LONGVIEW, Texas (KLTV) - The COVID-19 pandemic continues to change the way we do routine tasks. But for one children’s museum, the Next Normal is more of an extension of what they were already doing.
“The time that we needed to accommodate the new normal was very short because we were already cleaning, we were already disinfecting, encouraging handwashing,” said Beth Swindell, marketing director for Longview World of Wonders.
The museum at 112 E. Tyler Street already had a handwashing station in place. Visitors are asked to wash their hands immediately upon entrance. Those over 10 are asked to wear a face mask, per Gov. Greg Abbott’s mandate.
“The phrase that we use so often is ‘don’t bring germs in, don’t take germs home.' So for us, that was business as usual,” Swindell said. “Our clientele is under the age of 10, and historically those are people that are germy."
She tells KLTV that’s why they’ve been thoroughly cleaning and switching out ‘touch points” since before the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“We’re getting new information every day. We want to err on the side of caution, so we clean everything,” Swindell said. “The main thing for us is making sure our members and our patrons feel comfortable. The hard part is communicating to people about those procedures that were already in place.”
The cleaning regimen includes everything from chairs to books and even the museum’s large, rolling bins filled with Legos.
“Those big bins are on castors — wheels — so they move,” Swindell said, adding that they are cleaned after each use.
“We rolled that bin out, send it to the back to be disinfected, and brought out a new bin. We’re constantly switching those things out.”
And, she said because the cleaning procedures have always been in place, the process is seamless.
“For a patron, you probably won’t even realize that we’re constantly moving. Our employees are always cleaning and moving and just very, very diligent about that,” Swindell said.
In addition to cleaning, the Next Normal means staff also are keeping track of how many people are in the building.
“In East Texas, it’s a difficult time of year to be out and socially distancing and staying cool. So, we’re a respite for families with children. But we keep a constant tally of how many people are in the building,” Swindell said.
If you are planning a trip to the museum and are wondering about capacity, Swindell said just give them a call.
“We can tell you ‘hey, there’s only five people.' We want to make sure that families have all of the resources they need to make an informed decision,” she said.
Longview World of Wonders is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 2 to 6 p.m. on Thursday and Sunday. Click here to find more information about the museum, including upcoming workshops.