Library's mask policy protects visitors
Heights Libraries and its Board of Trustees, along with the Cuyahoga County Public Library System, the Cleveland Public Library System, and Shaker Heights Public Library, recently reinstated a face-mask requirement for all visitors over the age of 2. The decision was made for the following reasons:
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a statement that the Delta variant of COVID-19 is prevalent in all 50 states;
- According to the CDC COVID Data Tracker, Cuyahoga County has a substantial rate of COVID transmission, and county cases have increased by 23.84% in the last seven days (as of Aug. 23);
- The CDC has been recommending that people who have not received a COVID vaccine wear a mask at all times; it is now also recommending, in areas of “substantial” or high risk of transmission, that even fully vaccinated people wear a mask indoors. This includes people older than 2.
- Children under the age of 12 cannot yet receive the vaccine. Masking in the library helps keep young visitors safe.
On Aug. 18, a group of five women, along with their children, entered the Lee Road Library without face masks, and refused the masks that library staff offered them. They refused to leave the building, and refused to be served curbside. Staff explained the mask policy and offered curbside services several times, but ultimately had to call the police for assistance when the group began arguing loudly with staff. The group eventually left after also arguing with a police officer.
None of the staff involved in the incident wants to wear masks again; nor do library customers. But they do it to keep themselves and others as safe as possible during this recent surge of the virus. Heights Libraries is grateful to those who wear masks, and appreciates the compassion and care they show by doing so.
Schools and public libraries have the authority to set their own policies about all kinds of things: prohibiting firearms in buildings, requiring that customers wear shoes, and, now, requiring that face masks be worn during pandemics, despite the fact that Ohio has no statewide mask mandate.
In 2020, Heights Libraries checked with the Cuyahoga County prosecutor's office (its legal representative) and confirmed its mask policy was legal.
Customers are welcome in Heights Libraries' four buildings, to use computers and study rooms, browse, relax, read, and enjoy the children's play areas.
Customers who cannot, or do not wish to, wear masks may call their favorite branch for curbside pickup, sign up for mail delivery of materials, and e-mail documents to staff for printing.
Sheryl Banks is the communications manager for the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library System.