Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Coronavirus COVID-19

COVID-19 Advisory: WSU Extension is working to keep our communities safe. All Extension programming is being conducted consistent with the latest official state guidance. WSU Extension county offices and WSU Research & Extension Centers are following protocols for vaccination, masking, distancing and hygiene. If this office is not open to the public, we are available during normal business hours via email, phone, and web conference.

Okanogan 4-H COVID Response

March 12th, 2021 Update

 

Dear 4-H Community,

WSU and Washington State 4-H have agreed upon a model to allow for some in-person 4-H activities to be approved.

What does this mean for Okanogan County 4-H?

  • No club or group can meet in person without approval from the 4-H office.
  • Clubs or groups may seek approval to offer an in-person participation option for activities that cannot reasonably take place virtual or through at-home learning.
  • Virtual or at-home learning options are still the first choice for all activities that can be conducted virtually, independently, or at-a-distance.

Interested in applying to host a 4-H activity in-person? Please keep these important points to keep in mind:

  1. You may apply for approval to run a single activity in-person or series of activities in-person. Just email natasha.r.moffitt@wsu.edu or call 509-350-2255 (9am-5pm) to get started.
  2. Getting an in-person activity approved takes time and creative planning! We request you notify the 4-H Office at least four weeks prior to the event. We’ll work together to develop a safety and participation plan, which then has to be approved by the County Director, Washington State 4-H, and WSU.
  3. An in-person activity must meet several conditions in order to be approved. The most notable (as of March 12th, 2021) include:
    1. The activity cannot reasonably be completed virtually or through at-home learning.
    2. The nature of the activity allows for all safety procedures to be followed (e.g., physical distancing, masks, proper sanitation).
    3. The activity doesn’t mix youth in groups larger than fifteen.
    4. There are at least two certified volunteers (or a combination of certified volunteers and staff) present.
    5. All key personnel/participants have completed safety training.
    6. The plan includes a virtual or at-home option to ensure the opportunity to participate isn’t limited by safety or health concerns.
  4. More information about applying to do an in-person activity can be found here: https://extension.wsu.edu/okanogan/youth/program-updates/4-h-in-person-activities-resources/

Examples of recently held in-person activities include: 

  1. A community service event where members in small (current group size allowance), distanced groups helped ready the yard of a family dealing with tragedy for the holidays (at-home option: youth could create or donate holiday décor).
  2. An equine clinic where members in small (current group size allowance), distanced groups rode their horses at an open-air arena to receive feedback and support from a clinician (virtual option: youth could submit a riding video and receive clinician feedback).

Would you like to work with us to create an in-person plan for future activities? Or would you like support in running virtual meetings or at-home activities? We have lots of ideas and resources to share! Please reach out!

We recognize that there is still much uncertainty to navigate as we began to plan for in-person activities this spring and as public health measures changes so will our policies. We are thankful for your dedication to 4-H and the perseverance you have modeled for our youth. We love seeing the ways our 4-H community is staying connected virtually and through porch pick-ups — you are so creative!

RESOURCES:

OFFICE & STAFF ACCESS

Since March 16th 2020, the WSU Extension Office has been closed to the public, and personnel are teleworking. We are available via phone, email, or by scheduled video-conference.

If you have questions about the status of an upcoming event please contact  Natasha Moffitt-Hemmer, 4-H Program Coordinator (natasha.r.moffitt@wsu.edu or 509-350-2255, 9am-5pm).

If you have questions about our response to COVID-19 please contact Natasha Moffitt-Hemmer, 4-H Program Coordinator (natasha.r.moffitt@wsu.edu or 509-350-2255, 9am-5pm). or Kayla Wells, Okanogan County Extension Director (kayla.wells@wsu.edu or 509-422-7245).

Pledging our health to better living,

Okanogan County 4-H

 

March 17, 2020 COVID Update

Dear 4-H Families, Volunteers and Members:

In consultation with WSU Extension and the WA State Dept. of Health, all 4-H programming will be conducted virtually, postponed or cancelled, effective immediately. In addition, all WSU County Offices will be closed to PHYSICAL PUBLIC ACCESS; however, 4-H Faculty and 4-H Staff will continue operations. By taking this action, our 4-H community will do our part to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

 

Your health and safety are very important to us, so we are prepared for this temporary suspension to remain in place through April 27 or until K-12 schools resume. The WSU Extension team will be consulting with WSU administration and public health officials and re-assessing safety guidelines regularly to make decisions that are consistent with updated information.

 

The 4-H Youth Development Program will be working in different ways virtually online and/or through telephone conferencing. Your county 4-H Faculty and 4-H Staff will be reaching out to you, so please join us, and think creatively during this time!

 

***Here is a website put together by our King County 4-H educators that lists a variety of exciting learning activities that can be done at home!  https://extension.wsu.edu/king/learning-links-4-h-and-more/   If you find another awesome research-based learning SITE that you’d like to share, please let us know and we’ll add it to the website!

 

Stay tuned to your County 4-H website, Facebook, and e-mails for ongoing information. We will be flexible together and make smart, safe choices. We will get through this, together!

 

Sincerely,

 

Natasha Moffitt-Hemmer

4-H and Master Gardener Extension Coordinator

 

WSU Okanogan County Extension

PO Box 391

1234 2nd Ave. S.

Okanogan, WA 98840

Phone: (509) 422-7239

Extension programs and employment are available to all without discrimination.  Evidence of noncompliance may be reported through your local Extension office.  If you require special accommodation, call the WSU Okanogan County Extension Office at 509-422-7245, two weeks prior to the event.

March 16, 2020 COVID Update

The WSU Okanogan County Extension Office is closed to the public, effective immediately. This means that the Leaders Council Meeting planned for today, March 16th, is cancelled. Please contact the office at 509-422-7245 if you need assistance or have any questions. Please carefully read the following update from WSU:

 

Dear 4-H Family:

Extension leadership recommends that in general, no in-person meeting or event involving more than 10 participants should be held if mechanisms for remote participation (Zoom or phone) are provided. Many club meetings have an attendance of more than 10 people. Please consider using zoom or other virtual means for club meetings and continuing 4-H club activities.

Recently, I have seen 4-H club leaders using Facebook to provide activity ideas to their club and encouraging interacting with pictures on Facebook. Another leader sent an email to their club members with an assignment by age group to continue learning throughout the month until the club meets again. I enjoy the creativity in keeping 4-H members engaged without in person meetings. Please contact the 4-H Office if you need help setting up zoom meetings or brainstorming options for 4-H activities that are not in person meetings.

If you choose to meet with a group fewer than 10 people, below are actionable steps you can take to reduce the risk of spreading disease at your 4-H events and meetings. The underlying message is to reduce the touching of shared items and reduce close contact between participants. Select those things which make the most sense for your situation. With many of these items, no one would even notice you had made a change.

We do not want to induce panic, we do want to educate our youth about good hygiene habits. This is also an opportunity to teach our youth about microbiology, epidemiology, and social responsibility. If you need additional information to share with your clubs, please let us know.

  • Relax attendance policies.
    • Relax policies about attending meetings and events. If a child, or close family member of a child, is sick, excuse them from participating. Do not count this absence against their qualifications for other activities. Right now, we need to be as flexible as possible with attendance and avoid the situation where someone feels they need to attend a meeting or event, even if they are sick or at risk of illness.
  • Insist that each person wash their hands upon arrival (if a sink is available). Please take this opportunity to practice proper handwashing techniques.
  • Consider the beverage items.
    • Service refreshments in individually wrapped items instead of a communal jug or pitcher that everyone touches?
    • Can you designate an adult to serve the beverage, so only one person is touching it?
  • Consider the food items.
    • Are you serving a buffet with a shared serving utensil? Can you offer individual food items instead? Or have a designated server?
    • Are you serving foods in a bag or box, like chips or crackers, where people are reaching in and touching it? Can you put it into individual cups or napkins instead ahead of serving?
    • Can you choose food items that do not have to be touched, such as a banana and pudding cup and spoon, instead of grapes, cookies, etc.
    • Do you have sufficient garbage containers for any increase in packaging, so that items that have been touched and licked are not spilling out of receptacles?
  • Consider a new greeting.
    • The kids might enjoy coming up with a silly new way to say hello that does not involve touching!
  • Consider having tissues available.
    • Bring a box of tissues so anyone sneezing, or coughing has a way to catch those germs. Then send them home if it is due to an illness.
  • Consider how you open doors.
    • Doorknobs are one of the worst places to touch. Scan the space and think about which doors can be propped open so not everyone needs to touch it. Or if it’s too cold, can you have someone be the greeter and open the door for everyone.
    • Make sure paper towels and a garbage are available my bathroom doors, so that you can open the door with a towel, and then throw it away.
  • Consider your activities.
    • Choose ice breakers that do not require physical touch between participants during highly infectious seasons.
  • Consider your risk outside of meetings.
  • Consider having back-up volunteers in place.
    • Oftentimes parents will bring a sick child with them to an event when they are committed to volunteering. This is well-intentioned but should be discouraged. To avoid gaps in help, be sure to add a few more volunteers to your roster for each activity to plan for absences.
  • Consider moving activities outside.
    • Open air reduces the risk of airborne illness.
  • Consider post-meeting clean-up.
    • Plan to take fifteen minutes after everyone has left to wipe down all frequently touched surfaces with a disinfectant spray or bleach solution.
  • Consider shared educational resources.
    • Will you be passing around something cool for the children to see? Maybe for now consider walking around with it and showing them at eye level, without the need for them to touch it.
    • Try handing out papers one at a time instead of passing from one 4-H member to another.
  • Consider shared pens and pencils.
    • Does everyone use the same pen to check in for attendance? Can you have one person do this so not everyone is touching the same pen?

Thank you for your diligence in creating safe environments for our youth and community,

 

Natasha Moffitt-Hemmer

4-H and Master Gardener Extension Coordinator

 

WSU Okanogan County Extension

PO Box 391

1234 2nd Ave. S.

Okanogan, WA 98840

Phone: (509) 422-7239

Extension programs and employment are available to all without discrimination.  Evidence of noncompliance may be reported through your local Extension office.  If you require special accommodation, call the WSU Okanogan County Extension Office at 509-422-7245, two weeks prior to the event.

March 12, 2020 COVID Update

Hi All,

It is time for us to discuss how the COVID-19 Coronavirus may affect the Okanogan County 4-H Program. Recent information from WSU, regarding the COVID-19 Coronavirus, has instructed local 4-H offices to follow the lead of State and County Health Departments.

In response to the rapidly evolving events surrounding COVID-19 (also called novel coronavirus), Washington State University (our sponsoring institution that houses Washington State Extension and 4-H programming) has activated an emergency operations group focused on coordinating the university’s response.
We have been asked specifically how COVID-19 may impact upcoming events including 4-H and Master Gardener meetings and events. WSU is following guidance from local health departments, the State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding large gatherings, including CDC recommendations on preventing the spread of COVID-19. Because our WSU Extension system occupies locations across the State, 4-H faculty and staff are attentive to changing local conditions and will exercise information-based judgment to address their situations.
The county public health office is the most reliable source of local information on this topic. Below are links to our local public health office COVID-19 related updates that we will be supporting:

Okanogan County Health Department: https://okanogancounty.org/ocph/.

Along with these public health office recommendations, please know the following:
• An effective strategy for minimizing the spread of the virus is greater social distancing, which can include more effective use of technology. When possible, WSU Extension encourages phone calls or Zoom videoconferences in place of large meetings or face-to-face contact in significant numbers. Attendees may also call-in to videoconferences from any cell or landline.
For assistance in setting up or connecting via Zoom or to organize a zoom meeting without time or participant restrictions:

Please contact Natasha Moffitt-Hemmer at Natasha.r.moffitt@wsu.edu or 509-422-7239.

Please contact us in advance during regular business hours if you anticipate needing assistance.

• Anyone who is sick or exhibiting signs of illness should stay home.

• Decisions on individual 4-H, Master Gardener and other meetings will be made on a case-by-case basis informed by local conditions and advice.

• Currently, older adults and persons with underlying health conditions are considered to be at increased risk of severe illness and complications from COVID-19. Examples of underlying health conditions include heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, people with weakened immune systems, and people who are pregnant. The CDC recommends that people in high-risk groups consult with their healthcare provider about attending any large gathering.
• Follow preventive hygiene guidance, including washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, avoiding touching your face with unwashed hands, and use hand sanitizer if you can’t wash. If you have to cough or sneeze, do so into your sleeve or a tissue which you then throw away.  Clean and disinfect shared surfaces and objects that are touched frequently.
Events:  When making decisions regarding individual events, we will consider the following criteria:
1. Any guidance from the local Health Department or State DOH.
2. Whether participants are expected from any location where community transmission of COVID 19 has been confirmed.
3. The number of people involved, size of the venue, and opportunity for personal hygiene-type mitigation strategies such as social distancing (more separation between people) and avoidance of physical contact, hand washing/sanitizer stations, etc.
4. Any special risk factors such as age or underlying health for the participating population.
5. Opportunities for remote participation (Zoom) or substitution of experience rather than attending in person.
6. Impact on the program or participant qualifications for other events or programs.
• We will consider relaxing deadlines and mandatory attendance on a case-by-case basis on requirements where our local 4-H staff and faculty have the authority to do so. However, please know that we do not have control over requirements mandated by outside agencies such as county and state fairs.

With these considerations in mind, the following state-level events have been cancelled:
• Springtime Youth Calf Sale – March 21 – All scheduled activities including workshops;
• State Dairy Quiz Bowl Contest – March 21; and
• Cougar Youth Weekend – March 28 & 29
• Whatcom County Youth Fair (not a 4-H sanctioned event, but a learning fair) is also cancelled.

The linked (here) FAQ document provides university information and links to resources regarding the COVID-19 outbreak. Campus leadership is working with others from across the university to develop and implement response guidance and continuity of operations plans for our academic, research, Extension and other programs and services as this public health issue progresses. This guidance may be further updated in the coming days depending on changing local or global conditions. I will provide continuing updates as they become available, and the latest information also will be available for https://wsu.edu/covid-19/.

Please also refer to the Center for Disease Control https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/index.html and Washington Department of Health websites for additional information and individual prevention strategies: https://www.doh.wa.gov/Portals/1/Documents/1600/NovelCoronavirusFactSheet.pdf

Sincerely,

Natasha Moffitt- Hemmer