Post - More Clarification on Stay at Home Orders

Post by Jason Broughton on Clarification on Stay at Home Order - 3/25/20, 4:15 pm

Hello Everyone,

I am providing information to the library community regarding the latest actions under the executive order by Governor Scott on Stay Home / Stay Safe for libraries:

The information provided serves as a guide for the library community to make decisions on operating under this new action.

  1. Everything should be viewed through the lens of health, safety, and reducing the spread of COVID-19.
  2. Everyone should also understand what type of library you are or working for.

Many of you have questions regarding this statement “all businesses and not-for-profit entities not expressly exempted in the order must suspend all in-person business operations. Operations that can be conducted online or by phone, or sales that can be facilitated with curbside pickup or delivery only, can continue.”

You will note governmental entities are not listed in this statement. If your library is a municipal library and the municipality has decided you are needed after consultation with the library board of trustees, a library could remain open if they so choose.

It is not my recommendation for libraries to be open during this time. I believe this is important to ensure the safety of patrons, staff, the board, and the community in navigating how to operate services while applying social distancing, avoiding specific demographic populations to avoid the spread of COVID-19, and eliminating in person services.

Link to the executive order “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order (PDF)

Section #4 of the Executive Order Stay Home Stay Safe

All businesses, governmental entities and not-for-profit entities shall develop strategies, procedures and practices designed for strict adherence to CDC and VDH guidance to ensure recommended social distancing, including, to the extent possible: a. maintaining a distance of 6 feet between persons; b. requiring employees to practice appropriate hygiene measures, including regular, thorough handwashing; c. requiring employees who are sick remain home; and d. regularly cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces.

The last scenario is with regards to curbside services. The assumption is that this service is away from the library by a set distance.

Section #1 of the Executive Order Stay Home Stay Safe

To preserve the public health and safety, to ensure the healthcare delivery system is capable of serving all, and to help protect those at the highest risk and vulnerability, Vermonters are directed to stay at home or in their place of residence, leaving only for essential reasons such as: personal safety; groceries or medicine; curbside pick-up of goods, meals or beverages; medical care; exercise; care of others; and work, as set forth further below. Vermonters shall significantly restrict normal activities outside the home or place of residence, consistent with CDC guidance, to help stop the spread of the virus.

So, what does it all mean for libraries regarding Section #4 and Section#1 (I am so confused)???

Each library must determine the best course of action to ensure the reduction of the spread of COVID-19. Libraries may conduct curbside book drops, but they must consider the following before doing so:

  1. Does this action encourage Vermonters to become mobile and move about during the Stay at Home / Stay Safe declaration?
  2. Are there safety protocols that are in place by the library to ensure contamination of materials (books and resources) are eliminated to employees and the public?
  3. Do these safety protocols take resources (such as wipes, hand sanitizer, gloves) away from other essential services (such as EMTs, PDs, etc.)?
  4. Is there information provided to the public addressing the social distancing rule during this time, near or at areas of curbside or drop areas?
  5. Has this process been reviewed by your library board, approved, and or discussed with your municipality or select board?

I can provide you with guidelines to consider as each library will approach this situation differently. I do request that libraries stop in-person services, per the Governor’s declaration and move to virtual services and develop strategies that adhere to the CDC and VDH guidelines for the public and for workplaces and spaces.

I personally or professionally cannot tell you to stop curbside service, given a review of directives, conversations with officials, and the law of libraries. I do, however, strongly suggest that it be curtailed to reduce the number of Vermonters unnecessarily being out and about conducting activities.

If you are unsure about how you should operate, you should consider connecting with the Agency of Commerce & Community Development. Commercial entities, non-profits, employers and others with questions about acceptable continuation of business operations should contact the Agency of Commerce and Community Development via this online form.

Note: You should first discuss the situation with your library board, town officials, and stakeholders. This usually will avoid having to connect with state officials on uncertainty unless there are unique circumstances to do so.

Your State Librarian,
Jason