Covid Safe The Aveda Way

When the Covid-19 pandemic forced mass closures starting in March 2020, salons and spas offering high-touch services—and cosmetology schools teaching them—were among the hardest hit. It should come as no surprise that Aveda was at the forefront of establishing universal Covid-19 protocols that made Aveda salons, spas, cosmetology, esthiology and massage schools the safest in the country.

We talked to two leaders at Aveda Institute Dallas about the direction Aveda provided in ensuring everyone could continue learning, teaching, and enjoying quality salon spa services during the pandemic with maximum safety in mind. Jennifer Haack, Director and Todd Faulk, Educator recall the extraordinary steps taken to ensure quality, safety and zero interruption of learning.

Keeping Up The Momentum at Aveda Institutes

Jennifer: As a cosmetology school, we had to pivot quickly to online learning. I am blessed with an outstanding team and we had access to so many resources. We were able to maintain high standards of education from day one.

We were completely ahead of the curve. We sent our students home to start online learning before Dallas and other schools even shut down. The educators were evaluating their resources and figuring out how to make this connection online—how to make sure the students were actively learning.

At first it was a 24-hour job. We had a nice period of time when our educators worked together in pods to get the kinks worked out before Dallas County shut down and the educators had to go home. Todd is an extraordinary example of active education online. He set up an education center in his bathroom.

Todd: That was the first part of virtual learning—we took everything we needed from the Institute to be able to teach at home, and it worked perfectly. At first we thought there would be a disconnect between the learner and educator, but as it turned out, it fostered a closer connection! We started having fun with it. Here we were in the middle of all this craziness, and we still did virtual learning and it was fun.

Virtual Learning Ups & Downs

Todd: One thing that worked to our advantage was, as part of the students’ cosmetology school kit, they get an iPad. So we didn’t have to worry about anyone not having the technology. Loaded onto their iPad was Aveda’s distance learning program, Learn Aveda, which is already a huge part of their cosmetology curriculum and specifically designed for virtual learning as a supplement to their training at the Institute.

The downside was that you didn’t have that physical one-on-one, hands-on teaching—but surprisingly we were able to pivot and still relate to them. We were able to pick up the kinesthetic skills even though it was through Zoom. And the students had a good grasp of this. Our students already learn so much through YouTube, so it wasn’t a huge stretch for them.

Jennifer: I believe the online option will continue to be part of our education program and give us the latitude to share and demonstrate things that elevate the student experience. Online has also given us access to tremendous industry leaders to come in and impact our future professionals.

Todd: I reached out to some of the amazing Aveda global artists like Antoinette Beenders, Allen Ruiz, Ian Michael Black—and asked them to come online and speak to the students about why they became a stylist, what their challenges were along the way and how they overcame them. Students were able to ask questions and get them answered. We had lots of big-time speakers join us. It was an incredible educational opportunity that would not have happened if not for the pandemic.

Todd Faulk teaching in his bathroom with the help of his assistant, Bunny.

Back to School: Safety First!

Jennifer: We practice excellent standards for safety and great protocols to keep staff, students, and guests safe at the Aveda Institute. We have not had one confirmed transmission on campus. The protocols include:

  • Temp check and CDC questions reviewed daily by everyone.
  • Mandatory masks and social distancing for everyone.
  • UV Hepa filters throughout the school.
  • Esthiology students wear masks and shields, and once guest removes mask they are asked not to speak. A clean mask is placed on their chest during the service so if they need to speak, they can easily do that safely.
  • We have sanitation stations throughout the building and refill stations for hand sanitizer and alcohol.
  • Students and educators have daily sanitation standards that are completed between guests and at the end of the day.
  • We have eliminated the option to eat or drink in the building and provide mask breaks, as necessary. (We do allow mission-aligned cups with straws for water sips below the mask.)
  • Any reports of students or partners testing positive or being symptomatic are followed by an immediate trace managed by me to determine if anyone else should be asked to quarantine.

I regularly visit classes and huddles to remind students of their responsibility to this community, and to their families and the community at large, to always follow protocols. Following these protocols is a sign of love for humanity.

Todd: We’re in Texas and we opened up much sooner than everyone else. The biggest protocol we practice is that of sanitation. Even though the state of Texas lifted the mask mandate, we stuck to that and with temperature checks. The fact that the Institutes followed CDC guidelines is what made us all feel comfortable. You very quickly learn how to work around the mask. The guests all have to sign a waiver saying they would keep the mask on and practice social distancing.

Even after everyone started coming back into the Institutes, we kept much of our virtual learning setup in place. That way, if you contracted a mild case of Covid, or were in quarantine due to being in proximity to someone with Covid, you could still log in and not miss hours of school.

We went to 50% capacity and created classroom pods with separate restrooms so we had safe distance. The working environment pretty much stayed the same. The only difference was break rooms were closed, and everyone had to eat lunch in their car. That was weird at first, but it was a moment of quiet we never got before and I honestly did appreciate.

What Does “Safety Is The New Luxury” Mean?

Jennifer: We at Aveda continue to provide both with the same high standards that we do everything. You don’t have to sacrifice safety to experience luxury. Like-minded guests appreciate and respect how we make them feel safe and that they can still get the services. We at Aveda have the tools, supplies and protocols to be able to continue to touch and transform our guests safely.

Todd: Some places don’t have the ability to provide PPE or a high level of sanitation, but the fact that you see your Aveda stylist sanitize the shampoo bowl immediately after you get up, or sanitize your chair before you sit in it—that’s luxury. Before Covid, if you saw someone sanitize your chair before you sat down, that would be considered an unprecedented degree of luxury!

Part of the educational component was teaching students how to address guests who didn’t want to follow the protocols. Instead of “Please put your mask on,” it’s “Thank you for staying in protocol and wearing your mask”—and you will find that you will get a better response. It’s luxury speaking, which is a fundamental our students have to learn to prepare them to work at Aveda salons.

What Covid-Era Practices Will Remain?

Jennifer: Sanitation has always been a huge part of school and we will be even better at that now. I also think the opportunity to learn online is also going to be a permanent change. The way we were able to bring in these extraordinary artists and talent, I really hope is going to continue.

Todd: Nothing will take the place of hands-on learning, but virtual learning has improved by leaps and bounds and will be an incredible addition to the educational opportunities that Aveda offers. Not just beauty-school basics, but for continuing education. If you want to take a class with an educator living far away, it would cost a salon less to offer an online class instead of flying the educator to them, or flying the team to where they are. It’s giving Aveda artists more opportunities and quality educational resources than they had before.

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