COVID-19 Update: Schools, working remotely, and cybersecurity

April 17, 2020

April 17, 2:37 p.m. -- email message to staff, faculty, and councils

Today the Governor announced that schools will not meet face-to-face for the remainder of this school year. Schools have developed plans for continuous learning.  

In mid-March when schools were first closed, parents wanted activities to keep their kids engaged and learning, and 4-H@Home stepped up to fill the need. (You can check for weekly updates on 4-H@Home programming.) We will continue to find ways to engage with youth virtually, but our role has changed somewhat as students will now have assigned schoolwork. We need to think about how to compliment what schools are doing and expecting of students and parents.

We also have resources to help parents who will have kids at home and may or may not be working from home as well. Human Sciences Extension and Outreach has resources to help parents positively promote the overall development of their children of all ages.

Working remotely

Many of our staff and faculty who are working remotely are parents with kids at home. The challenges and stress that we talk about for our clients also apply to us. It is important that we all recognize that these are not normal times. The health and safety of our employees is our highest priority, and that also applies to mental health and work-life balance. We ask supervisors to be flexible on work hours and assignments, particularly with employees who have children at home. Check in regularly with all your employees to see how they are doing.

We don’t know how long we will be working remotely, but it looks like it will be for a while longer. We will follow the lead of Iowa Department of Public Health and the Governor about when and how we begin to reopen. Working remotely and social distancing have changed our productivity. Goals that we had in February are likely no longer priorities today. We will continue to do the best we can to continue educating and engaging Iowans, and we look forward to helping Iowa reopen and recover.

Your efforts are among those President Wintersteen was referring to in her letter today. As we end ISU Extension and Outreach Week, thank you for everything you do to always serve Iowans.


Iowa State University and Des Moines Area Community College are partners in the Iowa Cyber Hub. They are developing videos to teach better cybersecurity. While one of their goals is to interest more youth into cybersecurity as a career path to fill the growing demand for these specialists, a second goal is to have all people be more cyber aware.

They’ve produced a video series, “Working from Home Cybersecurity,” which covers how working from home impacts security, ways attackers target and scam victims, and quick tips to ensure information. If interested, fill out the form on, then check your email for information on accessing the videos.

Following cybersecurity measures protects not only our own personal information, but also helps protect businesses, because employees have better habits and are less vulnerable. I think of it as handwashing, mask-wearing and social distancing for our digital health.

John D. Lawrence
Vice President for Extension and Outreach