The U.S. Census Bureau suspended 2020 Census field operations until June 1 in order to protect the health and safety of the American public, Census Bureau employees, and those going through the hiring process for temporary census-taker positions.

Once they resume, in-person activities will incorporate the latest guidance to promote the health and safety of staff and the public, such as social distancing practices, the Census Bureau said in an April 13 release.

The Census Bureau also announced it would be seeking statutory relief from Congress to delay two major reporting deadlines: the Dec. 31 deadline for the Census Bureau to deliver each state’s population total to the president; and the April 1, 2021, deadline for the bureau to deliver the local counts that each state needs to complete legislative redistricting.

The Census Bureau has requested those dates to be delayed to April 30, 2021, and July 31, 2021 respectively.

Congress has not yet acted on the requests.

The bureau has extended the deadline for census self-response online, by phone or by mail from July 31 to Oct. 31. Any households that haven’t yet responded to the census and are accessible by the postal service were sent a postcard invitation to complete the census around April 16.

Non-response follow-up by Census Bureau personnel will now take place between Aug. 11 and Oct. 31.

As of April 30, 54.6% of households across the country have responded to the 2020 Census, and 56.7% of Massachusetts households have responded, according to the Census Bureau’s self-response rate map.

Census statistics are used to determine the number of seats each state holds in the U.S. House of Representatives and informs how billions of dollars in federal funds will be allocated by state, local and federal lawmakers annually for the next 10 years.

Update leave
Census takers drop off invitations to respond and paper questionnaires at the front doors of approximately 6.2 million primarily rural households and most Native American reservations.

Prior to the suspension of field operations, the Census Bureau completed about 12% of its update leave operation. This process is scheduled to resume between June 13 and July 9.

Group quarter enumeration
In-person group quarter enumeration is now projected to occur between July 1 and Sept. 3. This includes locations that are institutional and noninstitutional, such as correctional facilities, nursing homes and college dormitories. Enumeration of transitorary locations such as campgrounds, RV parks, marinas and hotels is tentatively delayed to September.

More guidance is forthcoming in the effort to count off-campus college students. Previously, the Census Bureau clarified that even if students are now home, they should be counted where they were living during the school year.

Service-based enumeration
Service-based operations are aimed at counting those without conventional housing or who are experiencing homelessness. The Census Bureau has indefinitely suspended in-person counting pending further review and coordination with outside partners and stakeholders.

Before the pandemic, the Census Bureau planned to count at service-based operations by interviewing each person served a meal or staying at the facility at a time the service providers choose, between March 30 and April 1.

For some homeless shelters and other group shelters, the Census Bureau is now working to collect information remotely via administrative records.

Mobile Questionnaire Assistance
Mobile Questionnaire Assistance is targeted assistance for communities with low-response rates where Census Bureau staff help people fill out the census online or by phone at events or at key locations like grocery stores, libraries and community centers.

This assistance has been indefinitely suspended pending further review and coordination with outside partners and stakeholders.

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