Our community is at the heart of what we do. As an ensemble, we all have to work together and support each other in rehearsals and onstage. That sense of collective care extends to our entire community - our actors, facilitators, and teaching artists who are in rehearsal, our audiences, and the loved ones they go home to.

Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities face an increased risk of complications from COVID-19 (read more here and here). In addition to our actors being considered high risk under CDC guidelines, many other members of our community - staff, teaching artists, volunteers, and audiences - may also be at risk for getting very sick from COVID, or have family members in their home who are at risk for getting very sick. 

We know everyone is involved in a range of activities outside of A.B.L.E. and may face varying levels of exposure. For that reason, A.B.L.E. has enacted a comprehensive protocol for all staff, volunteers, and program participants to mitigate the risks of COVID-19 while participating in our programs. We recognize these policies are more conservative than some others, but it is our hope that the most vulnerable members of our community will feel safe and supported to participate in-person at A.B.L.E.

This page has key points from our comprehensive COVID-19 Policy, which you will need to review and acknowledge before registering for any in-person sessions. A.B.L.E. will continue to offer virtual programming for those who prefer or need to participate in that way.

These policies are subject to change pending advice from the CDC, World Health Organization, Illinois Department of Public Health, and Chicago Department of Public Health, as well as requirements set forth by A.B.L.E.’s partner organizations.

A.B.L.E.’s program staff will regularly monitor data for the Cook County area to determine the risks of continuing in-person sessions.

A.B.L.E. will use the CDC Community Risk Levels to determine if and how sessions can safely continue in person. A.B.L.E. will look at rates on Thursday evening and announce any changes to the coming week’s programming by Friday at 12pm.

We need all staff, volunteers, and participants to:

Self Screen

It is not fun or productive to attend rehearsal if you are not feeling well, whether it is related to COVID or not. Anyone coming to A.B.L.E. programs should be able to say “NO” to the following self-screening questions:

  • Have you experienced any symptoms like fever, sore throat/cough, congestion, difficulty breathing, headache, congestion, vomiting or diarrhea in the past 7 days?

  • Have you been in close contact with someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19? (Close contact is defined as within 6 feet for more than 10 consecutive minutes).

  • Have you traveled at any point in the past seven (7) days either internationally or to a community in the U.S. that is experiencing a HIGH community spread of COVID-19?

A.B.L.E. strongly encourages any employee, volunteer, and actor participating in-person to stay up-to-date on routine vaccinations, including vaccination for COVID-19.

Mask up

A.B.L.E. strongly recommends masking at all times, but will follow the CDC community levels as outlined above. 

Where possible, a respirator (N95, KN95) is preferred because they provide higher protection than masks. You should wear the most protective mask you can that fits well. A mask should:

  1. completely cover the nose and mouth. 

  2. be made with two or more layers of a breathable fabric that is tightly woven (i.e., fabrics that do not let light pass through when held up to a light source).

  3. be secured to the head with ties, ear loops, or elastic bands that go behind the head. 

  4. fit snugly over the nose, mouth, and chin with no large gaps on the outside of the face 

  5. be a solid piece of material without slits, exhalation valves, visible holes, or punctures.

The exception to the above are window masks that may be used to facilitate communication by allowing others to see a speaker’s mouth or facial expressions.

A.B.L.E. will have a limited number of KN95s available at each rehearsal for those who forget to bring their own. 

Test when needed

Many theatre activities require close contact in rehearsal, and increased breathing, as well as performing in crowded indoor venues. For this reason, A.B.L.E. may implement screening testing for actors, staff, and volunteers at key times in the season (for example before a performance, or returning from breaks). In these cases, A.B.L.E. will provide rapid test kits at our expense. You may also opt for a PCR or laboratory test from your healthcare provider. 

Get boosted

While A.B.L.E. does not currently require proof of vaccination for participation in its programs, it is possible that our programming or venue partners may do so. If necessary, proof of vaccination may be uploaded at bit.ly/ABLEcovid


Communication is important onstage, and also in stopping the spread of COVID-19. Just like in rehearsals, we have to work together and be respectful. If you have symptoms, diagnosis, or close contacts of COVID-19, please contact A.B.L.E.’s Executive Director, Katie, as soon as possible so we can start contact tracing and make a plan for returning to rehearsal.

We ask you to share changes openly with us and we’ll share with you, too.

A.B.L.E.’s COVID policies are reviewed and adjusted each semester by A.B.L.E.’s Program Team and Board of Directors. In setting policies, A.B.L.E. considers feedback from our participants, their caregivers, and our volunteers. We also consult with our peer theater companies who work with the disability community.