In our industry, there has been a lot of controversy regarding Covid-19 policies from wearing masks to apparatus sterilization as well as re-opening and safety policies. Dragonfly became an organizational member of the American Circus Educators and Mistia became a member of the organizational leaders group of ACE in order to make sure that we were up on all of the latest information and make wise choices on procedure that will keep our flyers as safe as possible.
In June we reopened, cutting classes in half and separating them by 20 minutes so we could sanitize mats and contact surfaces as well as switch out or sanitize apparatus between every class. We created one direct entry/exit with a transitional time so we would reduce cross traffic and closed off the waiting area. We installed a mask policy for coaches and flyers and a screening procedure for all who enter. We washed fabrics daily after each use ...to the point that the motor burnt out on our washer! So, we bought more silks...and a bigger washer! It has certainly been a team effort as every Dragonfly enrolled embraced the changes with grace and understanding. Many, Dragonflies purchased their own equipment, lightening the washing load and providing those students with their own sticky fabric and/or taped hoops. Many who had not brought in their own apparatus have been positively resilient and have beefed up their grip strength by working on more slippery, frequently washed, fabric and numbing up to un-taped metal. We sure have an extraordinary community with a passion to fly!
Our Covid-19 "peak" in El Paso county was April 24th and as we now prepare for July, we feel comfortable in offering some flexibility to two of our policies based on continued education and discussions with our studio/gym owning peers as well as governing organizations such as the USAG, ACE fitness and ACE Circus. There is an inherent risk in circus already and we honestly do not believe that Covid will be going away anytime soon, so learning to create sustainable safety standards to mitigate all possible safety risks is our plan now.
1) It has been our policy that students at Dragonfly must wear a mask but that masks may be removed by students while on an apparatus if they feel their safety is compromised. Our coaches have been required to wear a mask at all times.
Participating in athletic activities, at height, without adequate oxygen, in the Summer heat, breathing in abnormal quantities of Co2 and limiting visibility while creating a physical distraction (when focus is imperative), may be causing an even greater safety liability than allowing screened and tested students... to remove their mask while on apparatus. In addition, the current mask policy has created illness in some of our coaches by reducing their available oxygen while teaching in 85 degree temps, for 5-8 hours of executing skills and speaking muffled instructions that may or may not be understood by students, in the split second that could matter, if a potential incident was present. Many of these feelings are supported by the United States Association of Gymnasts and OSHA as well. Therefore, while practicing social distancing, our coaches
will now be given the option to remove their masks during active coaching and/or skill demonstration. Coaches will wear a mask should active spotting be required.
2) Since reopening, we have been washing our fabrics after every use. This is not ideal for the integrity of the fabric and causes it to breakdown faster reducing the dynamic load capacity. Continual washing also makes the fabric very slippery.
Many studios within the American Circus Educators community, including those studios ran by members of the safety committee at ACE, have now purchased enough fabric to offer a 72 hour hold on fabrics allowing for decontamination through time as opposed to daily washing. We will now follow this practice as well.
Please let us know if these two policy changes cause you concern. Dragonfly is a community and every voice has value and weight. We have no school without you and want you to feel comfortable returning to the studio!
We look forward to a wonderful Summer ahead!