COVID-19 Update Posted May 14, 2021

Face covering requirements remain in effect
On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that fully vaccinated individuals would no longer need to wear face coverings or masks indoors. Virginia Tech officials are evaluating the impact these changes will have on current polices and protocols. Face coverings requirements remain in effect as we wait for further state guidance from Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and the Virginia Department of Health.

Virginia Tech students, faculty, volunteers, and staff are encouraged to get vaccinated as soon as possible, wear masks indoors, and follow all other public health guidelines that remain in effect. This is particularly important because there are still many people in the New River Valley region and throughout Virginia who have not yet been vaccinated.

Thank you for your continued support and efforts to reach a safe and successful end to the spring semester.

 

COVID-19 Update Posted May 12, 2021

Face coverings/masks are required for both indoor and outdoor programs and during transportation (unless the transport vehicle occupants are from the same family). 

All in-person program participants, youth and adult, are required to wear an appropriate face covering/mask outdoors.  For the Extension Master Gardener program, examples would be EMGs staffing plant clinic or information booths at farmers markets, conducting SEP site evaluations, and while working in teaching and demonstration gardens.  (The only applicable VCE exception to the requirement is when a medical condition prevents the participant from wearing a face covering/mask.)

The CDC’s guidance for “no masks outdoors” is currently for fully vaccinated individuals and only in situations where social distancing can be maintained and no at-risk individuals are present.  This is very difficult for an organization such as VCE to assess and ensure compliance.  Please remember to wear an appropriate mask or face covering while participating in both indoor and outdoor EMG activities.

 

COVID-19 Update Posted April 28, 2021

Virginia Tech President Timothy Sands issued a statement regarding the new guidance from the CDC regarding wearing masks while outdoors. Dr. Sands stated that in accordance with guidance from the CDC and the Virginia Department of Health, Virginia Tech is relaxing the face-covering requirement outdoors unless you cannot distance yourself 6 feet from others. Face coverings are still required indoors and outdoors in situations where 6′ physical distancing is not possible and/or when 6′ distancing is not observed.

 

Participating in Events not Sponsored or Controlled by VCE or EMGs
We have received clarification about participating in events not sponsored by VCE and where VCE cannot control how the event is conducted as far as COVID-19 protocols are concerned. For Extension Master Gardeners, this would be events such as plant clinics at farmers markets, information booths at local community events, appearing as a speaker for another organization’s meeting or event, etc.

Participating in events where VCE does not have the ability to control the environment and/or ensure that proper COVID guidelines are being followed is allowed under the following guidance.

• Check with event organizers to ensure that the organizers are following state and local COVID regulations and determine if participation can be done safely.
• When participating in events not organized by VCE, employees and volunteers should adhere to recommended and mandated public health guidelines when interacting with co-workers and clientele. Examples include: physical distancing such as 6’ personal spacing; hand washing; physical barriers where feasible; and use of PPE.
• Employees and volunteers must use their best judgement with COVID-19 protocols if the organizers have not planned well. This may include not participating.

Extension Master Gardeners should not participate in any event if the organizers do not plan to follow current state or local COVID regulations or guidance.

 

VCE/EMG Controlled Programming
Face-to-face programming is allowed in Phase III in accordance with the following in-person programming guidance.
In-person programming is only allowed if certain requirements can be met and the event/program is conducted in accordance with current State and local guidelines in Phase III of the Forward Virginia plan. In addition, in-person programming is limited to:

• Indoor programming: Group size maximum is 30% occupancy of the event space with a maximum of 500 participants (including staff) where physical distancing of six feet apart is maintained. Some regions may have restrictions that further limit participant numbers.
• Outdoor programming: Group size maximum is 30% occupancy of the event space with a maximum of 500participants/structure or assigned area (including staff) where physical distancing of six feet apart is maintained.

All in-person program participants, youth and adult, are required to wear an appropriate face covering/mask. Face coverings/masks are required for both indoor and outdoor programs. When a medical condition prevents the participant from wearing a face covering/mask. If you are a person with a disability and desire any assistive devices, services or other accommodations to participate in this activity, please contact your local extension office to discuss accommodations at least 5 days prior to the event.
Specific event guidance/checklist can be found on the VCE COVID site.
The event checklist must be completed, signed, and maintained in the local files.