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The City Journals

$5 haircut—true, tested and trainees take extra safety precautions during pandemic

Oct 12, 2020 12:29PM ● By Julie Slama

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Canyons Technical Education Center’s cosmetology/barbering program is open to give its clientele a safe welcome to trimming away the COVID-19 pandemic shaggy locks.

However, the student hands-on training program has a different look. Students have their temperatures taken, they wear masks, wash hands, disinfect all personal items and school-provided Chromebooks, and provide additional sanitization as they follow the state’s personal services guidelines for COVID-19.

“On our standards, our students always are trained in education of the client protection, the safety and infectious control procedures before they’re even allowed to have client; our standards are quite high just on a basis every day,” CTEC cosmetology/barbering team lead Shelli Ivie said. “With everything we have in place, from sanitization to monitoring screening, we want to ensure we remain clean. Our clients, we have them take temperatures also, we do the checklist, we ask the screening process, we do ask that the clients wear gloves, so that we are clean in our program and want to keep it that way.”

That means, before walking into the facility, patrons, who must wear a mask or face covering, complete a monitoring screening survey. Then, they are given a pair of latex gloves and have a temperature check before paying $5-7 cash through a plexiglass barrier for a haircut, or additional fees for a permanent or color.

All of the 84 students are assigned their own stations or professional chair while in the salon and distance themselves from others when possible even while providing a wash or shampoo set. Before clients leave with their new looks, instructors—who also work in salons—check the students’ cuts and styles.

“As we are in a high contact field, we want these precautions in place to keep our students as well as our guests safe,” Ivie said. “Some of our guests, they are in a compromised position. We do have a lot of the elderly who come in.” She says that everyone goes above and beyond the directives “so we are staying clean as well as our clients are clean and after a day’s worth of work, we’re just as clean or cleaner than when we were when we started the day.”

Students in the program also go above in the number of hours they spend with clients. While most state programs require a minimum of 1,600 hours, students in CTEC’s program usually put in 2,000 hours—which means if they enter the program while they are juniors in high school and are dedicated through evenings and summers, they can graduate and are prepared to pass both the Utah written and practical examinations required to obtain a Utah DOPL Cosmetology/Barber License. They also earn 22 elective credits at Utah State University.

Last spring, even with the soft closure of schools during COVID-19, students, who come from Canyons, Murray, Jordan and Granite school districts and were on schedule to graduate, did graduate on time, Ivie said.

“We were well prepared for the hands-on techniques they practice at home and we used different forms of turning in those assignments,” she said.

While Canyons traditional schools reopened this fall, the program’s summer school opened June 10. The first month was learning the new procedures and reviewing skills and practices.

“We had clients so anxious to get back that we’ve had clients constantly calling and keeping up to date,” she said, adding that they’re back to about 75 to 80% of their regular clientele.

The most popular services students provide include haircut, hairstyle, hair coloring and blow outs with a round brush while blowing it dry, but they do give up-dos and most all cosmetology services, however, currently the program’s students are not providing shaves or manicures.

“We’re not doing anything below the masks…for the safety of our students. In the guidelines, you can remove the mask if it interferes with the service, and we have chosen not to allow that,” Ivie said.

While pedicures are done one at a time to allow for social distancing, manicures are on hold until a plexiglass barrier arrives.

“Even though they are wearing masks, we feel more comfortable for having that plexiglass barrier,” she said. “Not one of our students has tested positive and we’ve been in the salon since June.” Since coming back, students are eager to learn and are appreciative of the hands-on education. “They are loving education and don’t want to lose that again and they don’t want to go online again.”

Instructor Matt Shaw said right before the soft closure last spring, he had taught students about safe work practices.

“The students were able to understand the validity of what they were learning and now are able to apply it,” he said. “They understand that the disinfectant we usually put on our shears and scissors is what kills viruses and bacterias, also kills COVID. I’m so proud of these students who have come back during this challenging time to take the opportunity to apply real-life concepts to their learning.”