JACKSON — Ohio State University (OSU) Extension Offices throughout Ohio, including Jackson County, will continue operating via its teleworking plan for all employees and keep physical OSU Extension Offices closed to the public.

“This remains in accordance with The Ohio State University’s decision that all university employees, with the exception of essential facilities workers, are to continue teleworking and remain off campus, physical distancing and taking all other precautions to stay safe,” explained Jackson County Extension Director and 4-H Extension Educator Erin Daily.

Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton recently extended Ohio’s stay-at-home order through May 29.

“While some businesses and organizations in the state are starting to reopen as of early May, the guidelines for reopening offices via the governor’s office require personnel to work from home when possible,” stated Daily. “OSU Extension has invested in technology that allows personnel to work from their homes.”

Daily added, “Programs intended to be held face-to-face have been adjusted to a virtual format; and personnel can still be contacted by phone or email. The physical Extension office in each county will remain closed through July 6, unless a decision is made by Ohio State to return sooner.”

Jackie Kirby Wilkins, OSU Extension interim director, stated that while OSU is considering the guidance from the governor’s office and are paying attention to how local community leaders are planning for re-opening businesses, OSU is following the university’s lead on the transition planning process and are still intending to telework for the near future.

“We are looking at a phased transition over time, and we have a transition team in place to ensure we have a comprehensive plan for the safe return of our employees and clientele,” Wilkins said.

Per previous Ohio State decision, all university in-person events are still cancelled through July 6, and Extension activities planned through July 6 will continue to be held virtually or cancelled. Ohio State will continue to evaluate and update plans based on evolving conditions with COVID-19.

OSU Extension’s recent investment in the technology needed to facilitate effective teleworking for the organization has helped Extension staff remain in continual contact with Ohioans during this challenging time.

“Our clients, stakeholders, and other community members should continue to connect with any OSU Extension staff member via phone or email,” said Wilkins. “Thank you to everyone for your cooperation and collaboration related to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).”

Wilkins added, “Like Ohio State, OSU Extension remains committed to the health and well-being of our community and serving our communities in each county as this situation evolves. These are unprecedented times, and we sincerely appreciate your flexibility and support.”

If you have questions, contact your local OSU Extension office. Visit extension.osu.edu/lao for office phone numbers and a direct link to each office’s website and staff directory.

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