Austin Leaders Lay Out Plan For Reopening Libraries, Pools And Other Services Next Month

May 29, 2020

The City of Austin will begin reopening libraries, pools and other services that have been shuttered during stay-at-home orders due to the pandemic. Starting next week, the city said, it will try to strike a balance between offering services as the state reopens and lingering health concerns due to the coronavirus. 

“The safety of our employees and the community that we serve is always in our minds,” Deputy City Manager Nuria Rivera-Vandermyde said. “So, we will be evaluating our plans every 28 days with the data and the work environments and the consultation of our public health authorities.” 

She said the city is doing what it can to make the work environment safe, like expanding telework opportunities when possible and adding barriers to promote social distancing for returning employees.

Austinites will be able to check out books once again with a new curbside program starting June 8. Users can reserve books online and pick them up when they're ready. Curbside will be available initially at 10 library locations: Central, Menchaca, Ruiz, Southeast, Carver, Windsor Park, University Hills, North Village, Spicewood Springs, and Millwood.

Patrons can return checked-out materials in book drops at all locations starting Monday. 
“We have over 200,000 items that are out right now,” Austin Public Library Director Roosevelt Weeks said. “Go ahead and start bringing those books back on June the 1st, and at that time, they can quarantine those items for 72 hours.” 

Some Austin pools will open at some point in June – though which pools is dependent on lifeguard staffing and whether a facility is ready for visitors. The city is training lifeguards online as much as possible and limiting group sizes for in-person skills tests and drills. 

“Lifeguarding is a very hands-on activity,” Kimberly McNeeley, the director of Parks and Recreation, said. “We’re making sure that we’re very measured and we’re very careful how we’re operating our lifeguarding classes to ensure employee safety and the safety of the community. So, we’re working to certify more lifeguards, but it’s going to take some time.”

The city’s swim lesson program is being assessed. Splash pads, like playground equipment, will remain closed for now.

The Austin Animal Shelter is looking to restart visits to promote pet adoptions. It has been doing curbside adoptions for some time, but will soon expand to adoptions inside the facility. Those interested can schedule an appointment as soon as Monday.

The Code Department will reopen its in-person cashier service Monday. The department will begin in-person licensure services on June 15.

This story has been updated.

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