What you may have forgotten in your piano policy…
A few weeks ago, a teaching friend emailed me with a very scary story. She and I both think you might want to read this. It’s a good reminder to make sure you include a place to update emergency contact information every year on your agreement to terms. Be sure you have an agreement to terms since parents need to at least update contact information and it is also good for them to re-read and re-acknowledge your policy terms.
Here’s the scary story:
Rachel came to her weekly lesson and we proceeded thru our usual warm-ups. During a 3 octave scale, she stopped playing, looked straight ahead, took a step back towards a folding chair and fell over….during this time I transferred my violin & bow to my left hand and grabbed her with her brand new violin in between us, softening her flop down into the chair.
What would you have done?
Obviously, if the parent was there, you would call the parent into the room! But if the parent wasn’t there, what would you do? Would you have the parents’ cell phone numbers in your phone so you could easily call them? Would you call an ambulance? When you call the ambulance, you might also start wondering (both in the moment and especially later):
- How do I get the mom here NOW?
- Do I have authority to let the ambulance take her to the hospital?
- Who will pay for the ambulance?
- What if the parents didn’t want me to call an ambulance? Will they refuse to pay and then will the EMS bill me?
The truth is, if the mom leaves the child in your care, you are accepting responsibility for that child. Some teachers don’t allow parents to leave the premises because of this. But we all know that parents leave their children with teachers all the time.
So what should we do?
I asked an attorney about this
I asked an attorney if he thought it was necessary to have a medical release in our policy for occasions where the parents are gone. He said that in the case of piano lessons where it’s only for 45 minutes and we aren’t engaging in risky activities (music lessons aren’t usually risky!), he didn’t think there was any need for it. However, if we are running a piano camp that lasts longer, that might be cause for a medical release. If you are a parent, I’m sure that you’ve had to sign these for day camps for your children.
Here’s what IS necessary
What is necessary though is emergency contact information! Every year, we should include a place where parents must update their emergency contact information! Sometimes phone numbers change and you need to know how to contact the parents if something like an emergency occurs.
In addition, it’s smart to ask if there are any medical issues (including food allergies) for each child. I once had a student with a serious peanut and wheat allergy and the parent always left an epi-pen for me during group lessons with food. It was paramount that I both know that and know what to do in case of emergency!
On the more extreme end of over-planning and over-thinking something (I’m good at that fortunately and unfortunately!), it might also be a wise thing to include this statement in your policy. (I don’t think this idea is urgent enough for you to recall any agreement to terms from this year and make parents sign them again. Just think about it for next year):
In case of medical emergency, I will use my best judgement in obtaining medical care for your child and you accept the responsibility for any related expenses.
Here’s My Agreement to Terms You Can Use!
Feel free to click here to get a sample of my agreement to terms in your email. It’s simple, but covers the bases.
What happened to Rachel?
So, back to the story. Here’s what happened to Rachel. The teacher continues:
I raised my voice to her mom who was luckily in the next room (I always leave the door open). She came in straight away, and after a few minutes Rachel revived. She was looking very pale, but the mother just wanted to leave without calling for any ambulance since she felt okay after that.
And here is the message this teacher wants you to know:
I just want to share with other teachers, the need to have on hand (and keep updated) an easily accessible emergency contact form for all your students. If the student’s mom had dropped her off, I honestly do not know what I would have done. I probably would have called 911…and the parents would now be facing a huge bill from not just ambulance, but emergency room.
What kinds of stories do you have that you can share that might help us all in being prepared? Are there other things you have your forgotten in your piano policy in the past? Do you have other suggestions of how to ensure the safety of our students?