How Safe is Safe Enough?
Is Flurry on? Will you cancel? How and when will you decide?
We don’t have a simple answer to these questions, but we’d like to share our guiding principles for making these decisions in the coming weeks.
We don’t want an event that’s at high risk of spreading Covid, in whatever variant, in our dance and greater communities. So far, the risk of vaccinated people transmitting the virus to other vaccinated people has appeared to be fairly low. Rapid testing, combined with symptom screening, is also good at catching cases with a high enough viral load to be transmissible at the time. And masks are highly effective at preventing transmission when used properly. Although we can’t guarantee someone infectious won’t evade all those barriers, the odds are low and the likelihood of it resulting in significant community spread is even lower. Will Omicron change that calculation? If it proves highly contagious among fully vaccinated populations, it certainly will.
Some folks are at far greater risk of serious illness from Covid than others. Among the fully vaccinated, those who are older or have pre-existing vulnerabilities, or have close ties to these folks, will likely be more conservative in their risk tolerance. For some a low-risk environment is still too risky, and the potential repercussions too severe. For others the risks in contracting Covid will feel more aligned with those of other illnesses they are regularly exposed to seasonally. If we are confident that holding the Flurry does not pose a substantial risk to our community as a whole, we can respect individuals’ choices in their comfort with participating. And what if Omicron both escapes existing immunity and makes vaccinated people sicker than other variants have? Our collective understanding of risk must shift, and we’ll respond accordingly.
This Flurry is being built to accommodate the changing conditions around us. For those who are not comfortable with close contact, distanceable workshops will run all weekend. We are paying attention to airflow and room capacity, and aiming to provide spaces with similar profiles to those many of us regularly spend time in. At the same time, provided scientific understanding of Covid transmissibility doesn’t change, our dance spaces will feel largely normal for those who choose them. Most of our attendees are interested in social dances, and the precautions we have put in place are intended to make those dances possible. So how might this principle of flexibility play out?
- If local public health entities recommend against our holding the festival, we will cancel it.
- If we determine that significant community transmission despite our precautions is too probable, or that illness in the vaccinated is too severe, we will cancel the festival.
- If we become uncertain about the overall risk of transmission, we may increase the number of, or pivot entirely to, sessions with distanced participation.
- In conjunction with the other precautions in place, many of you indicated you would be comfortable dancing without masks, and some would prefer it. While the uncertainties attached to Omicron make continuing the full-masking requirement necessary from where we now stand, we may explore options for mask-optional sessions or dance spaces if the situation improves and we determine that it can be done without increased risk to the festival community as a whole.
Beyond metrics, prophylactics, and number-crunching, our festival organizers, volunteers, and dancing community need to believe that holding a Flurry this year is for the good. We strive not for consensus, but toward a shared goal of bringing the joy of live music and dance if and to whom we can, while respecting and including those to whom we cannot. All decisions we make will be in the spirit of honoring our diverse community, with its many hopes, needs, and varied approaches to these strangest of times.