Early Childhood Education Guidelines

Early Childhood Education Programs Information | Summer 2021 | Onsite


In the VMFA’s Early Childhood Education programs, infants, toddlers, and preschool-aged children discover the world around them through playing, singing, exploring, and creating. Held online and throughout VMFA’s campus, these programs support a child’s natural sense of wonder and curiosity, and promote self-expression and social development.

We understand the desire for in-person learning and hands-on experience in a low-risk environment, which is why VMFA has chosen to offer select programs onsite. While in-person programs are subject to change, we are committed to keeping students and teachers as safe as possible, and reduce the risk of spread while visiting the museum.


Be a superhero and wear a mask! Face masks are strongly encouraged for students two + years, enrolled in Early Childhood Education Programs, and required for all adults in attendance, to protect and support the health and wellbeing of one another. Face coverings should be worn properly over the mouth and nose at all times. A face shield may also be worn with a mask for additional protection or as an alternative if a child is unable to wear a mask. Disposable youth-sized masks and shields and other personal protective equipment will be available in the classroom, if needed.

VMFA has adopted a “no contact” check in process. Upon arriving, please wait patiently on a floor marker and practice 6-feet physical distancing until child/adult pairs are ready to be checked in by staff. Caregivers will assist their children with check in by providing verbal confirmation of registration and participating in a brief COVID-19 screening. The screening includes a few questions about symptoms and a voluntary temperature check using a touchless forehead thermometer.

Upon entering the studio, students will be offered hand sanitizer. Toys and manipulatives will be spread out throughout the classroom to encourage physical distancing. All toys will be disinfected immediately after class.

Enrollment is limited to 6 children and 5 adults. In order to maintain the adequate distancing and safety requirements, only one adult per student is permitted to attend class with students. At this time, no extra adults or children are allowed to join.

The classroom, studios, restrooms, and high traffic areas will be thoroughly cleaned and restocked, and trash removed daily. All check-in stations, toys and toy areas, door handles, tables, table dividers, chairs, counters, sinks and wash stations, and reusable art supplies will be thoroughly cleaned before and after each class, and as needed.

Programs will use disposable products in place of shared supplies, when possible (e.g. paper plates instead of paint palettes). Any leftover materials or items that cannot be properly disinfected for reuse will be discarded after each class; this includes artwork and other objects that are forgotten in studios after dismissal.

Hand washing or sanitizing upon arrival and departure and throughout class, especially after touching face, nose blowing, sneezing, or coughing will be required. Handwashing stations and hand sanitizers are available in all studios and restrooms.


(For general museum information about COVID-19, visit www.vmfa.museum/covid-19)

VMFA camp staff are committed to providing a safe and healthy space for our students, teachers, staff, volunteers, and visitors. While there is an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 during any in-person program, we take serious effort to mitigate this exposure. Camps and classes have been modified based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Virginia Department of Health, and other trusted resources. Some of our most effective practices include mask wearing, physical distancing, hand washing, frequent cleaning, and limiting the numbers of individuals per space. Furthermore, no teacher or student is permitted in the studios if they feel ill or have any COVID-19 symptoms or potential contact.

Please note, as the COVID-19 situation in Virginia continues to evolve protocols for Early Childhood Education Programs are subject to change at any time. For the most up-to-date information, visit www.vmfa.museum/youth-studio/guidelines and click on the appropriate program or season.

Please self-screen prior to attending camp or class. If a student, caregiver, teacher, or other staff member can answer “YES” to one of the following questions within 24 hours of class, they should remain home and notify VMFA Early Childhood Staff of their absence.

  1. Have you or a member of your household been in contact with someone in the past 14 days with suspected or confirmed COVID-19?
  2. Do you or a member of your household have any of the following symptoms that cannot be attributed to health conditions?
    • Fever (100.4°F or higher) or chills
    • Cough
    • Sudden shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
    • Fatigue
    • Muscle or body aches
    • Headache
    • New loss of taste or smell
    • Sore throat
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Diarrhea

While the following list is subject to change based on updated recommendations and restrictions, here are some of the changes and precautions we have taken in effort to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 during our programs:

  • Enrollment has been reduced to six (6) or fewer students per class.
  • Properly worn face masks are required for students 2 years and older, at all times, unless they are eating or physically distanced outside.
  • Studio seating provides at least 6ft of social distance and/or a physical bearer so students can safely learn and create.
  • A “no contact” check-in process has been implemented, which includes a brief screening and no contact temperature check.
  • Teachers and other staff are screened prior to class.
  • Only registered students, teachers, and staff are allowed in the studios. To keep occupancy low, caregivers, siblings, and other visitors may not be permitted.
  • Products such as hand soap, hand sanitizer, disposable masks, disposable face shields, disinfectant wipes, gloves, and other PPE are readily available to students and staff, as needed.
  • Air purifiers are installed in all the studio and classroom spaces, museum ventilation systems meet approved standards.
  • Teachers and staff clean and disinfect studios, equipment, and frequently touched surfaces before and after each class, as well as during class, when necessary.
  • Students do not share supplies or workstations unless disinfected between uses. Students are provided art supply kits that are labeled with their name for individual use only.
  • Any materials used in class that cannot be properly disinfected will be discarded or offered to students to take home.
  • For safety reasons, water fountains are currently out of service. We ask that students bring bottled water from home.


  • VMFA Facility Services Associates thoroughly clean studios, restrooms, and high-traffic areas; restock supplies such as soap, hand sanitizer, and paper towels; and remove trash and recycling daily.
  • Staff uses approved disinfectant cleaner to wipe down surfaces.
  • Areas that are cleaned before and after each class, and often during class, include check-in stations, door handles, tables, table dividers, chairs, sinks, wash stations, counters, and reusable art supplies.
  • Staff cleans frequently touched surfaces such as workstations, door handles, and sink areas throughout class, when possible.
  • Use disposable products in place of shared supplies, when possible (e.g. paper plates instead of paint palettes).
  • Sanitize all tools and supplies that can be reused for another class, such as scissors and easels.
  • Require hand washing or sanitizing upon arrival and departure and throughout class, especially after touching face, nose blowing, sneezing, or coughing. Handwashing stations and hand sanitizers are available in all studios and restrooms.
  • Encourage students to clean up after themselves after each project.
  • Discard any leftover materials or items that cannot be properly disinfected for reuse; this includes artwork and other objects that are forgotten in studios after dismissal.

VMFA Staff coordinates with Virginia Department of Health partners for assistance in guiding and advising us on appropriate steps to ensure the safety and well-being of our patrons, staff, and volunteers. We take the health and safety of our VMFA community very seriously.

If a student, Early Childhood Staff member, or someone in their household, tests positive for COVID-19, all participants, parents and guardians, and VMFA Staff and Faculty will be notified,via email , within 24 hours of Early Childhood Staff becoming informed of the positive test results. After the email is sent, you may receive a follow-up phone call by the next day to ensure you received the message.

Closure of the studio, restroom, and/or other areas where an individual with COVID-19 was present may be necessary for deep cleaning and disinfection. Based on recommendations at the time of the incident, the Classroom may be closed for 1 to 14 days.

  • A student who tests positive cannot return to the program until they shown a negative COVID-19 test result and/or a doctor’s note to the Early Childhood Education Coordinator; are fever and symptom-free for over 24 hours without assistance from a fever-reducing medication; and/or has completed appropriate quarantine. They must also receive clearance from the coordinator prior to return, who will work closely with our Human Resources Department to ensure safe practices. Email, Lori.coffey@vmfa.museum or call 804-340-1343.
  • VMFA Employees and Camp Staff cannot return to work until they demonstrate two negative COVID-19 tests. They must be fever and symptom-free for over 24 hours without assistance from a fever-reducing medication. They will also coordinate.


  • Anyone showing symptoms such as a high fever, persistent cough, shortness of breath, chills, sore throat, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, headache, fatigue, diarrhea, or loss of taste or smell, will be separated from the group and required to leave the museum as soon as possible.

VMFA will respond to the situation as a “positive case” and begin taking appropriate action. Attendees and families will be notified accordingly, and cleaning protocols will go into effect. Classes may be suspended as a matter of safety, pending further details.

Should a student become ill, the parent or guardian will be contacted right away and instructed to meet in front of the museum and remain in their vehicle or stand outside at a designated location. Staff will bring the child to their vehicle or meet outside and check for a valid ID before releasing the child to their parent or guardian.

  • A student who is symptomatic cannot return to the program until they show a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours of class, a doctor’s note, or have completed appropriate quarantine.

Should a teacher become ill during class, another staff member will take over duties and may relocate students to a different area. Caregivers will be notified right away and asked to pick up their children from the museum. The teacher will leave the premises as quickly as possible.

  • In coordination with the partners at the Virginia Department of Health and the CDC guidelines at the time of the incident VMFA Camp staff will take the appropriate steps to ensure the safety and well-being of our student and staff. The teacher will not be allowed to return to teaching until the appropriate process has been completed.

NOTE: If symptoms become life threatening (i.e. trouble breathing, severe chest pain, inability to stay awake, bluish lips), VMFA Security Staff will respond to the emergency immediately and contact 911, if necessary, while VMFA Education Staff contacts the parent/guardian.


Are programs online or in-person?
Both! We understand that individual families have different needs and levels of comfort. Preschool and toddler age classes are being offered in-person and virtually, infant classes are only offered in-person. Please check online for the most up-to-date information, https://www.vmfa.museum/youth-studio/preschool-art-classes/.

How can I prepare my child for an in-person class?
Review what will happen when you arrive at the museum. Please talk to your child about wearing a mask and what it means to physically distance. Students should visit the bathroom on the way into class and wash their hands before check-in. Floor markers will help children see where to stand while waiting their turn to check in.

Will classes visit the galleries or special exhibitions?
No, classes will not be visiting galleries or other areas of the museum as a group at this time. As an alternative, teachers are providing visual resources for inspiration, visiting the outdoor spaces often. Class lengths are now 45 minutes and teachers will provide gallery maps to encourage students and families to visit the galleries after class or at their leisure.

What if my child misses a class?
Please mark your calendars. VMFA does not provide refunds or allow transfers for missed classes. If your child is not feeling well or has symptoms of COVID-19, however, please contact Visitor Services via email or phone 804.340.1405 prior to class, if possible, and VMFA may waive this policy.


Fees are nonrefundable except when VMFA cancels a class. Classes may not be substituted or switched once registration is complete. Be sure to mark your calendar and save your confirmation email upon registering. If VMFA cancels a class due to insufficient enrollment, issues with technology, or health concerns, participants will be notified as soon as possible and reimbursed fully.


A select number of scholarships are available for Early Childhood programs. For more information, phone 804.340.1343 to request a Scholarship Application Form or email earlychildhood@vmfa.museum.


We value your opinion and may ask you to complete a survey upon exiting the class session or via email at a later date.


PHONELori Coffey, 804.340.1343