Dancing after social distancing: NYC students learn to waltz together again

Dancing after social distancing: NYC students learn to waltz together again

There was no hint of social distancing, no hesitation to get in close once the polka came on.
Fifth graders at P.S. 48 in Washington Heights faced each other in two tight circles at the center of the gym, some wearing masks and others without. The upbeat pom-pom-pom music came through a small but powerful wireless speaker. Suddenly students were slapping hands and linking arms, swirling in circles to land in front of a new partner – and then did it all over again.

For two years, the COVID pandemic meant that the nonprofit Dancing Classrooms, which offers lessons at schools across New York City, had to figure out how to teach students how to waltz, swing, and rumba without touching their partners or even coming within three feet of one another. But about a month after the mandate to wear masks in schools ended in March, also marking the end of social distancing requirements, the nonprofit decided it was time for students to once again take each other by the hand.

At some schools, coming face-to-face for a fast-moving merengue or dramatic tango is still too close for comfort. A handful of the 150 campuses that Dancing Classrooms works with have decided to keep social distancing in place. But at most, including P.S. 48 in Washington Heights, students have eased back into making contact with their dance partners.

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