This post is specific to NYS DOH, however the procedures and regulations may be beneficial to studios and teachers anywhere.
Wear A Mask
In mid-October I attended my first in person yoga class in another town. At this studio the students arrived with masks and once on mats they removed masks. I consulted a local teacher to ask how her studio handles masks and she said that they do the same. (Note this class and conversation took place in mid-October 2020)
I took my research a little further, reaching out on a Western New York Yogi FB page asking what the clear rule was and what studios were doing considering that the NYS rule for “gyms,” which yoga studios fall under, is that attendees must wear masks at all times. The overwhelming response, from the 6-10 people who got back to me, was that students must wear masks at all times, as well as teachers, of course.
This, honestly, disheartened me because of the instant fear I had that students would not attend if they had to wear masks during the entire class, so I posed a follow up question on the same group asking if students were attending with the mask mandate. The responses that were elicited smothered my fear as all of the teachers who replied said, Yes! Students are coming and are very grateful for the opportunity.
All of that to say that masks should be worn during class. It feels odd at first, but we’ll all adapt as we have to wearing our masks while running our errands or at work. That being said, in NY, if a student has a medical reason to not wear a mask, they are able to wear a face shield as outlined by NYS DOH.
Stay Home if Sick
Although masks are worn, students, and teacher, should remain home if feeling any symptoms of Covid. When entering the space students are asked to sign a contact tracing sheet so that we can contact you if we are informed of a case. The sign in sheet/contact tracing sheet also doubles as an agreement that you do not have any of the symptoms and have not, to your knowledge, been in contact with anyone who has tested positive and that you yourself are not at the time of class supposed to be home isolating waiting for a test result.
Have hand sanitizer available before signing in as well as enough pens for sign in. Because class size is capped for maximum social distancing at the space (personally my classes are capped at 12 for a space that could easily fit three times as many) it should be easy to know how many pens to have so that everyone can use a fresh pen. Also, it may be a good idea to bring a box of masks in case a student forgets theirs and does not have time to run to the car or get a new one. The last thing we would want would be for students to have to have made a wasted trip and go back home without any yoga because they forgot their mask.
Limit Community Use
Request that students bring their own equipment. We can expect that all students will have their own yoga mats, that should be an easy ask, but many will not have their own props which will change the way that class is taught. Mention to students that blocks may be very useful in most classes and direct them as to where they can purchase blocks locally at a low price. I directed students to TJ Max. I also made it very clear that they are not necessary and it is completely their decision.
If props are being shared, be clear on distribution, sanitization, and clean up after class.
Teachers and Studios, be sure to stay up to date with guidelines. And prepare your students for the very real possibility of in person classes ending suddenly and for an unknown amount of time. If resources and skills are available, have a plan for a smooth transition to virtual and guide your students to those resources. We all know how much we need yoga right now.