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Staying COVID-safe in CNY while enjoying spring break

Jessica Cain
People line up to enter the Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse

Spring break is in full swing in central New York, but this year many parents are facing an additional challenge. They’re working on finding fun and educational activities for children to enjoy, while staying safe against the spread of COVID-19.

Many local favorite places have been working hard to put protocols in place to help visitors feel safe. At Syracuse’s Museum of Science and Technology, visitors over age two are required to wear a mask or face shield. Every afternoon, the MOST closes for an hour, so workers can clean thoroughly. Plus, there are markings on the floor that demonstrate how people can enjoy activities at a safe distance from each other.

“There isn’t a lot of congested traffic in the museum,” said MOST Director of Marketing Stephanie Herbert. “You’re able to follow the direction of the map, so you can easily navigate the exhibits without crossing other families, so it’s a safe environment.”

Herbert said the MOST does have attendance caps, but with 35,000 square feet of space, the museum hasn’t hit them, yet. The hands-on exhibits have reopened, including the museum’s popular science playhouse. There is also a new vaccine exhibit for visitors to explore.

“It’s magical to see the reaction from families as a whole who are coming into the museum after not doing anything for months,” said Herbert. “We’re happy that they’re choosing us.”

The Children’s Museum of Oswego is rolling out a life-size board game with oversized dice for spring break. The full museum is open this week, but it’s operating at a limited capacity, so they’re asking people to pre-register for tickets. People over age two are required to wear a mask.

“We understand that mask wearing is difficult for children,” said Kathryn Watson, the Director of Education and Operation at the Children’s Museum of Oswego. “It’s a learning curve. It’s a learning curve for adults, so we get it, but by and large, people have been very understanding. People understand that we wouldn’t be able to be open right now if we weren’t working under these guidelines and requirements.”

Watson said, it’s nice to see children engaging in self-directed play, and it gives them a sense of control, especially in these tough times.

“There’s so much value in allowing your child to play and to direct their own play and put them in the driver’s seat,” she said.

Credit Jessica Cain / WRVO News

The Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse is also requiring pre-registration for tickets. They have a daily limit of 750 people, and they were sold out on Tuesday. There are no animal demonstrations now in order to keep crowds spread out, but there are still plenty of animals to see.

Zoo Director Ted Fox said this was the first zoo in New York state to open during the pandemic period, and the community has been very encouraging.

“It is a little more challenging, but overwhelmingly they’re happy,” said Fox. “They really appreciate what we’re trying to do to make their visit safer.”

Jessica Cain is a freelance reporter for WRVO, covering issues around central New York. Most recently, Jessica was a package producer at Fox News in New York City, where she worked on major news events, including the 2016 presidential conventions and election. Prior to that, she worked as a reporter and anchor for multiple media outlets in central and northern New York. A Camillus native, Jessica enjoys exploring the outdoors with her daughters, going to the theater, playing the piano, and reading.