Class sizes for all in-person classes have been reduced to allow social distancing in accordance with all public health guidelines. Condensed schedules have been implemented that lower the number of in-person classroom sessions. One-way traffic patterns are being used whenever possible to minimize social interaction when students are entering and leaving classrooms.
All study abroad programs for spring and summer 2021 have been suspended due to the global health crisis. Students previously on a study abroad program in spring 2020 were able to return to the U.S. without incident and continue their studies remotely in the U.S.
ECC Arts Center Rehearsal Safety Protocol
Our objective is to maintain the highest safety standards during the pandemic while providing the best possible ensemble experience for our students in performance ensembles. To do so, we will implement strict safety protocols for all students, instructors, volunteers, and staff during all classes.
Class schedules and course modalities
We have implemented virtual classrooms for almost all Arts Center classes. For laboratory-based classes that require in-person interaction, we have taken the following steps:
- Mask wearing is required at all times when indoors.
- Social distancing at 6' or more at all times.
- Frequent handwashing using readily available personal sanitization resources.
- Abiding by specific traffic patterns to facilitate social distancing and avoid cross-flow.
- Reduced occupancy limits for all spaces to account for 6' social distancing bubbles. Additional space for vocalists and musical instruments, as determined by instrument-specific guidelines.
- Amended schedules limit on-site time to a maximum of 50 percent, reducing the opportunity for contact, general facility use (bathrooms, etc.).
- Mandatory breaks after every 30 minutes to allow ventilation systems to exchange the air and reduce aerosol accumulation.
- Expanded use of large rehearsal spaces, particularly those with superior ventilation and high ceilings.
- Additional entry and egress points allow for one-way traffic patterns.
- Restricted access to students, staff, and volunteers only; parents and families of students will not enter ECC.
- Regular sanitization of facilities and equipment, including between each rehearsal and student use.
Maintaining a safe social distance in music and voice classes.
- We have restricted rehearsals to students, instructors, staff, and volunteers only. Parents and families of students will not enter ECC.
- To allow for additional social distancing when required, all spaces used for rehearsals have been marked with 6-foot distances.
- To allow for building-wide ventilation, we have made the following air quality upgrades.
- All in-person sessions must take a break every 30 minutes to allow air HVAC Systems to bring fresh air into the room.
- All singing social distancing is now at 6'.
- Large rehearsal spaces, particularly those with superior ventilation and high ceilings and designs that exchange air for extremely large groups of people, are used for most in-person performance ensemble rehearsals. These spaces include the Blizzard Theatre (capacity of 650), the SecondSpace Theatre (capacity of 200), and the Events Center Gym (capacity exceeding 1,000). Smaller sectional rehearsals will be held in large classrooms with reduced numbers to ensure social distancing is maintained.
Hand and equipment hygiene
- The college has provided hand sanitizing stations, gloves, and disinfecting materials for each classroom to promote handwashing and sanitization, following recommended public health guidelines.
- Regular sanitizing of facilities and equipment will occur throughout and between rehearsals, including disinfecting between each rehearsal and student use.
- Sanitizing procedures will include all of the following measures:
- Students will sanitize equipment;
- Arts Center staff will sanitize equipment;
- College Operation and Maintenance staff will clean/sanitize all rehearsal classrooms.
Instrument Specific Guidelines
Best practices for each specific instrument and instrument family are based on aerosol studies by the Vienna Philharmonic and the University of Colorado; the following guidelines will be in place:
- Percussion players must adjust their habits. Rather than operating as a unit of percussionists who interchange instruments, players must occupy their specific range and set of instruments. Gloves should be worn when possible, and equipment must be sanitized between use.
- String players are not at increased risk. Playing a string instrument is considered safer than even having a mild-mannered conversation at 6', as it requires no increased respiration.
- Vocals if singers wear surgical-style masks, aerosol emission is significantly reduced.
- Keyboard players must be sanitized between use. Gloves are not recommended.
Woodwind and Brass Specific Guidelines
- The guidelines from the Vienna Philharmonic and the University of Colorado confirmed that 6' of distancing are appropriate in almost all cases (exceptions notated).
- A mask with a slit or flap must always be worn while playing an instrument during rehearsals and performances.
- All applicable wind and brass instruments with a bell must have a fitted bell cover install while playing.
- Spit valves on brass/wind instruments can not be emptied on the venue/classroom floor.
- Social distancing at 6' Woodwind and Brass instruments and 10' for trombone.
- A comprehensive discussion of wind guidelines requires an understanding of how the instruments function. Except for the flute, all wind instruments function by focusing a tight and narrow stream of air directly into the instrument. This stream of air meets a resistor (the mouthpiece in case of brass instruments, and the reed in case of woodwinds excepting the flute), which causes the stream to be set in motion as a vibrating column of air that produces waves, rather than a steady stream. This distinction is critical, as it informs how the air moves and spreads. Air does not steadily stream out of the bell the way that it would when being blown through a straw; instead, the energy input by the player is converted into vibrations, which contains the air in a far more closed space than if the air were being actively blown through the instrument. This distinction makes wind playing less problematic in terms of a viral spread than it would initially seem.
Elgin Community College's standards and protocols are based on the most current scientific studies and guidelines from applicable agencies, including but not limited to:
- Illinois Department of Public Health
- Illinois State Board of Education
- Illinois Board of Higher Education
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- University of Colorado Performing Arts Aerosol Study