Dec. 20, 2022

This covers frequently-asked questions specifically about BACDS’ risk reduction policies at our dance events. For more questions about COVID in general, there are lots (lots!) of FAQ sites - a good one is: COVID-19 Guidelines for the General Public - Emergency Operations Center - County of Santa Clara; another is Planetree Health Library .

Why such a detailed policy? What’s BACDS’ goal of these precautions?

BACDS’ approach is to maximize safety for everyone, while keeping the essential aspects of our dancing styles: live music, dancing with multiple partners, physical and respiratory contact with almost everyone in the hall. To keep those, we expose ourselves to SARS-CoV-2 and other germs at much higher levels than nearly all other activities of daily life - so the BACDS Board thinks it’s appropriate to be more careful, too.

What precautions does the BACDS policy include?

Our tools are:

Do these requirements apply to musicians and callers too?

Yes, everyone present at an in-person BACDS event.

Jump to questions about:

BACDS requires masks, vaccination + booster, and filling out a checklist at its dances. Why all 3?

According to public health experts this is the best practice to reduce the risk of spreading COVID. Masking and being fully vaccinated actively prevent spreading SARS-CoV-2; the checklist asks about risks of having an active infection.

Why not just require a negative home test result for every dance?

Taking a home antigen test tells us whether we’re currently shedding virus from an infection. It’s a snapshot in time, not a prevention. There are reliably-reported cases of someone testing negative before a dance who then got sick at the event, and was the likely cause of infections in other people.

I can’t follow all of what BACDS requires. How can I get an exemption?

If you have a question about BACDS policies, please send an email to the COVID subcommittee at: . BACDS organizers and volunteers should not be put in the position of trying to deal with special cases or whether to make any exemptions. Ask those questions of the COVID subcommittee instead.


Why not let vaccinated people dance without a mask?

We totally get that it’s at best uncomfortable to dance with a mask on. However, getting vaccinated doesn’t prevent us from getting sick - instead vaccines protect from serious illness, from needing to be hospitalized, and from dying. A mild case of COVID - even an asymptomatic case - can infect other people. Masks rated KN94 or higher block transmission to you and from you.

Does the mask requirement allow playing a wind instrument?

Yes, sometimes. See the detailed policy for each risk level


How do I show proof of up-to-date vaccination?

Everyone at a BACDS event is asked to show proof of up-to-date vaccination (as of February 1, 2023, that means initial vaccination + bivalent booster) at its events. Proof can be a: CA residents can find out more about their Digital COVID-19 Vaccination Record at: Series managers can collect this information in advance, and may keep a record of demonstrated proof (to avoid asking for that each and every time) if so desired.

Why does BACDS require that everyone get the bivalent booster?

Resistance to SARS-CoV-2 fades over time, both immunity that comes from a vaccine or from an infection. (Immunity from infection seems to be less effective than from a vaccine or booster, fwiw.) Evolving variants of SARS-CoV-2 over time also make vaccines less effective, which is why BACDS has required up-to-date vaccination + boosters. Last September a new booster was approved that protects against multiple variants, including variants in the currently-dominant Omicron lineage.

When do I need to get the bivalent booster, to be able to attend a BACDS event?

BACDS asks that people get the bivalent booster on or before the end of January 2023. Any booster dose received after Sept. 2, 2022 is the bivalent formula (even if it’s not labeled as such).

I got sick with COVID / I got a different booster not too long ago. Can I get the bivalent booster?

Talk to your health care provider about this. While it’s usually recommended in general that people wait 4-6 months between booster shots, and wait for a shorter period of time to get boosted after having a COVID infection, the AMA & some infectious disease experts recommend getting the bivalent booster sooner than that to take advantage of its coverage for the new SARS-CoV-2 variants. In any case, follow what your medical team advise for you individually.


Does BACDS require that people test negative before each event?

Not always. At the red (highest) risk level, everyone should show proof of a negative test within the last 6 hours for admission to a BACDS event. (A time-stamped photo of the test kit on a phone is ideal proof.) At lower risk levels, though, whether to test is left up to us to decide, depending on individual circumstances. The WhenToTest website can help make that decision. If you do test, please do so as close to the time of the event as possible. For more details on what’s required at the green, yellow, or red levels, see the BACDS Covid page.


Why do I have to fill out a checklist at every dance?

Because our answers to those questions can change from day to day.

Why does the checklist ask about the other people I live with?

SARS-CoV-2 continues to evolve to be more transmissable, so the chances of sharing an infection with other people in your household keep going up with each new variant. Home antigen tests don’t always come up positive before that person can spread it to others. So if someone else at home is sick with COVID, or has tested positive, BACDS asks that you stay home.


What’s the deal with those green, yellow, or red levels? Why could BACDS requirements change from week to week?

The basic requirements are always required, but how much leeway we have with masks, and whether BACDS asks people to also test before depends on local conditions. Rather than requiring everyone to always take the highest level of precautions, the policy allows dances to adjust according to CDC’s measures of community transmission (low, medium, or high risk levels). For example, at the red / high transmission level BACDS asks that everyone test shortly before coming to each event, but at the other levels that’s left up to us. (Check WhenToTest for help making that decision.) For more details on what’s required at the green, yellow, or red levels, see the BACDS Covid page.

The risk level in my home county is low - why is BACDS’ level higher for all its events?

Because people from all over the Bay Area attend its events, BACDS considers all 6 core counties (Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, & Santa Clara) in calculating which set of policies to require.

When should I check to see what’s required at a BACDS dance?

The CDC updates its risk level ratings after 5pm on Thursdays, and should be updated soon after. Dances on Friday nights follow the risk level from the previous week (we all need more than 24 hours lead time), so BACDS color-coded levels run from Saturday - Friday.