MASON COUNTY — Employees of the Mason County Library system are gearing up for one of their most popular programs, although it will look a little different due to COVID-19.
Story hour will begin the week of Sept. 22, and will be offered both in person and virtually. The in-person sessions will be held at all three library locations – Point Pleasant, Mason, and New Haven.
According to Library Director Pam Thompson, the in-person classes will be limited to six children. That does not mean kids will be turned away, however. Thompson said as many sessions as needed will be added to accommodate all those wishing to participate.
Library personnel are doing all they can to make sure the preschoolers stay safe and healthy, according to Thompson. Each child will have an assigned seat, as well as his own tote with supplies needed, such as scissors, crayons, markers, paint, glue stick and more. They will also receive a personalized craft apron, and a lanyard for their mask. At the end of the year, the children will be able to take all their supplies home with them.
Only one child and one parent will be allowed to attend story hour. No siblings will be permitted into the library during the classes. Adults must wear masks and children are encouraged to, and will be given rewards for keeping them on, Thompson said.
Parents who provide snacks for the week will have them individually packed in lunch bags. This will keep food handling to a minimum.
But all the new rules will not mean the children won’t have fun. To make social distancing more enjoyable, each library has come up with its own theme.
In Mason, each child will have his own sport pod, a small pop-up type tent. They will be placed around a fake firepit for a camping theme. New Haven will provide hula hoops that the students will remain in. Since the Point Pleasant classes are out in the main library, there will be squares on the floor large enough for the child and accompanying adult. This will promote play between the two.
Thompson said tables, chairs, and anything else the children come in contact with will be sanitized between sessions.
Virtual story hour will begin the same week with three videos posted weekly in a private Facebook group. One will be a story and book video, a second one for crafts, and a third for sing along and play time. The virtual group will be led by Cindy Williams from the Point Pleasant library, although it is open to all.
Each child will receive a “play along pack” that will include all the supplies necessary. Folders will be marked for each week and will have all the elements necessary for that week’s session, as well as learning worksheets.
Williams said one benefit of the virtual class is if COVID-19 numbers worsen in the county, all the children can transition to the virtual offering.
The Mason in-person story hour will be held on Thursdays. The 10 a.m. class is full, but Thompson said more sessions will be added as necessary.
In New Haven, story hour will be held on Tuesdays. There are already classes at 9:30, 10:30, and 11:30 a.m., with openings remaining in one of the sessions.
Point Pleasant will host story hour on Tuesdays and Thursdays. There are multiple classes available, according to Williams.
For more information, or to sign a child up for story hour, call the Point Pleasant library at 304-675-0894, Mason at 304-773-5580, or New Haven at 304-882-3252.
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Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.