Guest blog by Lauren Class Scheider, Arts & Science
More theatres are opening up and prep for in person rehearsals is taking place! While still in the midst of a pandemic, here are 3 strong risk mitigation techniques to help prevent transmission of COVID, and other communicable diseases. Perhaps you’ve heard of the Swiss Cheese Model of Risk Mitigation. It’s applicable to rehearsal. Just like swiss cheese, each of the techniques have holes. It’s important to combine multiple layers that work together to improve risk-mitigation. As long as the holes don’t line up, each piece of protocol is stopping a percentage of opportunity for infection. These are the 3 outstanding protocols:
HVAC HVAC is talked about a lot. It stands for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning. Air circulation, not re-circulation is a key component to risk mitigation for COVID, an airborne virus. Work with your facilities manager or landlord to know more about the room you are rehearsing in with regard to their air filtration and HVAC systems. These systems can be supplemented with open doors & windows, freestanding air-filtration systems and even adding household fans. For example, you can set up one fan blowing fresh air into the west side of the room, while another blows indoor air out the window on the east side of the room.
Vaccine The number one risk mitigation technique known to scientists is the COVID Vaccine. Sensitive to the reality of living in a vaccinated and unvaccinated society, careful attention must be paid. The WHO’s COVID technical lead, Maria Van Kerkhove states: “Relaxation of public health and social measures, increased social mobility, virus variants and inequitable vaccination are a very dangerous combination.” We recommend working with a medical professional to determine appropriate behavior in your rehearsal studio, taking into account vaccination status of your company.
Masks Since COVID and some other communicable diseases are airborne, a proper fitting mask helps eliminate transmission. COVID is primarily spread by respiratory droplets among people who are in close contact with each other for various lengths of time. When a contagious person is present, it’s transmitted when their droplets containing the virus gets into someone’s nose, mouth or eyes. The droplets spread when a contiguous person coughs, sneezes, speaks, sings or breathes heavily - all of which happen regularly in the rehearsal room. Aerosol transmission, which may stay in the air for longer periods of time than droplets, can occur in some settings, particularly indoors. For all of these reasons, a well-fitted mask is a strong risk mitigation tool.
These three risk mitigation protocols are strong, and can easily be applied to rehearsal. Other risk mitigation techniques include physical distancing, hand hygiene, testing, contact tracing, temperature checks and more. These are also part of the Swiss Cheese Model. Using techniques in conjunction with one another helps keep us all healthy.
Trained Covid Compliance Officers will be of great value to every production team, regardless of union affiliation. This training is valuable for everyone in a rehearsal setting, regardless of their job. We discuss all these techniques and more at the Covid Safety & Covid Compliance Officer classes for Theatre Production and Patron Safety at Arts & Science. Arts & Science is happy to partner with Broadway Stage Management Symposium, and offer all readers a 10% discount off the class, using the code BSMS.