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Community updates: Thursday, Oct. 8

Grand Rapids Public Museum reopening planetarium; Grand Rapids Public Library launching mobile library service; and MHSAA increases spectator capacities for Michigan high school sports.
Overlooking the Grand River in downtown Grand Rapids.

Overlooking the Grand River in downtown Grand Rapids. /Antonia Enos

Grand Rapids Public Museum reopening planetarium

The Grand Rapids Public Museum’s (GRPM) planetarium will reopen this Saturday, the GRPM announced Wednesday.

Its Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium – which hosts astronomy-based projections, laser light shows, and public lectures – had been closed since March due to the pandemic. The rest of the museum, other than the Spillman Carousel, reopened in July.

Upon reopening, the planetarium will host multiple shows per week with enough time in between for thorough cleanings. Limited capacity will also be in place.

The planetarium’s reopening schedule will include Sesame Street-themed One World, One Sky and a new show exploring asteroids, comets, and meteors, called Incoming!

“The GRPM is pleased to announce the reopening of the Chaffee Planetarium,” said Dr. Stephanie Ogren, the GRPM’s Vice President of Science and Education. “We have been working on a new show experience for our visitors, and look forward to sharing it with our audiences. Incoming! at the Chaffee Planetarium was developed in partnership with a NASA scientist, and created for learners at all levels across the learning spectrum.”

The GRPM will also continue hosting Chaffee Planetarium virtual meetups to educate on space exploration and the night sky. More details about the meetups and the planetarium’s reopening are available on the GRPL’s website.


Grand Rapids Public Library launching mobile library service

The Grand Rapids Public Library (GRPL) is launching a mobile library for residents unable to visit its eight branches, it announced Tuesday. The service kicks off on Saturday.

Services provided through its Mobile Library vans include picking up requested library materials, dropping off materials, access to WiFi, technology troubleshooting, and more.

Three neighborhood stops are part of the mobile library’s initiate route:

“More neighborhood stops will be added in the future,” the GRPL said in a statement. “The mobile library will also travel to community and outreach events throughout the city.”

To ensure public safety, the library’s encouraging face covering use at its mobile stops for patrons over the age of five, as well as adherence to other CDC guidelines.

The GRPL also recently announced the indoor reopening of its eight branches on Oct. 12, with limited services and various safety measures.

More details about the GRPL’s mobile service are available on the Mobile Library page on its website.


MHSAA increases spectator capacities for Michigan high school sports

The Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) announced on Tuesday it’s allowing for higher spectator capacities for high, middle, and elementary schools across Michigan.

Its announcement follows the Michigan Supreme Court’s Oct. 2 ruling that struck down Gov. Whitmer’s COVID-related executive orders – resulting in an emergency order issued Monday by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, largely reinstating the orders.

Effective immediately, indoor events may have up to 20 percent seating capacity. The 20 percent rule caps at 500 spectators, so venues with more than 2,500 seats are still limited to this number. An exception to the capacity rule is the Traverse City region, which may have 25 percent capacity.

For outdoor venues with fixed seating, such as football and soccer stadiums, a 30 percent seating capacity's now place. The rule caps at 1,000 spectators and applies to all of the state.

If an outdoor event doesn’t have fixed seating, the event must maintain no more than 30 spectators per 1,000 square feet, capping at 1,000 spectators.

“Local schools may use these new indoor and outdoor limitations or may continue to use the two spectators per participant guidance,” the MHSAA said in a statement. “If local health department orders exist that are stricter than these updated MHSAA requirements, member schools and host venues are expected to follow those local orders.”

No public statement by Grand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS) has been made, as of Thursday, whether the district plans to adjust its sporting events policy in light of the MHSAA’s announcement. On Monday, GRPS leaders announced that all protocols relating to the district’s COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan remain in place until further notice.

More details about the MHSAA’s adjusted rules are available on its website.


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