Open for Iowa

The content on this page will be updated as new information is released. Please check back often.

The ISU Extension and Outreach mask mandate continues through March 31, 2021. Attendance limits for gatherings end January 25. 

ISU Extension and Outreach recognizes that counties across the state are dealing with a range of situations regarding safe conditions for reopening. Opening and closing offices in response to pandemic conditions are decisions best made at the county level in accordance with the most current federal, state, local, and university COVID-19 guidelines. All guidance is meant to aid staff and council members as they engage in decision-making and training at the local level.

Plymouth County Office Entry TableHave a plan for

- opening/closing your office
- providing in-person education
- communicating with staff and stakeholders when your office needs to close

January 7, 2021

Gov. Reynolds signed a new Public Health Disaster proclamation on January 7, 2021 that modifies existing public health measures designed to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The proclamation continues to require that when people are in an indoor public space, and unable to social distance for 15 minutes or longer, masks are required to be worn. These public health measures have been extended until Saturday, February 6, 2021.  

January 19, 2021

ISU Extension and Outreach COVID-19 Update from the Office of the Vice President, Dr. John Lawrence clarifies the face covering mandate in different settings for ISU Extension and Outreach.   

November 17, 2020

face covering mandate for ISU Extension and Outreach is in effect through March 31, 2021, and will be reevaluated and possibly extended at that time. This mandate does go beyond the Governor’s current face covering mandate and does not have the 15-minute exemption.

Send comments and suggestions to the Virtual Suggestion Box

Guidance By Topic

Recent Updates

Iowa State University COVID-19 Guidance

Iowa State University COVID-19 Updates and Resources - stay up to date with all university guidance. 

Crisis Communications

When to open and close offices

Be prepared to initiate a Crisis Communications Plan available on MyExtension (for staff only). Please review the plan and consider how you would implement it, should a crisis arise. 

Extension Program and Events

Extension Programs and Events


Program Area Guidance and Protocols


Events at county offices:

  • County Services Insurance Update 6.1 - September 9, 2020 (Clarification October 8, 2020). Educational food demonstrations and nutrition programs led by extension staff or trained extension volunteers are no longer under the communicable disease restrictions. All other food restrictions are still in effect. 
  • Food and Beverage Guidance and Training, October 26, 2020 - companion piece to County Services Insurance Updates. This guide is meant to supplement—not replace—any state, local, territorial, or tribal health and safety laws, rules, and regulations with which businesses must comply. 

Events, gatherings and venues on campus

Iowa State University requirements

Other food safety resources (added October 29, 2020)

Screening for COVID-19
Physical Distance Guidance

Iowa State University:  Guidance for Supporting Community Expectations During COVID-19 Pandemic

Face Coverings

Iowa State University:  Guidance for Supporting Community Expectations During COVID-19 Pandemic

ISU Extension and Outreach

Face coverings are required when people are indoors (including all campus and county extension offices). 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.


Cleaning/Sanitation Procedures and Resources

NOTE:  If you are planning and delivering a program, part of the plan should include cleaning before and after the program. It is all of our responsibility to clean and sanitize our workplace. County offices should provide the necessary cleaning supplies for activities hosted in their offices. 

Collecting Contact Information
  • COVID-19 Contact Information Training and Guidance - October 6, 2020 - Collecting contact information will help public health officials notify those who may have been exposed to someone infected with COVID-19. Maintain rosters for events, however, collecting contact information at large gatherings is likely not feasible. 
  • Use the Excel spreadsheet on MyExtension (staff link only) to keep a list of every single person who goes through the office every single day, not just members of the public, but staff, council members, and volunteers. June 5, 2020
    ** August 19, 2020, Iowa public health officials advice on how long to keep contact collecting sheets:  Based on how local public health agencies are currently releasing COVID-19 cases with contact tracing, 28-30 days is sufficient.
  • Use door and table signs on MyExtension (staff link only) to let clients know we're helping stop the spread of COVID-19 by collecting contact information. June 5, 2020
Vulnerable Population Considerations for Staff and Public

Governor Reynolds Nov. 10, 2020,  proclamation states, "I continue to strongly encourage all vulnerable Iowans, including those with preexisting medical conditions and those older than 65, in all counties of the state to continue to limit their activities outside of their home, including their visits to businesses and 
other establishments and their participation in gatherings of any size and any purpose. And I encourage all Iowans to limit their in-person interactions with vulnerable Iowans and to exercise particular care and caution when engaging in any necessary interactions."

CDC - People Who are at Increased Risk

Open for Iowa Committee and Charge
Archived Communications

Documentations listed below are no longer applicable as of Nov. 16, 2020. 

County Offices Reopening Letter - Dr. John Lawrence, Vice President for Extension and Outreach, June 22, 2020
Second Monday Live, June 8 -- Structured for Success and Open for Iowa
Second Monday Live, Open for Iowa - Q & A, June 8

Iowa State University COVID-19 Guidance

Considerations for Leaders, Supervisors and Extension Councils

Considerations for staff


Open for Iowa does not recommend the use of waivers for events or programming. However, if counties choose to use waivers,  LMC Insurance has provided waiver templates for your use. Contact your regional director for more information.

Extension Councils - Infection Control Policies, Whitfield & Eddy

Infection Control Policy Resources, July 6, 2020 - optional policy templates for extension councils from legal representative, Whitfield & Eddy. Contact your regional director for more information. 

CIRAS COVID-19: Protecting Your Business, July 6, 2020 - See resources under "Return to Work", which includes a sample "Return to Office Plan" based on the modified White House Opening America Criteria and will continue to be updated by the Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS).  The White House Opening America Criteria could be used to create/update a phased plan that is data-driven, along with developing a relationship with county emergency management and public health officials, to help navigate when to open and close an office. 

Expectations In-person Guidance and Protocols

Use these documents to guide your conversations and planning process for any extension meeting or event:

Screening for COVID-19

Screening for COVID-19 Training and Guidance, October 6, 2020 - If you are experiencing any symptoms potentially related to COVID-19, do not report to work. 

Face Coverings

CDC - Use Cloth Face Coverings to Help Slow the Spread
Face Covering Training and Guidance, August 10, 2020 - for ISU Extension and Outreach