Coronavirus Information

A child wearing a blue mask with stars looks out from behind an exhibit piece
We are following CDC guidelines to ensure visitors, animals, and staff are as safe as possible.


Mask Policy

The Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo is continuing to require all visitors and staff to wear protective face masks while at its facility, both indoors and out of doors. While the CDC and SCC guidelines no longer consider the wearing of masks in indoor spaces a mandatory requirement, the Junior Museum is continuing to ask its visitors and staff to wear a mask for the following reasons:

1) Eighty percent (80%) of the Museum’s visitors are under the age of 5, and half of that number are under the age of 2. As children in this age bracket are not yet able to get vaccinated against Covid-19, masking is required to better ensure they do not contract Covid-19 from another visitor.

2) Many of our staff, particularly those working closely with the public, are part-time hourly employees. As such, their health benefits and sick time is minimal and unable to support multiple days away from work due to sickness. Masks will minimize their risk of becoming ill with Covid. For now, Covid sick leave is available for employees to use if they get sick but it’s not certain how long this program will be maintained.

3) According to the Covid-19 Infection Prevention and Control Assessment Tool for Captive Wildlife Facilities (including Zoos), developed by the One Health Federal Interagency COVID-19 Coordination Group (OH-FICC) Wildlife and Zoos Subgroup in collaboration with the Zoo and Aquarium All Hazards Partnership, it is recommended that masks be warn by visitors to protect the health of both visitors and resident animals. (

4) Many people with disabilities have compromised immune systems and the protections they receive from the Covid vaccine are greatly minimized. Some people with have medical conditions that prevent them from wearing a mask. Masking by those around them creates a safe space in which they can visit and enjoy the museum. Many families who have children with disabilities have already let us know that they won’t be able to visit once masking becomes optional. Mandatory masking is vital to keeping the Junior Museum accessible to all.

5) Finally, both indoor and outdoor exhibits and activities sometimes require close contact between people and so masking is necessary in both the Museum’s indoor and outdoor spaces, including the Zoo and outdoor program spaces.

To keep our JMZ Science teachers safe during offsite programs, we are also asking students and teachers in elementary schools to wear masks during our facilitation of our science lessons. Since masking policies are mandated by the state, and therefore out of the control of individual schools and teachers, we cannot mandate students and teachers wear masks…only ask. Thus far, our school teachers are being completely supportive our requests for this additional measure of safety.

Thank you for your support. Together, we will keep each other safe.

Increased Cleaning

  • Staff are frequently and rigorously cleaning high-touch surfaces and exhibits.  

  • Upholstery is a hospital-grade material with a moisture barrier that is sanitized daily.

  • Hand sanitizers are installed throughout the facility, and there is a hand washing station in the zoo (in addition to five restrooms).  

  • Baskets are installed for used exhibit pieces. These pieces are disinfected by staff members before they are returned to the Museum floor.    

  •  We close briefly from 1 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. to sanitize the facility.

Limited Attendance

  • We have adjusted attendance levels to better allow guests to maintain a distance of 6 feet between themselves and others.  

  • We have lowered our daily occupancy criteria. 

  • We are pre-selling tickets to limit ticket sales interactions and to control the number of attendees. Entrance is not guaranteed without an advanced reservation. 

  • We have instituted timed ticketing to maintain safe occupancy levels

The building’s new heating and ventilation system enables the following improvements to air quality and air flow:  

  • Air in the building is replaced three times per hour.  

  • At least 60% of recirculated air is from outside.  

  • The system operates with MERV-13 air filters that are changed frequently.  

  • The air is purged from the Museum before it opens and after it closes each day.  

  • Portable HEPA filtration units operate throughout the facility to provide additional air filtration.  

Animal care protocols have been redesigned to lower risk for staff and animals:  

  • We have implemented staggered schedules to reduce staff to staff contact.

  • Staff members use gloves and masks.

  • We have enhanced our cleaning protocols to ensure safety for both staff and animals. 

Staff Safety

  • N95 Masks are provided for on-site staff members. 

  • Staff members who can work remotely are encouraged to do so. 

  • All staff members are asked to take a weekly COVID-19 test.  

Other Safety Items

  • Individuals exhibiting flu-like symptoms, including a cough or fever, will be asked to reschedule their visit.  

  • 50% of our experiences are already outdoors, and we continue to encourage outdoor play and discovery  

  • Staff are adjusting circulation spaces inside the JMZ as needed. 

  • We have limited the sharing of equipment and supplies.

  • We maintain consistent cohorts of students and educators where possible.

  • We substitute in-person programs with virtual options as needed.

  • Our programs are held in the outdoor classroom or in other outdoor spaces whenever possible.

Updated May 23rd, 2022