People protest Naperville's DuPage Children's Museum

  • A small crowd gathered Saturday outside the DuPage Children's Museum protesting its policy requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination for children 5 and older.

      A small crowd gathered Saturday outside the DuPage Children's Museum protesting its policy requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination for children 5 and older. Dave Oberhelman | Staff Photographer

  • The crowd protesting Saturday in front of the DuPage Children's Museum extended from the north side entrance down Washington Street south of Spring Avenue.

      The crowd protesting Saturday in front of the DuPage Children's Museum extended from the north side entrance down Washington Street south of Spring Avenue. Dave Oberhelman | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 1/24/2022 10:29 AM

The DuPage Children's Museum's COVID mitigation policy for children drew scores of protesters to its Naperville address Saturday.

Protesters, including parents with young children, lined the sidewalk in front of the museum at 301 N. Washington St., many holding signs calling for allowing children to "play."

 

By 12:30 p.m., the crowd extended south across Spring Avenue down Washington Street, and along both sides of the museum's entrance.

Museum patrons were not approached, but the crowd drew reaction from passing cars that honked horns.

"This is just about peacefully, more or less quietly, opposing the DuPage Children Museum's voluntary decision to exclude really a significant portion of the population that they stand to serve," said Ashley Grice of Aurora, who helped lead what she called "a grass-roots movement of moms" against the museum's Jan. 3 move to require proof of COVID vaccination for visitors 5 and older.

"Being a children's museum and then rolling out a policy that excludes so many children just seems so counterproductive to what I know that they stand for," Grice said.

A social media post promoting the protest had been disseminated by the Illinois Chapter of Children's Health Defense, a nonprofit whose website touts a mission to "end childhood health epidemics."

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"The reality is a lot of people really do feel strongly that not only are people's health decisions personal and they should be private, but they really shouldn't stop you from participating in society," Grice said.

DuPage Children's Museum CEO and President Andrea Wiles had anticipated the protest. The museum released its own statement on its rationale for the proof of vaccination requirement.

"DCM took this action to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 during an unprecedented surge of infections. Illinois public health metrics related to hospitalizations reflect a dangerous scarcity of hospital and ICU beds," according to the release.

"A significant number of our guests are under age 5 and not yet eligible to be vaccinated. CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommends that the best way to protect these young children is to ensure all eligible people around them are vaccinated."

The museum anticipates ending the policy when hospitalizations and infections dip below Illinois threshold metrics.

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