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Restarting In-Person RCE Programs

Governor Murphy issued recent Executive Orders that lift many of the public health and safety protocols implemented to slow community transmission of COVID-19. The most sweeping changes are embodied in Executive Order 242 (PDF), which addresses the rescinding or easing of previous orders governing requirements for gathering and capacity limits, mask use, and social distancing.

In alignment with Governor Murphy’s determinations, Rutgers Cooperative Extension faculty, staff, and volunteer leaders now have increased flexibility to organize and host off-campus in-person extension programs, meetings, and related activities. On-campus extension programs will continue to be governed by the Guide to Returning to Rutgers (PDF).

The policies outlined in this communication supersede those communicated in my May 4, 2021 email authorizing the resumption of small, outdoor programs. Effective June 7, 2021:

  • Rutgers Cooperative Extension may develop and deliver outdoor programs with no group size limits, social distancing requirements, or mask requirements. For the comfort of faculty, staff, volunteers and participants, it is nevertheless advisable to maintain distancing when feasible. Masks will not be required in outdoor program settings; however, it will be the policy of Rutgers Cooperative Extension to strongly encourage their use.
  • Rutgers Cooperative Extension programs/events at indoor venues may be organized; however, efforts to maintain distancing between participants in indoor spaces are encouraged to the extent practicable and masks are required. Planning for the delivery of extension programs in outdoor settings is, when feasible, a preferred option.
  • Pre-approval of in-person extension programs at off-campus locations is no longer required.
  • Proof of vaccination or affirmation of vaccination status will not be required for participation in RCE programs. Note that vaccinations are not presently available to individuals under 12 years of age.
  • Organizers of Rutgers Cooperative Extension programs must:
    • communicate the requirement that all participants self-evaluate their health ( COVID-19 symptoms check) before attending any RCE program or event. An individual presenting COVID symptoms may not attend the program;
    • maintain program attendance records for at least a period of 90 days;
    • provide adequate accommodations for handwashing and/or sanitation;
    • encourage social distancing to the extent practicable, particularly in indoor program settings;
    • encourage the use of masks at outdoors programs; and
    • require the use of masks at indoor programs.
  • County cooperative extension offices or other public facilities may be subject to additional policies that limit or place additional requirements on their use for extension programs.

The rising numbers of vaccinated residents in New Jersey represent significant progress as we contend with the COVID-19 pandemic; however, continued diligence is needed. The Rutgers Cooperative Extension community has a shared responsibility to take practical and responsible measures to safeguard the wellbeing of each other and all of those we serve. Thank you for your continued dedication to cooperative extension as we take these important steps toward resuming normal operations.


Brian Schilling
Director, Rutgers Cooperative Extension