Below, we’ve addressed some of the specific questions you may have about how Hands-on House is responding to the coronavirus outbreak. If you have further questions or concerns, as always, we encourage you to contact us at 717-569-5437.
What steps have been taken by Hands-on House to minimize risk to visitors?
- We are asking all guests to wash their hands upon arrival.
- Our staff is sanitizing all hard surfaces and using sanitizing disinfecting wipes to wipe playthings midday as well as at the end of the day.
- We have reduced the quantity of objects, such as apples, hay bales, and similar items to reduce cleaning time required on the floor and allow for rotation of sanitized items.
- We are asking guests who have visible signs of illness, including a cough, or who are feeling unwell, to stay home and return when feeling better.
- We have closed our Face Painting Porch. While this area has long been a favorite among many children and adults, using shared paints and brushes on the face can easily spread germs. The Face Painting Porch will not be returning to Hands-on House; we are exploring short-term and long-term alternatives for this space.
What steps are being taken to keep the staff healthy?
- Staff are washing hands with soap and water frequently throughout the day, including before and after entering exhibit space.
- We urge any staff person or volunteer to stay home if they are feeling unwell.
- We encourage staff to work from home if they are not involved directly in daily operations.
Will the museum close?
- While we hope to remain open, we will follow recommendations and directives of state and local emergency/health officials. If we do close, we hope to offer learning online, such a virtual story time, downloadable coloring pages, and hands-on activities for curbside pick-up.
What happens if the museum closes?
- Hands-on House is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Our income is invested in the organization and our mission to help children and families learn through play. If the museum closes, revenue is lost though many expenses continue. This diverts money from programming and requires us to pull funds from our limited reserves. We are committed to do everything possible to continue our mission, even when the building is closed to the public. Donations are appreciated.
What if I have a birthday party scheduled?
- In the event of a closure, we will work with you to reschedule your birthday party.
What if I have a Discovery To Go scheduled for my classroom?
- If your school is open, we will plan to come. If your school closes or disallows programs like ours to come to the school, we will gladly reschedule for later this school year or next fall. If this is not possible, we can provide an equal value of admission passes for children and an accompanying adult.
What if I registered for Summer Camp?
- Like everyone, we are hopeful that measures taken now will ensure that the coronavirus outbreak will be better controlled by summer.
What if I scheduled a group visit?
- We will reschedule your school or organization if necessary.
Will member mornings continue?
- Our plan is to continue member mornings as long as the museum is open.
Can I get a refund or discount on my membership if the museum is closed?
- Hands-on House appreciates and depends on the support of our members. We are taking aggressive steps, at significant and unbudgeted expense, to create a safer environment and to provide learning opportunities to members, even if closed. During what may be difficult financial times for our organization, we are hopeful that members will consider adding to their contribution rather than request refunds. We do not plan to issue refunds. If the museum is closed for an extended period of time, we will propose to our board of directors an extension of the current term of membership.
How can I help Hands-on House?
- Visit if you wish. If you are healthy, come and play – and bring a friend if they are healthy.
- We need a lot of help cleaning and sanitizing, assembling activity kits, and maximizing the experience for children whether it is in the museum, the classroom, or the home.
- Plan ahead. Register for camp, buy a membership, buy gift membership, schedule a birthday party. Your support today provides much-needed help in the short term.
- Donate. The necessary response to the coronavirus outbreak is sharply impacting our costs. We increased our staffing to clean and sanitize, are buying larger quantities of cleaning supplies, increasing expenses to upgrade fixtures. In the next weeks and months ahead, we will be undertaking unbudgeted modifications to exhibits, including replacing the Face Painting Porch.
- Tell your employer. Spread the word about Hands-on House and see if your employer would be interested in sponsoring one of our exhibits, events or programs; buying discount admission tickets for employees and families; or hosting a future event at the museum.