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Framework for Reopening Public Libraries

Issued May 15, 2020; revised June 5, 2020

Consistent with Governor Tom Wolf's process to reopen the commonwealth, the Pennsylvania Department of Education's Office of Commonwealth Libraries directs public libraries to develop plans to reopen local public library facilities that are based upon the three-phase matrix listed below. When developing plans, libraries are encouraged to work cooperatively to ensure safe and consistent policies and practices within their county.

Pennsylvania plans to proceed with returning to work cautiously. Broad reopenings or reopenings that are not structured around ongoing social distancing, universal masking, or other public health guidance, could result in a spike of cases and new stay-at-home and closure orders. Therefore, libraries, like all other organizations and businesses, will follow a phased-in process that begins with limited services and moves toward full operation over time.

The administration has categorized reopening into three broad phases: red, yellow, or green. These designations signal how counties and/or regions may begin easing some restrictions on work, congregate settings, and social interactions:

  • The Red Phase has the sole purpose of minimizing the spread of COVID-19 through strict social distancing, closures of non-life sustaining businesses and schools, and building safety protocols.
  • As regions or counties move into the Yellow Phase, some restrictions on work and social interactions will ease while others, such as limitations around large gatherings, remain in place.
  • The Green Phase eases most restrictions by lifting the stay-at-home and business closure orders to allow the economy to strategically reopen while continuing to prioritize public health.

Phases are assigned based on conditions in a county, counties, or region. Phases are assigned by the commonwealth.

Any library that advances to a new phase before being designated as such by the commonwealth risks placing their community and operations (including certificates of occupancy and insurance status) at risk.​