4-H FAQs Related to COVID-19


Updated: November 23, 2020

1. What types of 4-H programs and activities are currently available for youth participation?

Virtual & Distance Programs are preferred.

    • Examples include:
      • “In a Box” activity kits delivered or picked-up without contact
      • Pen Pal Programs
      • 4-H at Home
    • Online experiences require us to follow the 4-H electronic Communication policy
      A few things to note are:

      • Youth 12 and under need parental consent
      • Youth 13 and older need parental notification
      • Platform needs to be safe for young people and protect any personal information.
      • An adult and young person may never be online together alone, a 3rd person must always be present.

Pre-approved programs, indoors or outdoors, with groups of 10 or fewer.

Educators will submit a checklist and have it approved. Pre-event registration, notification and post-event reporting are required, (please discuss plans for this with the Educator) Here are some examples of plans that have been approved..

Some criteria for in-person programs include:

      • Indoor gatherings are limited to 2 hours.
      • 6 feet minimum distancing between participants is required at all times.
      • Physical distancing is not required between members of the same household, however each member is counted in the maximum group size.
      • Hand sanitizing equipment (soap and water is preferred, or hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, tissues, and no-touch trash cans) must be readily available and frequently used.
      • Face masks or coverings are typically required even when speaking.

Note: Training for partners and volunteers is available and encouraged for all volunteers. The training FOR VOLUNTEERS is required for volunteers leading approved meetings or events.

2. When is Pre-approval needed?

Educators/Volunteers engaging in activities or meetings need approval any time that:

  • An event, meeting or activity is being organized by a 4-H volunteer or Educator.
  • A 4-H club or group is participating in an event organized by other organizations.
  • 4-H is co-sponsoring an event organized by other organizations.

3. What counts as a group?

10 people or fewer including all adults and children meeting in one location.

4. Can a larger group meet in person?

    • More than one group (each under 10 individuals) may meet in outdoor or multi-room locations where the groups can remain separated and physically distant.
      • Groups may use separate spaces in the same venue such as a school, library or community center where groups remain in different rooms and physically distant throughout the event.
      • Groups may use several areas within a park or other large outdoor space.
    • Total numbers across all groups may not exceed 50 individuals.
    • There must be a minimum of 20 feet between each group of 10 when outdoors.
    • An instructor or facilitator who is not part of any small group can move between groups if 1) they maintain not less than 10 feet of physical distance from each group and 2) wear a face covering.
    • Plans will include how young people will access the unique spaces without congregating, including parking, drop-off and pick ups.
    • When making plans for outdoor gatherings it is important to have a back-up plan in case of bad weather.

Another example of multiple small groups:

    • Drive-In style meetings where families remain in their cars.

5. Can I attend an approved in-person 4-H meeting/activity if someone in my household just tested positive for COVID-19?

No. Our program approval process states that “Registrants will be informed to stay home when they are experiencing any of the symptoms of COVID-19 or have had known contact with anyone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days.”

6. Can I attend an approved in-person 4-H meeting/activity if someone in my household is in quarantine for COVID-19?

If the household member is quarantined because they have tested positive or they are symptomatic, you cannot attend. If, however, the household member does not have symptoms or a positive test for COVID-19 but is quarantined because of a potential exposure, other household members would not have had contact with a known carrier of COVID-19. In this case, other household members could attend an activity, but we ask that you still exercise caution and consider your own potential exposure before making a decision regarding attendance.

7. What is the status of 4-H overnight camps and travel programs?

Due to increased risk with prolonged exposure, overnight camp and travel programs continue to be cancelled. University-sponsored out-of-state travel has been cancelled until further notice. National 4-H meetings and events have been cancelled or moved online through the end of the year.

8. Can 4-H staff and volunteers promote partnership opportunities in newsletters, emails,  social media, etc?

Yes, 4-H Program Educators and 4-H Volunteers can continue to share information from trusted partners with recommended language:

“This event is not organized by UW-Madison Extension and you can check with its organizers for details on safety protocols.”

Please note: 4-H Program Educators and 4-H Volunteers are not able to share any participant information with a partner organization.

9. Is UW-Madison liability coverage provided for non 4-H activities?

No . UW-Madison risk and liability coverage is only available for approved Extension programs and activities including 4-H. Participation in an un-sponsored activity is not covered.

10. Can a 4-H Club or 4-H Group participate in a parade?

Under current guidance, a parade typically will not meet the Extension requirements listed above, given that parades are large gatherings. However, in limited circumstances when all requirements can be met, parade participation may be approved.

11. Can a 4-H Club or 4-H Group offer food as part of a meeting, operate a food stand, sale, or sample giveaway?

  • All food provided at 4-H activities should be pre-packaged or provided by a caterer/restaurant and served in individual portions.
  • Food stands with made-to-order food will not be able to comply with the program planning guidance listed above.
  • Food sales of pre-packaged items that are contactless may be allowed with approved plans when 6 ft. distancing can be maintained.
  • Guidance on allowable food within programs has been expanded to include homemade baked goods (i.e., bakery products that can safely remain unrefrigerated) that are separately bagged. Those preparing and packaging food are required to wash hands, practice good hygiene and food safety standards, and wear a mask while preparing foods. This will allow for no-contact bake sales and similar activities, but remember that masks are required indoors, so eating food indoors as part of a meeting or activity is not permissible.  Clubs and groups can consider eating outdoors or having foods for people to carry-out.

12. How will Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) be provided?

In the event that you are unable to locate the required PPE’s please contact your Educator for assistance.

13. What happens if staff or volunteers do not follow the Extension guidance?

Both staff and volunteers are required to follow the guidance of 4-H and UW-Madison Division of Extension. As with all policies, those who do not are subject to disciplinary actions including discharge.

14. How does a 4-H Club or 4-H Group conduct elections if they can’t meet face to face?

4-H Clubs and 4-H Groups should follow their bylaws regarding elections.  Voting could take place using an online platform, email, electronic survey or mail in balloting provided that the bylaws allow for that flexibility.  If the bylaws do not provide that flexibility, it is accepted practice that officer terms can be extended until an election can be conducted.

15. What if we can’t meet as a 4-H Club or a 4-H Group?

4-H Clubs and 4-H Groups should continue to explore virtual or face to face meeting options, however, we realize that meeting virtually or face to face may not be feasible for all 4-H Clubs and 4-H Groups.  For this reason, it is acceptable for 4-H Clubs and 4-H Groups to postpone regular meetings until March 31st, 2021 when this timeline will be reassessed.  Flexibility should be considered in individual meeting requirements to allow youth to maintain their membership standing.

16. Should I re-enroll in 4-H if my club is not meeting?

Yes!  Wisconsin 4-H is continuing to offer programming at the club county and state level. Youth are encouraged to enroll/re enroll in 4-H as there will be programming options that will be available to Wisconsin 4-H members. The 4-H movement has thrived for over a century and we will get through this together.  We are stronger together!!

17. Can a youth’s enrollment in 4-H be extended if they aged out of the program?

No.  4-H programming is tied to developmental ages and stages, therefore, 4-H membership is open to all youth through one year beyond high school graduation and not to extend beyond the age of 19 as of December 31 of the enrollment year.  Alumni are encouraged to continue their 4-H journey as volunteers, and, through Collegiate 4-H when possible.

18. Our club/group has dues, can we suspend or reduce 4-H dues for 2020-21?

If it is financially feasible, 4-H Clubs and 4-H Groups may consider suspending or reducing membership dues for the 2020-21 4-H program year.

19. What if our 4-H Club or 4-H Group has excess funds because of the COVID-19 pandemic?

For the 2020-21 fiscal year, the Division of Extension and Wisconsin 4-H is suspending the Excess Funds policy for all 4-H Clubs and 4-H Groups.  We realize that developing a plan to spend down excess funds during this pandemic is not practical.  Once Wisconsin 4-H Clubs and 4-H Groups can resume more normal operations, the suspension of this policy will be lifted.

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