Early Childhood Education Guidelines

Early Childhood Education Programs Information


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 throughout VMFA’s campus, these programs support a child’s natural sense of wonder and curiosity, and promote self-expression and social development.


For general museum information about COVID-19, visit https://www.vmfa.museum/covid-19/


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/.

Is there a difference in cost for in-person and online classes?

No. The online classes are designed using a similar format and supplies as in-person classes. Registration fees are based on the average cost of supplies and faculty compensation.
Note that depending on COVID-19 numbers and state regulations, onsite class options may be cancelled. In that event, students will receive a refund or be offered a place in an online class, if available.

What signs or symptoms should I be aware of prior to attending an in-person class or visiting the museum to pick up art supplies for an online class?

No one should attend a class or visit the museum if they feel sick or have been in contact with someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. If students, parents/guardians, faculty, or staff can answer YES to one or more of the following questions within 24 hours of class or a pick up time, they should not visit the museum:

  • Have you or a member of your household been in contact with someone in the past 14 days with suspected or confirmed COVID-19?
  • Do you or a member of your household have new symptoms of:
    • Fever (100.4°F or higher) or a sense of having a fever?
    • Cough that cannot be attributed to another health condition?
    • Sudden shortness of breath that cannot be attributed to another health condition?
    • Sudden chills that cannot be attributed to another health condition?
    • Sore throat pain that cannot be attributed to another health condition or allergies?
    • Muscle aches (myalgia) that cannot be attributed to another health condition or
      specific activity (such as physical exercise)?
    • Headache that cannot be attributed to another health condition?
    • Fatigue that cannot be attributed to another health condition?
    • Gastrointestinal discomfort (nausea, vomiting or diarrhea)?
    • Loss of sense of smell and/or taste due to an unknown cause?

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.

What if an instructor is unable to teach a class due to illness?

If an instructor is not well, VMFA will find a substitute or cancel the class. Any signs, symptoms, or positive COVID-19 test will require two negative test results prior to return, along with no sign of symptoms or temperature. If a cancellation occurs, participants will be notified as soon as possible and given a refund.


What can I expect in a virtual program?

Online programs are shorter in length than the normal in-person classes. Class times were reduced to honor and support the various developmental stages of our young audience. Engagement between teacher and students is similar to in person programs.

This series of two 30-minute classes includes interactive activities, songs, and a story. Participants will also receive a link to a prerecorded art project video to watch at their convenience. All art supplies needed to complete the art project are included with registration and available for pick up before the start of the class.

This 15-minute class includes interactive activities and songs and looks closely at a work of art in VMFA’s permanent collection. The Gallery program does not include an art project or art supplies.

Why are there no mailing or curbside pickup options for the packaged art supplies?

Unfortunately, the Early Childhood Education department does not have the resources to send art supplies in the mail. In addition, Early Childhood staff are currently primarily teleworking and not available to be on-site for curbside pickup.

What do I need to know about Zoom classes?

Zoom is a web-based audio and video conferencing tool that allows users to meet virtually. It has become a widely popular teaching platform for schools, museums, and other educational institutes.

Almost any device with internet access can be used. Participants simply need the class link and passcode. Although the Zoom app is free, it is not necessary to download for these classes.

Registered participants should have their confirmation email ready with the link, meeting ID, and passcode, about 5-10 minutes before the start of class – please do not be late. A parent or caregiver will need to click the link to join the meeting and type in the passcode.

Upon joining, students will enter a “Waiting Room” and remain there until the instructor has confirmed registration and is ready to begin. Only registered participants will be allowed in class.

How do Early Childhood online classes maintain privacy and security?

VMFA will not share or post student information publicly without consent from a parent or guardian. While it’s fun to share in the excitement of new experiences and connections, we also advise parents/caregiver and students to NOT post any pictures, screenshots, or other content from online classes to social media or elsewhere online. Please respect the privacy of others. VMFA has taken steps to reduce online security risks as much as possible, such as requiring a passcode, utilizing the Waiting Room feature, disabling video and audio upon entering a meeting, disabling the screen sharing option for participants, and disabling the recording option for participants.

Please be aware that online class sessions may be recorded by VMFA via Zoom. For the privacy and protection of children, however, VMFA will not share content or student information publicly. Recordings are for internal use to document and evaluate the program and continue to learn and grow from this exciting new experience.

If participants are using video during class, they should find a location that is safe and neutral. Parents/caregivers should be aware of their surroundings and avoid having items visible that may be considered personal or private.

What happens if I don’t receive a confirmation email or zoom link email after signing up for a class?

Please email lori.coffey@vmfa.museum if you do not receive an email from the class instructor three days before your class is being held. This email will include a Zoom link and other important class information.


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.

What precautions is the museum taking to reduce the risk of COVID-19 for early childhood in-person classes?

CLASS SIZE is limited to 5 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.

FACES MASKS are strongly encouraged for students 2+ years, and required for all adults in attendance. 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.

CHECK-IN PROCEDURES – 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.

PLAY MATERIALS – 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.

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.

DISPOSABLE PRODUCTS will be used 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 the classroom, all studios, and restrooms.

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.

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. Caregivers will assist with a brief screening. Voluntary, no-touch, temperature checks will take place prior to entering the Classroom.

What should I do if my child is ill?

Please keep your child home. Any signs of illness or respiratory disease such as COVID-19 should be taken seriously. Consult your pediatrician for medical advice based on your child’s symptoms. Contact Visitor Services via email or phone 804.340.1405 as soon as possible to discuss cancelation and registration options.

Students may not attend an in-person class or visit the museum until they can answer the screening questions above or show a negative COVID-19 test result. VMFA follows the Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines on when it is safe to be around others.

You can be around others after:

  • 10 days since symptoms first appeared and
  • 24 hours with no fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and
  • COVID-19 symptoms have improved (for example, cough, shortness of breath)

Complete CDC guidelines: When You Can be Around Others After You Had or Likely Had COVID-19

What if there is a positive case of COVID-19 in a student, faculty, or staff member?

If a student, faculty, or staff member reports a positive test result, all students, families, and staff will be notified via email within 24 hours. Families are required to notify VMFA Early Childhood staff if their child, adult who accompanies the child, or anyone in their household tests positive after attending class.

VMFA will follow all guidelines set by the Virginia Department of Health and CDC. Employees cannot report back to work until they demonstrate two negative COVID-19 tests, along with no symptoms or temperature. Classes may be suspended as a matter of safety, pending further details.

Closure of the studio, restroom, and/or other areas where a symptomatic individual was present may be necessary for deep cleaning and disinfection. All items that cannot be disinfected and cleaned will be disposed of, which includes student artwork.


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


EMAIL earlychildhood@vmfa.museum

PHONE Lori Coffey, 804.340.1343