CHINO, Calif. — For months after the pandemic first hit in March, nearly all extra-curricular activities across the Inland Empire were canceled, with it being considered high risk for young athletes or dancers to be in a room together.
But in the City of Chino, one teacher's classes have been given the green light to resume under one condition – they’re held outside.
Imagine teaching a class full of preschoolers ballet outside? This is the 2020 reality for Vanessa "Miss Vee" Goodman's class, now dancing at Chino's Ayala Park.
A low of 48 degrees is considered freezing to most Californians, but Goodman isn’t letting the cold slow her down. She’s excited to be teaching dance again, even if it’s outdoors.
"We obviously have weather against us," Goodman explained. “We’ve had fires, we’ve had rain, it’s cold tonight. We’re bundling up, but we’re making it work.”
Goodman sanitizes and places plastic shapes down as markers to keep her 2 to 3-year-old dancers a safe 6-feet-apart. When her students arrive for baby ballet, everyone gets their temperature checked and Miss Vee gives them a list of COVID questions to ensure they haven’t been exposed.
She's doing everything she can to prepare, but at a park, some things are simply out of Miss Vee’s control.
"We’ve had soccer players running through my class. It’s been interesting," she laughed.
This is just Goodman's second baby ballet class outdoors. The O.C. Dance Productions teacher is grateful to even get this opportunity, because most of her company’s classes are still virtual.
The City of Chino decided to allow their classes to resume in person, but only if everyone agreed to move outdoors.
"Moving from inside was crazy. I had a lot of parents being like, 'what?!'” Goodman explained.
She teaches nearly 10 classes every week at the park, from hip hop to musical theater. Though she herself was skeptical at first, Miss Vee said so far, so good. The parents agree. For Desiree Leal, her daughter’s mental health work out is even more valuable than the physical exercises.
“It gives them the social interaction that they miss out for school. So it gets them out to do something," Leal said.
Leal said the last few months with a 2 and 5-year-old at home all day has been a struggle. Since most parks near their house are closed, this is her daughter Joelle’s first chance to get out and play.
"They get bored inside the house; they need to run around. Even though they’re not paying attention to dance class, it still gets them out and about, running around, and interacting with other kids," Leal said.
Crucial for the kids, but also for their passionate teacher, who plans to trade the grass for a hardwood floor when she opens her own studio one day.
"So this is the dream, this is it," Goodman said.
For now, it’s something Miss Vee never would’ve imagined in her 10 years as a dance teacher - starting dedication young, under the moon so they can one day dance with the stars.