COVID Guidance for Local Historical Societies
May 15, 2020
Please note that this is provided for informational purposes only. While an effort will be made to update as applicable due to changes in state guidelines or mandates, we encourage you to visit https://accd.vermont.gov/covid-19 for latest information from the state government, and to be aware of any additional requirements or guidelines from your local municipality.
At this time, the Vermont Historical Society’s Museum in Montpelier and the Vermont State Historic Sites plan to open to the public on July 1 (with limitations). In addition, VHS will not resume any in-person programs until September at the earliest.
We understand the uncertainty and need for guidance for many smaller organizations in the state around resuming operations, reopening to the public, and hosting events or programs. While the decision on if, when, and how to reopen must be an individual decision at the organization level, below are some resources and guidelines that may help you in making those decisions.
Current Applicable Guidelines/Mandates
Vermont is currently under a “Work Safe” mandate, including mandatory health and safety requirements. View current requirements here: https://accd.vermont.gov/news/update-new-work-safe-additions-stay-home-stay-safe-order
- Overall health & safety of staff, volunteers, and patrons
- Changes or restrictions needed in your physical spaces to allow for safe staff/volunteer and/or public access.
- Communications within the organization and with patrons
- Continuing your mission
- Preservation of Collections
- Impacts on resources and funding
Questions to Ask About Reopening
- Who is involved in the decision-making process, and how are decisions being made?
- Can you safely, effectively, and within your available resources follow the mandated guidelines established by the state to be able to have staff and/or volunteers in your building(s)? or to be able to be open to the public? This may include but is not limited to:
- Restricted access for symptomatic or ill staff and patrons
- Physical distancing within office or collections spaces
- Physical distancing within public spaces, especially exhibit spaces
- Limitations on the number of people allowed in a space at one time
- Training for staff & volunteers
- Robust sanitation and cleaning protocols
- Availability of health, safety, & cleaning supplies
- Can you safely, effectively, and within your available resources follow any recommended guidelines established by the state and/or professional organizations as above?
- What modifications can you make to physical spaces, programs, or fundraising initiatives to make them safer and more accessible at this time?
- What is the general risk level to the virus for your staff/volunteers and patrons? How might that impact your reopening plans?
- What mission-based activities can be accomplished virtually and/or in a digital format, rather than in-person? What activities are unable to be completed digitally?
- How can you best plan on a short, medium, and long-term basis to be able to take into account changes in guidelines and the impact of the virus?
Resources Specifically for Museums & Collections
- Resources from the American Association for State & Local History, including sample reopening plans and webinars: https://aaslh.org/covid19/
- Resources from the American Alliance of Museums on preparing to Reopen: https://www.aam-us.org/programs/about-museums/preparing-to-reopen/
- Reopening Considerations-Oklahoma Museums Association https://nysmuseums.org/resources/Documents/Museum_Open_to_the_Public_Considerations_Final.pdf
- Collections Care & Conservation Resources: https://www.culturalheritage.org/resources/emergencies/collections-care-amid-covid-19
- NEMA Town Hall Discussion on Reopening Museums: https://youtu.be/Y0UykeQBc84
- Vermont Arts Council Q&A with State Epidemiologist: https://www.vermontartscouncil.org/covid-19/creative-sector-response-recovery/dr-kelso-1