We are so grateful to all of our members who attended our recent conference. We had a wonderful time, and everyone worked together to make sure our community was protected; those with colds were careful to keep those around them safe, hand shakes and hugs were replaced by Vulcan salutes and fist bumps, and hand washing and hand sanitizing were carefully observed. Because of the respect our community has for each other, we were able to enjoy three days of education and networking without putting anyone at risk.
That said, we all came home to an increasingly elevated risk of coronavirus in our communities. VAM wants to be sure all of our members have the resources they need to deal with this issue.
We have created a How Virginia Museums Respond to COVID-19 Google Doc to assist the Virginia museum community with offering a place to list cancellation and closures, as well as offer information or advice, or ask questions of each other. Please add to it and check back often as it will be continually updated.
Additionally, we have compiled resources that we have found that might help you as you decide what to do next concerning planned events, community gatherings, closing producedures, or even staff care.
As you review these resources, and think about what your museum will be doing, think about some of these steps:
- Form a coronavirus task force to plan and keep museum staff, volunteers and visitors safe and informed.
- Clean restrooms on regular basis and keep soap dispensers filled.
- Add hand sanitizers for the public throughout your venue and make sure they are full of product at all times.
- Implement several times a day sanitizing and disinfecting procedures for exhibits, bathrooms, door handles and handrails. Pay special attention to deep clean popular interactive areas and/or temporarily eliminate items that are handled adjacent to the face.
- Consider flexible ticket exchange policies.
- Send a reassuring email to your members and donors letting them know you care about them and are open and a healthy and safe place to visit.
- Consider installing CDC posters around your museum and in your bathrooms, sample poster here
- Communicate healthy workplace guidelines to museum staff.
- Encourage museum staff to stay home when sick and seek medical attention if symptoms warrant.
- Keep in communication with other museums and cultural organizations in your area.
- Prepare your office computers and networks for telecommuting in case of a facility shutdown.
- Plan now how a virus outbreak would impact your financial resources should a shutdown be required, keeping in mind museum staff too.
- Check your insurance policy in regards to lost revenue during a shutdown.
- Limit employee travel to coronavirus hot spots, which are currently Italy, China, Iran, and South Korea.
As museums, we have a unique opportunity to serve as leaders in educating the public about this crisis, and how these sorts of epidemics have been handled in the past. A couple of recent articles offer good perspectives on this education opportunity: