Returning to Perform post-lockdown
When schools closed on 20th March, so did Perform. Apart from major holidays like Christmas and Easter, there's almost always a Perform activity running somewhere and we're generally been active 360 days a year with term-time classes, holiday courses and birthday parties. Until coronavirus.
Our first task in those early days was to work out how we could continue to offer something to children and, after two weeks of planning and experimenting, we launched Perform At Home classes via Zoom, which have been extremely successful. We now have 1,500 children a week attending and, judging by the comments from parents, although the children are at home and watching on a screen, we're still managing to keep the Perform magic alive.
I guess one of the benefits of being in the creative arts industry is that you are always adapting and creating, therefore we're used to coming up with new ideas. Perform started 20 years ago, and while the essence of our classes is the same as it was then, the activities themselves have come a long way because we have spent 20 years developing and improving. I see post-lockdown as the next phase in our development and will no doubt be implementing some of the changes permanently.
Comforted by the fact that coronavirus affects children very mildly, schools restarted on 1st June with a series of government guidelines in place. These have been the foundation for our class modifications. A few of our changes follow but this list is not exhaustive and will keep changing as we continue to strive to provide the best and safest children's drama classes:
- Our classes have always been "no parent zones", but now our venues will be too. We'll do a face-to-face handover from the venue door, meaning that parents won't need to congregate in a waiting area but wait socially distanced in the fresh air.
- Class times will be staggered to give us the opportunity to disinfect contact surfaces between sessions, as well as avoid a large group of people coming and going at the same time.
- All hands will be sanitised on entry.
- Children will be allocated an 'island' (basically their own space) to perform from and, whilst the Department of Education recognises that social distancing is impossible with young children, we will modify our activities so that no physical contact games will be played.
- It goes without saying that our venues will ensure regular cleaning but we'll also be armed with disinfectant spray to refresh surfaces before, during and after each class.
You can read more about the measures we are implementing here.
The most imnportant thing to note is that, while there will be changes in the way we do things, what won't change is the warmth, energy and professionalism of our workshop leaders, our unique singing and dancing activities and the laughter and benefits your child will experience every day they attend Perform. And, in my view, this is the key point.
I have two children of my own and I have seen the effects of lockdown on them. They need to be with other children. They have their devices and regular video calls with friends, regular walks in the park and online school but nothing can replace having fun with a group of their peers for their development.
We are keeping a close eye on government guidelines and look forward to opening as soon as it is safe to do so. When we do, you can be sure that your child will be as safe as we can possibly make them.