Licking County Extension Office.
While the office has been closed to the public for the past two weeks, we are excited to say that we will be re-opening on Tuesday, January 19th. We will return to our Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., office hours, but do request that you make appointments or call ahead of your arrival. We are operating on reduced staff, with only two to three staff members in the office each day. You’ll likely find Adrienne and I in the office on Wednesdays and Thursdays, at least for the next few weeks, as we prepare for enrollment and advisor trainings. If you forget to make an appointment in advance of arriving to our parking lot, please know that you’re more than welcome to call and say that you’re outside – we’ll happily let you in with a smile! We’ve even posted our office phone number on the door!
As you begin to plan 4-H Club meetings, we would encourage you to stay virtual for a while longer… Ohio 4-H has announced that beginning January 16th, clubs can begin to return to their in-person meetings, provided they have an educational program planned that can not be conducted virtually. Keep in mind two parts of that statement – first, there must be an educational component to the meeting, and second, it should be held virtually unless it is not possible to do so. While all of us are anxious to see our 4-H members and their families, keep in mind that we are still in the midst of a pandemic. In speaking with many teens, we know that some are hesitant to attend face-to-face trainings simply due to their concern that they could be exposed, quarantined, and hence miss school or sporting events. This is a realistic concern, and we need to be cautious of the approach that we take to offering meetings and events.
At the county level, we are committed to staying virtual through the end of February, and hope that you will join us in doing the same. In planning for March, we are planning for both face-to-face and virtual, knowing that we may need to make a switch last minute, depending upon disease transmission at that time and guidelines of OSU, Ohio 4-H and our Health Department. Realize that as we begin to offer in-person programming, we will still need to make virtual attendance / participation available as needed. When offering in-person programming, keep in mind that you will need to plan accordingly to adhere to facial covering, hand washing, and social distancing guidelines – disinfecting the meeting location prior to, and after the meeting. We’re anxious to get back to 4-H, but we must also commit to keeping all our families safe.
Ohio 4-H Guidelines.
Below, you will find information from the State 4-H Office to assist you in staying up-to-date on guidelines and protocol. You will find 4-H information about in-person meetings and events on the state 4-H Stay Connected webpage.
In-person Meetings and Events Guidance and Requirements
As we begin the new year, the Ohio 4-H Planning Guide for In-Person Meetings & Events has been updated to reflect current guidance from Ohio State University and health officials. Beginning SATURDAY, JANUARY 16, 2021, the following is in effect:
- Hosting virtual meetings and events is preferred
- If activities are critical/essential and are in-person, they must be education-focused
- Group cannot be larger than 50 people, including adults, youth, presenters, etc., and be held in a facility that will allow for appropriate social distancing of the families attending
- Keep in mind that many facilities are encouraged to adhere to 25-50% capacity.
- This directive is dependent on local health department guidelines.
- The group size may need to be reduced to 10 (or other amount), based on directives from your local health department.
- Face masks are required inside and outside at all times
- Potlucks and buffets are not permitted. Food and beverages should not be served / provided.
Find details and updated guidelines at Ohio 4-H Planning Guide for In-Person Meetings & Events
Finally, all of you are familiar with the map that is shared weekly by the Ohio Department of Health with updates to transmission rates. Please know that the above guidelines are in place while Licking County is “red” or a color that corresponds to a lower transmission rates. Should Licking County reach “purple” status, our office will return to being closed to the public and all in-person programming will be cancelled, postponed, or moved to a virtual setting.
We’ve Got This!
302 days… That’s how long we have been working to adapt our 4-H program to guidelines in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For some of us, it feels as though this is never going to end, but it will! We are working our way back to the 4-H that we remember with face-to-face programming, handshakes and hugs, and lots of smiles visible on faces. It will just take a while longer… We’ve got this, and after navigating through last spring and summer – I feel as though we can do anything! Keep your chin up and know that we are here to support you… But let’s not sit back and wait until all is normal, let’s find value in virtual, be mindful of the safety of all, and let’s get this year started in a positive way!