I see a lot of prominent schools asking about this as well as other businesses. It is a legit concern. Many of us need to get back to work. We need to start earning again. CrossFit is sweaty and people are in close proximity but ultimately it may be possible for people to work out at a relatively safe distance from each other and avoid potential cross-infection.
Jiujitsu is more troublesome because it requires human contact and you cannot help but breathe on each other. It is potentially possible for people to wear masks but those offer minimal protection at such close quarters and will definitely get ripped off after a short amount of grappling. Anybody that has worn wrestling headgear knows that wearing masks will be futile.
Let’s assume that we open jiujitsu schools on a limited bases, the challenge for us and for businesses in general is controlling the spread of the virus much like it is now. With regard to the virus, we do not have a vaccine, people are still dying, and we have no evidence that we have herd immunity. So what are we talking about? We are talking about slowly opening things up and seeing how quickly the virus starts to spread again once we lift restrictions.
Safety guidelines suggested not reopening until states showed a decline in cases for two weeks. No states have shown that but states have started reopening anyway. Probably the thing to do is watch them for two weeks and see how they are doing. If cases start to spike again in those states then we are in serious trouble.
Also Tanner Rice in California has reopened his jiujitsu school in defiance of the State’s s order to shut down. That will be a great source of data. I doubt very much he will actually track how many of his members come back and how many catch the virus over the next month, but it would be great to see if they are adversely affected.
Jiujitsu schools thinking of reopening absolutely must make the effort to track how many members are training and how many catch the virus. That’s above and beyond the safety measures they take to try and minimize the spread. Anybody can be carrying the virus for two weeks before they even show symptoms. If someone shows ups six times in two weeks they could potentially infect the entire school before they show a symptom. All they have to do is infect the teacher who might be there for every class and then the teacher could infect every other student over the following two weeks.
I know our school is creating a plan where two training partners can work together and only with each other and sign out time slots where they can basically have the mat to themselves to drill. That way they minimize the spread if one of them gets it. Small groups of people that again do not intermingle with other groups is another way to reduce the risk. So one teacher could potentially teach the same group of six people Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. And another teacher could teach six other people on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. As long as the groups do not cross over they can reduce the spread.
What was once good natured ribbing about washing one’s belt will now be very strict guidelines on showing up with clean gear and sanitizing before and after rolling. I don’t know how it will play out but things are going to be different for a while. I, for one, am eager to start strangling people again.