The purpose of the pandemic policy is to outline changes to the level of service at the Rochester Public Library during a period of severe health risk due to a pandemic, including the Covid-19 Pandemic of 2019-2020. These periods of severe health risk shall be determined by the Governor of the State of New Hampshire, the director of the Rochester Emergency Operations Center, or the City Manager.
During a period of severe health risk, the Board of Library Trustees shall vote to empower the Library Director to take actions outlined in this policy. Those powers shall remain in place until a subsequent vote of the Board states it is safe to resume normal operations. The Library Director shall be required to document all decisions and provide weekly written reports to the Board of Directors for the duration of any period of severe health risk.
Services: Library services will be curtailed during stay at home orders. Library services will also be curtailed when local conditions prevent the Library staff from safely operating in the building (EG: a lack of protective equipment, insufficient staff available to run the building due to illness, etc.). Curtailing services may include physically closing all or part of the building, cancelling programs and events, and suspension of lending items from the physical collection. Partial curtailing of services may include limiting the number of people in the building, limiting the number of items circulated, or operating under reduced hours.
In the event that lending is suspended, fines will not accrue and patrons will be asked to keep their items until lending resumes. There will be a grace period of at least three weeks after lending resumes before fines resume on items that were checked out before lending was suspended.
In the event that services are completely curtailed, the Library will resume services using a phased approach. The Library Director shall present a written re-opening plan to the Board of Trustees that will be reviewed monthly during the period of severe health risk.
Remote work: If the city allows it, all Library staff will work remotely when Library services are curtailed due to a pandemic. Projects will be assigned to each employee. Employees will be required to report their hours of work using the Kronos mobile app, and will be additionally required to submit a weekly report to the Director summarizing their work activities. Failure to perform work tasks shall be grounds for disciplinary proceedings, up to and including dismissal. The decision on whether or not to offer remote work to city employees rests with the City Manager.
In the event that Library services are partially curtailed, staff will be given a combination of remote work assignments and regular work assignments.
In the event that the city elects to provide employees with paid administrative leave due to a pandemic, Library staff who are eligible may take leave. All staff will be provided with remote work to the extent possible to limit the use of paid leave.
Protective Equipment: During a period of severe health risk, it is vitally important that staff who will come into contact with one another and members of the public are given appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). During periods of severe health risk, all employees must wear a face mask while in close contact with other employees or while serving the public. Face masks will be provided by the Library. Employees unable to wear a face covering due to pre-existing health conditions must receive written permission from the Library Director to not wear one, and must be placed into a work space where contact with other employees or the public is limited through the use of other protective means (EX: plexiglass shielding). The Library Director may require employees to provide documentation of pre-existing conditions before granting permission to not wear a face mask.
The Library will strongly advise patrons to wear a mask. Face masks will be provided to patrons upon request.
In the event protective equipment is unavailable in enough quantity to provide masks to the staff and public, the Library will curtail services until equipment is available.
Screening: During a period of severe health risk, Library employees will be screened before entering the Library facility. The screening will be conducted by the Director or their designee. The screening shall consist of a brief questionnaire about recent health changes and may include a temperature check using a touchless thermometer. Employees displaying symptoms or registering a fever will be sent home and instructed to remain home until symptoms subside. When an employee is sent home, their workstation and surrounding areas will be thoroughly disinfected as a precaution.
Cleaning and Disinfecting: During a period of severe health risk, the Library will comply with CDC guidelines and disinfect high traffic areas every two hours with an effective cleaning product. In the event that a Library staff member or a member of the public who has visited the Library tests positive for a pandemic illness, the entire building will be thoroughly disinfected by the Department of Public Buildings and Grounds. If it is deemed necessary by the Library Director, the facility will be quarantined for a full 24 hours before staff or the public comes back in.
The Library may elect to place lending items into quarantine as part of the cleaning and disinfecting process. Items in quarantine may remain on a patron’s account after they have returned it. No fines will accrue when this occurs and items in quarantine will not count toward lending limits.
The procedures outlined in this document are subject to rapid change due to the nature of pandemic health crises. The Library Director is authorized during these periods to take steps outside the scope of this policy on an emergency basis. The board of trustees reserves the right to employ disciplinary proceedings in the event the Library Director misuses this discretionary authority. This policy will be reviewed and updated by the Board of Trustees as needed during periods of severe health risk.
Conditionally Approved by the Library Board of Trustees 5/21/2020.
This policy is subject to change.