Covid Survey Results

With bivalent boosters now widely available and public views on appropriate covid precautions continuing to shift we wanted to run a survey to understand how our particular community was thinking about this sort of thing. After a bit over a week we've wrapped up the survey, and the results are in! Overall people were solidly in favor of requiring bivalent boosters, and against any other changes:

As confirmed in the free text responses (see appendix below) there isn't one set of policies that would make everyone happy.  There are dancers that feel very strongly that requiring masks is necessary for their safety, and others who feel like it makes the dance much less fun.

We're not currently announcing any changes, but wanted to get the results out so people could see how the survey went.

Clarifications

A few points we'd like to address from people's free-text responses:
  • We don't have additional options for ventilation at the Masonic Hall.  While we used to be able to open the side windows, the hall has an agreement with the city and the neighbors that those windows will stay closed.

  • BIDA hasn't held outdoor contras before: the ones that occasionally happen in the Cambridge/Somerville area have been organized independently by dancers.

  • Musicians and callers do already have the option to be unmasked while they're actively performing on stage (details).

  • Covid rates here weren't going up when we opened the survey, and still aren't.  Wastewater numbers have gone down a lot and confirmed cases have been falling too.

  • We're not considering allowing surgical masks as an alternative to high-filtration masks.  Because they combine most of the downsides of high-filtration masks (having to wear a mask) with most of the downsides of not wearing a mask (allowing lots of unfiltered air out) they wouldn't be a good compromise.

Survey Details

The survey was open from the evening of October 31st through the evening of November 8th (eight days) during which it received 156 responses.  It was available online throughout this period, and on paper in person during our November 6th dance, but we didn't get any paper submissions.  Full responses are public (sheet) if you'd like to do your own analysis.  The numbers in the charts here include rounding a few free-text responses to the nearest standard option (details).

We publicized the survey by sending it to our mailing list, posting it on our blog, posting it on our Facebook group and page, and announcing it at the November 6th dance.

Appendix: Attendance-Weighted Responses

The first question asked how often people attend BIDA.  You could imagine counting people's responses in proportion to how many dances they attend, but this doesn't change the overall picture: bivalent boosters are still very popular, and no other changes are popular.

Appendix: All Comments

Here are all the free-text comments people left in the two comment fields, after a small amount of editing to remove personal information:
  • I wish we could open the windows or otherwise ventilate more -- and then perhaps allow test-to-unmask. I think the vaccine requirement is no longer useful, adds friction, and can be safely dropped. I don't think it reduces risk enough to matter.
  • Any kind of no-mask policy would make me uncomfortable psychologically, regardless of my physical safety. Requiring vax, mask, boost feels the most responsible not just for us as a dance community, but also for all the people we interact with in non-dance contexts. Dancing right now has inherent risks, but we shouldn't be forcing those risks on other people just because we're taking them, so risk-minimzing measures always sound good to me.
  • Full vax should still be required. It's the least dancers can do.
  • I would definitely NOT feel at all comfortable attending dances if N95 masks were not required (regardless of testing and/or vaccination requirements). Tests are unfortunately not 100% accurate and it feels very important to me that contra dances are welcoming and accessible to people at higher risk of serious Covid cases, as well as people who live with someone who is at higher risk. Dancing in a mask isn't hard and I care deeply about the safety and well-being of everyone in our dance community, regardless of health conditions, etc. Please keep BIDA dances accessible to everyone by keeping your current Covid policies, and hopefully also adding the bivalent booster requirement as well! Thank you!
  • I feel like BIDA would be a more welcoming place if it was more willing to make exceptions. I don't think there would be very many, and they would probably mostly be for people forgetting their proof of vaccination while still being vaccinated.
  • I’m fine with the current measures/masking requirements but I’d also be fine with masks being optional for those who feel comfortable and are boosted/vaxxed.
  • I would definitely feel less safe and comfortable if covid restrictions were relaxed. I really value that BIDA is taking COVID seriously and applying precautions to everyone equally. It makes me proud and excited to dance with y’all.
  • I could get sick or spread the disease to others, something that would make me increasingly nervous, but could also likely lead to the severe illness or death of others.
  • Yes by stopping mask wearing it would make dancing more fun. Every other event I attend requires proof vaccination and no mask. Masks make dancing harder and less fun. Would be great if they were not mandatory
  • Getting rid of the mask requirement would be huge. I overheat more quickly with a mask on, and then dancing is much less fun. Also, I take much more joy in contra dancing when I can see people's smiles. Contra dance loses a lot of its infectious joy with masks on.
  • Allowing testing instead of masking is +enjoyment, neutral on comfort and safety. Stopping requiring masks is -safety, -comfort, neutral on enjoyment.
  • Even disregarding the risk to vulnerable members of my household (and unknown effects of long covid), I'd probably be so anxious about being in a large indoor crowd of unmasked or ambiguously vaccinated people that I wouldn't be able to enjoy myself anyway. Getting on transit to get to the dance is already bad enough (and eats up enough of my personal risk budget)
  • I reeeeeeally hope this isn't a lead-up to softening COVID safety measures at BIDA.
  • Maybe be a little less strict about types of masks people wear, since many of them are very heavy.
  • I'd currently choose to wear a mask. But I don't really care about others wearing masks, and might stop at some point. I feel safe enough with my bivalent booster and a mask that given my risk tolerance others behavior doesn't really impact me.
  • I like being able to see faces of people I'm dancing with, so at some point loosening up would be nice. And I have friends who find dancing in an N95 too restrictive of breathing and are unable to come with current rules. But I appreciate being able to keep dancing whatever the rules are.
  • I would be ok with any changes
  • Thank you for considering our safety and for getting the dances going again.
  • At the moment, I think the only way to build a compelling safety story is with masking. So if you drop the mask requirement, I'm less likely to attend. I'm with not requiring vaccines at this moment.
  • I'm supportive of dropping the vaccine requirement at the moment because vaccines are not doing enough (at the moment) to stop the spread of covid. And checking vax cards adds much administrative burden and need for handling edge cases.
  • Ultimately, I prefer 3 days before plus day of testing. Camera photo date and time stamps.
  • I wouldn’t be comfortable with fewer restrictions
  • If you stopped requiring vaccination and boosters I would feel less safe and be annoyed.
  • I would prefer rapid testing day of, to catch asymptomatic carriers, but I realize this would be cost prohibitive for some. Day-of testing and mask optional and/or outdoor events would make me more comfortable both from a safety and physical comfort perspective.
  • I am still comfortable with BIDAs current requirements and do not find them a deterrent to joining events.
  • 1. An important reason to require vaccination and boosters, is that people who do not keep up to date with that are presumed to be irresponsible people, and we don't want people who might be irresponsible in other ways as well. 2. If you decide that allowing rapid test negative people to dance unmasked is a reasonable policy for BIDA to adopt, then do it. People who want to exercise high covid safety, can be almost as safe by depending on their own N95 mask at such a dance, as they can be if everyone is required to be masked. Those who want high covid safety aren't giving up much.
  • More outdoor contras?
  • Fewer restrictions would affect my safety
  • I would strongly prefer if musicians had the option to unmask, either by taking a negative rapid test or by any other change in the rules. It is extremely difficult to communicate with other musicians in a mask and - for those of us who wear glasses - making makes it much harder to see, which compounds the problem.
  • Thank you for soliciting opinions!
  • I would love it if masks were optional, and am happy to test if that is what is needed to make it happen.
  • I would still be uncomfortable at an indoor event without masking or vaccination requirements, especially heading into winter season.
  • If I didn’t feel safe I would not attend the dance therefore there would be no risk of safety issue
  • Thank you for all of these caring thoughts
  • Current policy is the minimum I would be comfortable with, so if requirements are loosened, I'd probably stop attending.
  • My frequency of attendance is due to the distance I must drive, 45 minutes each way. I already have the bivalent booster, so not a factor for me.
  • I would not feel comfortable or safe with fewer things like masking and vaccination plus boosters.
  • I feel safe the way things are
  • I'd be comfortable with making masks voluntary for anyone who is vaxxed.
  • With the current requirements, I'm attending as frequently as my schedule permits, which is really more often than monthly but not every time. If you stopped requiring masks, I would most likely stop attending. If you allowed testing instead of masking, I'd have to think about it, do some research, and listen to your reasoning before deciding how it would effect my behavior.
  • My current understanding is that masking and ventilation are really the keys to safer social events. At this point, with the exception of the bivalent booster, vaccination/boosters are less effective at preventing infection, though still very important for reducing severity. My main concern with instant testing instead of masking is false negatives.
  • I would be able to attend with more of a sense that I am safer and others are safer.
  • I would definitely feel much less safe if the policies were stepped back - especially masking.
  • Thanks for your time and consideration on an important topic!
  • I think it's reasonable to require vaccines and boosters (given reasonable time to get them, I don't have my #3 booster, I'm getting it soon, but I assume some will wait longer). I dance in other places where I think everyone is vaxed, but masks aren't required any more.
  • I'm just starting to feel comfortable around others. If vaccination was not required I would not come
  • I will still wear a mask regardless of any change in policy.
  • I think high-quality masking is the primary tool for an environment like this. Tests might catch some things but with a 50% false negative rate for asymptomatic folks, it doesn't seem like a panacea. Vaccine boosters at this point primarily protect the individual and not guard against transmission (though anecdotally they might make the onset of symptoms earlier, which might help someone isolate earlier and be less likely to spread covid?). I'd be interested to see if the bivalent booster makes a significant dent in transmission, but I'm not holding my breath.
  • Would be much easier to breathe without masks, and to talk to people
  • I would enjoy the dance much more and feel more comfortable if masks were optional or you could test out
  • I wasn't sure how to show this on the question above, but I don't want masking to end just so that everyone is forced to have a test every time they dance. Testing everyone with rapid tests in the moment is impractical and unaligned with the situation.
  • Covid is never going away. At this point, we likely have all the vaccine levels we're going to get (i.e. they're good, but not perfect, and there will always be a chance of infection), so if you don't get rid of constant masking now, you might as well just keep it forever, because nothing is going to make things more safe. I was coming to BIDA in the restarted dances until you started requiring KN95 or the equivalent. Now, I am fully not coming because unlike the entire rest of Cambridge, including science-led places like Harvard and MIT, you insist on this masking, Given that the rest of the city and Boston and everywhere near is not following a mask requirement, making dancers follow it is not preventing community spread or helping anyone at all. All it's causing is an inconvenience and, if you're dancing the whole time, an impediment to what's really a full workout. We're not quietly taking in a concert here. People who are truly still concerned about covid will be the people who just keep on staying home, but it's well past time to move past the masking for a pastime that involves physical activity.
  • I am unable to exercise in a mask so removing the requirement would allow me to participate.
  • Masks, especially heavier ones, do make dancing less enjoyable and I think we could achieve just as much security by requiring testing instead.
  • I would be much more comfortable without a mask, and I would enjoy seeing people’s faces. Even dropping the requirement down to a surgical mask (pleated) would help.
  • I think masking should definitely remain in place, especially going into the winter months when illnesses beyond covid are common as well.
  • I would rather see testing requirements for everyone then booster requirements. It seems that plenty of people even with bivalent boosters are still getting the virus, and may not be showing symptoms. For a three hour event with lots of close contact I’d definitely feel safer if I knew people had tested negative, regardless of their vaccination status.
  • Room and setup still feel unsafe, much as I miss it
  • I am comfortable taking a little more risk, but I would stop going if vaccination was not required any more. I commend BIDA for standing by their strict policies in the current political environment, and for making very careful considerations when changing the policy.
  • Mask is a burden for many people because of difficulty breathing, and not seeing people's faces makes the experience a little less personal. Allowing testing instead of masking might be beneficial (while still requiring vaccination), unless it turns away too many dancers.
  • Please require more boosters, masks while inside, and PCR tests or I'll have to stop comming in the comming wave of new variants.
  • TH=ee fact htat you have this survey, when rates are going up, concerns me that you are not following the Covid news.
  • It has been hard for me to get the bivalent booster. Even after making appointments, when I show up at CVS or Walgreens I have been turned away due to no available dosages.
  • Having some people masked and others not would feel uncomfortable and stigmatizing.
  • It is no fun to dance in a mask. Testing is nice, and would make me feel more comfortable than not testing. I don't care about vaccine rules-- if you're not vaxxed, you probably have had covid. It would be more convenient not to have to find my vax card.
  • I would definitely feel more nervous at the dances if some or most people were not masked. I was recently talking with another dancer about how we really appreciate that even though we are in the minority of masked people on our commutes, in grocery stores, etc., we can feel confident in dancing because everyone is masked!
  • Anecdotally, it seemed at camps/dances this summer that those that required masks while dancing had low or no covid transmission, while camps/dances that did not require masking had significant covid transmission. The anecdotal evidence, backed by scientific evidence, seems clear that requiring masks is essential (and very effective) to protect everyone in our community. ...But I know you're probably getting pushback about all of this! Just wanted to say I appreciate you and the work you do!!!
  • I would feel less safe if there were no masks, but would prefer they not be N95s. I think allowing a negative test instead of a mask could work and would be worth it.
  • Dancing without a mask would significantly increase my enjoyment and connection to the community.
  • I'm fairly neutral on the vaccination/testing requirement, but I think that having us sign up every time for the email blast if someone tests positive is unnecessary. Perhaps it could be optional instead of required?
  • I know that overall health and safety might be more of a priority than comfort and preference, but I have to say that universal masking is both stuffy in a sweaty activity like contra and also hinders connection--when you dance up and down the line it makes it harder to connect with the people you briefly encounter. I really do honor the varied health needs in our community, but because you are asking I'll say that I'd prefer optional masking.
  • I currently come as often as I can and am most comfortable with vaccination and kn95 or better masks. I would be okay with testing as an alternative to vaccination.
  • As an older person with hypertension, I believe that masking and vaccination provide a reasonably high level of protection. Masking also reduces the chance of spreading flu and other diseases.
  • Many people are infectious for a day or two before testing positive with a rapid test, so that is not an adequate screening method.
  • If KN95S masks werent required I would enjoy dances much more. KN95s make it so hard to breath that I often leave dances early because I'm not enjoying myself.
  • The only reason I don't feel comfortable attending is the large number of people at the events. Statistically it seems super likely that at least one person would have COVID. If the case counts drop next year I would consider attending. Thank you for requiring masks I believe that helps a lot
  • I think requiring further boosters and not making exceptions are both silly, since they seem more motivated by politics than safety, but it wouldn't affect my personal attendence.
  • I would enjoy dancing with many faces unmasked, which I'd overall feel comfortable doing at this point with rapid tests required. I would also feel more comfortable with tests required in any case, but I think "either high filtration mask or antigen test" is the most inclusive requirement.
  • While I think it has been an important component of covid protocol to this point, I think checking vaccination status is probably not very helpful at this point - I think that nearly all dancers at BIDA moving forward will likely be vaccinated and boosted anyway, and our event is unlikely to affect regional public health. So I believe the administration and exclusion inherent in a vaccination requirement outweighs the benefits. A strong recommendation for the bivalent booster as a stance of the board would still be fine, of course.
  • I would enjoy the dances more if I didn’t have to wear a mask. I am fine with testing and already have my bivalent booster so I feel like I am a safe person and trust that others will be trustworthy.
  • I am privileged because I am no longer very scared of Covid for my own personal health. I also assume that at this point if someone has a reliable mask and is vaccinated then it shouldn’t be a problem if people aren’t masked around them.
  • Tests are expensive, so I am not in favor of REQUIRING texts under any circumstances. There’s ample evidence to suggest high-quality masks, especially combined with vaccination, are sufficient to prevent transmission.
  • I would be ok with a lesser mask option (ie basic mask or fabric), but still wearing masks since after two dances some people are breathing heavily. Not sure if I'm ok with no masks yet for the space and the amount of people that attend that we have.
  • I am overall glad with how BIDA has been handling the comeback.
  • I’d like to dance without my glasses fogging up due to masking, but I still want to be COVID safe.
  • Thank you for this! We're so excited to dance more and think the risks are much lower now.
  • I would feel safe
  • I believe Covid is now endemic, like the common flu, and masks should be optional.
  • I won’t resume contra dancing in such a large group without reliable data on the cases (positive tests, hospitalizations, deaths) of contra dancers following dances. I am frankly disappointed CDSS isn’t trying to collect this data.
  • All of the interventions listed are not particularly effective so will not make me feel any safer, but only masks affect my enjoyment of dancing.
  • Another dance group I'm involved with has reduced their protocols mainly due to concern about the burden of enforcement on the staff.
  • I don't think it'll change my attendance, but I would be more comfortable if I could wear an ordinary medical mask (not N95 equivalent). I'm also happy with testing instead of masking, though I'd prefer it be optional so you can either test or mask.
  • I would feel unsafe at the dance if I didn't know that everyone was fully vaccinated. On top of that, we should either require wearing at least a surgical mask or a negative covid test taken on-site and assurance of no close contacts.
  • I feel more comfortable coming to BIDA knowing that everyone will be vaccinated and wearing a mask. Thank you for checking in with the community!
  • Keep up the good work :)
  • I would be so much happier and comfortable again to dance without masks and get to meet people and share facial expressions. Dancing masked feels numb. It's almost not worth it and I don't like bringing anyone new to experience it like this
  • I’d feel safer if any vaccines are required, with feeling even safer with bivalent vaccines. I find allowing medical exemptions to the vaccine an acceptable balance between safety and exceptions, as long as a rapid test is substitute. I will not dance (or call, as a caller in BIDA’s booking rotation!) at indoor dances that do not require masks.
  • I feel safe enough. I'm not sure what we are waiting for to decide that it is time to get back to normal. Most of the rest of the world is ignoring COVID, I don't know what difference our dance will make when people are going to clubs, bars, work and riding public transit unmasked.
  • With the current COVID situation I am probably okay enough with whatever requirements but I am more comfortable with more precautions and would continue to wear a mask myself regardless.
  • I feel safe if I know that everyone else at the dance is either wearing a high quality mask, or has taken a rapid test before the dance. While I feel _good_ about requiring vaccination since I think it selects for people I would trust more, I don't think requiring vaccination actually significantly influences my sense of safety.
  • Depends on what you changed
  • Not at this time, just a thank you for putting this survey out to get feedback.
  • I think I’d feel leery rejoining without masks, especially as Fall turns to winter. As much as I’d love for the trajectory to lead towards masks-free events, I’m more comfortable in the big-group-wear-masks new normal.
  • I appreciate how much thought and care you put into these decisions as well as looking out for the more vulnerable members of the community. Masked dancing can still be very very fun, in my book.
  • I'm tired of the dance community's sanctimony around COVID precautions. The rest of the world has moved on and we can too.
  • I mostly just don't want to see my unvaccinated ex boyfriend ever, so please don't stop requiring vaccine cards.
  • I'm pro-testing, but still (reluctantly) think masks are a good idea. I'm wondering how the mechanics of test verification would work.
  • Keep things as-is.
  • I would attend more with no mask requirement but probably not much more. Before COVID I only attended once every few months.
  • I would be less comfortable attending if you reduced current restrictions
  • I would come more often if masking was no longer required
  • I would feel extremely anxious if BIDA stopped requiring masking, though I would probably still come sometimes. I would be totally fine if BIDA allowed surgical masks (though I appreciate the current restriction). I like that y'all currently require vax, but I wouldn't be too sad if you stopped requiring that. I think making vax exceptions for medical issues is great and I hope you currently do that.
  • I dislike dancing in a mask for several reasons and don't enjoy dancing contra as much when I'm wearing a mask. If there's no spike in cases and BIDA can provide rapid tests, that feels ideal to me. I'm not sure if it's realistic to require bivalent boosters, since some people who have had COVID recently are being told to wait a few months before getting boosted.
  • I think by now, vaccination is mostly irrelevant, since those who are not vaccinated have gotten similar protection by getting Covid. I'd like to see tests required instead of vaccination (I am vaccinated), and if rates lower a bit more, tests but not masks required.
  • For the time being it's pretty much all-or-nothing for me: either I will dance in relative safety and comfort (which for me means everyone wears a mask indoors), or I will choose to attend other dances instead. I'm a bit more flexible on vaccination policies.
  • I think the current policy is appropriate. Please stay the course, at least through this winter!
  • I want to feel safe enough to come to BIDA, but my partner is immunocompromised and just doesn't want to take that risk under the current circumstances.
  • To me the existing precautions seem "just right." I think requiring high-quality masks is the most efficient and effective step that can be taken to keep the dance safe. Policies related to boosters, testing, etc can be pretty fiddly and easily get sucked into having to deal with all sorts of edge cases and exceptions, but high-quality masks are very straight-forward and highly protective.
  • As a senior with compromised lungs, I woukd feel less safe if covid precautions were relaxed. Dropping the mask requirement would create an unacceptable level of risk for me.
  • I enjoy seeing faces but I think it’s unwise to dance unmasked and without vaccination and boosters
  • I prefer dancing without a mask.
  • I would feel less safe/comfortable if the dance included unmasked or unvaccinated people even if they had rapid tested
  • I would come less often (somewhat less often, not never) if masks weren’t required but would enjoy myself more when I did come
  • I don’t think I would come more often if BIDA offered a test-instead-of-vax option, because it doesn’t affect me personally, but I do feel like, especially with masking still in place, that would be a pretty reasonable and potentially more inclusive policy.
  • I have mixed feelings about masking - with vax, testing, ventilation it might be really nice to go without, or at least, with those precautions I wouldn't begrudge others not masking.
  • It's so hard to say - and I know this is really hard for organizers!! THANK YOU for your work!! AND for erring on the side of caution so far! Thank you for requiring N95/KN95/KF94 or better! This has made me think of various scenarios. I do think that with very high safety precautions for the group, medical exceptions are reasonable to make. I also think rigorous testing should be required if you lower vax requirements. And vaccinated should always mean boosted. (of course, if the goal is to allow high risk / immunocompromised dancers a place where there is a possibility of safety, so all high measures stay in place, I support that!)
  • Requiring full vaccination is important to my sense of safety. I actually thought that language meant that BIDA already required boosters, including bivalent.
  • BIDA is one of the few remaining places where I can experience the joy of dancing and community in-person, without feeling that I am putting myself and others at risk. The “let’s leave it up to people to decide what they believe” re: Covid/shots/masking approach is reckless, and it doesn’t consider the work being done to undermine trust in science. It says “tough luck” to those of us who are chronically ill, disabled and/or have inadequate healthcare, whether we dance ourselves or interact with dancers in other aspects of our lives. BIDA can and should continue to do better than that, by continuing to require masking and shots at dances.
  • While I strongly support requiring a bivalent booster, it became available on 9/1/22, and the recommendation is to wait 4-6 months since your last booster. So some people might not be eligible under this guideline until early 2023. Would it be too complicated to say "your last vaccination or booster must be within 6 months"?
  • Masks are uncomfortable
  • If you stop requiring masks, I would not be comfortable attending. Dancing already feels like a risk to me, albeit a worthwhile one
  • I live in an intentional community that has chosen to be a space geared towards supporting residents who need to take a higher level of COVID precautions. With the N95 mask requirement and the current COVID case counts, I can come to BIDA dances. If the mask requirement were removed or relaxed (without a substantial drop in COVID case counts), I would have to choose between going to BIDA or masking at home for a week after attending, which very likely means I would not go to BIDA.
  • I really can't stand dancing with a mask on. I almost fainted both times I've been to BIDA with the mask policy in place. Especially with the thick KN95 masks and the intense heat, I couldn't handle more than one dance every three. And I'm in my twenties and fairly fit! I probably won't come again until there's a way to breathe and dance at the same time.
  • My partner and I understand the wish to make everyone feel safe, but the current masking policy makes us much less likely to come. Wearing a mask during a contra dance (especially a thick one) makes dancing way less fun! Dancing is a cardio activity and you need a lot of air. Last time we came, my partner had so much trouble breathing through his mask while dancing that he almost fainted and had to go sit outside for a long time. At this point, the masks actually make us feel a lot less safe or welcomed. They foster a judgemental atmosphere that seems against the wonderful open spirit of contra. We’d much prefer no masking, or (if necessary) an alternative like a rapid test or vaccine card as a substitute for a mask.
  • Think I covered it all above. Thank you for sending out this survey! We appreciate your taking peoples feelings into account, especially as the Covid situation seems unlikely to change much in the foreseeable future.
  • I will feel most comfortable if I know other people are feeling safe, respected and comfortable! I appreciate this survey!
  • I feel very safe at dances currently. More case by case exceptions wouldn't bother me at all, as I know situations can vary widely and I trust the judgement of the committee. I come as often as I can no