CMOO gears up for safe play

A child engages in imaginative play and shape sorting with CMOO safety crew cutouts. Per state regulations CMOO requires all visitors over the age of 2 to wear a mask.

OSWEGO — The Children’s Museum of Oswego welcomed families back into the museum at the beginning of the month, after being forced to temporarily close during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York State. Parents have been thrilled to provide their children with a fun and educational experience in the midst of what has been a very challenging summer for most families.

Executive Director Jillian Shaver commented, “We understand how difficult these past several months have been for parents and caretakers and we are so happy that we can provide children with the space to be playful. The heaviness of this pandemic has obviously weighed on our community and we hope that CMOO can be a resource. We want to be a place where families can have a little normalcy.”

Although most of the museum will look familiar to visitors, there have been some necessary changes. “Due to the pandemic we have implemented some new guidelines and systems. The biggest of these changes is that visitors are now required to make a reservation,” Pandemic Health and Safety Coordinator Kathryn Watson explained. “People are able to reserve their play session through our website or by calling the museum. We had to put this system in place because New York State guidelines require us to operate at a limited capacity.

“A reservation system allows us to ensure that we have a safe number of visitors at one time to allow for social distancing.” Watson also noted that the museum is now closed in the middle of the day to allow for a deep cleaning and sanitizing, as well as to adequately ventilate the space.”

“The health and safety of our visitors, staff, and community is our top priority,” said Shaver. “We conducted extensive trainings with staff, implemented COVID specific cleaning and sanitation policies to add to our existing ones, and we redesigned the admission process to allow for social distancing.”

The community response has been encouraging, with many parents sharing their experiences on social media. One visitor wrote “Great experience at The Children's Museum of Oswego, The children may have to play in masks but that didn’t bother them any! CMOO limits the number of people and are constantly wiping down after play. They also have morning and afternoon play times so there’s a break for more cleaning, etc. Great job!”

CMOO has been getting creative with providing a high quality educational play experience in the middle of a pandemic. Visitors can enjoy activities like hidden picture games if they need to wait in line in order to socially distance during the check-in process. Hard manipulatives that are easy to disinfect have been integrated into the play spaces. “Because children’s museum exhibits need to be disinfected during normal operations we have been able to keep all of our exhibit spaces open, including our water table,” said Watson. “Whereas staff used to disinfect before and after open hours, now visitors will notice staff continuously disinfecting during play sessions, as well as rotating exhibit components.”

Shaver said, “Our mission is to inspire visitors to learn, create, discover, and explore through the power of play. Our exhibits are designed to promote skills like problem solving and grit. This pandemic has demonstrated the importance of these skills and the kind of creative thinking that comes out of play. We are incredibly proud of our staff for rising to this challenge and are ready to help children work through this unprecedented time.”

To learn more about CMOO or to book your play session visit www.cmoo.org or call 315-216-6387.

Interested in playing, but forgot to reserve a spot? Visitors are welcome to call the museum to see if there is space available.

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