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RVTKD Response to COVID-19 Pandemic (updated 3/31)

UPDATE 3/31/20

For reasons that are probably obvious to all by now, the dojang will be closed until further notice. We are eager to reopen but will only do so when it’s safe, which may be even later than the state’s guidelines for allowing nonessential businesses to serve the public. All RVTKD students and instructors will be advised about our reopening date as soon as we can set one. Thank you for your patience, we wish you the best of luck in maintaining your training while at home, and we look forward to the day when we’ll all be able to return to the practice floor.

UPDATE 3/16/20

The RVTKD partners regretfully announce the suspension of all classes through the end of March.

We will continue to monitor the response to the COVID-19 pandemic—here in western Massachsetts, but also nationally and globally—and reevaluate the situation at the end of the month to inform you of how our policy will evolve in April. This suspension of classes includes the new session for young adults at Mill 180 Park, which was to begin this week.

Although it might be possible to conduct classes safely, we think it best to encourage everyone to avoid unnecessary public gatherings and travel. We don’t want to undermine messages sent by the scientific community, the vast majority of civic groups and institutions, and we hope strong action may help reduce the effects of the disease if taken in time. Please take good care of yourself and those you care about, and we hope to train with you in the dojang again soon.

3/13/20

To all instructors and students of RVTKD,

Over the past few days you’ve probably received many emails from organizations stating their policies and procedures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools and business are closing or moving online, public events and gatherings are being cancelled, stores are instituting anti-hoarding rules, and so forth. The RVTKD partners are monitoring daily developments, and on behalf of our leadership, I’m writing to share our thoughts as we understand the situation on March 13. Please watch for updates, and if you have questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to share them:

  1. We will not, at present, close the dojang completely or cancel any classes. We understand that following the Way is important to many students’ well being and don’t want to deprive anyone of the opportunity to train. Because we have a small school with lots of space, it is possible to work out while practicing appropriate social distancing.
  2. We will suspend sparring and contact drills until the prevailing opinion of the scientific community is that the risk of disease transmission has passed in our region. We will suspend the use of focus pads and other gear where virus may be passed and transmitted via surfaces. Students engaging in Iron Palm training should bring their own bags instead of using the school’s. If you’d like to use heavy bags, please bring your own gloves and foot pads/boots to keep your body from touching surfaces that we all share.
  3. Instructors will not touch students to show proper form, e.g. moving a hand to fix someone’s wrist position when making a fist or knife hand. Instead, we will demonstrate or describe corrections in form.
  4. All students who feel sick, even if their symptoms don’t strongly correlate with known COVID-19 indicators, MUST stay home until they are well. Many of us do this anyway, but there will be zero tolerance for anyone attending class with sniffles or a cough unless they can be clearly attributed to familiar existing conditions like allergies.
  5. You’ve surely seen guidelines on how to wash hands properly, avoid touching your face, and all the well-known steps that we should all take to prevent virus transmission. Follow them all with the same mindfulness and rigor that we use for all aspects of our training!
  6. We are exploring the idea of offering open dojang hours Monday-Thursday (8:00 am – 8:30 pm) if students would like to train on their own. Students using school gear like heavy bags would observe all of the above rules, even if training alone, because the lifespan of COVID-19 outside the body is still unknown. Other Coronaviruses have been observed to survive for up to nine days on surfaces. We are still finalizing details about how open dojang hours may work, so please contact one of our instructors if you have questions or would like access outside of normal class times.

Many who begin training in a martial art are interested in self defense—protecting yourself and the people you care about from danger. There is an unknown degree of danger all around us, and we won’t know for weeks or months how the disease will play out in our local community. One thing is clear: it’s always better to avoid dark alleys or making wisecracks to the angry drunk in the corner than it is to be forced to fight. RVTKD’s response to this crisis is guided by the notion that it’s good to be strong and capable, but it’s even better to exercise wisdom and insightful action.

We will monitor developments in the pandemic’s progression and may amend these guidelines, or close the dojang if necessary, to follow fact-based best practices. Stay tuned.

William Tuman
Head Instructor and Partner

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