Summer is approaching and a growing number of Texans are returning to work outside the home. As such, it is important for Thinkery to share with our community at least a tentative outline of what you can expect from us in the months to come.
We want to help Members, parents, caregivers and educators begin to make their own plans for the summer. We also want to make sure that everything we do is in keeping with Thinkery’s educational mission, directly serves the most pressing needs of our community and is done with health and safety as a priority.
Based on the Governor’s Report to Reopen Texas issued on April 27, we expect it will be several weeks before Thinkery is able to able to offer educational experiences in any capacity at the Meredith Learning Lab. Even once we are given permission to operate the museum, Thinkery will only do so when we are confident that we meet or exceed the standard health protocols issued by the city, county, and state and have taken all necessary precautions to protect Thinkery’s visitors and staff.
We have determined that a modified schedule of Thinkery Camps should be our first priority, to serve both the learning needs of children throughout our community and the need of working parents and caregivers for high-quality weekday childcare. In order to do so safely, we have made the following changes to our 2020 camp programming:
- We have cancelled Thinkery Camps currently scheduled for the weeks of June 1-5 and June 8-12. We will assess our ability to open and run camps on a weekly basis beyond that; however, we will only proceed if we have had sufficient time to implement necessary updates to our health and safety protocols and we are permitted by State and Local orders. Families registered for any cancelled camp session will have the opportunity to rebook in any open sessions at the Meredith Learning Lab location or transfer their reservation to a Thinkery Camp at Home.
- We are introducing Thinkery Camp At Home – This flexible camp option is for pre-K through 5th graders and comes as a pre-packaged camp kit including supplies and instructions (in English and Spanish) for 10 STEAM activities that can be done at home. Camp at Home will be offered June 1 – Aug 14 and include optional virtual engagement opportunities like a Monday kit opening and camp welcome session, end of camp “show-n-tell” and “office hours” with Thinkery educators for questions and encouragement. Complete details can be found on Thinkery’s website (thinkeryaustin.org/at-home-camp).
- Thinkery Camps will only be held at the Meredith Learning Lab location in Mueller. We are canceling off-site sessions at Harmony Schools, National Instruments* and Silicon Labs.
- We will no longer offer morning or afternoon extended care options.
- We are substituting the Radical Reactions camp theme with Up, Up and Away. Many of the chemistry activities included in Radical Reactions utilize materials such as alcohol and cleaning products that are still needed to ensure health and safety throughout our community. Current registrants for Radical Reactions will be rescheduled for Up, Up, and Away.
- We are implementing new Health & Safety Protocols that incorporate guidelines provided by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Austin Public Health for childcare facilities currently serving families of essential workers.
Social Distancing Measures
- The museum will be closed to general admission visitors during camp hours until further notice.
- Reduced camp group sizes to 9 children to 1 staff ratio; 10-person limit per room.
- Groups will not be combined, interact, or use any of the same spaces at the same time throughout the day.
- Camp groups will be held in separate spaces throughout the museum to accommodate reduced class sizes.
- Six feet social distancing within groups will be implemented to the degree possible.
- Field trips to community partner locations and guest presentations will be converted to virtual experiences where possible or removed from the schedule altogether.
- If state and local regulations permit, each group will be assigned one exhibit space per day. Disinfecting will occur between each use.
Drop off/Pick up & Health Screening at Entry
- All camper drop off and pick up will occur outside the museum. No caregivers will be permitted in the building.
- Daily temperature checks and health screenings for all campers and Thinkery staff.
- Any camper showing signs of illness will be separated and caregivers will be called for pick up.
Face Masks & Handwashing
- Camp staff will be required to wear face masks.
- It is required, to the extent possible, that campers of all ages wear their own face masks.
- Handwashing will be required many times throughout the day, including after transitions and before and after eating.
Cleaning and Disinfecting Procedures
- Increased disinfecting of camp spaces, exhibits, equipment and surfaces, especially doorknobs, high-touch surfaces, and restrooms.
- Each camper will have their own set of non-consumables (scissors, tape, etc…).
The COVID-19 crisis remains a rapidly evolving situation, so all the above-listed dates and information remain subject to change. Thinkery will continue to monitor developments, as well as the most current guidance from State and Local health officials. Any additional changes or updates will be communicated promptly through our website at thinkeryaustin.org.
UPDATED 5/27/20: This post has been updated to reflect the cancellation of all 2020 Thinkery Camps originally scheduled for National Instruments.