We have lifted the paywall on this story. To support essential reporting, please consider becoming a subscriber.

Debbie Cole's School of Dance

On Saturday, May 16, Debbie Cole, owner of Debbie Cole's School of Dance, thought her studio would be able to reopen on Monday, May 18, so she made signs to welcome her dance students back. The signs are waiting, and so is Cole, for Gov. DeSantis to give the OK for dance studios to reopen. Shown in this photo: Debbie Cole, daughter and dance teacher Korie Cole Grimsley, and two of Cole's first students — Mindy Gutherie Tillman and Kim Millen, who is also an assistant teacher.

Last November, “Miss Debbie” Cole celebrated 40 years of teaching dance to boys and girls in Citrus County.

On March 12, it broke her heart to tell her students goodbye — for now — when the coronavirus shutdown of businesses included dance studios.

“It’s a very sad year for us,” Cole said. “We can’t have our recital, and that breaks my heart — all my kids bought costumes and worked so hard.”

On Saturday, May 16, when she thought dance studios would be able to reopen on Monday, May 18, she and her staff of teachers invited the students to have a drive-by parade past her studio on Homosassa Trail in Homosassa.

“It was great — I hadn’t seen my kids since March,” she said. “We thought we were going to open, but then we found out we weren’t part of Phase two.”

She said she was and still is prepared to teach dance again, but adhering to CDC guidelines.

Students won’t be allowed to use the water fountain, so they need to bring their own water bottles.

Everyone will use hand sanitizer before class, and parents will no longer be able to sit inside the studio and watch the students dance.

Also, dance routines will keep dancers at least six-feet apart.

“Some of my classes are small, so that’s not an issue. We have room for that,” Cole said.

She said the most difficult part is not being able to see “her” kids.

She has been able to use Zoom technology to teach virtually with some of her students, but it hasn’t worked out for most of them.

“This is my 41st year; I’ve been doing this for a long time, and I’m not getting any younger,” she said. “I’m a people person, and this has been so hard.”

Debbie Cole's School of Dance is at 7863 W Homosassa Trail, Homosassa.

Phone: 352-476-7003. Website: www.debbiecolesdance.com.

Email: DCSDdancers@gmail.com.

Contact Chronicle reporter Nancy Kennedy at 352-564-2927 or nkennedy@chronicleonline.com.