Re: Vaccines & Masks At The Branches
As of April 1, 2022, the Branches will no longer require visitors to show proof of vaccination. We will continue to encourage mask-wearing as much as possible to limit transmission.
We’ve taken in a good bit of information, considered the risks, and weighed it all against our values, particularly community care.
Just like our decision to initiate our own vaccine policy ahead of the province, we also wanted some control over our own circumstances when it came to setting this policy aside. We applaud individuals who are taking steps to protect not only themselves, but one another as our entire globe continues to navigate the ongoing pandemic.
While our staff and leadership team have chosen to get vaccinated, and we strongly support it as a public health strategy, based on what we now understand about transmission, it does not seem necessary or useful to continue requiring all visitors to the studio to prove their immunization status. We look forward to welcoming new students and welcoming back old community members for whom this has been a barrier over the past six months.
In addition to taking in updated information about transmission, we have also been attempting to learn about disability justice. Many immune-compromised people feel as though their lives are not being valued appropriately, as they are not able to simply “move on” from COVID-19. We’re also holding uncertainty about the likelihood of developing long-COVID, which is basically a chronic-illness disability.
With these thoughts top of mind, and knowing that it does appear helpful to wear masks to prevent transmission of a virus that spreads through both droplets and aerosol, we will continue to require all visitors to wear a mask to the studio, and encourage students to continue wearing their masks as much as they can while practicing. We will maintain this policy at least for the month of April and reassess as we go.
Inside the practice rooms, we will be running our fresh-air return system consistently – this means that the air in the building will be on a constant refresh cycle, expelling indoor air outside and bringing in fresh air as it heats/cools. While on their mats, our teachers may wear their masks less to optimize for clarity and hearing accessibility .
We strive to consider the importance and influence of scientific experts, disability justice, and the relative risk of small-group 60-75 minute classes in our decisions going forward.
Finally, the Branches will continue to offer robust virtual teaching, including drop-in classes, courses, Branches On-Demand streaming subscriptions, and teacher training for those who feel best accessing our offerings from home.