Thursday, April 29th, 2021, 3p-4p via zoom webinar.

Register HERE

Standards and practices for workplace safety—and for the safety of those communities we serve—have dramatically changed due to COVID-19. To keep rates of infection low, minimize risks to ourselves and our visitors, and as scientific studies continually emerge to further elucidate the nature of the virus and how it is transmitted, these standards and practices have evolved over the course of the pandemic. 

This virtual event hosts two panelists: 

  • Michael Flanagan, Director, Massachusetts Department of Labor Standards, to present the current standards applicable to cultural institutions including libraries and museums; and 
  • Dr. Martin Z. Bazant, E. G. Roos (1944) Professor of Chemical Engineering / Digital Learning Officer / Professor of Mathematics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to present an interactive and publicly-available online tool that helps users self-assess air quality in their building spaces, and estimate the risks of airborne virus transmission.

In Massachusetts, as phases for “reopening” progress, there are important state-wide “generally applicable” standards to follow regarding social distancing, hygiene, operations/staffing, and cleaning. There are also sector-specific safety rules, issued by the Department of Labor Standards, developed in consultation with the Commissioner of the Department of Public Health, for “Libraries” and “Museums and Cultural and Historical Facilities and Guided Tours”. Director Flanagan will discuss the current “generally applicable” standards, as well as sector-specific information and provide resources for further information, with Q&A.

The detailed logistics and planning required for service changes largely rely on local decision-making. When considering potential service changes, it is important to collaborate locally, particularly with your local Board of Health. To estimate the potential risks of airborne transmission of multiple strains of the COVID-19 virus in your particular building spaces, Dr. Bazant will present an informational and highly customizable public tool based on his research into the subject, the “COVID-19 Indoor Safety Guideline“, now available in many languages.  Our brief session will focus on using and interpreting the tool; for brevity’s sake, this presentation will not focus in great detail about the underlying math, engineering, and medical research behind the models. For that information, please see Dr. Bazant’s faculty page and especially two recent YouTube Videos related to airborne transmission risks for in-person schooling: Part 1 and Part 2. (These videos are also embedded below.)

This event is organized by Coordinated Statewide Emergency Preparedness in Massachusetts (COSTEP MA) a volunteer group that brings together practitioners in cultural heritage sectors with emergency management professionals. The event will be moderated by COSTEP MA Board Members Ben Haavik, Team Leader, Property Care at Historic New England, and Evan Knight, Preservation Specialist at the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners. Additional support provided by Michelle Eberle and Kelly Jo Woodside with the Massachusetts Library System.


N.B. See below for recent videos with Dr. Bazant about his group’s research into airborne transmission of the virus and how that can impact assessments of air quality. The videos are in two parts, originally presented to inform discussions about in-person schooling safety.