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Science North makes a push towards more digital during COVID closure
SUDBURY -- The hallways are much quieter than usual inside Science North these days, but there's lots of planning happening behind the scenes.
Science North has been making a digital push these last few weeks to reach out to members and families while school is out, using their social media channels.
On Wednesday, they started a webinar series featuring scientists from Laurentian University. The first subject had to do with animals and COVID-19.
"Well, the last two months, the last 9 1/2 weeks, have been very quiet," said Science North CEO Guy Labine. "Except for our colleagues who are looking after the animal ambassadors that are on the fourth floor, as well our team of maintenance staff."
Labine said they've pivoted from physical visitors toward seeing a significant uptick on their Facebook Live events.
"We are planning to continue to do a virtual engagement and that may ramp up if and when we reopen," Labine said. "It's an important part of extending the reach of Science North beyond the physical buildings we have in Sudbury, here and at Dynamic Earth."
On any given day there would be roughly 1,000 visitors walking the halls, but right now it's only staff -- and they're doing it in groups of less than five.
Katrina Tisdale is one of the few left on site, who's working to tend to the animals.
"It's been a very interesting time to say the least," Tisdale said. "Even just not having all the blue coats here has been quite a change, so it's been really, really quiet."
Tisdale said they've still been very busy, focussing on the roughly 100 animals that call the facility home. She says the visitors are missed.
"A lot of people are definitely missing our animals, and even the days that we're not here, we miss them, so we're doing as much as we can on social media," she said.
The province hasn't given Science North or other science centres a timeline on when they'll be able to reopen. Labine and his team have been preparing for what that eventuality might look like. He's also been speaking with his counterparts elsewhere in the province.
"We need to maintain a space that's safe for our visitors so we will look to public health to provide guidance (and) advice on making sure that Science North can reopen, when it can, in a safe way that encourages people to visit," he said.
"Obviously it's going to be a different experience for people. We may be offering timed tickets, we may have smaller crowds."
The facility is also hoping they'll be able to offer a physical summer camp in some fashion for children in northern Ontario.
They're currently in the process of surveying members to see what they would like to see once it's able to reopen.