SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — While schools may not open for any in-person instruction this fall, Santa Barbara Dance Arts is showing how a hybrid model can be implemented with its summer camp.
Within approval from the County Health Department, youth and teen dancers of all levels can participate with robust safety procedures set in place.
This means masks worn at all times, temperature checks, constant sanitation and physical distancing between campers.
“Within hours, the kids were just thrilled to be dancing again,” SB Dance Arts owner Alana Tillim said. “The idea of wearing a mask or having their temperature taken has been normalized."
"It's definitely different but I think it's good different,” camper Laura Luevanos said. “I’m still able to train and dance with all my friends."
The camp has cut its normal capacity in half with staggered start times.
This splits dancers into a combination of virtual learning with small and physically distanced classes alternating.
This allows campers to have the option to have an hybrid experience or opt to choose online-only.
As a result, dancers have been able to continue moving and grooving in the studio.
"We're not just preventing them from getting sick with those safety protocols,” Tillim said. “We also want to make sure we're keeping them mentally healthy."
One parent is satisfied with the emphasis placed on safety.
"For my daughter it was a nice equilibrium to be able to engage in something that she loves so much, while still being safe,” local resident Vanessa Campos said.
Each studio has received a technical makeover with webcams and monitors to bring dancers at home into the studio.
"We didn't want someone that's dancing at home to be sort of marginalized,” Tillim said. “They're making a choice that's best for their family."
While giving parents a much-needed break, this allows kids to connect with their peers in-person.
"It's been very comforting to bring back that normalcy in my daughter’s life,” Campos said.
This fall, remote schooling may be a challenge for many families.
Nevertheless, this summer camp points towards a potential solution.
"We are proving that the blended model works,” Tillim concluded. No matter what happens this year, we can keep these kids dancing and healthy."
The summer camp will continue until August 6th. For more information, visit Santa Barbara Dance Arts’ website.