Governor Reynolds issued a proclamation on November 16 that imposes additional public health measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Iowa. The proclamation took effect at 12:01 a.m. on November 17 and will continue until 11:59 p.m. on December 10. It overrides guidance already posted on Open for Iowa. Here is a summary of the key points regarding how the governor’s proclamation impacts ISU Extension and Outreach.
Programs and events
- Extension indoor programs and events are limited to 15 people.
- Extension outdoor programs and events are limited to 30 people.
- These limits apply to all extension-related activities, including activities of 4-H clubs and volunteers, Master Gardeners, and other extension volunteers.
Face coverings are required when people are indoors (including all campus and county extension offices) and unable to social distance. Exceptions to this requirement are:
- An individual who has a medical condition or disability that prevents wearing a face covering.
- An individual who is working alone or in a space where six feet of physical distance from others can be maintained or is otherwise able to avoid prolonged contact with others.
- An individual who is eating or drinking.
As I shared in a letter last week, I see evidence on campus every day of the effectiveness of cloth face coverings. Therefore, I am taking this opportunity to implement a mask mandate for ISU Extension and Outreach. The mandate has been in place for ISU employees since July 1 and we have strongly encouraged face coverings at all extension events. Following Governor Reynolds’ guidance, I am extending the ISU mask mandate to county offices and in-person meetings led by ISU Extension and Outreach. The mandate is in effect until close of business December 11 and will be reevaluated and possibly extended at that time.
- Following ISU Face Covering Policy, instructors may use a face shield instead of a cloth face covering while presenting, as long as they are able to maintain 8 feet of physical distance between themselves and students during the entire instructional period.
- All staff are expected to comply with the ISU Extension and Outreach mask mandate unless their council votes to not follow it, in which case they must still follow the governor’s proclamation.
- Face coverings and physical distancing should not be a source of conflict in our offices or meetings. Creating positive reinforcement and providing education regarding wearing face coverings are the best methods to encourage compliance. Individuals may have approved reasons for not wearing a face covering or may simply need a kind reminder of our shared responsibility to help mitigate the risk of COVID-19.
As Iowa’s COVID-19 situation changes, we will continue to monitor how the pandemic is impacting our organization and how we can best implement the guidelines from the governor. For the health and safety of everyone, please continue to follow the Cyclones Care practices of face coverings, physical distancing, handwashing, and staying home if you are sick. We all must do our part to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Additional paid holidays for state employees
Governor Reynolds announced that state employees will be receiving two additional paid holidays as a show of appreciation for their response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the derecho. Iowa State has decided to designate Monday, November 30, and Tuesday, December 1, as these university holidays. (See President Wintersteen’s message regarding the additional paid holidays.) Typically, county office policy recognizes university holidays and I encourage councils to follow the governor’s lead.
I encourage you to plan ahead regarding services that may be needed in your campus unit or county office on those days, as well as any neccessary messaging (e.g., website, voicemail, signage, etc.), so employees, clients, and partners are aware of the changes.
Let me add my appreciation to all that you have done this year to continue to serve Iowans. Please take this additional time to refresh and recharge. The pandemic is not over and the stress of health concerns and ongoing uncertainty about schedules, guidance, and plans will continue well into the spring. Take care of yourself and your family and watch after your coworkers and clients. These are challenging times for us all and we will endure, together.
One more note: The dates have been changed for two area-wide meetings. The Northwest meeting will be held December 7. The Southwest meeting will be held December 11.
John D. Lawrence
Vice President for Extension and Outreach