COVID-19 Production Safety Protocols

COVID-19 Production Safety Protocols

Updated: March 1, 2021 

INTRODUCTION

The Department of Theatre and Dance is committed to the health and safety of all its students. During the current COVID-19 outbreak, the department is expanding its safety guidelines. Please note that all guidelines are subject to change. All decisions made about in-person activity are approached from a viewpoint of risk management. All participants must understand that until the population has acquired significant immunity naturally or the vaccines have been deployed widely, any re-engagement that brings them into proximity with other students, staff or faculty increases the possibility of coronavirus transmission. Everyone should evaluate this risk against the potential benefit of their planned production activities. Any individual who feels that they are being asked to carry out unsafe activities or to work under conditions that are unsafe for themselves and others should discuss their concerns with a member of faculty or staff.

GENERAL SAFETY GUIDELINES

Testing

UT Austin will provide free testing to all members of a production prior to any in-person aspects of production. All persons should make an appointment at https://healthyhorns.utexas.edu/coronavirus_proactive_testing.html All students, faculty and staff coming to campus will perform a symptom check every day prior to coming to campus. Students are to self-isolate if any of the following symptoms appear:

  • Fever of at least 100.4F 
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

If students test positive in a test not through University Health Services, they should notify UHS to assist in the contact tracing process and to help in the study of how the virus is spreading. https://www.healthyhorns.utexas.edu/coronavirus_self_report.html.  Any student in quarantine who is well enough to participate in rehearsal remotely will be allowed to do so regardless of testing status (remote only). All students participating in-person will test weekly.

Social Distancing

A minimum of 10 feet must be kept from others at all times. This includes performers, production team, faculty and staff. This guideline should be followed inside classrooms, studios and theatre spaces. All in-person rehearsals will follow capacity guidelines as set by the Department; signage is in place in all spaces. 

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

A mask must be worn at all times inside all UT buildings. Face coverings must be cleaned or replaced after use, may not be shared and should be properly stored or discarded. https://www.healthyhorns.utexas.edu/images/pdf/ProtectiveFaceMaskGuidance_2020.pdf

Hygiene & Disinfecting

Hand sanitizing stations will be available at all building entrances, classrooms, studios and theatres. To ensure adherence to basic COVID-19 safety practices, all students, faculty and staff must successfully complete the UT COVID-19 Safety Seminar and Hygiene Training Video (through UT Learn) prior to beginning in-person rehearsal activity.

Reference: https://besafe.utexas.edu/coronavirus

PRODUCTION GUIDELINES

General

Everyone must wear masks at all times, and appropriate social distancing should be maintained whenever possible. Productions will need more space than usual to accommodate social distancing and safety protocols. All students will be given the option of participating in the project remotely. All rehearsals will be live-streamed over Zoom and all remote participants will be given access to the Zoom links. (Students in classes may have the opportunity to view these rehearsals with the approval of the director and Academic Production Manager.) All Zoom links will be provided daily to advising faculty and staff and departmental leadership. All advising will be done remotely unless scheduled in advance with the Academic Production Manager.

Meetings and Rehearsals

When possible ALL meetings and rehearsals should be conducted virtually. If in-person rehearsals are deemed necessary, social distancing and PPE guidelines must be followed. Post in-person rehearsal meetings should be conducted virtually and scheduled accordingly. 

In-Person Rehearsals Requests

If In-person rehearsals are determined necessary a request must be submitted for approval to the departmental leadership. Only requests for in-person rehearsals for projects in the departmental season and certain curricular projects will be considered for approval to meet in-person in the Winship Building. In person requests must include a rehearsal calendar of requested dates, the names of all personnel expected to attend, their position on production, their call times and their expected release time. All in-person rehearsals are to be considered closed except for approved personnel. Any visitors or additional personnel (including advisors) must be scheduled in advance with the Academic Production Manager.

IN-PERSON REHEARSAL PROTOCOLS

General

All UT Covid safety protocols are to be followed at all times. Everyone should come rehearsal or performance ready. The Dressing Rooms will not be available. The restrooms should not be used as changing rooms. All in-person rehearsals should end with enough time for cleaning and disinfecting. All in-person week night rehearsals must end by 10:00 p.m. and everyone must be out of the building by 10:30 p.m. when the building will be alarmed. All Sunday in-person rehearsals can happen between 12:00-6:00 p.m. All persons will leave the building by 6:30 p.m. There are NO Saturday in-person rehearsals allowed except for pre-scheduled season technical rehearsals. All in-person rehearsals will take place in the Brockett or Payne Theatres in order to ensure maximum physical distancing. No more than 18 people are allowed in the Payne and 16 in the Brockett at any time, and social distancing must be maintained.

All restrooms in Winship will follow a one-in, one-out policy. Please knock and check that restrooms are unoccupied before entering.

If a student is not wearing a cloth face-covering properly in any UT building that student must leave the building. If the student refuses to wear a cloth face covering, rehearsal will be dismissed for the remainder of the period, and the student will be subject to disciplinary action as set forth in the university’s Institutional Rules/General Conduct 11-404(a)(3). Students who have a condition that precludes the wearing of a cloth face covering must follow the procedures for obtaining an accommodation working with Services for Students with Disabilities.

While In The Space

All attendees need to sign in and out per the stage managers’ directive. Each person in the room will have an area marked and designated as their “holding spot." Personal items are to be kept in this area. Everyone should be in their “holding spot” until needed. Do NOT share any personal items.

Performers will have their “performance space” clearly marked and socially distant. It should contain whatever furniture, props, costumes etc. needed by the performer.

Foot wear is required for in-person rehearsing.

A break of minimum 10 minutes should be taken every hour for fresh air and hand washing; enough time must be made during the break to ensure everyone has time to thoroughly wash their hands prior to rehearsal resuming.

Emergency situations

In the event of an emergency situation (such as an evacuation of the building), students will follow existing emergency procedures until arriving at the evacuation gathering location in front of the SAC. At that time, students should return to social distancing while continuing to remain masked.

Props, Etc.

Each performer will have their own clearly marked bin that will contain their needed props, costume pieces, etc needed for the performance. Performers are responsible for making sure they are all there at the end of rehearsal/performance. Any “shared” props will live on a prop table in a designated shared place. Only one person at a time can be at the table. The cleaning of these shared items will be taken care of by the stage management team

Any furniture used should be labeled and handled only by that person. This includes at the end of rehearsal if it cannot be left in place. Departments should touch only their own equipment. Sharing equipment between departments should be kept to a minimum.

Movement activities

Gloves may be provided and worn for movement activity that requires touching the floor. These gloves must be thrown away upon conclusion of the activity, and the performer must immediately go to wash their hands.

Dance footwear should be worn on the dance floor in the Payne. All footwear changes must occur at the location of the performer’s personal belongings.

IN-PERSON TECH AND PERFORMANCE

All previous protocols are to be followed. Shop and venue protocols can be found in UT Box https://utexas.box.com/s/xq2iaiufdycb4o4yeocsqk44j7gzw94k

Tech tables should be placed at least 10 feet apart; occupancy will be determined by the technical director. 

Only one person is permitted at each table. Equipment should be cleaned and disinfected at the end of each tech and performance. Staff in each production department will train all students on disinfecting production equipment.

Wireless microphones will be assigned to a limited number of performers. Performers will responsible for maintenance and disinfection. No com is to be shared; headsets and belt packs will be labeled with each person’s name. Technical crew will disinfect their own each day.

Individual Studio Protocols

A limited number of offices and conference rooms that are not in use this semester will be set up as “Individual Studios” with cameras, microphones, lighting equipment and backdrops for the use of a single assigned performer for a project’s production period.

For three days following the unmasked use of a space by a performer, the space will remain unused. Once the studio is checked out to the performer (a key will be provided by the Department), no other personnel are to enter the space. The performer will be expected to power up and down, clean and troubleshoot the equipment with staff assisting remotely over Zoom if necessary.

Signage will be posted on the doors of these studios to ensure no other staff, faculty, or students (including custodial) enter these spaces.

A performer may remove their mask in these spaces only with the door closed and alone. (This is in line with UT Guidelines that allow for the removal of masks when a person is alone in a single-occupancy office.) Performers should always sanitize their hands before donning or doffing a mask.

Outdoor Unmasked Filming

For most situations (and for ALL Cohen New Works Festival projects), masks must be worn for performances, with the exception of filming/streaming that takes place within a performer’s home (with only the residents of the home present) or scheduled in an Individual Studio in Winship (following the protocols listed above).

Season productions and classes taught by a faculty member may request limited outdoor unmasked filming under the following conditions:

Only a single performer will be present during the filming, and they will only unmask for the duration of the camera recording. They will don the mask again immediately after filming.

No more than two other people will be present at the filming, one operating the camera and a supervising faculty member. (These may be the same person.) These people will remain masked at all times.

Requests for Season productions must be made at least two weeks in advance of the filming date. SMs should include the date and time of the proposed filming as well as a list of everyone involved. As with all in-person rehearsal activity, all participants must have a weekly test on file with the test tracking team listed above.

Requests for classes must be made to the faculty member’s Area Head at least two weeks in advance of the filming date. Requests should include the date and time of the proposed filming as well as a list of everyone involved. All participants must provide evidence of a negative test to the Area Head prior to filming.

All students participating in unmasked performance will have the option to decline anonymously. All students will be given the option of participating in projects remotely.

REFERENCES

Hand Hygiene Recommendations, CDC
Australian Screen Production Industry COVID- Safe Guidelines
COVID-19: Georgia Best Practices for Film and Television
Reopening New York: Media Production Guidelines for Employers and Employees
Guidelines on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19
The Safe Way Forward: The Joint Report of the DGA, SAG-AFTRA, IATSE and Teamsters' Committees
Local 600 Principles, Key Recommendations, and Recommended Department Protocols
Film Florida: Recommendations for Clean & Healthy Production Sets
The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers: Industry-Wide Labor- Management Safety Committee Task Force
Texas Minimum Standard Health Protocols
UT Research Restart Guidelines
Protect Texas Website

Back to top