Extension Remains A Resource During Coronavirus Pandemic
March 26, 2020
The novel coronavirus and the disease it causes, known as COVID-19, has disrupted the operations of businesses, governments and other organizations across the country, including Penn State.
But Penn State Extension, the educational outreach arm of the College of Agricultural Sciences, will continue to fulfill its mission during this unprecedented time, according to its statewide director, Brent Hales.
“The coronavirus situation will require us to modify our operations and program delivery for a period of time,” Hales said. “But despite the challenges that we all face, the need for unbiased, research-based information on a variety of topics and issues never stops, so we will not stop providing that knowledge to the agricultural producers, citizens, businesses and communities of Pennsylvania.”
To help slow the spread of coronavirus, Penn State Extension has announced that all public, in-person events it sponsors – workshops, conferences, meetings and so forth – are cancelled through April 5.
Registered attendees for events through April 5 will receive a cancellation notice and, if a registration fee was required, a refund. Events scheduled from April 6 forward will be held as planned, pending further developments.
“Our top priority in this rapidly evolving situation is the health and welfare of our employees, volunteers, participants, partners and stakeholders,” Hales said.
Extension's 4-H youth development programs also are affected, Hales said.
“For the safety of our youth and their families, our volunteers, and our entire 4-H community, all Pennsylvania 4-H activities, events and club meetings are suspended until further notice,” he said. “We will notify 4-H participants when these events can resume.”
Some planned events, workshops and meetings may be rescheduled for a later date or moved online using webinar or internet conferencing tools.
Hales stressed that an abundance of educational content – such as articles, "Learn Now" videos and online courses – already can be found on the Penn State Extension website, where it can be accessed in a variety of formats anytime, anywhere.
Hales also said that Penn State Extension maintains an office in each of Pennsylvania's 67 counties, and those offices will remain open.
Where an extension office is housed in a county facility, and the county closes that facility due to coronavirus concerns, the extension office will follow county protocol and close also, he noted. In the event of such a closure, telephone calls to that office during regular business hours will be rerouted to another, open office for assistance.
“This is a very fluid situation, and we encourage people who value and utilize the educational programs we offer to watch for further updates,” Hales said. “Our primary goal is to limit exposure and transmission potential to reduce the risk to our staff and those we serve, and we appreciate the public's understanding as we navigate these unprecedented circumstances.”