Updated Service Guidelines

Updated North Texas Master Naturalist Volunteer Service Guidance

Effective July 2, 2020

As announced at the July 1 Chapter Meeting, we have updated our guidance for members. In addition, Governor Abbott also issued an Executive Order today ordering that all Texans wear face masks when in public in our county. Please see a link to his order at the bottom of this message.

Our focus continues to be on our volunteers’ and the public’s health and safety. Each Master Naturalist will decide when to comfortably return to service. No one should feel pressure to participate in volunteer activities.

As we return to in-person service, we must adhere to the following.

Guidance when working indoors:

  • Know and follow local partners’ and project locations’ individual health and safety policies which may be more stringent. They may not yet be open to volunteer service.
  • Practice exemplary hygiene. Wear a mask when in public.
  • When and where groups are allowed, limit groups working to 10 or fewer people, all spaced 6 feet or more apart.
  • Do not use shared equipment if possible. If it is necessary to share equipment, sanitize everything between each user.

Guidance for Outdoor Service:

  • Know and follow local partners’ and project locations’ individual health and safety policies which may be more stringent. They may not yet be open to volunteer service.
  • Practice exemplary hygiene. Wear a mask when in public.
  • Limit groups working outdoors together or receiving instructions to 10 or fewer people, all spaced 6 feet apart or more.
  • Individuals may work independently, keeping 6 feet or more apart from others in a wildscape garden or other natural area.
  • You should use your own gardening tools and equipment if possible. Sanitize shared tools and equipment between each user and clean after each use.

If you have any questions about our new direction, please contact Russ Olivier, Volunteer Service Projects/Advanced Training Director, at activities@ntmn.org.

Thanks to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Reopening Guidance, May 20, 2020 and Dallas County Health and Human Services Dallas County COVID-19 Health Guidance for the Public, May 11, 2020, from which this direction has been liberally adapted.

As we receive updated guidance from our sponsors, we will keep you posted.

Thank you for all you do as we work through these difficult times together,

Scott Hudson
North Texas Chapter
Texas Master Naturalist Program

All volunteers must comply with state, county, and local public health and safety mandates to protect the well-being of volunteers, employees, and the public. Bear in mind that we represent our Chapter and we should set an example for the community.

General health and safety guidance:

Take personal responsibility. Public health guidance cannot anticipate every situation. Everyone must take responsibility, act based on common sense, and follow the guidance recommended by health care experts. Remain at home if you are not feeling well or have a fever.

Do an honest self-assessment of your own comfort, risk, health and safety. This assessment should include asking these questions:

  • Do I fall into a high-risk category, based on age or other medical conditions?
  • Is there someone in my home, or someone with whom I interact on a regular basis, who falls into a high-risk category?

If the answer to either of these questions is yes, exercise extra caution and discretion before engaging in activities outside the home.

Perform exemplary protective hygiene. Distance yourself physically and clean the environment. NTMN volunteers should practice good hygiene and disinfecting practices to minimize risk of virus transmission.

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds as frequently as possible or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, especially after interactions with people or objects.
  • Stay home if ill.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, your sleeve or elbow, not your hands.
  • Clean high-touch surfaces (door handles, tools, counters, restroom surfaces, etc.) regularly.
  • Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
  • Refrain from handshaking and other direct contact.
  • Maintain physical distance, keeping at least 6 feet between people.
  • Wear a facial covering when out in public or when in the company of others. Recognize use of facemasks or other personal protective equipment as a way of diminishing transmission, even if they are not currently required in a local jurisdiction or program.

Be prepared to support contact tracing when it becomes available. Keep a list of those with whom you come in contact to facilitate these efforts. If you have traveled to certain high-risk areas, you should self-quarantine for 14 days.

Additional Texas Master Naturalist program guidance on COVID-19 can be found at https://txmn.tamu.edu/welcome/covid-19-response/ and DCHHS guidance at https://www.dallascounty.org/departments/dchhs/2019-novel-coronavirus.php

For Governor Abbott’s order please go here: https://gov.texas.gov/news/post/governor-abbott-establishes-statewide-face-covering-requirement-issues-proclamation-to-limit-gatherings

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