Novel Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19)

Updated: Tuesday, December 1, 2020

At Frosty Drew Observatory we recognize the risks associated with the novel (new) coronavirus in the general area. We offer an educational, scientific service to the public with an overall message of hope. We believe that during this difficult and rapidly changing situation we can take solace in the cosmos, the night sky, and the natural world. We are also a science based organization, and will approach this situation with the same adherence to science that we exercise with all of our decisions. This is part of our basis for the actions we have taken to date. During the month of March 2020, the RI Office of the Governor enacted a series of executive orders that restrict public gatherings, with an additional executive order issued on March 28, 2020 that resulted in park closures across the state, as well as non-critical businesses (to our dismay and embarrassment firearms stores are considered "critical retail businesses" in RI). This resulted in the suspension of all publicly accessible onsite events including our Friday Stargazing Nights event.

In late May, 2020, Rhode Island began a phased reopening of the state. This approach will allow for specific benchmarks to be met, as well as close monitoring of the state's current status regarding the novel coronavirus. Phase I was implemented prior to Memorial Day weekend, which allowed for limited openings.

Limited access is currently granted to Ninigret Park and the Frosty Drew campus:

Starting on Saturday, May 23, 2020, Ninigret Park (home to the Frosty Drew campus) has been reopened to limited public access. This will allow visitors to gain access to observe the night sky from the Frosty Drew campus as well. This is not a green light to go back to normal! RI regulations regarding these limited reopenings must be adhered to. What this means:

  • In compliance with RI Executive Order 20-95 section 6, all out of state visitors arriving from a location that has high community spread of SARS-CoV-2 and the resulting COVID-19, must immediately self-quarantine for 14 days unless a negative result was received from an official COVID-19 test within 72 hours prior to travel or after traveling. A list of states has been created that this mandate applies to. If this is applies to you, or your state is on the list, then we should not see you on the Frosty Drew campus until restrictions on your community have been lifted, you receive a negative result on an official COVID-19 test, or you have completed a 14-day self quarantine! Please note that this list is always changing, so check it frequently.
  • If visiting one night to observe the stars, photograph the night sky, or to setup a telescope, you must maintain social distancing requirements. This includes maintaining a 6' perimeter between you and other visitors that are not in your immediate household. Additionally, only groups consisting of immediate household members will be permitted.

As RI slowly reopens it is important to make an acceptable effort to follow current stipulations and mandates. If visitors are not in compliance, the park may be returned to a closed state and access for everybody will be denied. Additionally, it is not the responsibility of our astronomers, who are working, to manage visitors to the campus on nights that we are closed. If our astronomers feel that you are not reasonably complying with the requirements listed above, or are not co-operatively responding to their direction, you will be required to leave, immediately.

On November 30, 2020, Rhode Island commenced a two week pause of Revised Phase III of the state's phased reopening plan. This pause will further limit Frosty Drew events.

Onsite events are happening and will continue in a limited fashion, if weather is acceptable.

At this time, we are modifying our onsite events in the following ways:

  • The event will be restricted to up-to 75 visitors, depending on telescope availability.
  • Visitors will need to have tickets, which can be acquired through the event listing on our events calendar for that night. Visitors who do not have a ticket, will not be granted admission to the Frosty Drew campus. Tickets acquisition links will not be posted until the day of the event.
  • Tickets will be available in groups of 20. Each group will have a different time listed. This is the line-up time to check-in at the Greeter's Table during the event. 60 tickets will also allow access to the 16" observatory telescope and building. All tickets will grant access to our campus and all telescopes aside from the observatory building 16" telescope. All ticket holding visitors can stay for the entire length of the event.
  • Visitors will not be permitted to set up their own telescopes, or equipment aside from handheld devices on or near the Frosty Drew campus. Photographic equipment may be permitted onto the campus by valid ticket holders on a per event basis.
  • The primary observatory 16" telescope will be open and the observatory building will service one visitor / household (up to a max of 2 people) at a time.
  • The Sky Theatre facility will not be available at this time and will be closed to the public.
  • The Science Center facility will be open with strict social distancing rules in place, facilitated by the standard type floor markings and directional indicators that you are used to seeing in public establishments.
  • Visitors will only be allowed to enter the courtyard through the main observatory gate. Visitors will only be allowed to exit the courtyard though the equipment loading gate, unless emergency conditions require otherwise.
  • Up-to four telescopes will be setup in the observatory courtyard. Each telescope will be setup in a dedicated quadrant of the courtyard.
  • If weather does not permit an opening, an event cancellation notice will be posted on the day of the event.

All visitors are expected to adhere to the following behavioral requirements and guidelines:

  • We expect visitors to maintain a six foot perimeter around themselves or around the group that they arrived with, when around other visitors and Frosty Drew team members.
  • The RI governor would like us to remind visitors to wear a face covering if a six foot perimeter cannot be maintained, unless doing so would damage the physical or mental health of the visitor, or the visitor is incapable of managing their own face covering. A full list of exemptions is available under Section 1 of Executive Order 20-94.
  • Numerous signs have been posted to our campus that will offer direction and flow dynamics. Upon arriving, please familiarize yourself with all posted information.
  • It is never acceptable for visitors to our programs to touch or handle our equipment. This has always been a requirement that visitors must be aware of. Though now, it is even more important to understand this requirement. Any visitor that does not follow this requirement will be required to leave. Read and understand the Frosty Drew Equipment Usage Terms of Service!
  • Any visitor that engages in any type of discriminitive behavior towards another visitor or Frosty Drew team member will be required to leave immediately! This means that you need to keep your opinions about how others are conducting themselves to yourself. If you can’t, then don’t visit!
  • Visitors will need to display a reasonable level of patience when encountering these temporary restrictions and changes to our events and availability. Visitors who threaten, yell at, provoke, or otherwise engage in a demeaning, damaging, or hostile posture towards Frosty Drew team members will be banned from the Frosty Drew campus for a period of one year, with severe offenders being banned for life. We are trying our best to offer access to our facilities during this difficult time, and we are REQUIRED to follow mandates put forth by the State of Rhode Island. We have published a significant amount of information about visiting. Not adequately researching and preparing for your visit, is not our fault!

We are frequently reading updates to Rhode Island regulations and how they apply to Frosty Drew. These updates are critical to our planning and will enable us modify on site restrictions. Additionally, the response we receive from our visitors and the general public will serve as an important indicator of where we stand and the direction we can take. We thank you for your understanding and for sticking with us through the global pandemic.

Regardless of your personal feelings about the global pandemic, we need to maintain a reasonable adherence to regulations, as well as to being kind. We will not, under any circumstance, tolerate any discrimination in regards to this novel coronavirus on the Frosty Drew campus!. At Frosty Drew we adhere to, and are compliant with, mandates applicable to RI non-profit organizations, as well as follow the guidance of the RI Department of Health. If that is not acceptable to you, or you are unable to keep your personal feelings to yourself about how others are conducting themselves, then do not visit the Frosty Drew campus until you are able to restrain yourself. Any visitor that engages in discriminative behavior towards another visitor or team member will be required to leave, immediately!

Regarding restroom facility access, please note the following:

Restroom facility access will be limited to one gender neutral restroom and will require stringent adherence to posted information. Facilitation of restroom access will happen in concert with our Science Center access plan. If we are experiencing problems, misuse, theft of items, or concerns with our restroom and restroom access policy, we will discontinue allowing restroom access. Only ticket holding visitors will be granted restroom access. Restroom facility access will not be available on nights that we are closed, regardless if Frosty Drew astronomers are present.

We have added a section to our Visiting the Observatory page that speaks to Health and Wellness. This section was added on March 3, 2020. We ask that any potential visitor who is experiencing symptoms of any contagion (cough, fever, shortness of breath, etc) to stay home and postpone your visit. Being outside under the stars is fabulous and healthy, but if you are already experiencing symptoms of illness, exposure to the outdoors and the environment at Frosty Drew Observatory will not make you feel better. On the contrary, exposure will exacerbate your existing symptoms, which will make you more likely to transmit the contagion to others, including our team members. Frosty Drew Observatory will be here when you get better and our team members will be happy to see you well.

Lastly, it is your responsibility to keep yourself healthy and to keep your contagions away from others, whether you realize you have them or not. If you are concerned about vulnerabilities you may have to the novel coronavirus or any other contagion, then you need to evaluate the risk you expose to yourself by visiting Frosty Drew Observatory. Additionally, if you are concerned that you may be carrying a contagion, then you need to evaluate the risk you pose to others who may be more vulnerable than you. By modifying our events, we are attempting to stop the spread of any contagion among visitors at Frosty Drew Observatory, while continuing to offer whatever escape we can from our daily stresses to a place where we can reach for the stars.

As this is a rapidly evolving situation, we will post updates to our plan as they happen. For now, thank you for your understanding, stay positive, and restrict your readings on the novel coronavirus to the CDC, WHO, State Health Departments, and stay away from false information – which is just as dangerous as any contagion currently effecting our region.

This notice supersedes all other documents that may be in conflict regarding visiting the Frosty Drew campus until such time as we can remove this notice.