Story by staff reporter Nora Drenner
It has never been easier to respond on your own, whether online, over the phone or by mail—all without having to meet a census taker, says the U.S. Census Bureau in response to the current COVID-19 pandemic.
The 2020 Census is currently underway with households throughout the nation having received official U.S. Census mail in mid- March about how to respond. These official Census Bureau mailings include detailed information and a Census ID for completing the Census online. According to census reports, over five million folks have already responded online to the 2020 Census.
Currently, the planned completion date for data collection for the 2020 Census is July 31, 2020, however, that date can and will be adjusted if necessary as the pandemic situation evolves in order to achieve a complete and accurate count, according to a recent U.S. Census news release.
Also noted in the news release, college students living in on-campus housing are typically counted through their university as part of the census Group Quarters Operation, which counts all students living in university owned housing. In addition to college dormitories, the Group Quarters Operation also includes places like nursing homes, group homes, halfway houses and prisons.
In general, students in colleges and universities temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 virus will still be counted as part of the Group Quarters Operation process. Even if they are home on census day, April 1, they should be counted according to the residence criteria which states they should be counted where they live and sleep most of the time. Schools are being asked to contact their students and remind them to respond.
Furthermore, administrators of group housing, which counts people in nursing homes, college dorms, prisons and other institutional living facilities, are being encouraged to choose a way to count their residents that requires less in-person contact.
Additionally, the Census Bureau is working with service providers at emergency and transitional shelters, soup kitchens and regularly scheduled mobile food vans to adapt plans to count the populations they serve.
The plan has been to interview each person served a meal or staying at the facility at a date and time the service providers choose between March 30 and April 1. Now the U.S. Census is contacting service providers to determine whether they will be open between March 30 and April 1 and whether they would be able to provide a paper listing of census response data for each person served or staying at the facility instead.
And, the start of the Mobile Questionnaire Assistance program, that offers assistance with responding to the 2020 Census at events and locations where people naturally gather has been pushed from March 30 to April 12.
Also being delayed is the Early Nonresponse Follow-up operation, in which census takers begin following up with households that haven’t responded . The follow-up operation has been moved to April 23.
Folks are reminded census results help determine how billions of dollars in federal funding flow into states and communities each year. Census results affect the funding for health clinics, fire departments, schools. roads and highways. Additionally, the census numbers determine how many seats in Congress each state gets.
For more information about the U.S Census or to take the census online, go to https://2020census.gov/en/ways-to-respond.html