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School Darkrooms & Social Distancing Practices

A time of global change will affect how we interact in social and shared spaces. We can adjust our behaviors and habits to adapt to changing norms without compromising our collective passion for education & photography. Darkrooms have long been a place where safety is a priority. Surrounded by chemicals in a dimly lit room, there is no better place to practice safe habits. While education and creativity thrive in shared darkrooms, health and safety are paramount in order for the students and faculty to excel.

Prior to this widespread pandemic, darkrooms are a place of strict protocol. Apart from being aware of the chemical risks, students must also be aware of their surroundings and be considerate of their peers as their mistakes can affect the work and well being of others. For example, a student who turns on their enlarger prior to inserting the lens can flood their area with light potentially damaging the paper of their neighboring pupils. A student not sticking to the right side coming in or out of the darkroom can run into another student with a wet tray containing chemicals when visibility is low. There are already procedures in place to ensure the safety and success of each student. We can build off those existing behaviors to adapt to our new social distancing polices.

Aside from existing safety rules in our shared darkrooms and general behaviors that apply to social distancing outside of a darkroom such as not touching your face, staying home if you don’t feel well, washing your hands thoroughly and frequently, the following adjustments can be made in order to maintain a safe learning environment.

  • Students should work at every other enlarger - maintaining a safe distance
  • Students are not to share tongs, filters, paper or other materials
  • Require gloves & face coverings during lab. This has the added benefit of further protecting the students from the chemicals.
  • Lab techs & Faculty should disinfect equipment and work stations frequently
  • Disinfecting/Sanitizing stations are to be set up where contact is higher like the Equipment room where materials are checked out.
  • Extending lab hours to be able to stager the amount of students in the darkroom at once.