Two weeks into a new normal, family calendars look markedly different.

With schools, theaters, restaurants and entertainment closed and residents ordered to remain in their homes unless engaging in essential activities, socializing is either among immediate family, by phone or virtually.

But this requires some adjustment and, sometimes, creativity.

“Since there are copyright restrictions on reading a published book online, we’re writing and illustrating our own story and leaving the end open for kids to write,” said Crystal Hicks, assistant director at the Nacogdoches Public Library, which is presenting its regular story time reading on YouTube.com. “Each week, we’ll add the kids’ contributions and continue the story.”

Per user suggestions, the library staff will open its new STEAM Science Monday with a tutorial on making an exploding volcano.

“I’m planning to continue the Adult Art Series and Learn to Make series with video instruction tutorials, and we’ll continue the kid’s crafts, too,” Hicks said.

Getting outdoors

The Stay Home, Stay Safe order makes an exception for “outdoor activities, such as walking, running or cycling.”

City officials later stated the exceptions include fishing.

A word of advice for those headed outdoors: Use the restroom before leaving home. Park restrooms are locked to prevent spread of the virus on surfaces. In addition, city officials say a minimum distance of 6 feet should be maintained between people even if they are outdoors.

“The most likely way COVID-19 transmits from person to person is through the spread of respiratory droplets, either directly through close proximity to someone with the virus or indirectly through contamination of surfaces and objects,” said Dr. Jill Weatherhead, assistant professor of infectious diseases at Baylor College of Medicine. “Keeping an adequate physical distance from others and practicing frequent hand hygiene will help prevent the virus from spreading.”

While most Texas State Parks have remained open, all day use or overnight fees must be paid in advance online, and fewer visitors are being allowed into each park.

Martin Dies Jr., Mission Tejas State Park, Tyler State Park and Huntsville State Park are among those remaining open to visitors. Brazos Bend, Buescher, Martin Creek Lake, Mustang Island and Bonham state parks are closed. Park reservations and information about closings, visit tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/

Exercising indoors

Among restricted activities per the stay-home order are attending exercise and yoga classes.

Morning Glory Yoga Studios is offering daily online classes for members and free Friday classes through the Zoom app. For details on setting up the Zoom classes, including the Free Fridays meeting ID and password, visit the Morning Glory Yoga Studios Facebook page.

In addition, a number of applications and services are offering fitness access free during the coronavirus pandemic. These include the Nike Training Club app, Body by Yoga and Down Dog yoga apps and the CARROT Fit app. Planet Fitness also is live streaming some workouts on the company’s Facebook page.

Learning options

An SFA student teacher group known as CREATE, or Community Responsiveness and Engaged Advocacy in Teacher Ed, is holding virtual activities for students every Wednesday at 10 a.m. through the Zoom app. The 30-minute lessons are geared toward elementary school students and include activities such as drawing and making educational crafts such as a solar system or dreamcatcher. More information and registration can be found on the group’s Facebook page titled Create at SFASU.

With SFA’s Summer Art Academy canceled, the university is working to create instructional videos instead. These will be updated and added to the YouTube channel titled SFA_Art Education Home Art Lessons.

Its programs and events canceled and many sites closed, the Texas Historical Commission has introduced an online learning portal for students and families. “Texas History at Home” includes lesson plans and activities, a YouTube channel, mobile tours, travel guides and more at www.thc.texas.gov/historyathome. The Commission preserves and operates 31 historic sites across Texas, from American Indian sites to frontier forts to common and elegant homes.

For older middle school and high school aged students looking for something more engaging than a take home packet, the YouTube series Crash Course offers age appropriate online courses on topics ranging from astronomy to U.S. History.

For younger students, Crash Course Kids supplies hours of engaging science content for students in fifth and sixth grades

Different topics have different teachers, through the initial Crash Course series is taught by famous young adult novelists John Green (The Fault in Our Stars, Paper Towns).

Curious adults who want to learn more about the world can also explore hundreds of hours of open college course material by major universities around the globe.

Of special interest during this time of social distancing and coronavirus might be Yale’s Epidemics in Western Society Since 1600.

The lecture course and others from the university are viable on YouTube on the channel YaleCourses and at oyc.yale.edu.

Those who want to keep their mind off disease might want to check out Yale’s series on New Testament History and Literature by Dr. Dale B. Martin or The Civil War and Reconstruction by Dr. David Blight.

Harvard, MIT and other universities also open a variety of open courses, which are easily searchable online.

Virtual library

Among the many canceled April events is the public library’s Census Day Celebration, a gathering with live entertainment and exhibits that would provide tablets, computer stations and assistance for attendees to fill out their 2020 census right then and there.

“When the library does reopen, our two census-dedicated computers will be ready for customers to use,” says Library Director Mercedes Franks.

For now, she says, it’s best to respond to the questionnaire online, by phone or mail.

Story time reading is available on YouTube.com under Nacogdoches Public Library, and links are posted on the library’s Facebook page. The library also has an online reading and networking program for book lovers at nacogdochespubliclibrary.readsquared.com. Participants of all ages can log reading, share with friends, post book reviews and find reading lists of eBooks curated by the library staff.

“We hope it will be a library community gathering place,” Hicks said.

Staff Writer Josh Edwards contributed to this report.

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