Studio Policies


Inclement weather studio policies

QuestionQuestion
Anna J., Canada

Okay teachers, talk to me about inclement weather policies! We’ve got an ice storm underway here in Ontario, Canada…or did anyway, when I decided to cancel lessons today. Sure enough, by now the rain has stopped and things have warmed up enough that the roads seem pretty decent. Other days of course, I’ve opted not to cancel, and then the weather ended up being pretty nasty and either students come, and I worry about them all the way home, or they don’t and I have a spotty evening of no-shows and half groups. Either way, it’s frustrating. My current policy is if I cancel lessons due to weather, I either reschedule or reimburse. If classes are running and you choose not to come, there’s no refunds. Generally, that works for me, except for this piece of trying to divine what the weather’s going to do and make the call whether or not to cancel…I hate that part! What are your policies? How do you deal with such things? Any words of wisdom?

Answer
Rebecca G., Colorado

Here’s my weather clause (copied from another teacher): “I want you to be safe at all times! If the roads are unsafe, please stay home. Lessons missed due to inclement weather, a student’s personal schedule, a student’s illness, or any other student-related circumstance will not be made up.”

I do offer to do lessons online for my students on snow days. Since I compare my studio to enrollment in a private school, it’s consistent with a school policy to not have classes on snow days and to not expect a partial tuition refund. We don’t have many big snow days here in Denver, but if I had people missing more than 2 lessons a year because of snow (which has never yet happened), I would figure out a compromise – either make ups or a partial tuition discount – just like many schools tack on make-up days at the end of a school year if they exceed a certain number of snow days.

Answer
Becc S., Australia

I don’t agree with charging students for lessons due to inclement weather. I think reschedules are the preferred option. As a parent who pays $80 a violin lesson I would be very upset if the teacher cancelled because of the weather and then kept my money. I would call that dishonest. I have rescheduled a few lessons because of storms but always rescheduled in the school holidays. It’s only fair.

Answer
Heidi M., Canada

I live in eastern Canada and also know something about inclement weather. So far, the rescheduling option for bad weather has worked well for me.

Answer
Laurie Richards, Nebraska

It really depends on your circumstances as to what is ‘fair’. I have about 60 students, and to reschedule even one day of lessons for me is not feasible. I used to offer one makeup opportunity on a weekend (and no credit), but NOT for each individual class; I usually offered 3 sessions – one each for Levels 1-3, 4-6, and 7 & above or something along those lines. But people’s schedules being what they are, many could not make it anyway, and I had to plan a special lesson for the variety of students who would show up.

For those of us who rely on that tuition income, it is not such an easy decision to just not charge for the missed lesson. The bad weather isn’t any more my fault than theirs. So, I adopted my sister Anne Smith”s policy of crediting HALF the tuition for the missed lesson. It’s nobody’s fault, we share in the ‘loss’, and I don’t have a scheduling nightmare to contend with. This has worked best for my circumstance.

QuestionQuestion
Susan M., Canada

Hi Laurie, if you reimburse the lesson amount, and you charge a monthly flat fee, what do you use as the “lesson rate”?

Answer
Laurie Richards, Nebraska

Susan, you can do it one of two ways:

1) Monthly rate x 12 months / number of lessons in a year (most accurate), or

2) Monthly rate / 4 weeks

Depending on how many weeks you take off, they are likely pretty close.

Answer
Anne S., Nebraska

I use the first method and credit half that amount when I have to cancel due to bad weather.