Science North welcomes back visitors
SUDBURY -- It was a step towards normalcy Saturday as Science North reopened its doors to the public and visitors got to explore and learn once again.
"Science North closed to the public at the end of the day on March the 13th and ever since that day, we've been planning our reopening," said Science Director Julie Moskaylk.
"It is fabulous to be back in our science centre."
In order to follow COVID-19 guidelines there are new safety and cleaning measures in place, including a morning block from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. and an afternoon block from 2 p.m. until 6 p.m.
"It's not so much that things look different at Science North, it's that we're approaching our visitor experience a little bit differently," explained Moskaylk.
"So the very first thing, of course, that people notice is we're all wearing face coverings. So face coverings are mandatory for anybody two years of age or older unless they have a medical condition."
Moskaylk adds that most of the exhibits are open to the public, but are being constantly sanitized - something that was instantly noticed by guests.
With the COVID-19 pandemic and face coverings mandatory inside the building, staff at Science North are taking advantage of outdoor adventures and finding ways to still give guests a hands on experience. July 18/2020 (Alana Pickrell CTV News Northern Ontario)
"We're thrilled, people have been following us, disinfecting after we touch everything, so we feel really good about it," said Marissa Arnold who was there with her 3-year-old son Hendrix.
"We are so excited to be back, he hasn't been here in over four months so he's touched everything in ten minutes."
Between the morning and afternoon block, the entire centre is cleaned thoroughly again to help ensure everyone's safety.
"We've had some really good feedback," said Moskaylk.
"We've been open for two weekends to our members and we had a special event last weekend for front line workers. Last weekend we had about 550 people in the Science Centre on Saturday and Sunday. The feedback has been great. People feel that the actions that we've taken to keep them and our staff safe and feeling comfortable meets their needs."
One family travelled four hours on Saturday to check out the reopened facility and 7-year-old Bruce Wildman was not disappointed.
"Being able to look at all the different stuff in the science centre," is what Wildman said he was most excited for, but he had a hard time narrowing it down much further.
"It's this big green bug, [but] I can't really actually say it because I love all the stuff here."
With the COVID-19 pandemic and face coverings mandatory inside the building, staff at Science North are taking advantage of outdoor adventures and finding ways to still give guests a hands on experience.
"In some cases we're giving people individual kits for the exhibits that they interact with and then they give it back to us for sanitization," said Moskaylk.
"One of the cool new things we're doing is outdoor exhibitions. So we're really taking advantage of the outdoors and all day long we have 4 or 5 exhibitions that you can sign up for, experience the outdoors, and get a little break from wearing your face covering."
There is also a brand new exhibit on the fourth level that opened when Science North reopened.
It focuses on giving people CPR experience. Something that Moskaylk says is important during this time.
"In times of the COVID-19 pandemic, that's more important than ever because 80% of cardiac arrests happen at home. So if you know what to do when you're at home, especially at this time, you have the opportunity to save a life," said Moskaylk.
Right now the centre is only open on weekends and the capacity is limited to 300 guests per block.
"I wouldn't say it's been busy, and that's one of the things we've had to adjust to," said Moskaylk.
"We're used to in busy summer days, July and August, having up to 2000 people here. So with a maximum capacity of 300 in the morning and 300 in the afternoon, it's super quiet. But it's actually a really awesome thing because all of our blue coats are here. So you're experience is even more personalized and one-on-one than ever before."
Parking remains free for the summer and tickets are listed at the "off-season" price giving guests a cheaper experience this summer.
However, some amenities do remain closed to ensure physical distancing including: the IMAX theatre, coco-cola corner canteen, the science of Guinness world records special exhibition, planetarium, toddler treehouse, F. Jean MacLeod Butterfly Gallery, some areas on the 4th floor, Dynamic Earth and the outdoor science park.
Officials say as new recommendations and guidelines are released, Science North will continue to adjust their protocols and procedures.