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COVID-19 Pandemic Information

Post Date:07/04/2020 8:54 AM
Library-related information and resources about COVID-19 including statements from SCKLS to member libraries as well as links to resources useful for librarians are available here.

SCKLS Communications

Requiring Face Masks – July 2, 2020

On Thursday, July 2, Governor Laura Kelly issued Executive Order 20-52 requiring face masks or other face coverings in public.  You can read the order here:  https://governor.kansas.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/20200702093130003.pdf

For public libraries, which are public spaces, this new order provides additional support for the existing authority of public library boards in Kansas Statutes Annotated 12-1225(a) “To make and adopt rules and regulations for the administration of the library…”  (See KSA 12-1225 below.) Nevertheless,  if your public library determines to require face masks for persons using the library it is important to take into consideration the various exemptions identified in the Order which notably include:

  • 3a.  Persons age five years or under—children age two years and under in particular should not wear a face covering because of the risk of suffocation;
  • 3b.  Persons with a medical condition, mental health condition or disability that prevents wearing a face covering—this includes persons with a medical condition for whom wearing a face covering could obstruct breathing or who are unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove a face covering without assistance;
  • 3c.  Persons who are deaf or hard of hearing or communicating with a person who is deaf or hard of hearing, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication

Likewise, it is important to determine whether your county or city government has met and passed exceptions or exemptions to Executive Order 20-52.  These exceptions or exemptions requiring face masks in public spaces as authorized by local governments may be cause for misunderstanding or conflicts about your public library’s authority “to  make and adopt rules and regulations for the administration of the library…”  and your library’s requirements for use of face masks in the library.

Whether on the authority of Executive Order 20-52 or on the basis of your local public library’s authority, your library should provide notice at your building’s entry/entries  of “Face Masks Required”.  It is further recommended that any face mask requirement be posted on your website or social media site along with information about your other current library services.  For persons who visit your library and who do not have facemasks, you may also want to provide disposable face masks free-of-charge as a way to encourage library use.

In terms of a person’s non-compliance with your library’s face mask requirement, please note that that under the Executive Order enforceability may be discretionary.  While a person may not be criminally arrested for refusing to wear a face mask in a public library, such person when informed by library staff of the requirement to wear a face mask and then refusing to do so can be requested to leave the library.  Refusal to leave the library after being requested to do so may be basis for such person to be charged with criminal trespass under Kansas Statutes Annotated 21-5808 (see below).  Nevertheless, library staff should attempt to de-escalate such an event.  

KSA 12-1225 Powers and duties of board: http://www.kslegislature.org/li/b2019_20/statute/012_000_0000_chapter/012_012_0000_article/012_012_0025_section/012_012_0025_k/

KSA 21-5808 Criminal trespass: “(a) Criminal trespass is entering or remaining upon or in any [land when] Such person enters or remains therein in defiance of an order not to enter or to leave such premises or property personally communicated to such person by the owner thereof or other authorized person…” http://kslegislature.org/li_2012/b2011_12/statute/021_000_0000_chapter/021_058_0000_article/021_058_0008_section/021_058_0008_k/

During these challenging times, public libraries are working to balance service and safety in consideration of all the members of the communities we serve.  If your public library needs support or comment for its policies and services, please contact us for assistance.  We welcome your questions and concerns. 

Public Libraries Respond – June 3, 2020

When the statewide stay home order was officially lifted Monday, May 4, public libraries began developing and implementing reopening plans.  Reopening plans took into consideration local, county and state public health guidelines as well as factors related to the safety and well-being of library users and librarians.  The limited availability of personal protective equipment and supplies along with new processes and policies for providing library services were priorities to be addressed. 

During the two weeks prior to June 1, 2020, SCKLS member public libraries contributed the following survey and other information about their reopening plans:  SCKLS Public Libraries Respond Report:  https://www.sckls.info/about-us/public-libraries-respond-survey  Detailed and supporting data for 50 public libraries in five major service populations is presented here as a resource for information or for use in comparison.  The resource page provides a relevant compilation of various south central Kansas public library reopening plans including statuses, responses and challenges.  

SCKLS extends its appreciation to all its member public libraries for their efforts to provide library services in this new environment.  SCKLS believes communities that share library experiences and knowledge make a difference in the success of our continuing responses to COVID-19.

Libraries Reopening with Limitations – May 1, 2020

The statewide stay home order has been lifted effective Monday, May 4, but some limitations for public libraries remain in place for social distancing and limiting gatherings of 10 or more people. (See Ad Astra:  A Plan for Reopening Kansas: https://covid.ks.gov/ad-astra-a-plan-to-reopen-kansas/  Following the announcement Thursday evening, April 30, the State Library of Kansas posted to KANLIB-L:  “This is not a mandate to open.”

School libraries are subject to direction of the of their local school district, a state executive order 20-07 closing schools and guidelines of the Continuous Learning Plan developed by the State Department of Education:  https://sites.google.com/ksde.org/kansascontinuouslearning2020/home.  Academic libraries may be closed or reopening to students and faculty by the authority of their academic institution. 

For public libraries, the new Plan for Reopening Kansas does not mean reopening immediately and fully to the public. Only public libraries which meet certain conditions may reopen.  And ultimately, the authority to determine whether to reopen your public library and how to provide library services is a local one.  Kansas Statute Annotated 12-1225 reserves the authority to local public libraries “to make and adopt rules and regulations for the administration of the library”. 

We know coronavirus is a contagious, deadly illness that is spread through contact with an infected person and transmitted on surfaces and in the air.  No vaccine or immunity to stop coronavirus is currently available.  Given these realities, librarians and library board members affirm our responsibility “to approach this process slowly, gradually and cautiously.”  No public library should reopen with the expectation that “everything is back to normal.” 

Every “new normal” whether opening the door, circulating books or using a computer must first address the question:  “Can this library service be provided while reducing the risk of infection from coronavirus?”

Beginning May 4 and until May 18, your public library’s decision about limited reopening should take into consideration the following factors:

  • Whether you or any of your library staff are high-risk individuals who have underlying medical conditions including chronic lung, asthma, heart conditions, severe obesity, chronic kidney or liver disease or have an impaired immune system;
  • State, county or local social distancing requirements to ensure library users and library staff stay at least six feet apart and requirements to prevent 10 or more people from gathering in areas of the library such as entries, checkout, computer, and other service areas;
  • Following and maintaining fundamental cleaning practices and precautions including wearing cloth masks and providing and using hand sanitizer or gloves; and quarantine and/or disinfecting library materials that have circulated;
  •  Review and approval of your library’s practices and plans by your county health department and compliance with any state, county or local phased May 4 -18; May 18 – June 1; and June 1 - June 15 reopening requirements or recommendations.

Depending on your library’s circumstances and resources to address the above factors, your library may reopen.  Please keep in mind our public responsibility continues to be to limit spread of coronavirus in our libraries and communities.   

The absence of specific state level library guidelines has not stopped member public libraries from developing their own local practices and plans for limited, phased, gradual reopening.  Your continuing to share your library’s information with Paul Hawkins, SCKLS Director (paul@sckls.info) and with other libraries using the SCKLS Public Library email group:  sckls-pub@listserv.kumc.edu is appreciated.

While we do not have all the answers we need to reopen every public library to the public on May 4, we have always known the right question which is: “Can this library service be provided while reducing the risk of infection from coronavirus?”  As we move forward, please know that SCKLS is available and working to support your library in the challenges ahead through grants-in-aid, webinars and communications.

Libraries Reopening - April 27, 2020

At the end of this week, Governor Laura Kelly will be making another difficult decision about the health and safety of Kansans. Like the Governor, SCKLS member libraries are in the process of making our own difficult decisions about providing library services and the well-being and safety of our communities and selves. 

Currently, a statewide stay home order is in place and libraries are closed to the public. However, a state level decision rescinding the stay home order will not require your local library to reopen immediately or fully on May 4.  Once no state or county stay home order is in effect, the decision about whether or how to reopen your library is a local one. 

SCKLS recommends that any plan your library makes to provide library services to your community be reviewed and approved by your county health department.   SCKLS recognizes that each library’s decisions about whether or how to reopen are local ones and the circumstances and resources of each library and community differ.

SCKLS continues to be open by phone, email and other communications to support your library. 

Library Closings to the Public - April 20, 2020

Executive Order 20-16 (https://governor.kansas.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/EO20-16.pdf) read in part:  “To preserve the public health and safety for all Kansans, and to ensure the healthcare system is capable of serving all citizens in need, especially those at high risk and vulnerable to COVID-19, all individuals within the state of Kansas are directed to stay in their homes or residences unless performing an essential activity.”

School district buildings and consequently school district member libraries of SCKLS were closed for the duration of the school year by state order as of Tuesday, March 17.  Many academic member libraries in the south central region have closed or may only be open to students and faculty by the authority of their academic institution.  McConnell Air Force Base Library, a special library member of SCKLS, closed to the public on March 25.

As your library considers whether and how it may safely reopen to the public, SCKLS Director Paul Hawkins is available to provide support.  Email paul@sckls.info or call and leave a voice message at 800-234-0529, Ext. 113.  SCKLS Staff continue to provide support and service to member libraries through phone, email and other remote communications.  We welcome your questions and concerns during this difficult period for our libraries and communities. 

SCKLS Libraries Closed to the Public-March 30, 2020

By Order of the Governor to the State of Kansas, libraries statewide should close or remain closed to the public until April 19, 2020 or until the Order is rescinded.  Read the Executive Order at:  https://governor.kansas.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/EO20-16.pdf

The Order reads in part:  “To preserve the public health and safety for all Kansans, and to ensure the healthcare system is capable of serving all citizens in need, especially those at high risk and vulnerable to COVID-19, all individuals within the state of Kansas are directed to stay in their homes or residences unless performing an essential activity.”

School district buildings and consequently school district member libraries of SCKLS were closed for the duration of the school year by state order as of Tuesday, March 17.  Academic member libraries in the south central region may already have   closed by the authority of their academic institution.  McConnell Air Force Base Library, a special library member of SCKLS, closed to the public on March 25.

SCKLS continues to provide support and service to member libraries through phone, email and other remote communications.  We welcome your questions and concerns during this difficult period for our libraries and communities. 

SCKLS Public Library Closings—March 18, 2020

Of the 72 public library members of SCKLS, 32 (see list below) have chosen to temporarily close to the public to help reduce the risk of spreading the COVID-19 virus. The closing data is based on an informal survey by SCKLS Staff of member public library websites and listserv postings conducted as of the morning of March 18.

Detailed information beyond a library’s temporary closing to public or when the library may reopen was not readily available.  Member libraries are not only interested in when and why libraries close and may reopen, but information about if and how library services are being provided in the meantime and how closures are affecting library staff and users.  SCKLS encourages member public, academic, school district and special libraries to continue to share and post information about your library and COVID-19 to the SCKLS listserv: sckls-main@listserv.kumc.edu   

In a statement released Wednesday, March 17 the American Library Association (ALA), “Although closing a library is a local decision, we urge library administrators, local boards and governments to close library facilities until such time as library workers and our communities are no longer at risk of contracting or spreading the COVID-19 coronavirus. Keeping libraries open at this time has the potential to harm communities more than help. ”  Read the full story at: https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/blogs/the-scoop/ala-executive-board-recommends-closing-libraries-to-public/

While SCKLS does not offer services directly to the public, we continue to provide support and service to member libraries through phone, email and other remote communications.  Travel by SCKLS staff to member libraries has been temporarily suspended until further notice.  We will reassess the risk in our ability to provide on-site services on a week-to-week basis and make member libraries aware of any changes in our temporary travel suspension. 

SCKLS welcomes your questions and concerns during this challenging period for our libraries and communities.  Please feel free to contact us. 

 

Library

Status

Andale District Public

Closed as of March 18

Andover Public

Closed as of March 13

Arkansas City

Closed March 16 - 21

Augusta Public

Closed March 17 – March 21

Belle Plaine Public

Closed as of March 15

Buhler Public

Closed as of March 17

Caldwell Public

Closed March 15 - 21

Cheney Public

Closed as of March 17

Clearwater Public

Closed as of March 18

Conway Springs

Closed as of March 17

Cunningham Public

Closed as of March 17

Derby Public

Closed as of March 17

Douglass Public

Closed March 18 - 30th

El Dorado Bradford

Closed March 17 - 21

Haven Public

Closed of March 18

Hesston Public

Closed as of March 17

Hutchinson Public

Closed as of March 18

Lindsborg Community

Closed March 16 - 21

McPherson Public

Closed as of March 18

Moundridge Public

Closed as of March 18

Newton Public

Closed as of March 17

Norwich Public

Closed as of March 17

Park City Public

Closed as of March 17

Potwin Public

Closed as of March 18

Stafford Nora Larabee Public

Closed as of March 17

Sterling Public

Closed as of March 16

Towanda Public

Closed March 18 - March 28

Udall Public

Closed of March 18

Valley Center Public

Closed as of March 16

Wellington Public

Closed as of March 18

Wichita Public

Closed March 17 - March 27

Winfield Public

Closed March 16 until mid-April


SCKLS and Library COVID-19 Guidance—March 17, 2020

SCKLS is closely monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on libraries and librarians. Decisions about when and what responses to take in regard to library services and COVID-19 are local ones, but member libraries look to SCKLS for guidance.

In terms of guidance on disinfecting workplaces and what individual staff and libraries can do to reduce risk of contagion, the following are recommended basic practices:

  • More frequent cleaning and disinfection of the library.
  • Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Staying home when you are sick.
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick.

The recommendation to avoid close contact with people who are sick is the most problematic in terms of our role as librarians in providing public service and our responsibility not to contribute to the spread of the virus.  “Social distancing” is the term most often used to explain what we can do as individuals to reduce the number of people who become infected by the coronavirus.

Depending on your library, your options for staffing and resources to create social distancing may be limited.  Consequently, some libraries in south central Kansas have temporarily closed to the public. In some future instances, libraries may temporarily close to the public at the request or recommendation of their local or county health officials or local city, school district, college or other authority.   However, “closed to the public” doesn’t necessarily mean that the librarians at these libraries are not working or being paid for their time since they may be performing other library services that don’t involve public contact with library users.

Other libraries in our area have chosen to cancel programs and events or found ways of deliberately increasing the recommended physical space--at least six feet--between librarians and library users to avoid spreading the illness.  In a positive application, some libraries have also used social distancing as an incentive to promote and enhance use of their library’s website, downloadable eBooks and other online services.  

As a public health measure and to help reduce the risk of spreading the COVID-19 virus, SCKLS is currently advising member libraries to consider and take action from the range of available options including increased personal hygiene to the potential temporary closing of your library to the public.  Your library’s responses to COVID-19 will differ as your community’s circumstances change.

SCKLS welcomes your questions and concerns during this challenging period for our libraries and communities.  We encourage you to continue to post information about your library and COVID-19 to the SCKLS listserv: sckls-main@listserv.kumc.edu

As always, our community of shared library experiences and knowledge will make a difference.

--

Paul Hawkins, Director

South Central Kansas Library System

 

In-Person Training Events and Temporary Travel Suspension—March 17, 2020

As a precaution and to further public health by reducing possible exposure to COVID-19 virus, SCKLS is cancelling five upcoming, in-person trainings scheduled during March and April.  Any previously scheduled SCKLS webinars for March through May are still planned to be held.  If you pre-registered for any of the five upcoming, in-person trainings SCKLS will contact you in a separate email about the cancellations.

Your library’s responses to Covid-19 are local-decisions, but SCKLS has determined that reducing possible exposure to COVID-19 virus is an appropriate public health measure.  In addition to cancelling the upcoming, in-person training events, travel by SCKLS staff to member libraries will be temporarily suspended until Monday, March 30.  Our staff will continue to provide support and service through phone, email and other remote communications during the next two weeks.  Please feel free to contact us. 

SCKLS is preparing a separate statement of general advice for member libraries to consider regarding COVID-19 which will be shared by email later today.  If you have concerns or questions regarding your library’s responses to COVID-19, we are glad to assist.

--

Paul Hawkins, Director

South Central Kansas Library System

 

Resources for Libraries

Library Materials COVID-19 Safety Study

Reopening Archives, Libraries, and Museums (REALM) Project 

https://www.webjunction.org/news/webjunction/test1-results.html

SCKLS COVID-19 Technology Cleaning Information Resources

Cleaning Your Technology during COVID-19 

Technology Cleaning Supplies during COVID-19

Ad Astra:  A Plan to Reopen Kansas

https://covid.ks.gov/ad-astra-a-plan-to-reopen-kansas/

American Library Association Pandemic Preparedness Resources for Libraries

http://www.ala.org/tools/atoz/pandemic-preparedness

State Library of Kansas

https://kslib.info/blog.aspx?iid=785

State of Kansas COVID-19 Resource Center

http://www.kdheks.gov/coronavirus/index.htm

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention United States Department of Health and Human Services

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

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