Campus update: Working remotely, safely returning to campus, CARES Act information, and more

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Working remotely update

University leadership continues to monitor latest guidance from UI medical and public health experts, the Iowa Department of Public Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Board of Regents, State of Iowa, to determine when it will be safe and appropriate for employees working remotely to return to campus. Johnson County is one of 22 counties in Iowa required to follow stricter social distancing and mitigation efforts as outlined by Gov. Kim Reynolds’ proclamation continuing the State Public Health Emergency Declaration.

Right now, there is no campus wide date for when employees working remotely should return to work. 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 that UI Health Care employees may be called back to work sooner than other areas of campus, depending on patient volumes and specific organizational needs.

Planning for a safe return

The Critical Incident Management Team (CIMT) is working to create a process for returning employees to campus in a safe and organized manner. University leaders recognize that employees can be eager to return to work while also feeling concerned for their health and safety.

Returning employees to campus will require careful consideration regarding Parking and Transportation, including accommodations for hospital personnel and how to safely accommodate additional riders on Cambus or the Van Pool. It will mean additional work for Facilities Management as they maintain the building space on campus, and for Purchasing as they acquire appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). It will increase congestion downtown where many businesses remain closed or are providing limited service. Therefore, it is critical that returning employees to campus is done slowly and thoughtfully.

The CIMT has established the following planning teams to create operational scenarios and guidance that will be used to reopen safely and deliberately. These teams are led by faculty and staff experts and are focused on areas such as:

  • Health and safety procedures
  • Classroom sizing and scheduling
  • IT support
  • HR policies
  • Facilities management
  • Finance/budget
  • Research

For example, the Health and Safety Work Group is led by the dean of the College of Public Health, Edith Parker. This group is exploring campus guidance that will cover:

  • Procedures for social distancing in classrooms, housing, dining, etc.;
  • PPE practices and requirements, including who would wear what, how much PPE we would need, and preparing needed stockpiles;
  • Testing, contact tracing, isolation, seropositivity, etc.;
  • How we protect our most vulnerable populations; and
  • Ensuring coordination and compliance with local and state public health departments.

We recognize that living with uncertainty is stressful, and that having a definitive timeline for returning to work on campus would provide assurance to us all. But that is not something we can provide at this time. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we continue to navigate this evolving situation to mitigate the transmission of COVID-19.

Updated protocol for Employees Diagnosed with COVID-19

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated its guidance to extend the home isolation period for those who have tested positive or are presumed positive for COVID-19. The university has updated its Steps for Self-Reporting COVID-19 Diagnosis document to reflect this change. Employees diagnosed with COVID-19 should now remain home for 10 days after the start of symptoms or 72 hours after the cessation of fever without fever-reducing medication, whichever is longer. View the updated document here.

REMINDER: Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund application (CARES Act)

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.

Through the CARES Act, University of Iowa Student Financial Aid has grant funding of $8.086 million available to assist UI students experiencing financial difficulties related to the disruption of campus operations due to COVID-19.

To be eligible for this assistance, students must:

  • 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).
    • Eligible students who have not filed the FAFSA and have not been awarded Federal Direct Stafford Loans must file a FAFSA to be considered for this assistance.

The application form is available and can be accessed on MyUI/Financial Aid. Login requires a HawkID and password.

If you have questions regarding eligibility, timeline, or process, visit the UI Office of Student Financial Aid website.