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Response to the Coronavirus: Here’s how we’re practicing social distancing

Written by Dr. C. Travis Webb

Read Time: 3mins

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Updated: March 18, 2020 12:35AM PST

Based on the newest guidelines released by the Federal government and the OC Health Officer, we are asking all of our office staff to work remotely to reduce the headcount at our studios. This will keep us safely under the 10 person per location guidelines.

Students are encouraged to move online, if that’s their preference. We’ve also given all of our teachers the option to teach remotely. Most of them, however, are still opting to continue with their one-on-one studio lessons.

All of our additional social distancing protocols are being strictly adhered to. If you’re looking for a way to get out of the house that doesn’t involve waiting in line for hours at the grocery store, consider keeping your regular studio lesson.

We’ll be here for you until we can’t, and then we’ll be online for you until we can be here again. We hope you’re staying healthy and sane!

I’ve only got three minutes of your time, so let me get right to it.

Hello, my name is Dr. C. Travis Webb, and my wife, Molly, and I founded Molly’s Music over ten years ago. We love our small business, and we love the clients who are the body and soul of that business.

We also love our families, our children, and our parents, who are elderly, and in two cases, suffer from compromised health conditions. We do not take the Coronavirus lightly. We do not take Covid-19 lightly. So let’s not lose sight of those facts.

I am a social scientist, and my research focuses on the formation, evolution, and devolution of largescale communities of strangers. What’s that? It’s the study of how people who have never interacted, share no kin bonds, or sometimes even the same language, geography, or moment in time, can think of themselves as members of the same community—think Christians, Muslims, Americans, Jews, Buddhists, Democrats, Southerners, Hindus, Chinese, Republicans, Millennials, etc.

My particular lens on that cooperation relies heavily on research surrounding social networks, and shared mythologies. I am familiar with crowd dynamics, and memetic contagion in both historical and contemporary contexts.

I mention all this to emphasize that I understand the current response to Covid-19 from the point of view of a social scientist, a small business owner, and a member of a family that I love very much.

Our decision to remain open at this time is based on the latest guidelines provided by the majority of experts in the field. It is a balanced consideration that takes into account the current and future risks involved in the decisions we make right now.

I’ve read some of the epidemiological research, and all of the agency guidelines I could find. I’m not suggesting you can’t find more extreme “expert” recommendations than the ones we’re following. You can. And those experts will get airtime and social media shares because extremity attracts attention.

The problem with extremity is that it eradicates nuance and provokes anxiety and fear. I’d like to do my part to bring back some of that nuance, and champion reason over fear.

Social distance is not the same thing as a quarantine, and it’s definitely not the same thing as isolation. These terms mean different things and should be used under different circumstances.

If you’re in a low risk group, the current guidelines for our area are to practice social distancing (this doesn’t apply if you’re elderly or suffering from underlying medical conditions). The most extreme versions of social distancing that I could find that didn’t confuse “social distancing” with “quarantining” oneself, were in Winnebago County, Illinois, which has banned any gathering of people that is greater than 25 people. To be clear, the vast majority of the guidelines say 50 people or more, but for arguments sake let’s use Winnebago County.

In our Costa Mesa studio, which is the busiest and largest studio we have, we don’t even come close to 25 people. It’s possible the number could climb to 15, but outside of a recital, I’m not sure that’s ever happened. Put simply, with our new hygiene practices, and the nature of our one-on-one lessons, we are practicing social distancing.

Here is a list of our social distancing procedures

If you’ve made the decision for you and your family to “quarantine” yourselves (the recommended practice when you’re asymptomatic but have had known contact with someone exhibiting symptoms), or “isolate” yourselves (the recommended practice when you yourself exhibit symptoms), we understand and support that decision, and have a variety of ways for you to continue your lessons.

Look, it’s very likely given our demographic and cosmopolitan makeup that quarantine procedures will be implemented in our area in the next few weeks or even days. And we’re prepared to switch to online only lessons if that happens.

But until then, the most responsible thing we can do is follow the recommendations put forward by the agencies tasked with monitoring the pandemic. And right now, for us, that’s practicing social distancing—not self-quarantining.

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Molly Webb

Molly is the founder of Molly’s Music. She is a dedicated singer and pianist whose musical journey spans 2.5 decades, with stops along the way to sing for the pope, pass Certificate of Merit at the highest level, study with Gwen Verdon and Ben Vereen, and record an original album.

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