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COVID-19 forces changes in pesticide training, testing

URBANA, Ill. - The impact of the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) continues to create uncertainty and concern both globally and here in our community. Following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, the University of Illinois has implemented social-distancing protocols that impact all university events. Illinois Extension, as the outreach program of the university, aligns with all policies related to public health and safety.

The Pesticide Applicator Training and Testing clinics, jointly administered by the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) and University of Illinois Extension Pesticide Safety Education Program (PSEP), are cancelled through May 31. Refunds will be issued as soon as possible to those who registered.

New regulations are as follows:

For those currently licensed, but needing to retest: The Illinois Department of Agriculture will extend licenses that expired on December 31, 2019 until December 31, 2020.  If an updated license showing this extension is desired, email IDOA or call 217-785-2427.

For those who are unlicensed and would like to become an operator for 2020:  Due to COVID-19, non-certified applicators (operators) will not have a testing requirement for the remainder of 2020. Operators must continue to work under the direction of a certified applicator and receive general pesticide training. The supervising applicator must be certified in each category applicable to the pesticide use.  A training video, Agricultural Worker and Handler Pesticide Safety Training, is available online.

For those NOT currently licensed and still needing to test in either General Standards or any category: All in-house testing has been suspended. IDOA is offering online testing for a limited number of exam categories. Read and follow the online instructions. Any individual who take an online exam to receive a temporary license will be required to re-test in 2021. 

For those who still have licensing and testing questions:  Please consult IDOA’s FAQ site.

For those who need training: PSEP offers several online trainings that can be used for individual study. For those preparing for the General Standards exam, the Private Applicator course online can serve as a substitute.  A new workbook is available within the course; registration is $15.

For those who need study materials: Manuals and workbooks are available for online ordering, though shipping will be delayed.No orders can be made through Pesticide Safety Education Program's website.

When travel restrictions are lifted, training and testing opportunities will resume. Consult the University of Illinois PSEP Facebook Page for up-to-date information regarding training and testing.

Source: Michelle Wiesbrook