To establish the protocol that will be used in the event of a pandemic. If there is a serious infectious disease outbreak, the library must plan for staff being unable to report to work. The library may be required to operate on limited staffing or take measures to help slow the spread of the outbreak, including service restrictions, limited hours of operation, limiting or cancelling library programming and outreach or enacting other social distancing measures. Other public health measures may include possible closure either by order of state/local public health officials or the Library Board of Trustees with recommendation by the Library Director. Recovery from a pandemic may be slow, as compared to a natural disaster or other crises. It is important to ensure that the core business activities of the library can be maintained for several weeks or more with limited staff and reduced hours due to a pandemic.
BACKGROUND & DEFINITIONS
The term “pandemic” means, an outbreak of a disease that occurs over a wide geographic area and affects an exceptionally high proportion of the population. (merriam-webster online)https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pandemic
A pandemic plan differs from a general emergency preparedness policy or procedure. An emergency preparedness policy assumes that staff will return to the building, or begin rebuilding, almost immediately after the event or crisis (such as fire, storm, or utility shortage). A pandemic plan prepares for infectious disease outbreaks, where recovery may be slow and limited staff, services, hours, or possible closure may be necessary for several weeks or more.
HYGIENE & SAFETY MEASURES
Special care will be taken to protect employees and the public during this time by providing employees mandatory facial coverings and gloves (along with training of how to wear them properly). Hand sanitizer and other disinfectants within the library will also be made widely available for employee and public use.
Library materials and surfaces will be cleaned and disinfected with regularity. Restrooms and shareable items (keyboards, staplers, etc.) will be cleaned after each use.
Book drops will be lined with garbage bags and all items will be removed (via the bag) and be placed in a room specified for quarantine purposes so that the items can sit for 72 hours before being wiped down and placed back into public use.
Daily assessments of staff will take place at the beginning of the workday or with each new shift. Staff will be asked about symptoms consistent with a virus, such as fever or chills AND cough or sore throat. Temperatures will also be taken and recorded. Staff identified as being sick or with a temperature of over 100 degrees will be required to leave the premises. Staff who appear to have an illness upon arrival or become ill during the day will be promptly separated from other workers and be advised to go home for a 14 day self quarantine. Signage will be posted at the doors to alert patrons not to enter the library if they are feeling sick. All patron over the age of 3 will be required to wear a face covering in the library. Masks will be provided if they do not have one.
Staff and the public will be informed of any possible exposure while maintaining confidentiality. Staff exposed to a sick co-worker should monitor themselves for symptoms of illness and stay home if they are sick.
SOCIAL DISTANCING MEASURES
Whether the library is open or closed to the public and still offering services, all employees will maintain a 6 feet distance from each other at all times. No more than two employees are permitted in the library office at a time. Workstations must be spread out. All employees are required to wear face coverings while in the building, unless they are alone in an enclosed area and have effectively disinfected the area in which they used. Staff work times have been staggered to observe social distancing.
During curbside pickup, a no-contact mandate and 6 feet of distance with the public is to be observed. Items will be checked out and bagged with patron name and set outside the library doors on specified tables for pick up. Fax and copy services will be permitted by appointment only. Items will be dropped outside in the designated inbox with payment as discussed via phone. Staff will take the items from the box, complete the service, place in an envelope with change (if needed) and placed in the outbox on the outside table for patron pick up.
During public opening with limited services, the following social distancing measures must be observed:
• 6 feet of distance between all persons within the library building. Floors will be marked accordingly at the circulation desk for waiting in line. Staff will check the library regularly to make sure patrons maintain distance.
• Patrons will be required to wear face coverings while in the library
• One entrance at each library will be closed and staff will patrol the main entrance to control the number of patrons allowed in the library at one time.
• Computer stations will be spaced 6 feet apart or covered so that that distance may be maintained. Children’s computers will not be in use.
• All areas will have one chair per table and lounge furniture will be moved or removed altogether to promote the 6 feet rule.
• Check in/Check out will require no contact as items are placed on the desk and scanned directly.
• All children’s toys and play areas will be closed/put away and marked off.
Public Health Mandate
The Harris-Elmore Public Library (HEPL) and the Genoa Branch Library (GBL) will close due to a pandemic event if a mandate order or recommendation for closure is issued by public health government officials on the local, county, or state level. In the event of state/local official mandated closure and library employees are sent home, those employees may be compensated for their regularly scheduled hours during closure. Every effort will be made to have employees work on special projects and items that will keep the library running from home.
Discretionary Service Level Changes
At the discretion of the Library Director and the Library Board of Trustees, the library may close, reduce its operating hours, or limit services temporarily in the event that there is not sufficient staff to maintain basic library service levels or if unable to maintain adequate social distancing measures for health and safety.
In the event of library closure due to the discretion of the Library Director and the Library Board of Trustees or in the case of a phased re-opening plan; healthy employees should report to work Monday-Friday between the hours of 9am-5pm (even night staff) and work within the library comparable hours of what they normally would be scheduled, but possibly within a different time frame. The Library Director and Branch Manager will assign special projects for employees to complete at the library while closed to the public. The library may offer the public no contact curb-side service during public closure in an effort to maintain a semblance of public library service.
During library closure for the above stated reasons, the library will also still provide wifi access via the library parking lot, limited digital reference via website chat, online materials access (Hoopla, Libby, Overdrive), library online resources (databases), and in some cases, digital programming via the library website and social media.
Please refer to Library Re-Opening Phases for Criteria on service restrictions during closure.
SCHOOL CLOSURE BECAUSE OF A PANDEMIC
In the event that the Genoa Area Local School District or Woodmore Local School District is closed due to pandemic illness, the Harris-Elmore Public Library and Genoa Branch Library will remain open, unless one of the aforementioned requirements for closing is also met. However, all library programs, special events, and meeting room reservations will be canceled and hours may be reduced on any day in which Genoa Area Local School District and Woodmore Local School Districts are closed due to pandemic illness.
MINIMUM STAFFING LEVEL
Minimum staffing level for a temporary period of time is defined as two healthy employees available to be present at both Harris-Elmore Public Library and Genoa Branch Library during all open hours. An inability to maintain this temporary minimal level or a necessity to maintain this temporary minimal level for more than five consecutive days will result in reduced hours, reduced or eliminated services, or library closure.
The absence of healthy library staff will determine the ability to carry out services and maintain open hours. At the Library Director’s discretion, this may include:
• Cancelling programs, special events, and meeting room reservations.
• Reassigning employee duties and shifts.
• Reducing open hours if the number of employees falls below minimum levels.
• Closing the library for one or more days.
If the Library is open, employees are expected to report to work on time as scheduled, excluding any excused absences following the Harris-Elmore Public Library Personnel Manual.
In the event of closure necessitated by pandemic, effective communication about any reduction in services, open hours, or closure must be announced in a timely manner. All notices will be made available for the public via the library website, social media, newspaper press release, answering machine messages, and posted on library doors. Library staff will be notified via the office intranet (SLING) or via phone. Library staff should follow the Library’s Non-scheduled or Emergency Closing Policy.
The Harris-Elmore Public Library Personnel Manual outlines employee sick leave, vacation, and unpaid leave policies; these policies shall be followed in the event of a pandemic outbreak that results in discretionary closure by the Library Director and the Library Board of Trustees.
Staff with a high-risk medical condition may want to notify the Director or Branch Manager so that they can make every effort to reassign them to duties that have minimal contact with people. If they cannot be reassigned to duties that will reduce contact with others, are concerned about their risk of exposure in the workplace, or will be in crowded conditions while commuting to work, then they may be allowed to use sick leave to stay home from work. The following positions have the option of teleworking if they are to remain in quarantine: Director; Assistant Director; Branch Manager; Programs Librarian. Other positions may be eligible if available workload to perform from home is adequate.
RESPONSIBILITY OF LIBRARY OPERATIONS
If, for any reason, the Library Director is unable or unavailable to perform the responsibilities and decisions outlined in this policy, administrative authority for this policy and all library operations shall follow the Chain of Command Policy.
Full library services will be restored as conditions permit. Public programs and meeting room use will resume when recommended by health authorities.
If libraries have been closed for the pandemic, infrastructure will be evaluated and additional cleaning may be necessitated before re-opening.
Staffing needs will be evaluated and a return to full staffing will be instituted as soon as possible, depending on staff health and building conditions.
Revised & Approved by the Board of Trustees
May 11, 2020