THE FOLLOWING GUIDANCE WILL BE IMPLEMENTED, EFFECTIVE JANUARY 16, 2021:
Per my Dec 30 email, full telework requirements will extend through close of business, January 15. At this time, in-person programming can resume after January 15, but it will still need to be conducted in accordance with existing approved exemptions. Contact Jeff McCutcheon (email@example.com) with questions. If you have a new exemption request that has not yet been through the process, the exemption link is available at: go.osu.edu/CFAESf2fEventRequest. If you simply need to adjust the dates of a previously approved program, reach out to Laurie Ward (firstname.lastname@example.org) directly.
If you haven’t already done so, please begin preparing your return-to-office plans in preparation for returning to the office the week of Jan 18 (Monday is a holiday). Continue to take into consideration local COVID-19 circumstances, and continue to follow the guidelines around the Ohio Health Advisory System Map (see guidelines below).
Purple Counties and Counties Approaching Purple (as identified by an asterisk on the Ohio Health Advisory map): When a county turns PURPLE or is approaching PURPLE, Extension offices are to be closed and employees will work virtually. Meetings and events need to be canceled, postponed, or held virtually until they are no longer in PURPLE status.
RED Counties: When a county turns RED, Extension offices are to be closed to the public but still staffed according to their Return-to-Office plan (can still offer by appointment only). By “appointment only” means the office is staffed, but the door to the office is locked. Clientele are required to have a timed appointment to be admitted to the office. You should attempt to have a limited number of employees in the office at any one time. You can work this out locally and make adjustments to your Return-to-Office plans. As always, if your commissioners or landlords have closed your building, you should revise your Return-to-Office plans to move to full telework. Meetings and events, if they have received exemption approval, can be held. All other meetings and events still need to be canceled, postponed, or held virtually.
Orange Counties and Yellow Counties: When a county is Orange or Yellow, the Extension office can remain open to the public according to its Return-to-Office plan with existing safety protocols in place. You should still attempt to have a limited number of employees in the office at any one time. You can work this out locally and make adjustments to your Return-to-Office plans. Meetings and events, if they have received exemption approval can be held. All other meetings and events still need to be canceled, postponed, or held virtually.
Local Health Advisories: In addition to the guidance from the Governor’s Ohio Health Advisory system requirements: https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/covid-19/public-health-advisory-system, various county health departments are releasing local health advisories limiting activities or encouraging additional caution regarding gathering and non-essential activities. If a county has issued a local health advisory, we expect the Extension professionals in that county to follow the most restrictive guidance (OSU or local). We recognize that there is a lot of room for interpretation of these advisories and that some of them appear to provide conflicting messages about gatherings and essential activities. If you are uncertain about what to do, contact your area leader and he or she will work with our Director of Operations (Jeff McCutcheon) to provide additional clarity.
Keep the lines of communication open locally and with your supervisors, stakeholders, commissioners, and OSU Extension administration. Remember, the community spread remains fluid and ever-changing. We may need to modify this guidance at any time. Be prepared to accomplish things via telework and have signage and communications prepared if your county is approaching purple or as a proactive planning measure in all counties. Again, I truly appreciate your commitment to our mission and one another’s well-being.
As always, decisions are contingent upon any new data that comes from Governor DeWine in his weekly updates. To those who have suffered or experienced loss due to COVID-19, please know that we care about you and your loved ones and express our sincere condolences. Each of you and the work we do is so very important.
Ohio State Travel Restrictions Extended
Following the public health guidance of local, state and federal officials, the university has extended the current restrictions on domestic and international travel through June 30, 2021. More information will be shared soon about an exception process.