Visit Oswego County

CMOO Gears Up for Safe Play

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. She added, “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 training 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,” she added.

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!” Another parent commented “We
were so happy to make it to The Children’s Museum of Oswego’s reopening weekend…
everybody there is doing an awesome job and constantly sanitizing and making attendees feel
welcome.” He went on to say “I was so happy [that my child] could spend a couple of hours
back at one of his favorite places expressing oodles of creativity.”

True to form, 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
manipulative items 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” explains 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. We are thrilled to be a safe place for our
community to learn and grow together.”

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.

child playing