Teachers Safety Guide

From 19th July 2021 there are no legal restrictions on our classes or shows, however some of our covid safety measures will be staying in place and others will be gradually phased out rather than being removed all at once. This is so we can keep improv fun while also keeping safety in classes and shows. We will also be able to adjust month by month and rollback changes if needed.

This guide is based on the following:

>> Hoopla’s Full Risk Assessment
>> Department of Digital, Culture, Media & Sport’s Guide for the Performing Arts

The overall aim is to make sure Hoopla’s improv workshops are safe while still being fun, friendly, sociable and playful.

Main Actions

These actions have the greatest effect on lowering the overall risk:

  1. Limit the chances of anyone with Covid being in the room (still in place after 19th July 2021).
  2. Keep 1m+ physical distancing in place throughout the class (gradually phased out after 19th July 2021).
  3. Use set smaller groups (removed after 19th July 2021).
  4. Ventilation (still in place after 19th July 2021).
  5. Cleaning and hand hygiene (still in place after 19th July 2021).

1. Limit the chances of anyone with Covid being in the room.

Before the class starts (still in place after 19th July 2021):

  • Students and teachers to be regularly emailed before and throughout the course reminding them to not come if they, or a member of their household, have any signs of symptoms such as:
    • High temperature or fever.
    • A new, continuous cough.
    • A loss or change to sense of smell or taste.

Before people enter the room (removed after 19th July 2021):

  • Teacher or Front of House (FOH) to ask each person on arrival if they have had any of the following symptoms:
    • High temperature or fever.
    • New continuous cough.
    • A loss or change in taste or smell.
  • Teacher or FOH to perform a temperature check (equipment issued before class).
  • Please note we should still be friendly and welcoming during this! Yes, it’s an odd way to start a new course and may feel awkward, but doing these things greatly reduces risks and means we can all have fun once we are in the workshop.

During the class (still in place after 19th July 2021):

If people do appear ill in class (fever, ongoing cough) then we have to be assertive and ask them to leave for the rest of the session. If this happens we will follow up later and give them an online workshop alternative.

We also need to ask people to cover their mouths if coughing, or again asking them to leave if it is a frequent cough.

If you hear of anyone from your class or venue having covid (still in place after 19th July 2021):

Please immediately phone Steve Roe at Hoopla or Jessie Rutland.

2. Physical distancing (gradually phased out after 19th July 2021)

Previous UK Government physical distancing advice was 1 metre + , which means 2 metres if possible but occasionally going down to 1m+ if other safety measures have been taken in the room (which they have). From 19th July 2021 this legal restriction has been removed, but teachers may choose to still operate with physical distancing in place and we advise gradually phasing it out rather than changing everything all at once.

Before the class starts:

  • Please check your room number is the same as expected and stick to your room number, as people will have been emailed room number in advance so they can find it quickly and avoid overcrowding around reception area. (still in place after 19th July 2021)
  • Check your room is clearly sign posted and if not put up a sign or ask reception team to fix. This is to avoid overcrowding in shared areas by making sure students can find the class. (still in place after 19th July 2021)
  • Please arrive early to get chairs for your class (ask at reception if at Theatre Deli as rooms are cleared of everything unless asked for on arrival). (still in place after 19th July 2021)
  • et out workshop audience with 2 metre gaps between chairs, using full width of room and possibly sides, and maximising floor space.(removed after 19th July 2021)
  • People’s chairs then stay the same throughout the evening. (removed after 19th July 2021)
  • Check people are finding your class OK as they arrive. (still in place after 19th July 2021)

Announce at start of class (removed after 19th July 2021 but left here in case we need to rollback):

“Welcome everyone! We’re going to start with the safety chat so you know what’s in place, so we can then go on to focus on having fun. As you’ve already probably noticed you’re sat further apart from each other than is normal for an improv workshop. We are physically distanced but we can still be playfully and emotionally connected. In fact, to help that please can you look around the room and wave hello to each other.

Current guidance for performing arts is  a 1 metre + physical distance. This means most of the time we are at 2 metre distance but every now and then we can go down to 1 metre + for a short time.

This might feel awkward at first, but we’ll get used to it as the class goes on and before you know it we’ll be having fun with improv. You’ve all been doing physical distancing for months now, so you’re already naturals.

If at any point you are worried about distancing or anything else please do let me know, that’s always more important than the temporary existence of an improv scene or game.

Remember 1 m+ is just the minimum distance, it’s not the only distance. We can enter the stage from all the way across the room. We can use the whole space. In fact the ability to connect emotionally across a distance and to bring fantastic stage craft to improv is one of many fantastic skills that are going to be developed more than usual over this course.

As I’m teaching I will sometimes explain how the game used to be played, before we work together to find the version of the game that works during physical distanced times.

You are also going to be in set smaller groups throughout the class, rather than regularly changing groups. But remember we are actually one big supportive team and to help that please can you look around and say hello team to each other.”

During the class:

  • All games and exercises to be kept at 2 metre distancing if possible, or 1 metre + for short times. (removed after 19th July 2021, we can now teach with normal distancing and gradually phase out distancing in classes)
  • If games are direct face-to-face extra care to be taken that 2 metre distancing is in place. (removed after 19th July 2021)
  • Remind people of physical distancing if they becomes too close, but in a friendly Hoopla way and with a helpful nudge into an alternative offer to help the scene continue. (removed after 19th July 2021)
  • Limit the number of people who are on stage at any one time to ensure it isn’t too crowded and noisy. (removed after 19th July 2021)
  • Use a buddy/small group system (see later topic). (removed after 19th July 2021)

Key exercises that help make physical distancing still fun and emotionally connected:

  • Scenes where one person starts on stage involved in an activity and the other person enters from a much larger distance than normal. The exercise can experiment with how people physically enter, what emotional offer they make when entering the room and more. The exercise helps people to have fun with the increased distance rather than feeling trapped by the new limitation. They can explore the effect of a character making an entrance and the audience experiences how much we see from a character just by how they use the space.
  • Emotional connection at a distance. Actors play the most emotionally connected scene they can but at a very large physical distance. The director gives them a strong relationship and emotional situation as a suggestion, and from across the stage (or other areas) they play the scene with the same emotional intensity as if they were right next to each other. Has the surprise side effect of making improv look AWESOME as improvisers suddenly appear very confident and have emotional connection across the stage, similar to a larger scale West End production.
  • Lots more ideas at https://www.hooplaimpro.com/fun

Every game has a physically distanced version!

Everything has a physically distanced version! You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. In class you can think “what exercise would I usually do next for this situation?” and explain the normal version to the class. Then together you can work out the physically distanced alternative.

Other adhoc examples and teaching tips for physically distanced games:

  • If everyone walking around the room at once is likely to be too busy you could have half the class playing the exercise first followed by the other half, or use the buddy system groups. This also means people get to make observations on the exercises from outside.
  • If everyone in a circle (like many of our warm up games) means physical distancing is compromised you could play with half the group followed by the other half.
  • If a circle game involves running through the middle of the circle or swapping places in a chaotic way we could instead run outside the circle to avoid overcrowding.
  • Clapping games (for instance Danish Clapping) can still be played but with people clapping at a distance.
  • If people would usually build something with their bodies almost connecting (for instance The Machine, A-Z, Piece of Cheese, I’m a Whisk) we can still do that but with people separate and using our imagination to see how they would connect together.
  • 8 things/Hot Spot etc we would usually take it in turns to jump into the middle of the circle with everyone around supporting. Instead we can stay in our spot on the circumference of the circle but jump in the air to demonstrate “jumping in”.
  • In long-form tags could be replaced by audible edits of people just saying from off stage “we transport this character to mission control.”

Scene drift:

If a scene starts drifting across the room it may be because one improviser wants to be further away while the other one has a different understanding of 2 metres and keeps getting closer. Pause the scene and ask the improviser who keeps getting closer to instead move further away and explore the overall space, othewise it becomes a cat and mouse game and the scene drifts across the stage.

3. Use set smaller groups (removed after 19th July 2021)

Instead of constantly changing partners/groups for games it is currently advised to have set small groups that stick together for the whole evening. For instance based on where people are sat on arrival you can group them into teams of 3-4 (and a maximum of 6). They will then play all games with that same team throughout the evening. They could start by chatting, getting to know each other and giving themselves a team name and (physically distanced) entry move.

On future weeks the group line ups can change.

Teachers can encourage each group to support each other to prevent an “us and them” competitive attitude popping up.

Although it means there is less interaction between the whole group (due to Covid safety reasons) it does mean people form stronger bonds with their smaller group over the evening.

At the end of the session each buddy system group can reflect on what they got from each session.

4. Ventilation (still in place after 19th July 2021)

Before the class:

  • All air-conditioning units have already been set up by venues to be using external air intake instead of recycling areas.
  • Hoopla have also spoken to each venue to check outside windows can be opened.

On arrival:

  • Open windows to ensure there is external air coming into the venue.
  • For Theatre Deli you’ll have to ask reception staff to do this.
  • You can also open doors into rooms, if noise levels allow this.
  • Any problems with being able to do this please phone Steve at Hoopla immediately.

During class:

  • Make sure windows stay open. This is really important!

After class:

  • Please phone Steve or Jessie at Hoopla immediately if there have been any problems with this, so we can fix for future workshops.

5. Cleaning and Hand Hygiene (still in place after 19th July 2021)

Before the class:

  • All venues have increased cleaning of all rooms and surfaces.
  • All venues have increased gaps between bookings to enable cleaning to happen before and after classes.
  • Students and teachers regularly emailed remind them to wash hands before and after class.

On teacher arrival:

  • Wash your own hands (and throughout evening).
  • Familiarise yourself with hand sanitising stations around venue and immediately contact reception if they are missing.
  • Put a hand sanitiser in your classroom (we’re supplying teachers with their own stash, please don’t move the venue’s own ones).
  • Check toilets are clean and have soap available, if not please contact reception.
  • Check your classroom is clean, if not please contact reception.
  • Please spray any surfaces that are likely to be touched by hands such as tables, door handles, light switches.

As students arrive:

  • Point out hand sanitising stations.

At end:

  • Wash hands.
  • Spray any surfaces that have been touched in your room.
  • Return chairs to reception (if required by venue).
  • Any problems with cleaning or hand hygiene please immediately phone Steve at Hoopla so we can improve things in time for next class.

6. Face Coverings (not needed in class but communal areas depend on venue)

According to DCMS guidelines face coverings do not have to be worn by teachers and improvisers during the actual workshop, rehearsal or show.

Face coverings are currently mandatory in the communal areas of Theatre Deli and other large rehearsal or show venues.

Similar to dance classes, exercise classes, gyms, adult education, bars, restaurants, offices and cafes we have introduced physical distancing and other safety measures as opposed to mandatory masks in our classes.

However if games are likely to be at 1m+ for a longer time as opposed to 2m then face coverings must be worn.

Also if people want to wear face coverings they are allowed, but we should not then offer the rest of the class face coverings or push the rest of the class into wearing them.

We have lowered class sizes and/or increased room sizes and done other safety measures so that people don’t have to wear face coverings in the actual class.

Other Things

Singing and Speech Volume (removed after 19th July 2021)

To minimise risk from aerosol transmission singing should be done at a normal volume without excessive volume/belting. Similarly scenes and games should be at normal conversational level and not shouted.

When singing extra care should  also be taken that people are 2 metres away from each other and not singing directly face to face.

For singing workshops extra care should also be taken that good ventilation is in place with open windows and if noise levels allow open doors.

Letting Students in Early (still in place after 19th July 2021)

Please arrive to your room in good time (at least 15 minutes before start at the very latest) and let any early students in to the room as they arrive. This is to prevent over crowding at reception areas and communal areas.

Track and Trace (still in place after 19th July 2021)

This is already covered by people signing up online, you don’t have to do anything else. Some venues may do their own track and trace on arrival (for instance Theatre Deli reception).

Floor Markings (not needed)

We aren’t using floor markings as we feel the setting out of the audience chairs already displays distance and that the decreased class size enables distancing to take place, and people are already quite used to physical distancing from real life. Also floor markings can actually sometimes accidentally make people closer, as two people on the edge of each marking area can end up closer together than 1 metre.

Pub (no change)

Hoopla is not responsible for other venues after the official class finishes. So while students may independently choose to go to the pub together after class please let them know that Hoopla’s official teaching and responsibility ends when the class finishes and we aren’t responsible for external pubs and businesses. We suggest teachers and students are sensible with any pub visits and follow general guidelines, but Hoopla can not monitor pub trips.

Feedback (still in place after 19th July 2021)

Please escalate any concerns you or your students have immediately to Hoopla’s training management (Jessie Rutland or Steve Roe). This is best done immediately after the class so we can fix things the next day.

 

The new job of the improv scene will be to follow safety guidelines while devising new ways to make things fun. We’re sure the improv scene will rise to the challenge.

Yes improv at a distance is possible.

Yes it will be fun!

 

More info

>> Safety in classes

>> Safety in shows

>> Booking flexibility

>> Improv at 1m+ is still fun!

>> Guidelines for our teachers

>> Guidelines for our performers

>> Guidelines for our front of house

>> Hoopla’s full risk assessment

>> Government guidelines for performing arts

 

 

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