I have been and continue to be heavily involved in Iowa State’s COVID-19 response on campus. I am part of the daily discussions about our case numbers and how and where COVID-19 spread is occurring. I fully support Governor Reynolds’ November 10 proclamation, which imposes a number of additional public health measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Iowa. Please review the following key points regarding how these guidelines impact ISU Extension and Outreach events.
- Extension events are considered social and community gatherings.
- Face coverings are required for indoor gatherings of 25 or more people.
- For gatherings of more than 10 people, continue to ensure that social distancing and hygiene practices are followed. (The November 10 proclamation overrides guidance already posted on Open for Iowa for gatherings of more than 10 people.)
- For gatherings of fewer than 10 people, follow Open for Iowa guidance on gatherings.
- The proclamation encourages all Iowans age 2 or older “to wear a mask or other face covering when in public settings, especially in circumstances when it is not possible to remain six feet away from others outside their household, unless it is unsafe to do so because of health or disability.”
- The proclamation encourages Iowans to avoid events that don’t follow social distancing and mask recommendations. These events are high risk.
Recommendations for councils
- In keeping with the governor’s proclamation, I encourage councils to adopt and implement a face covering policy to protect the safety and health of employees, volunteers, council members, program participants, and community members. The Iowa Extension Council Association has a policy template available on their Infection Control Policy Resources webpage.
- The governor’s proclamation encourages employers to evaluate the feasibility of employees working remotely. Extension professionals are on the front line of the pandemic and their safety is a priority. I encourage councils to assess how working remotely impacted your staff and stakeholders in the spring and consider it as an option during this time of rapid COVID spread. (ISU employees who would like to revisit working remotely should review the guidance on the University HR website, including flexible workplace family guidance and employee alternative work arrangements.)
- As policies and local situations change, be sure to communicate county office status to program specialists and others serving your county (closed to the public, working remotely, office is open, etc.).
Please follow the Cyclones Care practices of face coverings, physical distancing, handwashing, and staying home if you are sick to stop the spread of COVID-19. When we ignore these practices, the virus spreads rapidly.
Iowa State went from 16 positive cases the week of October 12 to 344 cases the week of November 2. (See today’s message from President Wintersteen.) COVID-19 is spreading rapidly, but not in classrooms where face coverings are worn. We know from contact tracing that spread is occurring among students at social gatherings where they are in close contact and not wearing face coverings.
Winter is coming and we are going to be meeting indoors for the next several months. I support the use of face coverings as a best practice for any size group in ISU Extension and Outreach.
The Open for Iowa committee has prepared an FAQ with more information.
John D. Lawrence
Vice President for Extension and Outreach