COVID-19: Updates for employees, campus services, and travel

Monday, March 16, 2020

Dear members of the UI community,

Please see these important COVID-19-related updates as they pertain to the workplace, campus services, and travel.

NEWS FOR EMPLOYEES

Over the weekend, the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) determined there is now community spread of COVID-19 in Iowa, including in Johnson County. As a result, Governor Kim Reynolds is recommending that Iowa schools close for four weeks; please watch for announcements from your local school district. The University of Iowa is evaluating next steps according to the Critical Incident Management Plan and will continue to share information as it becomes available. The UI has already taken several steps to protect its campus community including:

Please take extra precautions outlined by the CDC to protect your health, particularly if you are over the age of 60 or have an underlying medical condition. University Human Resources is also encouraging you to watch for signs of stress, which is a natural response to a crisis and has resource guides and videos online to help you know when to take action, and how to help yourself, your colleagues, and anyone you care about. Employee Assistance Program staff can offer additional advice and services, including free, confidential counseling for UI employees.

UI WORKFORCE REASSIGNMENT 

The University of Iowa has activated its Critical Incident Management Plan (CIMP) and is addressing myriad campus concerns related to the COVID-19 outbreak. As campus prepares for the potential of temporary workforce absences due to illness or the need to assist mission-critical units that are experiencing more work than their available workforce can complete, University Human Resources has created a temporary workforce pool of UI staff and students that could be reassigned to work in areas of critical need across the university. 

Leaders in the colleges and vice presidential units will work with their senior HR leader to identify staff and student employees who are performing non-critical work and could potentially be reassigned. This plan would be activated only if campus experiences a large number of employees absent from the workforce or if mission-critical units experience more work than their available workforce can complete.

Critical units are those that cannot pause operations and are focused on the necessary life, health, and security of our campus. Critical units will be asked to identify mission-critical work that could be performed by an employee reassigned from another area. 

Employees who would like to volunteer their efforts to mission-critical units should first discuss reassignment with their supervisor. To volunteer, employees should log on to UI Self Service and click the volunteer link. The link will be active later this week.

UTILIZE UI EMPLOYEE ASSISTANCE PROGRAM, OTHER RESOURCES

News of a widespread public health concern like COVID-19 can cause feelings of uncertainty and anxiety. As COVID-19 spreads, it not only creates stress but can add to existing anxieties.

Accurate information, preparation, and evidence-based practice are powerful tools to help ease feelings of uncertainty and anxiety.  Find accurate information about COVID-19 from reliable sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the World Health Organization (WHO), and more locally the UI’s coronavirus website, where frequently asked questions for students, faculty, staff, and parents are updated regularly.

If you need assistance, support is available.

  • UI Employee Assistance Program for UI faculty, staff, and their families (319-335-2085) or eaphelp@uiowa.edu
  • University Counseling Service for students (319-335-7294)
  • Student Care and Assistance (319-335-1162)
  • Johnson County Crisis Center (319-351-0140)

Additional resources can be found on the UI Employee Assistance Program website

PARKING/TRANSPORTATION FEES WAIVED

The university will waive parking permits, van fees, and bus passes for all UI and UI Hospitals & Clinics employees for April 1 to May 1, effective in April 1 pay checks.

COMMUNITY UPDATES/PRESS CONFERENCES

Johnson County Public Health and Emergency Management will be hosting regular press conferences to keep the community updated on its response to COVID-19. The UI participates in and provides updates during these events. They will be announced in advance and streamed live on Johnson County Public Health Facebook page.

CAMPUS SERVICES

UNIVERSITY OF IOWA HOSPITALS & CLINICS 

The first patient with community-acquired COVID-19 in Johnson County is being cared for by University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics (UIHC). That patient is currently in isolation, which means that other patients are kept at a safe distance, and those caring for this individual are properly protected.

In addition, UIHC is now restricting door access for staff, requiring employees and volunteers to use their UI Health Care ID badge to open several exterior entrances between the hours of 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. Patients and visitors are now limited to four public entrances and will continue to be screened for symptoms of acute respiratory illness (e.g., fever, cough, difficulty breathing) before entering.

DENTAL CLINICS AND OUTREACH

The College of Dentistry is suspending all faculty, student, and resident clinics effective Monday, March 16, for a three-week period ending Friday, April 3. All elective patient care at the College of Dentistry will cease, including all outreach clinics and activities during this time period. Dental emergencies will be handled by the college to the extent possible.

WENDELL JOHNSON SPEECH AND HEARING CENTER

The Wendell Johnson Speech and Hearing Center is suspending all clinics effective Monday, March 16, for a three-week period ending Friday, April 3.

RESEARCH

In an effort to protect research participants, researchers, and the UI community, the Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) has implemented a policy to temporarily restrict in-person human subject visits at UI Hospitals & Clinics and other campus buildings (including research buildings and off-site clinical buildings). 

Until further notice, the majority of such visits will be postponed or conducted remotely. An exception, with additional conditions, will be made for instances when a visit is essential to a participant’s health and/or well-being.

Read the full policy announcement at https://research.uiowa.edu/impact/news/temporary-policy-human-subjects-research-related-visits-during-covid-19-outbreak.

Additional COVID-19 guidance for researchers can be found on the OVPR’s website at https://research.uiowa.edu/covid-19-information-researchers.

HANCHER AUDITORIUM

In light of the UI’s announcement that all non-essential events be canceled through April 3, Hancher is in the process of communicating with artists and agents. More information for ticketholders and the public will be announced soon.

TRAVEL 

ALL FACULTY, STAFF, AND STUDENTS ABROAD RECALLED

On Saturday, March 14, the Board of Regents recalled all faculty, staff, and students traveling abroad. The board gave each university president the flexibility to make exceptions on a case-by-case basis. Those abroad were strongly urged to return immediately as flight availability may diminish and to not delay in making the swiftest possible departure arrangement. As part of enhanced screening at U.S. ports of entry, it is possible more restrictive quarantine measures will be put in place as this situation evolves.

Previously, the board directed the universities recall faculty, staff, and students from any country that the CDC designated with a Level 3 travel health notice. This now applies to all countries. Additional resources and guidance have been shared with faculty, staff, and students affected by this decision.

Visit the for the latest travel restrictions to the U.S, visit www.dhs.gov.

ALL NON-ESSENTIAL BUSINESS TRAVEL CANCELED

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has canceled all non-essential business travel for state agencies, which includes Iowa’s public universities, and has not specified an end date. Accordingly, all university-related, non-essential domestic travel is prohibited until further notice, effective immediately. This includes travel to conferences, for training or meetings, or athletic travel. Essential travel is defined as travel that is essential to the operation of the university; that no alternative method of convening is possible; and that the health and safety of state of Iowa employees will be appropriately managed. It must:

  • Supports the healthcare clinical enterprise
  • Preserve the safety of a research subject 
  • Preserve the results of a research activity 
  • Earn academic credit that is necessary to meet a graduation requirement
  • Maintain critical business continuity for university

Requests for travel for any non UIHC/Carver College of Medicine employees are required to be completed utilizing ProTrav. The purpose for the exception to travel must be entered in the trip description. The form will follow the normal approval process.

AIRPORT SHUTTLE FOR STUDENTS

UI Student Government offers a shuttle service to and from the Eastern Iowa Airport. UISG supports the recommendation to defer personal, non-essential travel during the coming weeks but wants to ensure students who need to use the Eastern Iowa Airport still have an affordable and accessible method of transportation. For this reason, UISG is extending the Airport Shuttle service to accommodate students' changing plans. More information can be found here: https://uisg.uiowa.edu/student-services/airport-shuttle/.