Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

NCLS Reopening Guide: REOPENING


December 2021 Update

As transmission rates in our service area remain high (and in some cases, climb), you may be wondering what this means for your library. NCLS recommends that our libraries take all reasonable precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to follow the policies and procedures your board has put into place to protect the staff and the community. It's unlikely that we will see the return of state-level mandates; your best bet is to contact your local public health service for guidance.

Board Meetings: Effective September 1, 2021, the NYS legislature voted to suspend (or amend) portions of the Open Meetings Law until January 15, 2022.

Boards may decide to;
a) hold fully open public meetings or,
b) hold in person meetings for the board and staff and broadcast the meeting, tape it, and transcribe it and not allow the public into the meeting or,
c) hold remote meetings where the board and staff are all remote and broadcast the meeting, tape it, and transcribe it.

You will want to check with legal counsel if you have specific questions about how to implement these changes. Be on the lookout for any updates as we get closer to the January 15 deadline.

Open Hours/Curbside: Throughout 2021, the State Library's definition of “hours open” for compliance with NYS minimum standards during the pandemic included curbside and/or lobby service hours. Effective January 1, 2022, only in-building hours will be accepted for the purposes of minimum standards compliance.

Covid-19 Vaccine

Vaccines are now widely available. Click HERE to learn more about the Covid-19 vaccine, eligibility and how to schedule an appointment with a local provider.

Sick Leave for Covid-19

The NYS Sick Leave Act and Sick Leave for Covid19 Act require employers to grant sick leave time (and in some cases compensation) to their employees.  The amount of time and pay depends on the organizations size and budget.  Information about the requirements are provided in the links below.

*Because every library's situation is different, it is recommended that you contact an attorney if you need clarification on a specific sick leave case.

NYS Sick Leave

Paid Sick Leave for Covid19

Ask The Lawyer: COVID-19


Does a mask policy violate the ADA? What should you do if an employee tests positive for COVID-19? How should the library respond to symptomatic patrons? Ask the Lawyer addresses these questions and more.

Recent legal guidance for NYS libraries regarding COVID-19 related topics. Ask The Lawyer is provided by WNYLRC.

Required Pandemic Policies

Model Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Plan Template From NYS Department of Labor: "The purpose of this plan is to protect employees against exposure and disease during an airborne infectious disease outbreak. This plan goes into effect when an airborne infectious disease is designated by the New York State Commissioner of Health as a highly contagious communicable disease that presents a serious risk of harm to the public health. This plan is subject to any additional or greater requirements arising from a declaration of a state of emergency due to an airborne infectious disease, as well as any applicable federal standards." For association libraries.

NYS Public Employer Health Emergency Planning Template. (See attached document below.) Template for the required pandemic operations plan for NYS. Required for municipal and district libraries.

New York State Reopening


How will we know what the state requires to reopen?

As per the NYS Business Reopening Lookup, both public and association libraries are allowed to open with restrictions. As these restrictions may change, please use NIACS code 519120 to look up the most recent information.


NY Forward Business Reopening Safety Template (Important: Each re-opening business must develop a written Safety Plan outlining how its workplace will prevent the spread of COVID-19. You cannot legally reopen with completing this.)
Interim Guidance for Curbside and In-Store Pickup


Library Reopening in Stages


NCLS recommends reopening in stages to mitigate potential health risks due to COVID-19. Below is a sample timeline of a staged reopening plan that considers the safety of both staff, patrons, and the community at large. Visit our website for past guidance regarding COVID-19.