September 2, 2021
To: All Pennsylvania Public Libraries
From: Office of Commonwealth Libraries
On August 31, Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam signed an Order requiring masks to be worn inside school buildings, early learning programs, and child care settings. The order takes effect Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021.
The Order defines “School Entity” by listing those entities that the Order impacts. Public Libraries are not included in that definition and may make their own decisions in alignment with local regulations on policy and enforcement of masking and facial covering in library facilities. Note the Order does not apply to outdoor activities.
Access more information on this Order, including answers to frequently asked questions.
Please be aware the pandemic is much different now than it was just a month ago and last year. The new Delta variant is highly transmissible and particularly dangerous to unvaccinated individuals, many of whom are children too young to receive the vaccine.
While libraries are not subject to the Order, the Pennsylvania Department of Health recommends all entities serving children/students and families follow current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 guidance, including CDC masking guidance.
The Office of Commonwealth Libraries also suggests libraries consider the following information when deciding mitigation strategies for their facilities:
- Research supporting the efficacy of masks.
- CDC Guidance on child care/education for youth and in-person programs
- Local circumstances such as:
- Community transmission, capacity, and vaccination rates;
- User proximity in library spaces, programs, and services;
- Ability to implement other mitigation efforts in library facilities (i.e., healthy hygiene practices, physical distancing, indoor ventilation); and
- User climate and cooperation.
We appreciate your ongoing efforts to continue serving communities and keeping students and families safe during this difficult time.