Julia Pinckney Jones
When Can We Come Back?
(Scroll to the bottom of post for TL;DR)
“When can we come back?”
“Have you thought about when you’re going to reopen?”
“When will it be safe to take in-person lessons again?”
I’m not sure if you are thinking about these things (except in the general sense of “when can things get back to something approaching normal?”) Certainly none of you, my students/parents, have actually asked me about it… but more and more over the last few weeks, I’ve been thinking about it. A lot.
I miss seeing your faces in real life, not on a screen. Zoom, while certainly a great tool and a lifeline during this time in our lives, can be frustrating and exhausting. I miss being able to see from different angles to help you find the most efficient posture and positions.
I see the frustrations of not being able to sing or play together, as well as the basic irritations of being stuck in the house, with the same people, day in and day out for weeks and now months at a time!
I hear about the government starting to authorize businesses to reopen, and I compare those businesses to mine and wonder what “phase” of opening I fit into.
…But I also hear scientists saying that these opening plans might be premature. That they might be predicated on an emotional need for things to “get back to normal” or a political desire to “get the economy restarted” than on an actual, proven analysis that it’s safe to do so.
I’ve read numerous articles about how singing uses stronger airflow than speaking, and as such might expel the virus much farther than 6 feet, and I’ve investigated how to disinfect an antique piano. (Spoiler alert: you can’t.)
I know that my husband and co-teacher has asthma and thus is at a higher risk of a worse case of the virus, should he be infected. I know that several of my students are older adults, who are also at a higher risk, and I imagine how I would feel if someone were infected because they came to my house and I’d missed cleaning something that they touched. If somehow I were the vector that caused someone to get sick or even die, I don’t know how I would sleep at night.
I’m not an immunologist or an epidemiologist (or any kind of scientist); I don’t have the answers. So I need to seek out people who know more about this than I do to make an informed decision. I do know a few of those people, but (unsurprisingly) they’re a little busy right now.
It occurred to me that some of the people with the same concerns for public health and safety that I have, but with a greater ability to access the fullest, most up-to-date scientific information, are the schools.
They have the same desires to re-open and see their students in person as I do, but they also share my concerns about trying to do that in the safest way and on the safest timeline possible.
Tucson area schools have been closed as long as we have been, and haven’t yet made the call as to whether or not to reopen “as normal” in August. If they do reopen, there is talk of staggered schedules, smaller classes, and other efforts to try to avoid another spike of infections.
I trust that the local superintendents and their teams are listening to scientists and professionals to come up with the best possible response, and so the decision that I’ve made is this: I will begin reopening for in-person lessons once schools fully reopen to students, and I will take similar precautions.
When we do reopen, for example:
We will have hand-washing protocols before and after each lesson.
Students will be discouraged from bringing extra people (siblings, visiting relatives, etc) to their lessons.
Singing lessons will still take place in the main studio, likely with a washable protective cover on the piano – masks may be required.
The music stand will be disinfected between students.
Piano lessons will take place in my upstairs studio on my digital piano, and it will be disinfected between lessons.
If any student, parent or teacher is exhibiting any symptoms that might point to Covid-19, I request that we all take the initiative to move that lesson back online. This has always been my policy, but now more than ever, it’s essential to stay home if you are AT ALL sick.
Thank you for everything you’ve been doing to support us, yourselves, and your kids at this time. We’re in this together and we’ll get through it the same way – by working together as a community to keep ourselves and each other safe!
TL;DR – Desert Home Music will start transitioning back to in-person lessons once local schools reopen for in-person classes, with additional precautions as required.