on the medical system by keeping ourselves as healthy as possible. As we are still in the midst of flu season, we encourage people to stay home if they are feeling sick, especially with a fever, and be diligent about the following precautions:
-Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Hand washing is extremely effective at stopping the spread of diseases like the flu, cold and COVID-19!
-Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available for hand washing
-Cover your cough with a tissue or your elbow, not your hand
-Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
-Avoid contact with people who are sick
Thank you for your efforts in keeping our community healthy!