BUFFALO, N.Y. — COVID-19 has changed everything.
With the school year already underway for some districts, virtual learning and at-home classrooms are presenting new challenges for parents, teachers and students alike.
For months, families have been navigating a "new norm." Living rooms have turned into classrooms and parents into teachers; classes aren't the same these days.
In response to community needs, local cultural institutions like art galleries, museums, and theaters, have stepped up their creativity and their resources to meet the virtual needs of the moment.
Since March, Explore & More Children's Museum has offered virtual educational programs to help support parents by providing their children with informative and engaging activities to occupy their time with at home.
While doors have reopened, under restriction, since early July, the children's museum has continued to offer virtual programming. Starting in mid-September four brand new in-person programs will be available.
Jess Basil is the marketing manager and says, while it hasn't necessarily been easy, creating new programs gives her team an opportunity to really work with the rest of the community.
"We are following very closely what the schools are doing because that has an impact on us, we are a community resource, we want to be there to help families," Basil said.
These new programs include things like: homework help, study and play, gardening and more. All in accordance with state guidelines to ensure children are having fun while staying safe.
Albright-Knox is another great resource available to families, even though the museum itself is under construction.
Their website offers plenty of virtual learning opportunities and projects that kids can enjoy independently or with their parents.
Then there is the famous blue Art Truck.
Aaron Ott, the museum's director of public art, says even though the truck was rolling into communities before the pandemic, these days it's an even more valuable resource.
"What we can do is we can organize with our partners throughout the community to find the best way to tailor the content to those spaces," Ott said. "And, what's so amazing about the art truck is it's a virtual art making space."
The gallery's team has also put together Art Kits to service the community and kids who might otherwise not have access to arts and crafts when out of school.
On Wednesday morning, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that art institutions can officially reopen at 25 percent occupancy, as long as they continue to enforce CDC guidelines.
Albright-Knox Northland, on Buffalo's East Side, reopens on September 26 with a new collection to offer the community.
Before then, if families are looking for something to do with their kids, the gallery is holding a Community Chalk Festival from September 1-7.