FAQs

Health information

For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19 in Iowa, visit coronavirus.iowa.gov and the Iowa Department of Public Health website.  

The CDC recommends social distancing, which means remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet, or 2 meters) from others when possible.

The CDC also always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public space, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick, even inside your home. 
  • Put distance between yourself and other people outside of your home. 
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others. Do not use a face mask meant for a health care worker.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes. 
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.  

For a full details, see: CDC | How to protect yourself and others.

We know that dealing with this evolving situation can cause stress and anxiety. Please remember that there are campus and community resources available to faculty and staff:

If a student is in need of additional support, they should connect with one of these campus or community resources:

 

Wellmark has announced they are taking the following steps to support their health plan members in seeking medical treatment related to COVID-19:

Waiving prior authorization processes. Wellmark will waive prior authorization processes for covered services related to COVID-19 to ensure patients receive the right care at the right time and location.

Covering diagnostic tests for COVID-19. Members will have no cost-share for appropriate testing to establish the diagnosis of COVID-19.

Increasing access to prescription medications. Wellmark prescription drug benefit plans will allow for early refill and we encourage the use of 90-day retail and mail order benefits. We also will ensure formulary flexibility if there are medication shortages or other access issues. Members will not be responsible for any additional charges if they receive a non-formulary medication as a result of a shortage.

Offering virtual health care visits and 24/7 help. We are encouraging our members to take advantage of virtual visits—a covered benefit for most Wellmark members when they use Doctor On Demand—to avoid the spread of germs. Members also have access to Wellmark’s BeWell 24/7 service, which connects members to real people who can help with a variety of health-related concerns 24/7.

Telehealth video visits. All telehealth video sessions with UI Health Care will be covered at no cost to UIChoice, UISelect, SHIP, and UIGradcare health plan members.

The University of Iowa has developed guidelines for supervisors in the event an employee becomes symptomatic or tests positive for SARS-CoV-2. These guidelines follow CDC recommendations and include requiring the employee to self-isolate until they have met Centers for Disease Control (CDC) criteria to discontinue self-isolation.

If the employee has reported to work in person in the last 10 days, the university will also close off and clean the employee’s workspace, when appropriate.

More information on reporting and notifications is outlined in the guide on the Showing Symptoms page.

The university will share the current number of self-reported cases each Monday (beginning on Aug. 24) in the COVID-19 campus update.

COVID-19 will continue to be present in the community for the foreseeable future, and guidance and information about the pandemic changes rapidly and must be continually monitored. While we are excited about the vaccine trials happening at our own world-class academic medical center, the university is prepared to make difficult decisions about the fall semester, if necessary. We are committed to excellence in education, research, and health care no matter what hurdles come our way.

The metrics include:

  • New cases
  • Percent of positive tests
  • Available testing
  • Appropriate contact tracing
  • Ample classroom instruction
  • Staffing for critical functions
  • Course instruction transition to online
  • Classroom availability
  • Residence hall capacity
  • Protective equipment inventory
  • Cleaning equipment inventory
  • Johnson County school operation level
  • Child care availability
  • Proclamation compliance
  • Cases at other Iowa universities
  • UI Health Care capacity level

Faculty, staff, and students should fill out the self-reporting form if:

  • They have tested positive for COVID-19
  • They have been contacted by a public health agency and identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19
  • They were told by someone that they were in close contact with an individual who tested positive for COVID-19

Effective Friday, Oct. 23, 2020, the university will no longer allow gaiters or face shields (when worn without a mask) as appropriate face coverings.

Students, faculty, staff, and visitors are required to wear face masks in all university buildings, including classrooms, unless alone in a private office or your residence hall room. Masks should be worn outside when social distancing is not possible.

Appropriate face coverings now include:

  • Cloth mask
  • Disposable mask
  • Students, faculty, and staff may wear face shields for additional protection so long as they are worn with a face mask.

*Instructors may wear a face shield in certain situations where instruction requires an unobstructed view of faces and in situations requiring student accommodations. In these instances, instructors will need to maintain a minimum distance of 6 feet from those they are instructing.

NOTE: UI Health Care has separate face covering guidelines due to patient care. For full personal protective equipment requirements for UI Health Care staff, see The Loop.

Testing

Asymptomatic testing

As we prepare to return to campus, some students and families have asked if the University of Iowa will require students to be tested for COVID-19 before moving into the residence halls. We recognize this may provide some comfort for families, but it is not recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for the following reasons:

  • One-time testing only provides data for a specific point in time and can miss cases in the early stages of infection, giving students a false sense of security.
  • One-time testing requires significant resources, including trained staff to conduct the tests, personal protective equipment, and physical space for conducting testing safely and ensuring privacy.

Poorly administered mass testing can result in damaged or inconclusive results and excessive false negatives. For this reason, the university is focusing its resources on CDC recommended infection prevention measures including:

  • Reducing campus density
  • Modifying classrooms and facilities to promote social distancing
  • Providing and mandating cloth face coverings
  • Enhanced cleaning and disinfection

Symptomatic testing

The UI is prepared to test symptomatic individuals and asymptomatic individuals with a known COVID-19 exposure in coordination with Johnson County Public Health. The UI will only administer tests approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

A student who believes they have been exposed to the virus or is experiencing symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) should call or email the Student Health Nurseline (319-335-9704student-health@uiowa.edu).

The university will proactively engage with students throughout the semester to gauge their health and well-being and provide resources to support both their physical and mental health.

The university has been developing and implementing policies and procedures to help lower the risk of COVID-19 exposure and spread. Anyone who is experiencing symptoms consistent with a COVID-19 infection or has concerns about a potential exposure should follow this process:

  • If you have symptoms consistent with COVID-19, stay home.
  • Do not go to class or work while symptomatic. If you develop symptoms while on campus, go home or return to your dorm room.
  • Call a health care professional who can assess your symptoms and risk factors and help you make a plan. DO NOT walk in to QuickCare, Student Health, any UI Health Care clinic, the State Hygienic Lab, or any emergency room.
  • Consult your UI Health Care provider, Student Health, or personal health care provider to see if you need a COVID-19 testing.

Students
Call or email the Student Health Nurseline (319-335-9704, student-health@uiowa.edu) or your local health care provider. After hours and on weekends, call the UI Hospitals & Clinics (319-384-9010 or the 24-hour helpline, 319-384-8819) or schedule a video visit through MyChart.

The health care provider you work with will determine whether you qualify for COVID-19 testing.

Employees
Call your health care provider or the UI Hospitals & Clinics (319-384-9010) and inform them of your symptoms or schedule a video visit through MyChart.

The health care provider you work with will determine whether you qualify for COVID-19 testing.

Students who contact Student Health for evaluation of COVID-19 symptoms or exposure will not be charged for the telehealth visit. If a test is ordered, it will typically be sent to the UIHC for processing. The UIHC will bill a student’s insurance for collection and processing of the test. Students who have concerns about payment should call the Student Health Nurseline (319-335-9704) or talk to their Student Health provider during the telehealth visit to discuss possible alternative arrangements for testing.

A student can choose to utilize UIHC and schedule a MyChart video visit/test ordered through UIHC. UIHC will bill insurance for the telehealth visit(s) and testing, and students may be responsible for charges. The cost for a University of Iowa Health Care COVID-19 lab test is $190. Insurance companies across the state of Iowa, including Medicare, Medicaid, Wellmark, Aetna, and United Healthcare have agreed to waive cost-sharing if COVID-19 testing is necessary.

See the UIHC website for cost and coverage information for COVID evaluation and testing. The UIHC billing office can answer questions or explore options related to hospital charges.

After exposure, it can take up to 14 days to become symptomatic and have enough virus to show up on a test. Getting tested immediately after exposure will not provide an accurate test result. Students who might have been exposed will be quarantined regardless.

Do not complete the self-reporting form unless you have tested positive or have been contacted by a public health agency and identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

Students in essential roles that require some level of (socially distanced) face-to-face interaction had shared concerns, feedback, and interest in being tested. The Division of Student Life was supportive of starting a pilot at a time in the semester when Student Health was able to manage the testing.

This pilot program aligns with the actions of our peer institutions and follows other proactive steps the university has taken to minimize the spread of the virus including:

  • Reducing campus density
  • Mandating face coverings
  • Providing protective equipment
  • Installing plexiglass in visitor areas
  • Modifying classrooms and facilities to promote social distancing
  • Upgrading air filtration systems
  • Enhancing cleaning and disinfection protocols

Student Health will use the PCR test (obtained by a nasopharyngeal swab) used by UI Health Care.

The pilot testing can be managed with existing resources and the University of Iowa will not incur additional direct costs. Larger scale testing is not currently possible because of costs and resources.

This program will be free to the student employees who wish to participate.

If you would like to get a test but are not are not symptomatic, and are not eligible for the pilot at this time, there are locations such as Hy-Vee or Test Iowa that may be able to provide this service.

Faculty and staff

There is still no campuswide date for when employees who are currently working remotely should return to campus. Employees working remotely should continue to do so until further notice and should not return to campus until they are asked to do so by their dean, vice president, or unit manager.

Note: UI Health Care employees and those associated with public health efforts may be called back to work sooner than other areas of campus, depending on patient volumes and specific organizational or research needs.

The university is committed to supporting employees upon their return to work on campus, including those who are medically vulnerable and at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

Employees (outside of UI Health Care) who fall into one or more of the high-risk categories identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), or who have a household member in one of the high-risk categories, and who wish to seek a temporary alternative work arrangement beyond the COVID-19 workplace measures taken by their respective department or unit, may request a temporary alternative work arrangement. Requests may be made by either the employee or the employee’s human resources representative by completing an electronic request form.

The request form and additional information is available on the UI Faculty and Staff Disability Services website

With the university facing $70M in losses due to the pandemic, the university returned to regular pay practices on May 18, 2020.

As a result, each college and unit will be working to understand potential changes in enrollment and making decisions about future staffing needs based on projections.

Faculty

Contract extensions and new hires will follow regular processes based on the academic and research needs of the employing college.

Staff (P&S, Merit)

If meaningful work is not available for a current position, employees will be asked to register for the temporary redeployment pool and accept redeployment when offered, and will utilize paid vacation leave or comp time (if applicable), or request unpaid leave.

Paid leave

If an employee (faculty, staff, or student) is unable to work due to a COVID-19-related health condition or because of responsibilities of caring for a child whose school or childcare provider has closed due to COVID-19, there continue to be paid leave options depending on the employee category and eligibility. For more details on paid leave options and examples of specific leave scenarios, please review the COVID-19 Leave Scenarios.

UI Health Care will issue more specific guidelines for its employees.

The university’s goal is to maintain the safety and well-being of its employees while keeping as many in paid status as possible. As always, the UI will comply with all applicable laws, rules, regulations, and policies regarding pay practices and funding sources.

You can find more information on the human resources website or by speaking with your human resources representative. See full FAQ.

We understand some members of our community may be unable to work because they are sick, caring for a loved one, or because of other complications due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you find yourself in any of these circumstances, you will be eligible for additional paid leave as described below, and your job will be protected until you return.

DETAILS

The Federal Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act provides 80 hours of new paid sick leave (prorated for part-time employees) for COVID-related needs. 

The Board of Regents also has authorized the university to provide additional sick leave for COVID-19-related needs and has waived the cap on family-caregiving leave.

Additionally, the Federal Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act provides up to 12 weeks of job-protected FMLA leave for employees who need to care for children during school closures.

If you would like to know more, you can find a list of FAQs here

If you have additional questions about pay and paid leave, please reach out to your designated HR representative who will consult with Faculty and Staff Disability Services if you are part of the main campus, or with Leave and Disability Administration if you are a member of the UI Health Care team.

UI Health Care will issue more specific guidelines for its employees on the application of these new rules.

University Human Resources Family Services office has resources to assist in finding alternate child care arrangements. This site will be updated regularly as new information and resources for our caregivers of children becomes available. Managers should direct employees here for assistance.

In addition, the new Federal Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion provides up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave for employees who are unable to work due to the need to care for a minor child due to school or childcare closures as described above.

We know that dealing with this evolving situation can cause stress and anxiety.

Please remember that there are campus and community resources available:

Faculty and Staff

UI Employee Assistance Program, 319-335-2085 or eaphelp@uiowa.edu

CommUnity Crisis Services(formerly the Crisis Center), 319-351-0140

Students

If a student is in need of additional support, they should connect with one of these campus or community resources:

University Counseling Services, 319-335-7294 or http://bit.ly/1PbwPol, to schedule an appointment

Student Care and Assistance, 319-335-1162 or dos-assistance@uiowa.edu

CommUnity Crisis Services(formerly the Crisis Center), 319-351-0140

Please visit the UI Human Resources website: https://hr.uiowa.edu/policies/emergency-preparedness.

Students and parents

Students who are medically vulnerable and at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, or who live with someone who is in a vulnerable population, may wish to seek a temporary alternative learning arrangement (TALA).

TALA requests will follow the process outlined below:

  • Student completes the request form: After logging in with their UI HawkID and password, students should answer the questions and upload supporting medical documentation to certify the underlying serious health condition(s). Medical documentation will be kept confidential.
  • Student Disability Services determines eligibility: Once the request has been processed, students will receive an email notifying them and their college of enrollment that their request is approved.
  • Temporary Alternative Learning Arrangement selection: After receiving the approval email from SDS, students should review their fall 2020 schedule, begin to make adjustments, and work with their college of enrollment, as needed, to identify possible options and solutions.

If you are a student who may need to request an adjustment due to other COVID-19 circumstances, please consider applying for the TALA and it will be routed to the appropriate office.

For additional information on types of temporary alternative learning arrangements and best practices for faculty and staff, see: https://sds.studentlife.uiowa.edu/fall-2020/covid-19-temporary-learning-arrangements/.

Full tuition is necessary to cover the University of Iowa’s ongoing operations, including retaining the faculty and staff needed to provide instruction and student support services, whether that be online, face-to-face, or blended instruction.  While the fall semester will not be a traditional experience, the university is committed to delivering excellent instruction allowing students to receive course credit and stay on their education path toward degree completion and graduation.  We are confident our students will receive the knowledge and skills they need to be successful.

Full tuition is necessary to cover the University of Iowa’s ongoing operations, including retaining the faculty and staff needed to provide instruction and student support services, whether that be online, face-to-face, or blended instruction. The difference between the cost of in-state and out-of-state tuition is based on the premise that the University of Iowa receives state funding to provide higher education for students who resided in Iowa when they applied to the university.  In this specific, unprecedented and unanticipated situation, this is a short-term circumstance and one that has taken considerable UI-wide efforts to ensure appropriate learning and make sure all UI students stay on-track for future intended graduation. The University of Iowa is committed to providing world-class virtual instruction to all of its students, no matter where they are located when receiving instruction.  

While the fall semester will not be a traditional experience, the university is committed to delivering excellent instruction allowing students to receive course credit and stay on their education path toward degree completion and graduation.  We are confident our students will receive the knowledge and skills they need to be successful.

While the fall semester will not be a traditional experience, the university is committed to delivering excellent instruction allowing students to receive course credit and stay on their education path toward degree completion and graduation.  Information on which specific course sections will be online vs in-person will be forthcoming.  Students should watch for a campus communication announcing this information and then contact their academic advisor if there are questions.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act includes a Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) that provides emergency funding to higher education for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to the COVID-19 crisis.

The University of Iowa’s Office of Financial Aid has completed distributing the $8.086 million the university received from the federal government’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to assist UI students experiencing financial difficulties related to the disruption of campus operations due to COVID-19. About 4,700 eligible students received assistance, with an average award of $1,712.

  • 85% of recipients are undergraduate students, 10% are professional students, and 5% are graduate students.
  • 33% of the recipients are first-generation students.
  • 33% of the total number of undergraduate student recipients also are Pell Grant recipients. (Graduate and professional students are not eligible for Pell Grants.)

To be eligible students had to meet Title IV eligibility requirements, demonstrate a financial hardship due to COVID-19 pandemic, and have submitted the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The University is required to provide details on the distribution of these funds to students, and is available here: Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) Report (PDF).

University recommendations for students considering participating in in-person Experiential Education programs (including, but not limited to, internships, externships, field experiences, research activities, clinical programs, practicums, co-ops, student teaching programs, service-learning, etc.) domestically or internationally for the Spring 2021 semester can be found here.

The University of Iowa will begin the winter 2020 session as planned on Monday, Dec. 28, 2020, and will expand the session by one week to include four weeks of instruction instead of three. The winter 2020 session will end on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. The majority of winter session classes will be offered online.

The spring 2021 semester will begin on Monday, Jan. 25, 2021, one week later than originally planned, and there will be no spring break. The semester will end, as originally planned, on Friday, May 14, 2021. The university expects that classes for the spring 2021 semester will be offered in similar formats as the fall 2020 semester (in-person, blended, and online). 

The decision to change the spring semester calendar was not made lightly. As we look toward 2021, public health experts tell us that COVID-19 likely will still be active in the winter months and well into spring. Lengthening the winter session to allow for select, high-priority classes to be taught will help keep students on a path to timely graduation, while eliminating spring break will reduce long-distance travel help limit the spread of COVID-19 in communities and at the university as students return.  

In the place of spring break, we are exploring a limited number of instructional breaks during the spring 2021 semester to give faculty and students a brief respite from instruction. This will allow them to focus on their preparation and check their understanding of materials. More information will be shared as plans are finalized.

Travel

International travel will continue to be restricted.

The Iowa Board of Regents’ rolling 30-day university-sponsored international travel ban remains in effect, and we continue to recommend avoiding travel to any area with high numbers of infection. As the COVID-19 pandemic is a rapidly evolving situation, the Board will continue to evaluate this on a daily basis and provide additional guidance if needed.

Exceptions

Exceptions to the above travel policy, will require a ProTrav request for travel form to be created, and routed for departmental approval. The reason for the exception must be entered in the trip comment box. Once the department has approved, the request will be reviewed by applicable campus leaders (outlined below) or their delegate for approval. They must also be approved by the university president.

  • UIHC/CCOM – Jason Haddy
  • Faculty – Kevin Kregel
  • Research – Marty Scholtz
  • Staff – Cheryl Reardon
  • Students – Angie Reams

“University-sponsored” does not mean personal travel but includes any of the following:

  • University staff, faculty, or students who are traveling due to their position with the university.
  • Funding is being provided by the university.
  • Funding is provided by a grant or contract that is managed by the university.
  • Funding is provided by a third party, but the purpose of the travel is due to the staff or faculty’s position within the university.

     

    ProTrav has been updated to display a message when trying to create a trip to a banned destination. 

    Given the uncertainty facing travel, the university will allow travel insurance to be purchased. Please check your funding source to ensure costs are allowable (i.e., NIH grants).

    The traveler or department should make a reasonable effort to get expenses (conference registration, hotel deposits, etc.) refunded. Nonrefundable expenses will be covered by the original funding source for the trip if allowed. Departments should confirm allowability from the external sponsor funding sources to ensure costs are allowable. If not allowable, then nonrefundable travel costs should be funded by the department.

    There will be no study abroad or university-sponsored student travel outside the U.S. through the end of the spring 2021 semester.

    Due to the prevalence of COVID-19 in the United States and abroad, the Board of Regents has determined there will be no study abroad or university-sponsored student travel outside the U.S. through the end of the spring 2021 semester.

       

      COVID-19 Response

      The university is following its Critical Incident Management Plan. 

      You can view the plan here.

      With more than 30,000 students and almost 30,000 employees, the University of Iowa is nearly as large as the 10th most populous city in Iowa. Like most cities and government agencies during an emergency, the university establishes an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and follows the Incident Command System (ICS) structure outlined in the National Incident Management System (NIMS). This is a standard best practice designed to enable teams with a variety of skill sets to work together in an emergency to save lives, stabilize incidents, and protect property and the environment.

      At Iowa, the president assigns specific positions to the EOC based on the type of incident or emergency, and the appointed group is commonly referred to as the Critical Incident Management Team (CIMT). The positions reflect ICS structure under NIMS and include:

      • Incident commander
      • Safety officer
      • Public information officer
      • Planning section chief
      • Operations section chief
      • Logistics section chief
      • Finance and administration section chief

      Additional individuals are then assigned to each section to represent various emergency support functions (ESF) like medical care, housing, research, and academics. While the CIMT is charged with ensuring critical tasks are completed in a timely fashion, all decisions must:

      • Align with local, state, and federal guidance
      • Reflect the direction of the governor and Board of Regents, State of Iowa
      • Be approved by the president

      As the CIMT worked to develop policies and processes for mitigating the spread of COVID-19, it solicited input from various experts across campus. For example, in the spring, the CIMT established several planning teams to create operational scenarios for returning to campus, including the Positive Case Response Work Group and Health and Safety Work Group, which include members of the Carver College of Medicine and College of Public Health.

      It also ensured Iowa’s EOC structure also reflected the Shared Governance process, with Faculty Senate, Staff Council, Undergraduate Student Government (USG), and Graduate and Professional Student Government (GPSG) leaders serving on planning teams and now as liaison officers to the CIMT. The EOC structure is not intended to replace existing decision-making processes, but rather maximize flexibility and responsiveness during an emergency.

      A full organizational chart can be viewed here.

      More Information

      More information on COVID-19 for graduate students, compiled by the Graduate College. 

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      Information and frequently asked questions for prospective students and their parents compiled by the Office of Admissions.

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      Frequently asked questions for International Students and Scholars compiled by International Programs.

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