Some students and families have asked if the University of Iowa will require students to be tested for COVID-19 before returning to 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
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 (319-335-9704, email@example.com).
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.
Schedule a test through MyChart
If you’re between the ages of 18 and 55, the new Symptom Checker service can help you quickly determine if you need to schedule a COVID-19 test or a telehealth video visit.
Here’s how it works:
- Log into MyChart.
- Click “symptom checker” under the left-hand menu.
- Answer a brief set of questions.
- Based on your answers you’ll be directed to the next step.
Not a MyChart member? Learn more or sign up today by visiting:
Call or email the Student Health Nurseline (319-335-9704, firstname.lastname@example.org) 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Please visit the UI Human Resources website: https://hr.uiowa.edu/policies/emergency-preparedness.
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.
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).
For the most up-to-date on the application process, see the TALA page of the UI's Coronavirus website.
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 this academic year 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.
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 Summer 2021 sessions can be found here.
The spring 2021 semester began 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, the university will provide two instructional breaks to give students and faculty a brief respite from instruction. Students are encouraged to use these days to ensure they understand their course materials and seek assistance if necessary. There will be no classes on:
- Tuesday, March 2
- Wednesday, April 14
We are disappointed to announce that spring 2021 commencement is moving to a virtual format. We know how much these ceremonies mean to our students and their families. And while May seems a long way off, we feel it is the right decision to make now to maintain the health and safety of the entire campus community. Although we will not be able to celebrate in person, the university is committed to honoring our graduates and celebrating their achievements in a way that allows for participation from friends and family virtually.
We acknowledge the disappointment of our graduates who were unable to attend an in-person commencement ceremony in spring or fall 2020 due to the pandemic and planned to participate in May 2021. The university will reach out to these graduates regarding opportunities to be recognized at future in-person programs to celebrate their accomplishments.
The university will live-stream all of the spring 2021 virtual commencement ceremonies. Please sign up here to receive updates.
The university has very limited outdoor locations that could host a ceremony of that size while maintaining social distancing for graduates and their families.
Managing traffic flow in and out of such an outdoor event while maintaining social distancing would be very difficult, if not impossible.
Even outdoors, the state of Iowa’s guidance on mass gatherings would limit the university’s ability to host a large event and would likely prevent family members from attending.
The student population and at least some family members likely will not have had access to a vaccine by May. The university feels it is in the best interest of the safety of the entire campus community, as well as family members and friends of our graduates, to continue the virtual format for spring 2021.
Iowa weather in May is unpredictable, and it would be impossible to move the event indoors if it rains. Having to cancel an outdoor ceremony at the last minute due to inclement weather would cause a great amount of additional stress and disappointment for our graduates and their families.
“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.
The Board of Regents lifted its 30-day ban on university-sponsored international travel for all faculty, staff, and students on March 11.
Faculty and Staff: President Harreld may authorize individual faculty and staff international travel for departures if that travel is specifically tied to university responsibilities. Faculty and staff may create a trip request in ProTrav for routing with departmental approval. The trip request must be approved by the Dean or Dean's delegate. Once the Dean has approved, the request will be reviewed by applicable campus leaders. Inquiries regarding international travel can be directed to email@example.com. Postdocs and trainees fall under faculty and staff for purposes of university-sponsored travel.
Students: International travel is currently limited due to the coronavirus pandemic. Undergraduate student travel for University of Iowa purposes will not be approved through Aug. 1, 2021. Nonessential international travel for university purposes should be avoided to reduce the risk of contracting or spreading the virus. The university will continue to monitor travel risks and modify guidelines if and when conditions improve. Graduate and professional students may submit a travel registration request including a high-risk travel proposal to International Programs for consideration.
All travel approved for university purposes is enrolled in a mandatory Iowa Regents international travel policy that includes robust coverage for medical and security needs. Given the uncertainty facing travel, the university will allow departments to purchase additional travel cancellation insurance for university travel. Please check your funding source to ensure costs are allowable (i.e., NIH grants). Travel cancellation insurance can be purchased from our international travel insurance provider
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 undergraduate student travel outside the U.S. through Aug. 1, 2021.
Due to the prevalence of COVID-19 in the United States and abroad, the University of Iowa has determined there will be no study abroad or undergraduate university-sponsored student travel departures outside the U.S. through Aug. 1. The university continues to carefully monitor travel conditions and will decide when international travel is possible again for students.
For more information on virtual international courses, virtual internships, and the current application process for beyond Aug. 1, see the full announcement.
More information on COVID-19 for graduate students, compiled by the Graduate College.
Information and frequently asked questions for prospective students and their parents compiled by the Office of Admissions.
Frequently asked questions for International Students and Scholars compiled by International Programs.