Three stories on this home page ( summary list) 1. Update on the rabbit virus 2. Reminder to Florida 4-H leaders and volunteers 3.Florida 4-H Policies Must Be Followed
Story 1 Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease (RHD) Diagnosed on Single Premise This is a DEVELOPING story. I am actively researching details in regards to our how this could impact our 4-H and FFA rabbit exhibitors. Due to COVID responses from sources is slower than normal. Hopefully, I will have the story finished by January 22nd as it is show season! In the meantime here is link to Florida Department of Agriculture update: https://www.fdacs.gov/content/download/91807/file/RHD2Website20200104.pdf and details from American Rabbit Breeders Assoc https://arba.net/announcements/
STORY 2 REMINDER 4-H LEADERS AND VOLUNTEERS IN FLORIDA! Protect yourselves! Take time to email your county 4-H agents ( I recommend monthly checks) to ensure your agent likes you and approves of the job you are doing. Do NOT assume as others in the past have done. Unlike other States, Florida 4-H does NOT have a policy with mediation protocols focused on attempts at retention rather than dismissal. They do NOT have to warn nor meet with you. Your County 4-H agent can send you a surprise dismissal letter anytime they wish and for " any reason" unless your County has decided to take a stand and become proactive by developing their own communication and mediation policy. Do what you can to avoid surprise dismissal letters - make sure you follow the laws of our land, all 4-H and Extension rules including their COVID meeting rules and make sure your agent likes you too. With COVID = good clear communication is harder than in past years and easier for them to think you are doing something wrong or you to think you are doing it right. Do NOT assume- as other volunteers have in the past and received surprise dismissal letters in various Counties around Florida- ASK in writing on a regular basis- how am I doing as a leader and volunteer? SAVE their response and YOU be proactive with a negative response. Nat Turner a black American slave wrote, “Good communication is the bridge between clarity and confusion.” Florida 4-H uses the UF volunteer policy:. note item 4.7 per a letter a volunteer received . " Annual approval of volunteer services is required for each volunteer regardless of history or years of service. The department or academic unit may release a volunteer at any time, for any reason and without prior notice.”https://hr.ufl.edu/.../volunteer-policy.pdf%20Please... To compare - here are two good examples of what other states do INDIANA 4-H policy https://www.joe.org/joe/1992winter/iw8.php CALIFORNIA 4-H Section XIII. Suspension and/or Termination of a 4-H Adult Volunteer Part D gives their steps http://4h.ucanr.edu/Resources/Policies/Chapter6/
Florida 4-H COVID Policies Must Be Followed To Avoid Possible Dismissal By Stephanie Collins Keeping members and volunteers safe is very important to Florida 4-H. Thus they made it very clear in their Florida 4-H COVID Townhall meeting July 28th that failure to comply with UF/IFAS/4-H COVID policies can result in a volunteer, youth member or parent “being removed from their association with 4-H” . I realize that is a strong opening statement, but this is a serious topic with serious repercussions. As a side note, they also stated Florida 4-H insurance: “ does not provide illness coverage for Covid-19”. Another important detail for members and volunteers to know. In order to obey their policies, the first thing you need to know is what Phase your County Extension/4-H office is in. No matter what Phase UF recommends, your County Extension may choose to be in a stricter Phase. For instance, if UF recommends Phase 3, your County may choose to be Phase 1 or 2 due to the virus load in your County. Phases can jostle back and forth. Assumptions as to what Phase you are in is not an option, ask your 4-H Agent. Below are the different UF Phases followed by some example scenarios. “Phase 1: No face to face programs. Virtual programs allowed” “Phase 2: One on one appointments are allowed. No face to face group programs. Virtual programs allowed.” – (NOTE: I also saw in my research that for Phase 2 “groups of up to ten can meet (for 4-H this would mean up to 8 youth and 2 adults)” if approved. “Phase 3: Approval to host face to face programs with more than 10 people may now be requested.” “Indoors: The total number of people for indoor events must be one half of the capacity of the facility as determined by the state Fire Marshall, must not exceed 50 and must maintain a physical distance of 6 feet from one another. Therefore, the actual capacity may limit enrollment below 50. If you have a large indoor venue, you may operate it at up to 50% of capacity while complying with the face covering and social distancing requirements. Depending on the venue layout and space available to ensure the minimum prescribed physical distancing requirement, the maximum attendance could be less than 50% of building capacity.” “Outdoors: 250 people maximum, but venue managers have the latitude to set lower maximum attendance capacities for their venues.” “Phase 4: Face to face programs allowed -no social distancing required; face coverings TBD.”UF/IFAS Phase 3 Event Policies Covid - link bottom of article Now that you know the UF Phases with details you can start implementing their policies. Below are some example scenarios to demonstrate how you can apply their policies to your Club. Example Scenario for Phase 1- You hold an in-person meeting – policy is broken, and you are NOT covered by insurance. Example Scenario for Phase 2: You requested and have approval from your County 4-H office. Being diligent you make sure no more than 10 people are present at your Club meeting (that includes parents, family members etc.) , social distancing is adhered to and sanitizing in place. But, one person refuses to wear a mask. Policy is broken and there is no insurance coverage. The program must cease immediately, and everyone must exit if not resolved. If a youth is unable to wear a mask due to medical type issues – they must have prior approval from 4-H to be exempt, otherwise policy is broken. Do not accept verbal. Only accept written approvals. Note: Livestock/Equine and Shooting Sports are mask exempt when in the show/practice ring or firing line for safety purposes. But masks must be worn when outside the ring/line. Example Scenario for Phase 3: The County does not approve your request for face to face meetings stating you can do them virtually. You host an in person meeting anyhow. Policy is broken and you are not covered by insurance. Example Scenario for Phase 3 - You attend an approved event that has a pre-registration process, social distancing, masks, and sanitization in place. The event is indoors, and 51 people are in attendance instead of 50. Policy is broken and you are not covered by insurance.
When you apply with your 4-H Agent for approval, here is what your Agent is looking for. "Approval will be provided if appropriate safety measures are followed. For example, face coverings are required at all UF/IFAS Extension in-person events, indoors and outdoors, regardless of group size. Also, social distancing (minimum of 6 feet) must be maintained." Plus groups are to follow the policy for whatever Phase your County is in.
Question:“Are we as leaders covered if we end up in a situation that a member of the 4-H gathering contracts COVID 19 and they want to come back at us? If the volunteer was an approved county volunteer ( with an annual letter of appointment) and the gathering was approved through the Essential Activities portal and carried out as agreed upon, then yes the University of Florida will back you up.” Florida 4-H COVID Townhall Meeting
Masks and sanitizing equipment all come at a cost for our 4-H volunteers. Florida 4-H suggests County 4-H offices use some of their membership fees to help. Ask your 4-H Agent if you need help purchasing masks and/or sanitizing supplies. According to Stacey Ellison ( 2nd in charge of Florida 4-H ) "Florida 4-H did purchase bandana style facial coverings that were sent out to all Counties who did not al ready have access. Their hope is if someone shows up without one ( things happen) 4-H can provide." Note: 4-H said in their Townhall Meeting there were no protocols on how to sanitize.
Remember Florida 4-H made it very clear that failure to comply to UF COVID policies can result in a volunteer, youth member or parent being dismissed from 4-H. Be proactive. Do NOT accept verbal – get everything in writing. Know your County’s Phase. Develop a dated sign in sheet with phase # listed. Take photos showing social distancing, masks and sanitizing in place. Be proactive. You never know when you may need to prove you followed policies.
Agents - while this virus with all the changes is tough for you to navigate, it is tough for your volunteers too. Keeping youth and volunteers safe is a team effort. Good, clear communication from all our County Agents with volunteers is crucial during this pandemic.
Other information was gleaned from emails, searches and conversations.
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