Vaccination passport is a “relief”, says dance studio owner

Although some of Suzan Richards’ students are children too young to be vaccinated, their parents accompany them to the studio. Family classes are also offered.

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When Suzan Richards decided to reopen her Overbrook dance studio next week, the first thing customers wanted to know was how she would treat unvaccinated families.

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The question baffled her.

“I never asked my students if they had been vaccinated,” said the dancer and choreographer who runs the Cultural Arts Studio, a company offering Afro-Caribbean dance lessons for children and adults.

“I never asked for chickenpox or rubella or anything, so I wasn’t ready to ask if they had the COVID-19 vaccine. But the calls I got from my parents made me say, “Oh, wow! It’s their right to ask.

Richards said it was a relief to hear that Ontario had announced a vaccination passport for businesses like his. Although some of his students are children too young to be vaccinated, their parents accompany them to the studio. Family classes are also offered.

“It’s a very difficult conversation to have with parents,” said Richards, “so in a way I’m relieved because it takes the responsibility for these difficult conversations away from me.”

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Still, she wonders how the QR code system will be implemented when it goes into effect in October and if there will be any additional costs associated with it. Richards has already spent thousands of dollars upgrading her computer system and WIFI to run virtual classes, and she’s stocked up on unscented hand sanitizer and special tape to prepare for the in-person sessions.

Richards has been teaching dance for over 25 years, but just moved to his location in the former Overbrook Public School in the summer of 2019. Since then, the studio has been closed longer than it was open in due to the pandemic, she said. .

At its peak, 250 students were enrolled in courses like Soul Line-Dancing and Family Coco Jamz. Now Richards estimates that she lost around 86% of her students during the pandemic. “It’s hard,” she said. “I feel like I’m starting from scratch.

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Moreover, the uncertainty over the passport system and the rapid spread of the Delta variant has it thinking about reopening next week. It’s a situation the single mother of two teenagers never thought she would have to face.

“I just want to dance and create and provide a space for people to free themselves from the reality of this world for 60 minutes, and to do it safely. I never thought I would watch anything, ”she said.

Higher up the arts food chain in Ottawa, the National Arts Center welcomes the vaccine passport because it is something that makes spectators feel more comfortable attending cultural events.

CNA spokesperson Annabelle Cloutier points to a recent study by Nanos Research showing that a growing number of growers believe that vaccinations are the # 1 precaution that will bring them back indoors, more than distancing , masks, ventilation or any other measure.

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Events at the NAC resume on September 10, starting with a concert by the NAC Orchestra. Although the passport requirement does not begin until September 22, until then all public health guidelines will be followed, including a thorough screening process, distancing requirements and masks.

“This will continue until the vaccination passport becomes the norm on September 22,” Cloutier said.

She said people who had already purchased tickets for events starting September 22 would receive an email reminding them of the passport requirement. If they are not fully vaccinated, their tickets will be refunded.

lsaxberg@postmedia.com

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