Closed until further notice, two Cass District Library branches temporarily shut doors

CASS COUNTY — By Tuesday afternoon, the parking lot at the Cass District Library’s Howard Branch sat empty. The building closed with its main lights off. On the door, signs reading “masks required for entry,” and another with symptoms and guidelines on staying home if you feel sick were joined by a new sign. Above the existing precautions, a new sign read in bold letters “closed until further notice.”

Just less than a month ago, on June 22, the Cass District Library branches opened to provide limited services at each of its four library branches. Patrons were allowed back inside the facilities to peruse the stacks and use its computers. Occupancy of the buildings was limited to 25 percent. Patrons have been required to wear masks and not enter if they have any symptoms of an infectious disease. The guidelines for social distancing have also been in place, with 6 feet recommended between patrons and computer terminals spread out.

Despite taking these precautious measures, on Tuesday the Cass District Library announced the temporary closure of the Howard Branch, 2341 Yankee St., Niles, and Edwardsburg Branch, 26745 Church St., Edwardsburg. The announcement came on social media, with a red and white “CLOSED” sign on the Cass District Library page.

The original post on Facebook stated the two branches would be closed “due to a staff member being exposed to a positive COVID-19 case.”

In a statement following on Wednesday morning, Cass District Library director Barbara Gordon said the two branches closed “out of the abundance of caution due to a potential COVID-19 exposure.”

According to Gordon, the closure is in keeping with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Van Buren/Cass District Health Department.

“This will continue to be the response and course of action should another possible exposure occur,” Gordon said.

There was no timeline for reopening the closed Howard and Edwardsburg Branches at this time.

“Closed branches will reopen when appropriate to do so,” Gordon said. “Additionally, these facilities will be thoroughly sanitized before reopening.”

Since the Cass District Library began reopening its branches after COVID-19 mandates shut them to the public in March, the facilities have been following cleaning, social distancing and mask protocols, Gordon said. The service desks have had large, plastic sneeze guards installed.

The Cass District Library has a Reopening Plan published on its website that its board has approved.

“As a public place, the library is committed to regular cleaning and sanitizing of locations in an effort to protect staff, patrons and ensure the ongoing health of the community,” Gordon said.

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