As lockdown restrictions lift across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, you'll be excited at the prospect of meeting new students and sharing your passion and skills once more. This is very positive news but of course we all need to adopt new safety habits that will become normal with practice and time.
There’s a lot to take into consideration and it may seem daunting, but remember that you already have lots of experience at making your workshops clean and safe and this is simply adding a few extras. You will want to make sure you are operating responsibly and that your workshops are as safe as possible for you, any employees and your students.
We’ve put together this guide for our Tutor community, to share useful resources, top tips and guidance for running craft workshops during the pandemic.
Obviously, we’re not an authority on this matter and the situation relating to Coronavirus can change quickly, so it’s important that you also refer to the latest Government advice and local authority guidance, as well as consult with your insurers.
Please also note that if you live in an area that is experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak, local lockdown measures may be imposed and so different guidance and legislation will apply.
Ensuring the workspace is safe for you and your students during coronavirus
In brief - our top 6 tips
- Measure the space you have and assess how many students you can safely accommodate in each workshop
- Ensure there are handwashing and/or hand sanitiser stations available
- Keep windows open, or better yet run the workshop outside!
- Make sure each workstation has the tools and equipment needed - reduce the handling of shared tools as much as possible
- Offer face masks and visors or ask students to bring their own
- Reassure prospective students by highlighting your Covid safety precautions upfront; what to expect on your workshop, how to behave and what people need to bring. Ask your students to be honest about any risk they may pose to you or other students, and ensure they are happy to comply with your safety measures
Online teaching & craft kits (if relevant)
We know many of you have bravely ventured out into the new world of live/online teaching or have developed popular craft kits, but we also know that many craftspeople including our glass artists, blacksmiths and woodworkers, to name but a few, this is much more challenging. However, remote learning options are a great way to reach those who are shielding or do not feel comfortable attending in-person yet and those who live far away, plus it will help to futureproof your teaching business. We're here to help - more on this later!
Read on for more detailed help and guidance...
Social distancing rules vary from region to region
Covid-19 is thought to be transmitted to others through infected droplets that are produced when we cough, sneeze, and make contact with contaminated surfaces.
Social distancing is essential to help prevent the spread of contagious diseases, like Covid-19, by minimising the contact we have with others.
You will need to think carefully about how you will practice social distancing when planning your classes and workshops.
Back at the start of the Covid-19 outbreak we were all told to keep 2m away from others. This rule has been relaxed a little now and updated guidance is slightly different depending on where in the UK you are.
Here is how it stands at the time of publishing (but the advice is changing all the time so please check official websites prior to all classes):
Keep at least 1m apart from others, but 2m if possible
Keep 2m apart (less in some premises, such as pubs and restaurants)
Keep 2m apart (less in some premises, such as hairdressers)
- Northern Ireland
Keep 1m apart from others
Social distancing rules might mean that you need to look at reducing the number of people you teach, the format of your classes, the venue you use and how you set out the room to minimise the amount of contact students and tutors have with each other.
Alfresco art class - can you move your workshop outdoors?
How many students can attend a workshop?
There are no specific rules about how many people can attend workshops, so you will need to use your own judgement and base your decision on your unique set of circumstances, the craft type and venue. Some things you will need to take into account include:
- Does your creative workshop take place indoors or outdoors?
- If you are indoors, how many people can you comfortably fit in the space, allowing for social distancing and movement around the room?
- Could your workshop be moved outdoors in full or in part? Could you use an open sided structure to protect you and students from bad weather?
- If your students need to borrow equipment you might need to look at reducing the number of people you teach so no-one has to share resources or ensure that they can take it in turns with thorough cleaning time allowed between students.
- If you rent a room, you’ll need to check if the venue has any restrictions in place for how many people they will allow to use the space.
- Advise students that you do not have capacity for non-participants to come and watch.
If you’re still unsure, it may be worth contacting your local authority or council for advice.
If you decide to reduce the number of students who attend your workshops, you may need to think about increasing your fees slightly to cover your costs.
Outdoor craft workshop at Sallerton Wood
Running workshops in your own home or studio
If you use your own home or studio to run workshops, then we recommend that you complete a Covid-19 Risk Assessment.
A risk assessment can help you to identify any potential issues so you can put sensible measures in place that allow you to operate safely.
If you are based in Northern Ireland you can access guidance from the HSENI website.
Hiring a venue
If you hire a room or building for your workshops, it might be worth checking to see if the venue has a Covid-19 Risk Assessment in place or if they have made changes to the way the space is used.
For example, are there restrictions in place for using the toilet facilities, can you access shared kitchen areas, is there a cleaning regime in place, do you need to let your students know about any changes to entry and exit points?
Rose Wood Jewellery's open sided outdoor creative studio
Cleaning protocols and hygiene recommendations
You will want to make sure that your workshop space is sparkling clean and virus free. Again, it’s impossible to give you a definitive list of everything you need to do, but here are some areas to think about:
- World Health Organization (WHO) advice says non-medical face coverings should be worn in public where social distancing is not possible.
Wearing a face mask in a public space is mandatory in Scotland. In Wales face masks are recommended if you’re in a public space and it’s difficult to keep 2m distance and in Northern Ireland face masks are not yet compulsory. In England the rules around wearing face masks will change from 24th July and they will have to be worn in shops and supermarkets. All of this may well change in the coming weeks so you need to ensure you keep up to date with this advice.
Make sure you follow guidance depending on where in the UK you are based. You may want to insist face coverings are worn during your workshop, even if it’s not a compulsory right now - better to be safe.
- Do you have easy access to hand-washing facilities? Washing hands with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds, is an effective way to prevent the spread of viruses, including Covid-19.
- If hand washing facilities are not readily available, make sure you have plenty of hand sanitiser for students to use when they arrive at the workshop and to use throughout.
Don’t forget: Hand sanitiser should have at least 60% alcohol content for it to be effective.
- You will need to make sure your workshop space has been thoroughly cleaned before your students arrive. Check if this is your responsibility or if the venue already has a cleaning regime in place.
It is recommended that you use standard cleaning products such as detergents and bleach and pay special attention to frequently touched areas such as door handles, light switches, chair arms, table tops and any equipment you will be using.
- Remind students to cover their mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve (not their hands) when they cough or sneeze.
- Used tissues should be put in the bin immediately and hands cleaned straight afterwards.
Hand sanitiser needs to be 60%+ alcohol to be effective
Information to give students before the workshop
You should advise students ahead of the workshop on the following:
- What they will need to bring e.g. their own mask/gloves, refreshments, safety clothing etc. In the past you may have provided lunch or safety clothing but in the interest of safety and hygiene this may no longer be possible.
- The arrangements for toilet and hand washing facilities.
- The requirements for wearing masks and other personal protection equipment.
- That they should not to attend if they, or someone they have been on contact with, has symptoms of coronavirus and inform them of your refund/cancellation policy.
- That you request that students who become ill with Coronavirus COVID-19 symptions within 2 weeks of attending your class should notify you.
- You may also wish to ask students if they have travelled in areas with outbreaks in the last 2 weeks.
Triple layered protective masks
Here are some links to resources that we found useful – we hope you do too!
- Government guidance – for guidance and support on making your workplace safe. Don't forget to check the regional links if you are in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland
- Government business support
- Local authority websites will have a wealth of information and advice relating to your local area
- Financial resources and support for people working in the craft industry from the Crafts Council
- Maker support from Crafts Council including three months free subscription to their directory
Plus, remember to contact your insurers!
LIVE online tutorials
Not ready to restart your in-person workshops yet? Or worried about a second wave?
Don’t worry if you don’t feel ready to organise and run workshops right now. There’s no rush.
We’ve seen some fantastic examples of virtual workshops running during lockdown from craft kits and books through to LIVE online tuition or online content...and many using a combination of these delivery methods. We anticipate that these remote learning options will remain popular, not only during coronavirus (with many people still shielding and cautious) but also as great, accessible options for the longer term, when things return to 'normal'. Lots of students are enjoying access to expert tutors who usually teach far from their home with these new online or home delivery options.
Take a look at what is out there for some inspiration >
So we would definitely encourage you to have a go at running an online workshop or putting together a kit so people can have a go at learning a new skill from home? It will help you to reach more students, futureproof your teaching business and hopefully generate new revenue streams too.
If you need any advice we would be happy to help - please get in touch .
You might also like to read some of our other articles written for crafts tutors here >