Dear 4-H Community,
We hope you are continuing to stay safe and healthy during this unchartered time. We are as anxious as you are to once again meet face-to-face, but we also know that ensuring everyone’s good health and safety is critical and our first focus. Of special concern is making sure our high-risk populations remain protected and safe.
Thank you for sharing many of your heartwarming stories and creative ways about how 4-H clubs are connecting with each other online, by phone, and by mail. It continues to be extremely important for our 4-H youth to find virtual ways to connect with their 4-H leaders and 4-H clubs to maintain their sense of belonging, so thank you all for your extra efforts during this time.
We know how difficult it is to hear about fairs being canceled or postponed. For an alternative, we have a team of 4-H faculty, staff, volunteers and youth creating guidelines so counties can host a Virtual 4-H Showcase Event. It is important to give our 4-H youth the opportunity to highlight mastery in their project area(s), demonstration speeches and other creative displays online. If you have any questions regarding what this may look like in your county, please reach out to your county 4-H staff through their website, email or phone.
For our 4-H Youth Development re-opening plan, originally we were following Governor Inslee’s plan for the K-12 community, and June 19th was the last day of school. Now the mandated guidance states all government entities must follow Governor Inslee’s Safe-Start four phased plan. This plan allows for rural counties to move through the phases at different times based on population of county (those under 75,000 approved to move first), while making sure that during each phase no one tests positive for COVID-19 for three consecutive weeks. At this time, the recommendation for the 4-H Youth Development Program to meet face-to-face will be for that to occur when your county reaches Phase Four. For the five counties that were allowed to move to Phase Two on May 6, the earliest they could potentially begin Phase Four is June 19 if they do not have any positive COVID-19 cases before that time and meet the other published requirements. Please consult with your local health department and County Extension Office for when your county may be allowed to move to Phase Four.
We are developing a sequenced re-opening plan for the 4-H Youth Development program intended to help mitigate possible spread of the virus for use when your county has reached Phase Four. Please know that we appreciate your continued patience and your focus on health and safety of our entire 4-H family.
Please take care, and stay healthy
Nancy C. Deringer, PhD, AFC®
State Program Leader, 4-H Youth Development
Washington State University