Open for Iowa

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

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

October 16, 2020 Governor Reynolds signs new proclamation continues the Public Health Disaster Emergency for another 30 days. The proclamation extends all the public health mitigation measures currently in place for businesses and other establishments until 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, November 15, 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

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.  

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

Considerations for Leaders, Supervisors and Extension Councils

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

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. 

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. 

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. 

Considerations before reopening

Extension In-Person Guidance and Protocols

For all extension events on campus or off campus: Check with event venues about COVID-19 safety requirements and adhere to any that are more stringent. If venue requirements are less stringent than Open for Iowa guidance, adhere to the more stringent guidance. September 4, 2020.

Extension Meetings and Events:

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

Program Area Guidance and Protocols


Other food safety resources (added October 29, 2020):

Screening for COVID-19 – Staff and Public
Physical Distance Guidance

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

Face Coverings

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

CDC - Use Cloth Face Coverings to Help Slow the Spread
Face Covering Training and Guidance, August 10, 2020 - for ISU Extension and Outreach
Conversations About Personal Comfort and COVID-19 Safety Practices in the Workplace, August 10, 2020 - use as a companion piece with the face covering training and guidance document. 

  • ISU employees on campus:  
    Beginning July 1, face coverings will be required on the ISU campus classrooms, offices, indoors and outdoors where physical distancing is not possible. This is an adjustment from the original face covering policy. This requirement applies to Iowa State University Extension and Outreach staff working in a professional capacity when physical distance cannot be maintained on campus. ISU will supply two cloth face coverings for each ISU employee who requests them. 
  • ISU employees off-campus: 
    All faculty and staff who are able are expected to wear a cloth face covering when in the presence of others where physical distancing is not maintained consistent with consistent with CDC guidance and university guidance. This expectation applies at all times when Iowa State University Extension and Outreach staff members are working in a professional capacity and regardless of venue (e.g., in a county office, providing a program in an outside venue, etc.). 
  • ISU Extension and Outreach county staff, council members, and volunteers: 
    We strongly encourage county staff, volunteers, and council members follow state staff expectations. 
    Disposable face coverings are available for purchase on the Extension Store COVID-19.
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

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

  • CDC - Community Related Exposure - Current guidance based on community exposure, for people exposed to people with known or suspected COVID-19 or possible COVID-19 - June 4, 2020
  • 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 September 18, 2020,  proclamation continues, "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