Disaster Planning - Virus

Posted March 2, 2020 by Cyndi Sweet

Updating your current disaster plan?  What if you have to be closed for weeks?  Who are essential staff and what are essential functions? Can your staff work from home?

American Alliance of Museums Health in the Workplace Guidelines.

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2 Replies
UIowa response
Posted March 3, 2020 by Heidi K. Lung, PhD
UIowa has a website with links that is being updated regularly.
Another Resource
Posted March 4, 2020 by Heidi K. Lung, PhD
See the blog at Cuseum
Posted March 3, 2020 by Cyndi Sweet

Here is the response from the children’s museum world. Steps that would be prudent for every museum.


Rouleen Gartner, Executive Director

LaunchPAD Children’s Museum

0 Replies
Posted March 3, 2020 by Cyndi Sweet

Our museum is fairly small.  At this time we do not have an emergency plan and do not anticipate crafting one specifically for the current coronavirus.

Our museum is open to the general public during our once-a-month programs.  It is open by appointment at other times.  The only essential functions required at our museum is periodic checks to ensure appropriate climatic conditions.  Various members of our organization perform these checks.

When our members are not able to accommodate openings by appointment, we attempt to reschedule those viewings.  There are no tasks related to our museum for our members to accomplish at their home.

We have adequate hand washing facilities and supplies at our location.

If the coronovirus becomes a significant issue within our community, our plan is to close our facility to the public should there be a 10 percent or greater effect on the community.  We will reopen our facility when the effect drops below 5 percent.

 Thank you.

 Steve Livengood, President  ARISE

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Posted March 3, 2020 by Cyndi Sweet

If the museum needs to be closed to the public for two weeks: We’re a tiny staff.  The facilities manager will visit the site daily to make sure there are no structural/operational/physical plant issues.  I will get the mail, run payroll, etc. Most of our bills are paid online.

If the museum was closed for a period of time, could your staff work from home or how would your museum handle this?  All our full-time staff have laptops, and all have internet connectivity at their respective homes.  We can continue to conduct most business remotely.  We were nomadic for almost three years, so we’re quite ready to do it again.

How are you mitigating the spread of germs while open? Our facilities manager is purchasing antiseptic wipes and sprays.  These will be used in public areas, and we’ll be judicious in using them anywhere near the exhibits.  We might purchase masks and gloves for staff, but if it comes to that, we’ll simply close until the pandemic has abated.

See two attachments from Iowa Department of Health.

0 Replies
Posted March 3, 2020 by Cyndi Sweet

No, we are not updating our plan based on the coronavirus (or other possible health threats). Because I work with public groups of all ages and possible levels of immunity, I always make sure I have a current flu shot, and in the rare event that I am ill I stay home. 

Essential functions that I would still need to perform during closure would be administrative (phone, email, bills, etc.).

If we were to be closed for any amount of time I would be able to work from home. 

 Mitigating the spread of germs is a constant common sense effort through regular cleaning of public spaces, not just during cold/flu/corona season. 

Michelle Roseburrough, Administrator

Historical Society of Marshall County

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Posted March 3, 2020 by Cyndi Sweet

If the museum needs to close for any length of time, only the director will come in on M-F for 2 hours a day to take care of business items. The doors will remained locked. It is not possible to do this work from home.

 A bottle of hand sanitizer has always been on the counter for the public, near the cash register/check out and another outside the bathroom area. We will add a bottle to each bathroom at the beginning of this season. Surfaces (doorknobs, light switches, toilets including handles, sink handles, cash register keys and phones have been wiped down daily with disinfecting wipes.

Barb Olson, Director

Laura Ingalls Wilder Park & Museum

0 Replies
Posted March 4, 2020 by Cyndi Sweet
The Family Museum has a strict cleaning regimen that we follow regularly.  We are following advice from the Iowa Department of Public Health and Scott County Health Departments. 

Kim Kidwell, Family Museum Director
0 Replies
Posted March 5, 2020 by Cyndi Sweet

It is important to note at this time, the risk to Iowans remains low, however it is certainly a good practice to begin thinking of the “what-if” scenario on almost any normal day to day function.

From the beginning, a great start is to develop a business emergency plan. The business (or government in this case) emergency plan covers response actions that are pre-determined based on policy/best-practice development prior to an incident. The plan can help turn what would be “emergencies” into minor inconveniences. If needed, I can provide you resources to begin that process and develop general guidelines to how you will respond to emergencies. From a generality standpoint, we typically encourage organizations to build plans on principles, not on incidents. Those principles can then be broadly applied to whatever situation you might encounter. Every county in Iowa has an emergency manager and many would be happy to help support plan development.

 A Business Continuity Plan can help develop solutions to how the doors will stay open and how essential functions will be managed.

Both of these planning methods are multiple step processes that involve a wide participant base to create a well-rounded, diverse plan. While some of these plans have been created when faced with challenges, it is typically more productive, collaborative and beneficial when an appropriate amount of time has been invested in its creation, without external pressures.

The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) has released general guidance for businesses, that applies similarly to government functions. You can find it here: https://idph.iowa.gov/Portals/1/userfiles/7/Business%20Guidance.pdf.   You can also find general Coronavirus information from IDPH here: https://idph.iowa.gov/Emerging-Health-Issues/Novel-Coronavirus.

 Here is some more specific response to the questions below. *Considerations are provided as an example and are not all-inclusive.

If your museum needs to be closed to the public for two weeks, what are the essential functions of the museum that would still have to be performed and who are the essential staff? 

Great question, some things to consider are; Can your museum financially handle not being open for two weeks? Are there state code requirements involved, in which exemptions would need to be granted? Are there maintenance and upkeep requirements for the materials within museums? Is there adequate staffing (including backup staff) to support operations, should the primary staff become ill?

If the museum was closed for a period of time, could your staff work from home or how would your museum handle this?

This is an internal policy decision. Some things to consider are lasting economic impact; if employee A is off work for 1 month, unpaid, what effects does that have on the employee/employee household? The community? Are there alternate functions that an employee could do from home? For example, archiving paper documents or other task?

How are you mitigating the spread of germs while open?

I will leave this to Dallas County Health Department to add any additional information, however I suspect there will be a recommendation to follow the business guidance as listed in the link above.

Perform routine environmental cleaning:

• Routinely clean all frequently touched surfaces in the workplace, such as workstations, countertops, and doorknobs. Use the cleaning

agents that are usually used in these areas and follow the directions on the label.

• No additional disinfection beyond routine cleaning is recommended at this time.

• Provide disposable wipes so that commonly used surfaces (for example, doorknobs, keyboards, remote controls, desks) can be wiped

down by employees before each use.

Emphasize staying home when sick, respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene by all employees:

• Place posters that encourage staying home when sick, cough and sneeze etiquette, and hand hygiene at the entrance to your workplace

and in other workplace areas where they are likely to be seen.

• Provide tissues and no-touch disposal receptacles for use by employees.

• Instruct employees to clean their hands often with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60-95% alcohol, or wash their

hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Soap and water should be used preferentially if hands are visibly dirty.

• Provide soap and water and alcohol-based hand rubs in the workplace. Ensure that adequate supplies are maintained. Place hand rubs in

multiple locations or in conference rooms to encourage hand hygiene.

• Visit the coughing and sneezing etiquette and clean hands webpage for more information.

AJ Seely, IA-CEM, Coordinator, Dallas County Emergency Management Agency

0 Replies
Posted March 6, 2020 by Cyndi Sweet
Patricia LaBounty, Union Pacific Railroad Museum, shared the Museum of Science Pandemic Response Policy which she found extremely comprehensive.
Museum of Science - Pandemic Response Policy.pdf Boston Museum of Science Pandemic Response Policy
0 Replies
Posted March 13, 2020 by Casie Vance

We have developed the attached Action Plan for handling COVID-19.

Casie Vance
Executive Director, Ames History Museum

0 Replies

Disaster Planning - Advance Preparation

Disaster may come via wind, fire, flood, broken pipes, or even locusts, but almost always includes water in some form.  Basic preparation demands an emergency plan,  collections catalog backup off site, and advance meetings with local first responders.   If possible, equip your vehicle's trunk for quick response by carrying the museum's disaster response plan, list of contact phone numbers, and basic equipment:  head lamp, gloves, heavy boots, camera, face mask.

Photo courtesy of the Cedar Falls Historical Society.  The Ice House Museum, Cedar River flood of 2008.

Advance Preparation Resources:
A variety of resources are available from FAIC:

The Foundation for Advancement in Conservation (FAIC) offers free emergency response assistance to cultural organizations affected by the flooding:
•    The National Heritage Responders, a team of trained conservators and collections care professionals, are available to provide free advice on the phone via a 24-hour hotline at 202.661.8068
•    The National Heritage Responders are also available to conduct free on-site assessments and provide guidance on salvage. Call the hotline (202.661.8068) to request assistance
Collecting institutions in the path of the floodwaters are encouraged to do all they can to prepare. Additional resources and information on disaster recovery and salvage can be found on the AIC and FAIC website at www.culturalheritage.org/resources/emergencies

The Field Guide to Emergency Response: A vital tool for cultural institutions . This spiral bound handbook explains initial steps to take, essential response functions, and conditions you are likely to encounter. Available for purchase here.

Midwest Early Recovery Fund - The mission of Center for Disaster Philanthropy’s Midwest Early Recovery Fund (Fund) is to provide communities affected by low-attention disasters valuable recovery resources through a timely, consistent, and replicable grantmaking process.  For more information on the fund, please contact:
Nancy Beers , Director, Midwest Early Recovery Fund. (507) 990-5307 or email: nancy.beers@disasterphilanthropy.org

Preservation Iowa

The Minnesota Historical Society has posted emergency salvage procedures.

The Iowa Conservation and Preservation Consortium has tip sheets available and provides the "Iowa Museums, Archives, and Libraries Emergency Response Team" (IMALERT) which provides a hotline service (IMALERT Hotline 319-384-3673 or e-mail: iowa.conserveandpreserve@gmail.com) to cultural institutions experiencing an emergency or disaster. The IMALERT Hotline can connect staff with the information and expertise needed to respond to, and recover from any level of incident from a leaking pipe to a major flood.  IMALERT will coordinate with first responders, state and local agencies, and vendors to provide disaster assistance to affected institutions and their collections. Through the team’s vast experience in conservation, preservation and emergency response and recovery, help is available to:

- assess damage to collection materials
- make recommendations for recovery
- assist with decision making on drying out buildings
- demonstrate salvage techniques and/or help organize the initial salvage operation

IIMALERT is an initiative of the Iowa Conservation and Preservation Consortium 

American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works has a 24 hours hotline at 202.661.8068 for free advice by phone.

Regional Alliance for Preservation is available at 1-800-843-8492