Last week, Vashon Center for the Arts (VCA) took a series of precautionary COVID safety steps after a staff member tested positive for the virus, including the expected closure of the Kay White Hall until at least Wednesday, Nov. 24.
The case was announced on Nov. 18 in a notice on VCA’s website and in a community email sent by from VCA’s executive director, Allison Halstead Reid.
The affected individual, in this case, was vaccinated and had the booster shot, she said.
“Vashon Center for the Arts was an early adopter of a 100% vaccination requirement for all staff and volunteers, as well as attendees to events in the performing arts space,” said Halstead Reid. “The current approved vaccines reduce chances of infection and provide very strong protection against hospitalization, but they do not provide perfect protection against COVID.”
Reid said the arts center was working closely with the Vashon Emergency Operations Center and members of the Vashon Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) in response to the case, and she and the staff and board were exceedingly grateful for the support offered by these groups.
The affected staff member was safe at home, isolating with support from an MRC contact tracing expert.
In recent weeks, VCA has hosted concerts by Los Lobos on Nov. 11 and 12, and David Grishman’s Dawg Trio on Nov. 14. But Halstead Reid said that no VCA arts patrons had been in close contact with the affected person, and there was no risk to the general public from the situation.
However, 18 VCA staff members who attended meetings and thus came into close contact with the affected person followed MRC recommended quarantine and PCR testing protocol, with negative results coming back for all for their first tests.
They will be tested at least twice during the quarantine period before returning to work. The MRC is also tracing any potential secondary contacts such as family or friends, in case they also need to be advised to enter into the quarantine and testing protocol.
A few VCA activities have been curtailed because staff members were in quarantine.
A reading of “La Finca,” with author Corky Park, scheduled for Nov. 18, was postponed. Additionally, two performances of “The Addams Family,” by Drama Dock and the VCA Musical Theatre Program, on Nov. 19 and 20, were also postponed. The performances will now take place at 5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 7 (open dress rehearsal), 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 8, and 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 8.
One silver lining of the postponement of the youth show, said Halstead Reid, is that many of the younger children in attendance at the show will then be fully vaccinated and will not instead have to show negative COVID tests to attend.
Most activities at the Blue Heron Education Center were able to continue after the staff exposure. Contact tracing has not identified any COVID exposures among students at the Blue Heron.
“Please know that we are doing everything we can to stay safe and keep our patrons and staff safe,” said Halstead Reid. “These are challenging times but we know that Vashon pulls together to meet difficult times head-on. We are beyond grateful for the support we are fortunate to receive from this incredibly resilient community.”