17 March. The day I announced Be Unique would put a PAUSE on all classes. A day filled with sadness, a massive fear of the unknown and a huge decision to make personally, as someone who has been on -the – go nonstop for the past 3 years of Be Unique. Apart from major holidays like Christmas and Easter, there is almost always a Be Unique class running somewhere whether it be term time classes, summer schemes, nurseries, after-schools clubs or Shared Education days. Until Coronavirus creeped up on us all.
The most important task in March, for us, was to work out how we could continue to offer something to our Be Unique children and, after two months of running our Be Unique Youtube Channel and running weekly Facebook and Instagram live classes, we launched Be Unique: At Home classes via Zoom. This was well received by both new and old children and the online classes were extremely successful. We were so delighted to receive such positive comments from parents and although the children were at home and taking part behind a screen, we still managed to keep the Be Unique magic alive.
Without a doubt, one of the benefits of being a part of the creative arts industry is that you are always adapting and creating, and therefore we are used to coming up with new ideas. Be Unique started 3 years ago this month, and we have come a long way in the past 3 years - developing and improving. I see post-lockdown as the next phase in our development and it is not something we plan to shy away from. Our aim has always been to deliver drama and dance classes of the highest standard, and now that restrictions are lifting, this is still our key aim in the SAFEST way we can.
The Northern Ireland Executive has confirmed that indoor sports and activities can now resume from 17 July. So, we could not be happier to announce the opening of some of our regular class locations. We will be returning to venues which have completed risk assessments to ensure social distancing and are following all sanitising procedures. We have worked alongside our regular venues to ensure a safe environment throughout. We will continue to liaise with the venues that are not yet open, and we will be sure to let you know when we plan to return to these locations.
The summer schemes in August will be baby steps into a ‘new normal’ for us and we will be ensuring an experience which both children and parents feel comfortable with. We will be keeping YOU, our Be Unique parents and families updated, at all times with the measures we will be taking.
Here are the initial steps that we will be ensuring all Be Unique staff take to keep your children safe throughout our August classes. Please note, this list is not exhaustive and will keep changing as we continue to strive to provide the very best and safest children's drama and dance classes.
New maximum class sizes will be set with reference to venue size and government guidelines.
Our classes have always been “closed doors” classes for the children to flourish in but now our venues will be too. We'll do a handover of your child at the venue door, meaning that parents won't need to congregate in a waiting area but wait socially distanced in the fresh air at all times. Specific details regarding each venue will be sent out closer to the first day of the scheme.
Class times will be staggered to give us the opportunity to disinfect contact surfaces between sessions, as well as avoid a large group of people coming and going at the same time. If your children is going to a 2 HOUR session, we will take everyone out for fresh air in the middle of the 2 hour block, ventilate the room and “reset” the area, sanitising and cleaning main surfaces.
All hands will be sanitised on entry to the venue and toilets will be wiped down regularly during sessions, before and after.
Children will be allocated an ‘island’ (their pwn space) to perform from and, whilst the Department of Education recognises that social distancing is impossible with young children, we will modify our activities so that no physical contact games will be played.
Parents will be asked to take any coats or bags home once they have dropped off their child.
It goes without saying that our venues will ensure regular cleaning but we'll also be armed with disinfectant spray to refresh surfaces before and after each class.
The most important thing to note is that, while there will be changes in the way we do things, what won't change is the warmth, energy and professionalism of our staff, our unique drama and dancing activities and the laughter, fun and benefits your child will experience every day they attend Be Unique Drama School.
We ask that you place our trust in us over the next month and be patient as we find our feet in this new climate and class format. The first day our classes open, you can be sure that your child will be as safe as we can possibly make them. Summer 2020… Be Unique style – let’s go!