Massage Therapy Schools: Latest COVID-19 Information
As we navigate the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis together, we’re committed to closely following updates and keeping everyone’s health top of mind. We’ll be updating this news page regularly to share the latest information and how it relates to massage therapy schools.
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As we cautiously look to the future, many massage therapy school owners and administrators have questions about when and how they can begin re-introducing in-person education and hands-on clinical hours. AMTA has been actively engaging with federal and state agencies, as they consider reopening strategies, to provide consultation, information and feedback on their processes; understanding they will vary greatly from state-to-state. We are a diverse profession and in some states those decisions are near; for others they may be further away.
When your state allows you to reopen, whether or not you choose to return to work is a personal decision. There are many factors to consider when deciding to return to work, including how your community (and staff and students) have been affected, your own vulnerability to the virus (along with those you live with), and the physical, mental and financial factors involved. Each individual will need to fully assess their own unique situation to decide what feels right for them.
Unfortunately, even with the most rigorous sanitation protocols, enhanced client screening, and social distancing precautions, there is still risk of COVID-19 transmission involved. For this reason, we ask that you choose your restart date carefully, and encourage you to gain a full understanding of new laws and ordinances at the local, state and national levels, and adjust your practices accordingly.
As you carefully plan for when you will begin seeing students and staff again, here are 10 important considerations for your massage therapy school to help manage the risk involved in the COVID-19 era. For in-depth guidance on each topic, we encourage you to follow the science and look to the top health experts including the CDC and OSHA. We are your partner throughout this process, and will continue to update you as we receive new information.
Updated May 20, 2020
Knowing that every state will restart in its own way and will likely provide varying specifics for how and when you can begin to practice, here are 10 important considerations as you plan for when your state will allow you to begin seeing students, staff and hands-on clinic clients again.
1. Gain a full understanding of any new laws and ordinances at the local, state, and national levels and adjust your practices accordingly.
- Make sure you are aware of the latest updates and guidance in your state.
- Remember that your state laws and reopening guidelines must be adhered to regardless of any additional safety protocols you may choose to adopt.
2. Make sure that your professional liability insurance covers you for communicable diseases like the Coronavirus. AMTA School members, rest assured, there are no exclusions on your policy for this Coronavirus or communicable diseases. If you're not an AMTA member, make sure you check with your provider.
3. The Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB) has developed comprehensive guidelines for state and regulatory agencies of oversight, and massage therapists across various workplace settings that you can download here. Guidance includes facility cleanliness and disinfection, practitioner hygiene, and recommendations for massage schools.
4. Institute thorough cleaning, disinfecting and sanitizing protocols in your clinic massage room as well as any communal areas and of any objects your students, staff and/or clinic clients touch. Consider the laundry policy for your clothes, linens, towels, and other washable objects.
- Consult CDC guidelines on cleaning and disinfecting processes for reopening businesses.
- You can reference ISPA's guidelines for hygiene and cleaning in spa settings.
- The AIHA provides specific, easy-to-follow recommendations for the reopening of businesses.
- We encourage you to refer to CDC for guidance on handling soft services.
5. Think about the use of Personal Protection Equipment (including masks, gloves, and clothing) in your school.
- OSHA has detailed guidance on preparing your workplace including the use of PPE (refer to page 14).
- The World Health Organization has advice on when and how to use masks in the context of COVID-19.
- You can access additional information at the CDC website.
6. Practice proper handwashing and hygiene protocols.
- Hand washing is an important protection against COVID-19. The CDC has information and details, including downloadable flyers to post in workplaces and restrooms.
7. Consider your school clinic's booking practices and make any changes to allow for sanitization procedures and recognizing social distancing recommendations that may limit the number of people in one space. Evaluate your cancellation policy and protocols if a client shows signs of illness.
- The CDC has provided guidelines for preparing practices for reopening.
- ClinicSense created a guide for communicating with clients during this time and preparing your practice for reopening.
8. Implement an enhanced intake process and consider pre-appointment communications to minimize contact during check-in and check-out, and demonstrate your commitment to the health of your clinic clients, students, staff and yourself.
- Students should use an intake form to fully understand their client before a hands-on training session.
- Online tools such as ClinicSense or Massage Book can assist in pre-appointment communications, intake processes and streamline check-in and check-out times.
- Consider spacing your appointments so you have adequate time in between to clean and minimize interaction with multiple people in the reception area.
9. If you work with other schools, massage therapists or service providers, consider any necessary updates to your HR and staffing policies. If you are an employee, carefully review any guidelines you will need to follow.
- OSHA’s guidance has information and guidance around staffing and HR policies.
- The CDC has provided a tool for businesses to assist with reopening decisions to help protect vulnerable workers.
10. Post signage in waiting rooms and common areas to emphasize social distancing, handwashing, and any protective equipment you expect your students, staff and clinic clients.
- The CDC has downloadable signs to post in common areas as reminders.
- ISPA has downloadable information about disinfection processes.
We encourage every massage therapy school owner and administrator to use their best professional judgment about their ability to accept and care for their school community in a way that follows their state, CDC and OSHA guidelines. We are continuing to work to get more concrete answers from healthcare experts, governments and massage therapy licensing boards, and will be providing you with additional information for protecting you, your students, your staff and your school's clinic clients as it becomes available.
As you cautiously plan for when you will reopen, AMTA is here for you. We have built a suite of resources to help guide and support you through this time.
Resources for Your Staff and Students
Find a Massage School
Update or create your listing on AMTA's national Find a Massage School (FAMS) locator service and connect with new students.
Earn free CE in business, ethics and more.
AMTA's Mentoring Program
Connect your students with experienced AMTA members though the AMTA Mentorship program.