Last Saturday, St. Charles mother Alyse Daccardo took her five children to the St. Charles Public Library for what she had hoped would be a fun day for her family.
With Daccardo were her 1-year-old twins, 7-year-old-twins and her 5-year-old. While Daccardo and her 5-year-old were wearing masks, her 7-year-old twins were wearing face shields.
The library follows the state’s mask mandate, which requires those over the age of 2 wear facial coverings in indoor public settings, regardless of COVID vaccination status. Gov. JB Pritzker reinstated the mask mandate last August in the face of a growing surge of COVID-19 cases.
Soon after arriving at the library, she was told they needed to wear masks to use the library.
“My kids start to play, they’re picking out books and I was immediately approached by one of the employees who said, ‘Your kids need to wear masks.’ And then I said, well, I have a doctor’s note for both of them, they have a medical condition and I have them in the shields. And she said, it doesn’t matter, they have to wear masks.”
According to Daccardo, she was told her kids would have to leave if they would not wear masks. She was also told she could use the library’s drive-up window to check out materials.
They were then escorted out of the building, she said.
“I walked out in tears with my kids,” Daccardo said.
The St. Charles Library Board will discuss the enforcement of the library’s policies as part of a virtual meeting at 5 p.m. Saturday. The St. Charles Public Library remains closed for in-person visits in the face of threats allegedly made to library staff regarding the library’s mask policy.
“This has to do with heightened threats to the library in regards to health and safety,” St. Charles Library Director Edith Craig said on Friday. “The library has been receiving threatening emails and phone calls. We are trying to work with the St. Charles Police Department on safety measures to be able to put in place before we open our doors again.”
Daccardo said she is sorry if the library has been receiving threats.
“If they’re getting threats from other people, I feel terrible that’s happening to them,” she said.
After Daccardo and her family were escorted from the library, she emailed Craig about what had happened.
“I think you need to reevaluate your policies for children that truly have a medical reason to wear a shield,” she said in the email. “It’s not OK to exclude them from enjoying the library like everyone else.”
In her reply, Craig said the library tries to make the best decisions for the community, including its patrons and staff.
“Taking into account our community risk level and other factors, we feel that this is the best decision to help mitigate the spread,” Craig stated in her reply. “The ADA allows organizations to make reasonable accommodations for services. In this case, if patrons are unable to wear masks, we invite our patrons to visit our online site to browse our materials and place holds on items for pickup at the drive-up window. We also offer many programs virtually, both live and recorded, so patrons can continue to gather virtually and learn about new things. The good news is that this is a temporary measure and we hope to go back to in-person programs soon. As restrictions ease, we are constantly reviewing our policies and procedures because we all want to be able to go back to some semblance of normality.”
On Tuesday, Daccardo took part in a maskless protest at the library with three of her children. She joined the protest after after watching a video of it posted to social media.
Then on Thursday, she dropped off books in the library without a mask on. After she didn’t comply, Daccardo said Craig gave her a letter stating she was banned from the library for 90 days for violating the library’s patron code of conduct and violating the library’s mask and video recording policies during her visits to the library on Tuesday and Thursday.
She recorded videos at the library while at the library that were later posted to social media.
“We asked you to leave on both occasions and refused, prompting phone calls to our local police department,” Craig said in the letter.
Pam Salomone, the library’s communications and marketing manager, said in the last couple of months, the library has experienced “heightened incidents” almost on a daily basis regarding the mask mandate and people not adhering to it.
“It’s unfortunate that this is what’s happening right now,” Salomone said. “We are just trying to keep our staff and patrons safe and provide service as we can.”
Saturday’s meeting will take place on a RingCentral platform. Those who want to join the meeting should send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org in order to receive a link to the meeting.
Comments can be sent to the board via email to email@example.com. Those leaving comments should include their name, address and telephone number. The comments will be read at the meeting.