Phases for Re-Opening

Update: Long Island may begin reopening as early as next week. We have begun to implement and put together documents for students and instructors. Feel free to copy our templates. (The ones that are underlined are currently finished and clickable.)

You can check your local state’s checklist for reopening. You will need your NAICS code from your dojo tax returns. (Ours is 611620 — Suffolk County Sports and Recreation.) New York’s website is: https://www.businessexpress.ny.gov/app/nyforward/

Make sure to fill out your state’s compliance affirmation form (if they have). For NYS, the link is here: https://forms.ny.gov/s3/ny-forward-affirmation

Prepare a written plan in the event of an audit. Feel free to use ours below or use a template. NY has one here: https://www.governor.ny.gov/sites/governor.ny.gov/files/atoms/files/NYS_BusinessReopeningSafetyPlanTemplate.pdf

Below is a multi-phase re-opening plan I developed, based on Dr. Chris Moriarty’s plan for BJJ schools but specifically tailored for Aikido dojos. Feel free to use or don’t use, this is likely the plan that we are going to follow. Please let me know your thoughts.

This plan requires a multi-faceted approach that will require the cooperation of multiple levels, from the government down to the individual. These phases won’t have actual timelines and will only move forward once certain conditions have been met. These conditions may may vary when it comes down to your individual county/state/locality and their laws so please consult a local attorney for clarification.

We recommend ALL previous conditions should be met before moving to the next phase. Be aware that by the time we are allowed to open, certain conditions may have already been met. I highly recommend you still go through each of the phases regardless for at least 2 weeks (past phase 1) just so that students are comfortable and familiar with the protocol in the event that things worsen and you must return to a previous phase.

Phase 1 (Schools remain closed)

Conditions:

  • Non-Essential Businesses are ordered to remain shut down.
  • Covid 19 cases and deaths are rising or still at the plateau/peak in your area.
  • Widespread trace testing has not occurred yet.

Goals

  • Prepare for when the lock-down orders lift and develop a guideline safety plan for your school.
  • Communicate the expectations to members so they understand the guidelines.
  • Develop a distance education curriculum.

Plan for Phase 1

Prepare for when the lock down orders lift and develop a guideline plan for your school

  • Identify your at risk populations from most at risk to least at risk. Age, health conditions are the two main criteria (but not obviously not concrete since it has been shown that it can affect a younger, healthier population.) While you may not have to phase them in based on risk level, once the co-mingling of members who are likely to transmit begin training, you can match those who are at most risk to those who are least likely to transmit.
  • Identify those in your population that may be most likely to transmit and spread the virus from most likely to least likely. Healthcare workers, essential workers, those who live with at risk family members, those who expressed their decisions to not follow safety guidelines due to their personal beliefs. You may need to phase in these members from least likely to most likely. Members who will refuse to follow guidelines inside of your school may be turned away from training/membership. This way you can take into account who may train with who.
  • Define your training schedule for when you plan to open for each phase (see below for suggested guidelines.) Make note of your mat space size and the distance you would accept between practitioners for each phase.
  • Poll your students and ask them whether or not they plan on coming back when you reopen (on x date), explain the protocols and your phases so they understand how the dojo plans to move forward. This way you can figure out how many classes you will need to run based on those numbers.
  • Consider adding a long term solo weapons class for those uncomfortable with eventually moving to hand to hand, but still wish to train.
  • Define your cleaning schedule. The chemicals to be used (bleach, hydrogen peroxide, regular cleaners), the number of times per week (recommend after every class.) If you run multiple classes per day, consider the minimum time needed between classes to reduce likelihood of virus particles remaining in the air. Stock up on essential supplies such as cleaners, mops, wipes, hand sanitizers etc.
  • Define your contingency plan (how long you will shut down for) should an outbreak occur in your school. Define how students should inform you and what the procedure should be if they or someone they were in contact with was diagnosed with Covid19.
  • Consider whether or not you will be accepting new members (or which phase you would begin accepting new members. Also, how you would accept new members. For us, we plan on accepting new members as set groups by repurposing our 5 week Introduction to Aikido course to onboard new members and familiarize them with the dojo protocol as quickly as possible in the Post-Covid19 era, while still maintaining closed groups to prevent cross group spread.
  • Consider, if you will be cutting down classes or students will be limited to certain classes, a new pricing structure that is fair for them and for you.
  • Consider installing lever door handles or foot pedals for bathroom, and automatic soap dispensers and faucets. I understand this is an extra cost but may be worth it in the long run. Speak to your landlord (if you have) about changes regarding the facilities.
  • Consider installing a house fan that pushes the inside air our and pulls outside air in. (Thanks August for the recommendation!)
  • Speak to your landlord about rent payments (if you have) or your mortgage lender (if you have.) Develop a goal to your negotiation and what your hard line is (when your ROI no longer makes sense). There is the possibility that you may not be able to open in the same location, depending on your landlord/lender and your ability to make rent. Look into small business resources such as the PPP loan and the EIDL loan, both of which have forgivable portions.
  • Check your dojo’s long term finances and ROI to make sure your model would be sustainable, and have both a metric for when it is NOT sustainable so you can know when to deploy your exit strategy (which you should have regardless.)
  • Begin setting up a program (can be as simple as Google Sheets or shared Google Calendar) to allow students to reserve time slots. Deploy for Phase 2.

Communicate the expectations to members so they understand the guidelines, the phases, and their responsibilities.

  • Create a waiver form that every member who plans to train will sign. This waiver should make mention that they understand there is a risk of contracting COVID19 (and other communicable diseases) should they choose to train. It also lists their responsibilities (which should be initialed) as far as protecting themselves and those around them.
  • Email it to members and only allow those who have signed and agreed to those terms to be able to train once you can open.
  • Make sure you have a payment policy in place in the event another shut down is ordered or an outbreak occurs in your school and communicate that policy to your members and on your website. Make sure you follow your state or local municipality’s laws regarding consumer protection.
  • Communicate how each phase will work and what to expect/will be expected of them per phase.
  • Clearly have all these documents accessible from your website or student portal.

Develop a Distance Education Curriculum

  • This is optional. There are some studies pointing to customer exposure fatigue due to too many mass targeted online learning sessions. If you choose to create a DE curriculum, consider creating it based on the bullet points below. DE and in person learning have many differences, be aware that the contrasts are starker when it comes to learning a normally collaborative physical activity,
  • Poll your members first. Ask them if, when, how, and what they would like to learn via virtual meetings or asynchronous learning. Divide that into different topics. I cannot stress the importance of empowering members to be a part of their own learning process, and to understand your members and their needs better. Most businesses continue to research and touch base with their customers for feedback in order to better serve them. This is imperative for dojos as well.
  • Set a schedule that makes sense for your students and yourself.
  • Consider instead of a lecture style session (where the instructor leads the classes and talks at students), to create a student centered learning curriculum where students do and get feedback far more often than the instructor explains. Consider a collaborative learning environment where students help each other and ask questions and work towards a common goal.
  • Consider providing a portal where students request material, rather than instructors pushing out material and that they and other students can access from an archive on their own time and a space to talk about it. Can also consider a poll for students to choose a video of the week to talk or learn about.
  • There are a few types of learners, some are shy and may not do well with live sessions and will do better with accessing material on their own time, some enjoy the conversation and will do better with live collaborative sessions.
  • Be aware that they are likely being bombarded with other school and instructor’s session and may be tired of it. Make sure you make it clear where, how, and when you are available to them. Do not guilt them into joining your sessions as that may have a negative effect—an instructor reaching into the home life and schedule of their students can cross a boundary that causes the students to dislike the topic (and has all sorts of ethical and moral issues that I won’t get into right now, on top of being bad business practice.)
Phase 2 (Schools Allowed To Open)

Conditions

  • Non-essential businesses are allowed to resume business activities (with varying levels of allowed capacity.)
  • Testing, antibody/symptomatic/trace are available on a widespread level.
  • Curve for deaths and hospitalizations has flattened and/or is falling for the last 14 days.
  • Hospitals have open beds and are not overwhelmed for the last 14 days.

Goals

  • Implement safety protocols for phase 2 (developed in Phase 1)
  • Implement cleaning protocols for Phase 2 (developed in Phase 1)
  • Develop an instructor lead solo in class curriculum.

Plan for Phase 2 

Implement safety protocols for Phase 2 (Developed in Phase 1) Should a breakout occur during Phase 2, return to Phase 1.

  • Limit the number of students allowed in the dojo by 1 person for every 64 square feet (8×8 diameter for each practitioner.) Spaces should clearly be marked with tape.
  • Begin deploying time reservation slot program to members.
  • Consider not accepting any new students during this phase, or create a waitlist if your facility cannot handle the capacity.
  • Prior to members being allowed to train, all should have received and sent back documents for the waiver form.
  • Members arrive changed. May not leave any personal items in the dojo.
  • Temperature should be taken (best for non-touch scanners) of everyone coming through the door. The person taking the temperature should wear a mask, gloves, and wipe the scanner down with wipes after each use.
  • Minimum 1 hour between the leaving of the last member and the arrival of the next group.
  • Members must wash their hands or use hand sanitizer before stepping on the mat and then off again.
  • Members must bring and provide their own weapons. Clorox wipes should be available to wipe weapons down after practice.
  • Any student who had been sick with any of the symptoms related to Covid19, confirmed or unconfirmed, or was around someone who was sick must inform the dojocho immediately and self quarantine for a minimum of 14 days.
  • All students should confirm they have been following social distancing rules within the past 14 days.
  • Students do not live with those who are vulnerable to severe Covid19 illnesses (the elderly, those who are immunocompromised.)
  • Maintain social distancing for signing in (even better to do it via phone if possible) as well as for bathrooms.
  • Verbally reconfirm everything that is expected of students and answer any questions as needed.
  • All students should wear facemasks. Consider providing cloth masks (or point them to the ones your state may be making available to you.)
  • Consider providing bags or tupperware (or request students bring their own) for their shoes and personal belongings. Make sure their names are on it or otherwise easily identifiable.
  • There will be no hanging out at the dojo during this phase.

Implement cleaning protocols for Phase 2 (Developed for Phase 1)

  • Everything should be wiped down between classes including doorknobs.
  • Cleaning should be done by the previous group before leaving.
  • Garbage should be taken out every single day.
  • Make sure all students are aware as to what is expected of them when it comes to cleaning and where all the tools/cleaners are.

Develop an instructor lead solo in class curriculum.

  • Solo weapons or body exercises.
  • Be aware the masks will make it hot and difficult to breathe, so consider providing a fan, air conditioner, or open the windows and set the pace slowly.
  • Consider cutting classes down to 45 minutes rather than a full hour or hour and a half.
Phase 3 (Limited Paired Weapons Practice and Family Members May Practice Together so long as they are not in an at risk group)

Conditions

  • All of Phase 2
  • Deaths and hospitalizations continue to fall.
  • Widespread trace and antibody testing available (while antibody testing is not a surefire sign of immunity and should not be used as a way to relax standards until proven to provide immunity, it can help understand the school’s specific population exposure.)

Goals

  • Begin allowing paired practice with weapons.
  • Begin allowing family members/or those who live together to practice with one another in class without weapons.
  • Maintain Phase 2 cleaning precautions.
  • Maintain Phase 2 general safety precautions.
  • Maintain Phase 2 class reservations.

Special Notes

  • Return to previous phases should the situation worsen.
  • Everyone should still keep masks on.
  • Consider student groups to be long term (students may not switch schedules)
  • At risk groups and high risk of transmission (healthcare workers) should not return.
  • Instructors should only have a single uke and should not touch any students to provide corrections.
  • Students should not switch partners during class.
  • No hanging out at the dojo after class.
Phase 4 (Hand to hand training at numbered capacity allowed with long term groups and non at risk members)

Conditions

  • All previous conditions must be met
  • Hospitalizations and deaths are stabilized for at least 2 weeks at a low enough number the municipality is allowing gathering of numbered capacity (for example, no more than 10 people etc.)
  • Return to previous phases if situation worsens again,

Goals

  • Allow hand to hand training with long term established groups, meaning students may not change out of their regular scheduled times.
  • Allow for the removal of masks during training for only weapons.
  • Maintain previous phase safety and cleaning protocols.

Special Notes

  • This phase is iffy because things can worsen if an outbreak occurs in the school, and may throw you back into phase 1 or phase 2 if that occurs. I would proceed with severe care with this phase. I err on the side of extreme caution and therefore my requirements are more stringent than Dr. Moriarty’s.
  • At risk groups and healthcare providers should not return to practice in this phase.
  • However, if at risk groups INSIST on doing so, you may keep them in a separate class that stays in Phase 1 or (with extreme caution) Phase 2 practice types (paired weapons or solo weapons with masks.)
  • Instructors should maintain a single uke and not touch students for corrections.
  • Students may not switch partners during class.
  • No hanging out at the dojo after class.
  • No changing at the dojo.
Phase 5 (50% capacity, students choice of classes, At risk students may begin special classes)

Conditions

  • All previous phase conditions have been met.
  • No new cases of person to person transmission in your municipality in the last 2 weeks.
  • Return to previous phases if situation worsens.

Goals

  • Allow students to now mix between classes and no long term scheduled classes. Will still need reservations.
  • Maintain cleaning and safety protocols set for previous phases.
  • At risk population may train paired weapons or hand to hand with family but must still be in a separated class.

Special Notes

  • Other than the at risk population in special classes, instructors can now use any of the attendees as their uke.
  • Students may switch around pairs during class.
  • Healthcare workers and high risk of transmitting workers still may not return to class.
  • No hanging out at the dojo after class.
  • No changing at the dojo.
Phase 6 (50% capacity, students choice of classes, at risk population may practice hand to hand in any class)

Conditions

  • All previous phase conditions have been met.
  • No new cases of person to person transmission in your municipality in the last 2 weeks AFTER implementing Phase 5
  • Return to previous phases if situation worsens.

Goals

  • Allow all students (including at risk) to now mix between classes and no long term scheduled classes. Will still need reservations.
  • Maintain cleaning and safety protocols set for previous phases.

Special Notes

  • Instructors may use anyone for uke during classes except for high transmission risk for special classes.
  • Students may switch around pairs during class.
  • Can begin accepting new students.
  • Students may change at the dojo but no more than one person per changing room. Must implement additional cleaning protocol for changing rooms.
  • No hanging out after class.
  • Healthcare and other high transmission possibility workers may return to a special class of paired weapons work separate from regular classes (Remain in Phase 2) or empty hand with family.
Phase 7 (100% capacity return to normal)

Conditions

  • All previous phase conditions have been met.
  • No new cases of person to person transmission in your municipality in the last 2 weeks AFTER implementing Phase 6.
  • Either a. Antibody testing confirms immunity b. vaccinesp has been found and is widely available c. cure/treatment has been found and is widely available or some combination of all three.

Goals

  • Allow all students (including at risk and high possibility of transmission members) to now mix between classes. Will not need reservations. No number limit to people in class.
  • Maintain cleaning standards.
  • Can relax social distancing standards, mask standards, and temperature taking standards.

Special Notes

  • Instructors may use anyone for uke during classes.
  • Students may switch around pairs during class.
  • Can accept new students.
  • Students may change at the dojo with no limit to the number of people per changing room.
  • May hang out at the dojo after class.
  • Should vaccine/antibodies indicate immunity, all members MUST confirm vaccination and/or positive antibody test.
  • Maintain policies of immediate notification should a member come into contact or contract COVID19.