Operational Modification for Summer Camps at HMNS 2020


The health and safety of our campers is always our first priority. The Summer Camps at HMNS program has extensive health and safety procedures and staff training in place every year. This summer, in light of COVID-19, the Summer Camps at HMNS team is updating these procedures extensively, informed by current recommendations from local, state and federal health officials, agencies and authorities, including CDC guidelines. At this time, we are planning to proceed with our summer camps as scheduled, beginning June 1, with extensive health & safety modifications. This is in addition to the substantial modifications and procedures in place for the museum overall. You can read more about the museum’s updated health and safety procedures by visiting our Health and Safety page. These modifications include:

Social Distancing and Crowd Limitations

  • Reducing the number of campers per classroom to half.
  • Reducing the total enrollment in Before Camp to half capacity and social distancing campers in the Moran Lecture Hall with designated space for each camper.
  • Reducing the total enrollment in After Camp to half capacity. Each After Camp classroom will be at half capacity with one teacher and one assistant.
  • Reducing the number of campers per classroom during lunch. We will not combine camp classrooms during the lunch period.
  • Reducing the number of staff per classroom to one teacher and one or two assistants.
  • No more than two campers per classroom table.
  • Teachers and assistants will remind campers to remain separate.
  • No partners or group projects.
  • Only campers and staff will be allowed in the classrooms and the Education Office. Floor decals will indicate 6-foot spacing for parents to queue outside each camp classroom for drop off and pick up. Sign In and Sign Out with ID checks will be conducted in the hallway.
  • Camp presentations on Fridays that would normally be with parents will be with camp teacher and assistant(s) only.
  • Camp field trips to off-site locations are cancelled.
  • We strongly urge advance online purchase of summer camp, before and after camp, and carpool, lunch and the emailing of completed Camper Health Record forms to summercamp@hmns.org to enable low-touch entry to the museum and communication with the Education Office staff.
  • Lower Level of the Museum will be reserved exclusively for participants in children’s programs from the museum’s reopening date, May 15, through the end of summer programming.
  • Campers will participate in no-touch tours throughout the museum exhibit halls, as they relate to camp curriculum.
  • While on exhibit hall tours, campers will socially distance from all general museum patrons. Museum staff will monitor all public spaces to facilitate social distancing; and have installed signage and floor decals throughout the facility to encourage and remind visitors to practice social distancing and hand washing and sanitizing.
  • Campers will go on exhibit hall tours earlier in the day to avoid potential crowds.
  • Exclusive Wortham Giant Screen Theatre and Burke Baker Planetarium shows for campers. No general museum patrons will be admitted to the theatres during these shows.
  • Staggered pick-up times to reduce the foot traffic in the Lower Level museum halls.
    • 3 p.m. pick-up for 6-7 age group and siblings.
    • 3:15 p.m. pick-up for 8-9 age group and siblings.
    • 3:30 p.m. pick-up for 10-12 age group.

Health Monitoring

  • The temperature of all campers will be measured in the Grand Hall before entering the Museum and being signed-in; any camper exhibiting a fever of 100.4 or above will be sent home with their parent or guardian.
  • We will send all children belonging to a family home if any child in that family exhibits a fever of 100.4 or above.
  • The temperature of all employees will also be measured before entering the museum; any employees exhibiting a fever of 100.4 or above will be sent home. Upon entering the building, employees must wash or sanitize their hands. The museum is also putting extensive health maintenance requirements in place for employees to follow throughout the day.
  • Do not send your child to camp if they have any symptoms associated with the COVID-19 infection, a confirmed case of the COVID-19 infection, a suspected case of the COVID-19 infection, traveled internationally or to the states of WA, CA, LA or NY within the last 14 days
  • Do not send your child to camp if they have had any contact or potential contact with anyone with symptoms associated with COVID-19, a confirmed case of the Covid-19 infection, an individual under investigation for the Covid-19 infection, an individual who has traveled internationally or to the states of WA, CA, LA or NY in the last 14 days.
  • If a camper becomes ill with symptoms associated with the COVID-19 infection during the camp day, the Camp Director will contact their parent or guardian and the child and any other camper belonging to that family will be sent home with their parent or guardian.
  • If a camper is sent home with symptoms associated with the COVID-19 infection and that camper does not get evaluated by a medical professional and tested for COVID-19, the child is assumed to have COVID-19 and the child cannot return to camp until they have met the following criteria: at least 3 days (72 hours) have passed since recovery (resolution of fever above 100.4 without the use of fever-reducing medications); and the child has improvement in symptoms; and at least 14 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.
  • If a camper is sent home with symptoms associated with the COVID-19 infection and that camper does get evaluated by a medical professional and tests positive for COVID-19, the child cannot return to camp until they have met the following criteria: at least 3 days (72 hours) have passed since recovery (resolution of fever above 100.4 without the use of fever-reducing medications); and the child has improvement in symptoms; and at least 14 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.
  • If we are notified of a camper or staff member with confirmed case of the COVID-19 infection, the Camp Director will notify camp families that day via email. According to the State Texas Health Protocols the following are possible symptoms of COVID-19:
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
    • Chills
    • Repeated shaking with chills
    • Muscle pain
    • Headache
    • Sore Throat
    • Loss of taste or smell
    • Diarrhea
    • Feeling feverish or a measured temperature greater than or equal to 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cleaning and Sanitization

  • Upon entering the museum, campers must wash or sanitize their hands.
  • Campers will wash or sanitize their hands often throughout the camp day especially before returning to the classroom from exhibit hall tours, bathroom trips, or demonstrations.
  • All staff who engage with campers will wear face masks.
  • All campers will be encouraged to wear face masks. Cloth face masks will be available to purchase at the museum.
  • The museum is installing more hand sanitizing stations and instituting heightened cleaning protocols, including frequent environmental cleaning and disinfection of “high-touch” door handles, elevators, and restrooms.
  • Camp classrooms will be cleaned and sanitized at the end of each camp day.
  • Campers will have an assigned seat and space in the classroom. Campers will be asked to wipe down their personal area with sanitizing wipes at the beginning of the camp day and then again after lunch.
  • Teachers and TAs will sanitize surfaces and handles in the classroom at the beginning of the day and again after lunch.
  • The museum is implementing cleanliness patrols in all exhibition galleries and other public areas. These patrols will clean and sanitize all public surfaces in the museum frequently throughout each day.
  • Hands-on exhibition components and other “high touch” experiences will remain closed, including theatre experiences and interactives in the Wiess Energy Hall, docent touch carts and more.
  • All materials and supplies used in camp will be packaged or sterilized.
  • Campers are encouraged not to share personal electronic devices. Electronic devices cannot be used during the camp curriculum portion of the day.
  • In order to create a possible “low touch” Before and After camp environment we will eliminate touch items like board games and building sets from the room. This summer we will provide coloring pages and activity sheets to younger campers and screen short movies for all ages. All campers will be permitted to use personal electronic devices during the extended day periods. Campers will be encouraged not to share personal electronic devices.

Staff Training

  • All museum staff have been trained on all operational changes the museum is implementing.
  • All Summer Camp staff have been specifically trained on all operational changes to the summer camp program.

These modifications, with more details, are included in our Parent Guide. We will continue to be informed by local, state, federal, and CDC guidelines and make necessary operational modifications as needed. The Summer Camps at HMNS staff will continue working non-stop to develop additional protocols and procedures that prioritize the health and safety of our campers.

In addition, the Summer Camps at HMNS program is offering a limited selection of live, online virtual summer camps for those who may not feel comfortable returning to the museum in-person. Campers can take part in a one week, one hour per day, virtual summer camp experience with hands on activities presented by a summer camp teacher using an online meeting application.

We are looking forward to providing your campers with fun and engaging educational summer camps in a healthy way. We hope you all are staying safe and taking good care of yourselves, and we hope to see you again soon!

HMNS at Hermann Park

5555 Hermann Park Dr.
Houston,Texas 77030
(713) 639-4629


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HMNS at Sugar Land

13016 University Blvd.
Sugar Land, Texas 77479
(281) 313-2277


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George Observatory

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Needville, Texas 77461
(281) 242-3055

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DST = Daylight Savings Time.
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The Houston Museum of Natural Science is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that receives no federal or state funding. Tax ID # 74-1036131.