August 25, 2021
Dear MDU Families,
Thank you for a great kick-off to our 24th season of “More Than Just Great Dancing!”. We are now a full week into our season and it has been amazing to see kids and families back in the building.
As the leader of our studio community, I have the great joy of seeing the excitement of the kids and teacher returning to class. I also have the great responsibility of navigating a continuously changing situation as it relates to Covid-19.
Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, MDU has provided clear communication and real-time decision-making. This has allowed us to offer continuous programming with only .0002% incidence of Covid-19 while providing consistent access to the benefits of dance such as physical fitness, social-emotional health, and mental wellness. That’s the joy part!
Now for the responsibility part. At MDU, we make all of our Covid-related decisions based on a variety of inputs, including local and national sources, as well as industry and studio data. I wake up every morning, search the data, and track the trends. I also consult with our county, speak with other community leaders, and pray for wisdom. I’m pleased to say that MDU is still doing extremely well in terms of cases as shared above. That’s why we began our fall season by continuing our summer policy of mask recommendation, not a requirement. Our community, however, is not doing as well. The cases reported yesterday morning were double what they were the week prior and the 7-day average is one we have not seen since February.
In my Welcome Letter from one week ago, I shared that we would escalate our policies if cases continue to rise. As such, beginning today (8/25/21), the following mitigation measures are being implemented:
We will continue monitoring the situation week by week and will make you aware of any changes. If community cases continue to rise, potential escalation of policies may include closing the lobby to reduce traffic, further limiting class sizes, greater physical distancing requirements in classes, and/or masking requirements for all ages.
In closing, I fully understand this message will cause relief for some and disappointment for others. Some will think it’s too much and others may think it’s not enough. This is the nature of the times we live in. But, it’s also in our nature to adapt and to support each other. Our kids are mirrors of our reactions and emotions, so let’s focus on what’s positive! In a time when our community is welcoming Afghan refugees who have lost all, we have much to be thankful for. Thank YOU for your support!
Understandably, I've had quite a few questions and people interested today about whether or not we are opening as we are in Wisconsin and our Safer-at-Home order was struck down by our Supreme Court yesterday.
First of all, let me say I LOVE that families and students are looking forward to coming back to classes. LOVE! Our studio is truly that "third place" of belonging for so many youth in our area (and even adults!) If you are following pics of our kids doing Virtual Recital this week, you can see how it really is MORE Than Just Great Dancing!®
Let me also say, that if you are a local business owner who is fully equipped to open in the safest way possible, I am so HAPPY for you! Sincerely, we celebrate your return! Sixty days of low (or no) business for a small business is CRUSHING. Small businesses are the heart of our community and I long for the day when we are all whole again.
I am also honored that our 300 MTJGD affiliated studios, Youth Protection Advocates in Dance Certified Studios and so many others in the industry are watching what we are doing and how we navigate these changes and challenges.
But as for me right now, my answer is "NO". I will open again one day, but today is not that day for me.
We have 900 students and 38 employees. We are in the middle of celebrating our students with an AWESOME Virtual Recital week. Our kids are finishing strong right now and don't need one more change of plans.
But more importantly, I cannot responsibly open today. Or this week. Or next.
We have a plan in place and we are sticking with it. A plan that involves finishing our current season strong, followed by new safety training, classroom changes, curriculum adjustments, client education, as well as a staggered start.
We are sticking with our plan to start back by serving one kiddo at a time on May 27 with our Red Carpet Recitals. Then we will transition to a few classes at a time in June and July. By the time we get to August, we will be ready for fall classes with two locations and five ways to take class (more on that later!)
So, YES, I would LOVE to open today, especially because it's Recital week. But, we are going to keep dancing online - leaping in living rooms, dancing in dining rooms, and doing our finales by sunset in backyards and driveways. Because that's what I know we can do well TODAY.
Thank you, teachers and families, for your support.
I will close by sharing my constant prayer, "God, give us strength for the day and JOY for the journey."
Until then, grace and peace,
Misty W. Lown