our invincible enemy

to date, malaysia has recorded
93,309 cases of covid-19 surpassing china in the last few days. as the number continues to rise, it is hard to avoid this enemy unseen from our eyes. what are the odds of someone walking into the studio and having the novel coronavirus nCoV-19 aka covid-19? as the studio was launched after our first wave of the movement control order(mco), i was very well aware of the risk i am taking, and the risk of running into a positive case; or a few positive cases.
saying that it is just the flu may be unjust; but; just like the common flu; anybody who is anybody is capable of being infected known or unknown. and as such, anyone walking into our door, can be a carrier and is thus a risk to the komuniti. as the founder behind this komuniti space, do i then close the doors and take the safer route while we suffer in our first few months or open our doors and fight the viruses head-on, come what may? the answer, for me, was not apparent. we can’t be held indoors for too long, and over time, the deprivation for human connection kicks in and it was not something an online class could counter.
when we begin running online classes after the second wave of controlled-mco (cmco); we have mixed reactions from students and teachers and at some point; both teachers and students long-ed for the in-studio practice that somewhat is just different from an online class. i have then decided that as long as the number remains high, we will keep our sessions online. 
as a teacher; both online and in-studio classes can have their own challenges. while i personally don’t mind teaching online, there are some teachers whose classes suffer a dip in the number of turnouts which results in the cancelation of classes. the reality is, we simply are not able to pay for teacher’s wages if there is no student. at karma yoga; we believe in fair wages for the teachers online or in-studio, and hence, my heart is disheartened, and am at crossroads in making the right decision in order to first, safeguard the komuniti but at the same time;- keep the teacher’s pay in.

the obvious was to reopen the studio when the number dips and hence making all of us, myself included susceptible to the risk of covid-19. at the corner of my heart; there is always that 50% worry of what if it happens; and worse; knowing that this virus can also take lives of not just the students; but possibly their loved ones.

 

namaste karma kluster

two weeks ago; what i feared the most happened. a student dm-ed me and was tested covid positive. my heart sank for a minute thinking; is this student okay? it then dawned on me; did the student visit the studio lately?
upon checking; the student did attend a class with us within the last 14 days and i immediately drafted an email to inform all students in the same class to home quarantine and immediately run rt-pcr tests and report back their results to me as soon as they can. all teachers were also informed and close contacts involved are requested to immediately take the rt-pcr tests and to monitor their symptoms accordingly.
as the news sinks in; my objective was very clear, do not create panic and ultimately, fear to come back to in-studio practices whether in karma yoga or other studios. i called up kkm to ask them about the work-flow of a situation like this and read up all the available f.a.q.s available online. unfortunately to my dismay, the only applicable next course of action was to sanitise the premise to be safe and wait for contact tracing to be done by kkm if required. we were told that we don’t have to make any announcements and share any news as technically we do not have a case just because someone visited our premise plus the fact that said positive student did not contract the virus from the premise.
that didn’t feel right for me. if i acted slowly, the chances of us being spreaders may be true. although the student did not contract the virus from the studio, i personally felt we needed to take action faster.
while i schedule my own rt-pcr test; i begin to draft lists of everyone in-contact with the said student and begin tracking everyone’s test results and ensuring that they report back if any symptoms persist. in less than 30 hours; all results came back negative. the studio was closed to be sanitised while we waited for the results. all students and teachers affected were notified to not return to the studio until their quarantine period is over and switch to online classes for the time being.
at the point of writing (21st december 2020), all our quarantine period (10 days) is over and everyone’s test result was negative.
we don’t have a covid case. yet.

for all I know, we may have it one day. 

as for the covid positive student; she was transferred to hospital. i have been in touch with the said student to check-in with the student’s wellbeing as well as reassuring the student that we will always welcome the student back upon recovery. the student also took our online classes during the student’s stay at the hospital. the student will be discharged before christmas to celebrate with family and loved ones and doctors have cleared for the student to return to practice immediately. 
while that was a close call; i am extremely sure that we are all still at risk as long as our students continue to walk in and out of our doors (and every other door out there that are opened for business).

everyone is capable of being a carrier, myself, and yourself included.

how can we not be afraid?

throughout the whole situation; i have derived a few key takeaways.
1. do not create fear.
every single being is a risk and is also a priority. at karma yoga; no one is above anyone and hence, no one’s life is more important than another. 
i have personally received countless messages of how there is someone somewhere that is important to them that they are trying to protect. if i were to look at the bigger picture, everyone is important regardless of who and where you are and hence, i can only empathise but not take sides. 
2. do what is right.
while a part of me wanted to just continue running as if nothing happened(because technically… we don’t really have a case) or announce to the world and take 2 weeks off; that is not necessarily the case when different walks of life are involved. any closure will unfortunately affect the studio during this rough period. 
not everyone can afford an rt-pcr swab test at private hospitals, and certainly, some students and teachers have babies and elderly living with them. thankfully for us; our students adhered to our requests and all took actions swiftly and reported as soon as they could. 
3. find ways to make it safer for everyone:- student, teacher and/or business owner. 
while karma yoga can easily take more than 50% less than our usual capacity, we have decided to keep the maximum capacity for classes at 10. mats are laid 2m apart from each other and we believe this adherence to the s.o.p might have been our saving grace. i’ve installed a 247 air sanitizer and sterilizer that eliminates germs, viruses, and odor within the practice space. i’ve installed a second unit immediately before we re-opened. deep sanitization of the premise is a huge cost; but is also important to safeguard everyone, and hence, i have decided to make this a monthly practice for karma yoga. 
using hospital grade ingredients and chemicals can be harmful to many who walk into our door. over the past few months; i began sourcing and experimenting with different effective disinfectants that kill 99.999% of harmful viruses- including covid-19 to be used when cleaning the space. students first, profit last. i have sourced for props at cost price to be sold to students so that they can still be able to practice with the use of props safely without the hefty pricing.
teachers are advised to not make hands-on adjustments and wash their hands regularly since a lot of the teachers are freelancers who move from studio to studio. the chances of them being carriers are rather high. our ways of teaching need to be adapted to ensure the safety of ourselves so that we can continue to guide others.
as for students; the adherence to our safety measures and social distancing is of utmost importance. scan in with mysejahtera app. check your temperature and continuously monitor your wellbeing. any symptoms and even if it’s mild, refrain from stepping outdoors. wash and sanitize your hands, always. wear your face masks in all common areas. keep used mask properly. bring your own yoga mats and practice props. refrain from face to face contact as much as you can. leave the practice space immediately after your class.

 

4. educate ourselves on the reality of covid-19. 
to-date, there is no medicine for covid-19 and it will not go away anytime soon. everybody and every space is a potential risk and could possibly be a carrier. hence, do not discriminate, create panic and fear, and shun anyone or any businesses by spreading unnecessary news that brings misinformation to the public. if unsure, ask. help if you can. do your best to support and bring every other yogi or businesses up, not the other way round. support all businesses around you, and possibly, ask how they are doing instead of asking a third party. 

we can all be carriers. choose to be carriers of kindness and empathy.

as the number continues to peak today, i am once again at crossroads on how to keep the space alive and running. do let us know if there are any feedback and suggestions that can help improve our offerings and services and safeguard the komuniti. i would like to sincerely thank everyone who’s walked through our door since we’ve opened and understood that we operate the space as a komuniti space. 
here’s also to apologize for any shortcomings and i can be contacted at any time at namaste@karmayoga.my 
x,
jen, do good good.

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