COVID-19 FAQ’s

You have COVID questions! (Don’t we all?) Here are some answers to the most frequently asked queries regarding pandemic protocols around PNB School.

Q: What is AGMA and why does PNB follow AGMA work rules?

  1. AGMA is the America Guild of Musical Artists and is the union representing our Company Dancers.
  2. AGMA has developed a very comprehensive set of COVID-19 guidelines designed to keep artists, including dancers, as safe as possible in studios. These guidelines were developed by a medical panel and have been referenced by many other organizations in their creation of COVID-19 protocols.
  3. Under the sports guidelines set forth by Governor Inslee, the PNB Company Dancers are in the same category as professional sports teams and are required to follow all COVID-19 guidance provided by their union.
  4. The PNB COVID-19 Team, with approval from infection prevention and mitigation consultants, has decided that upper-level PNB School students fall under the Higher Education classification of Governor Inslee’s sports guidelines. This means students must follow the guidelines set by a league or union affiliated with the organization (in this case, AGMA). Using this classification allows us to continue operating with classes under AGMA’s guidelines even if our current Washington state phase might look different.

Q: Who does PNB work with in making decisions?
A: PNB is in regular communication with infection prevention and mitigation experts provided by Seattle Center as well as King County Public Health. All COVID related decisions are vetted through these experts to ensure the safety of people entering our building is a top priority and in alignment with the guidance set forth by AGMA, Public Health, the CDC, and Governor Inslee’s office.

Q: Who is on the PNB COVID-19 team?
A: The PNB COVID-19 Team consists of Lauren Kirchner (COVID Supervisor), Ellen Walker (Executive Director), Terrie Flaming (Director of Human Resources), and Kiyon Ross (Director of Company Operations). When making decisions regarding PNB School, this team also includes Denise Bolstad (Managing Director of the School), Wendy Casper (Assistant to the Managing Director of the School), Abbie Siegel (School Principal), and Andie Abercrombie (School Supervisor).

Q: Why does PNB have a COVID Supervisor?
A: PNB has a COVID Supervisor as required by AGMA and to have a dedicated person to help keep PNB staff, students, and artists as safe as possible during the pandemic.

Q: What is a COVID Supervisor?
A: The COVID Supervisor is responsible for overseeing the implementation of COVID-19 return to work guidelines for everyone at PNB. This person has basic training on COVID-19 and continues educating themselves as the pandemic evolves. They also have the resources and authority to make decisions that help keep PNB staff safe. Here are a few examples of what the PNB COVID Supervisor does:

  1. Using guidance provided by the CDC, OSHA, and AGMA, the COVID Supervisor conducts risk assessment based on the venue/space, activities, and other varying factors.
  2. Implements COVID-19 training based on the company’s COVID-19 reopening plans for everyone at PNB.
  3. Monitors the implementation of COVID return to work plans and the progression from phase to phase.
  4. As a member of the PNB safety committee, the COVID Supervisor has access to senior management and keeps them informed on the plan as it is being implemented or any changes impacting the plan.
  5. The COVID Supervisor works with all the PNB groups – artists, production, school, ancillary staff, and union representatives, to ensure the unique needs of each group are met to keep them as safe as possible.
  6. The COVID Supervisor is in charge of making sure updated guidelines are posted throughout the building.

Q: Can PNB pianists play from home?
A: Many of our pianists are already playing from home.

Q: Why are some PNB School teachers conducting classes from home?
A: Everyone has their own comfort level in regards to their potential exposure to COVID-19. Many people do not feel comfortable interacting indoors, even with safety protocols in place, with people outside their household for various reasons. Some teachers have also created a workspace at home that works best for them when teaching via Zoom. PNB is committed to working with individual employees to ensure they feel safe and comfortable doing their jobs during the pandemic.

Q: Are PNB staff members working in the buildings?
A: PNB staff members continue to work remotely and/or work in the PNB facilities on a limited basis.

Q: Can I drop off my registration and/or other PNB School paperwork?
A: We ask that you send any and all PNB School paperwork via email to pnbschool@pnb.org or scan/fax at 206.441.2430 while COVID restrictions are in place.

Q: Will parents be allowed back in the building at some point in the future?
A: It remains important to keep the number of people in our buildings limited to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect our PNB community from a potential exposure. In order to do so, we must restrict who is entering our buildings. We hope to reopen our building to PNB families as soon as it is safe to do so.

Q: What are your COVID-19 cleaning protocols?
A: We have developed ongoing comprehensive cleaning protocols that include regular sanitization of high touch surfaces, overnight deep cleaning and fogging of each studio, made cleaning products and hand sanitizer readily available in each studio and common space, and an overall heightened attention to ensure our building remains as clean as possible.

Q: What kind of air filtration system does PNB have?
A: As of spring 2020, PNB’s HVAC systems have all been updated and cleaned. We use air filtration filters with a MERV-16 rating (minimum recommended is MERV-13). Each PNB studio has been tested for air exchange rates, which helped determine the number of dancers and faculty that can safely be in a studio.

Q: What is the status of McCaw Hall? Is it available for PNB to use?
A: McCaw Hall is owned and run by the City of Seattle. Although PNB is right next door, we do not have unlimited or priority access to the hall. It is not being used as it was prior to COVID, but it does not sit empty. Many Seattle Center cultural festivals are using it to film content for their communities, in addition to several other organizations filming programs in lieu of in-person events. PNB Company Dancers have filmed several works at McCaw Hall for our digital season and will be filming at various points during the spring. Seattle Opera also uses the hall’s spaces for their digital engagement projects.

Q: Are masks safe to use while exercising?
A: Yes, masks are safe to wear while exercising. Studies have found that there are no changes to oxygen intake levels while wearing a mask. Many dancers will experiment with different masks to find one that they like best while dancing.

Q: How often should I change my mask while exercising?
A: Masks should be monitored while exercising and changed as necessary. When a mask becomes damp/wet, it is no longer effective against aerosol particles. We recommend students bring at least one mask per class or hour that they are exercising and change as needed.

Q: Can I change my clothes at PNB?
A: There is no dressing room access or lockers available and students will not be able to change clothes in the bathrooms. Students should come to the studios with ballet attire underneath street clothes and be prepared to remove street shoes and clothing prior to entering the studio.

Q: Can I use the bathroom at PNB?
A: Yes! There are designated Student restrooms on the first floor of the Phelps Center and the Francia Russell Center. Please note: There is NO access to lockers and showers. Students must wear a mask in the hallway and in the restroom. Hand washing protocol is strictly enforced.

Q: Can I use the drinking fountain?
A: No. Students should bring their own water bottles with water from home. Water fountains will NOT be available for use.

Q: May I purchase a drink or snack from the vending machines in the Student Lounge?
A: No. The Student Lounge is currently off-limits to students, and vending machines are NOT available for use.

Q: What is PNB planning for Summer Course and Fall 2021? Will students attend in-person classes?
A: We are planning to have students at some capacity in our studios for both Summer Course and Fall 2021, but that is dependent on the progression and contagion rates of COVID variants as well as other metrics that King County Public Health uses to inform re-opening phases, health and safety protocols, and guidance for schools, sports teams, and fitness facilities. We continue to follow the health and safety protocols we’ve been relying upon to keep our students, staff, and company dancers safe. We understand that families like to have some certainty about the summer and fall, and are building as much predictability as we can in designing summer course and as we look to our fall semester planning. That said, we continue to navigate the unprecedented conditions of the pandemic and are cognizant of the many plans we made over the past year but had to change in order to err on the side of safety for all.

Q: What if another member of my family is traveling out of state? Do PNB’s travel guidelines apply to a student’s entire family?
A: Our travel guidelines are only required of the PNB School Student (or employee), so your student is not required to miss class or adhere to the PNB travel guidelines when another member of the household travels. That being said, we do highly recommend that all members of your household get tested 3-5 days after the traveler returns home as a way to provide your family with some peace of mind about the potential exposure traveling presents. For additional information regarding Washington State’s travel restrictions and guidelines, please refer to the Washington Department of Health: https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/COVID19/Travel

We will update this page as more information about COVID-19 becomes available. As always, if you have other concerns or comments, please contact the school at pnbschool@pnb.org. Please be mindful that just like many of you, many of us are working remotely, but we aim to reply to all inquiries as quickly as possible. Thank you!