Wednesday, June 17, 2020

A message from President Harreld and Provost Fuentes

As we prepare to welcome you back to campus this fall, the University of Iowa is taking deliberate steps to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 for our students, faculty, and staff, as well as our surrounding community. To say that we’ve missed you is an understatement. We look forward to seeing you this fall with all your energy and enthusiasm.

The university will follow the current academic calendar, with the fall 2020 semester beginning Aug. 24 and ending on Dec. 18.

The university will move to online instruction after Thanksgiving, beginning Nov. 30, 2020, and final exams will be delivered remotely. Clinical and experiential activities will be addressed on a program-by-program basis.

However, campus, including Housing and Dining, will remain open to serve those who rely on university services.

Thank you for your patience as we took the necessary time to explore how to resume face-to-face education in the fall. We are indebted to our planning teams who advised our Critical Incident Management Team and provided the following protocols to minimize the risk of exposure to and spread of COVID-19. You can find additional details at and, if you have questions after reviewing the details online, please email

As we shared Monday, university leadership will host a series of virtual forums focused on different elements of the plan beginning June 24. We will share more details, including the times of the forums, on Friday.

Bruce Harreld, president
Montse Fuentes, executive vice president and provost


Classroom Experience

The university is prioritizing face-to-face instruction for fall 2020 while adhering to new campus health and safety protocols. However, to provide additional social distancing for students and faculty, the university will implement a combination of online and face-to-face instruction that maximizes the use of larger classrooms.

  • Courses with enrollments of 50 or more will be delivered online.
    • Exceptions may be made if specialized facilities or equipment makes online instruction infeasible.
  • Courses with fewer than 50 students will be prioritized for face-to-face instruction.
  • In some instances, a course may include a combination of face-to-face and online instruction (e.g., a lecture and discussion/lab combination).
  • To ensure that first-year students can connect with others, the university will prioritize face-to-face instruction for:
    • First-year seminars
    • Select rhetoric, English (e.g., Interpretation of Literature), and creative writing offerings
    • Courses in Common combinations, College Transitions, Living Learning Community, Iowa Link, and College Success Initiatives courses
    • World languages
    • Discussion and lab sections for math and chemistry
    • General Education discussions for social sciences; diversity and inclusion; international and global issues; values and culture; historical perspectives; and literary, visual, and performing arts


Residence Halls and Dining

University Housing and Dining will offer single and double occupancy room assignments and will communicate directly with students regarding room and board soon. This fall, the residence halls will be adopting several measures to reduce density and increase social distancing, including:

  • Reconfiguring or closing common spaces, such as lounges, to support social distancing
  • Limiting visitors/guests to one at a time and requiring face coverings
  • Setting aside rooms for emergency use, such as illness, student interaction concerns, or other matters
  • Following CDC guidelines for cleaning

Dining and market places:

  • Implementing touchless payment
  • Discontinuing all self-service food and refillable containers
  • Adding and encouraging use of an online ordering system with pick-up locations
  • Moving tables and limit seating to ensure 6 feet of separation
  • Adding vertical physical barriers to minimize respiratory contact between staff and students, and
  • Adopting employee self-screening to ensure public health safety


Health and Safety

The university has been developing and implementing new policies and procedures to help lower the risk of COVID-19 exposure and spread. The university will continue to follow the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) in consultation with UI experts.

To protect employee health and safety, students, faculty, and staff must:

  • Wear applicable face coverings (cloth covering, disposable or cloth mask, face shield) in all university buildings, including classrooms, unless alone in a private office. The university will provide each student, faculty, and staff member:
    • two cloth masks
    • two disposable masks
    • one face shield
  • Follow social distancing guidelines of maintaining at least 6 feet of separation from others on campus when feasible.
  • Stay home (and report) if you develop any symptom(s) consistent with COVID-19 (cough, difficulty breathing, fever or chills, sore throat, muscle or body aches, loss of taste or smell, fatigue, headache, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, or diarrhea).

Testing and Contact Tracing

Plans are under development for a COVID-19 testing program for students, faculty and staff. The university will coordinate with Johnson County Public Health (JCPH) to follow appropriate contact tracing.


The university will provide isolation space for students who are living in residence halls and diagnosed with COVID-19.

Protection for Populations with Vulnerability

Students, faculty, and staff who have a medical vulnerability or live with others more vulnerable to COVID-19 are encouraged to contact their dean or HR representative or Student Disability Services to address specific concerns and or accommodations, which may include:

  • Allowing remote work and remote coursework
  • Providing workspaces that minimize contact with others (such as a single office or physical barriers)
  • Discouraging non-essential travel
  • Using online technologies for meetings and events

Facilities and Buildings

Facilities Management will develop and implement building-specific plans for social distancing in common areas (e.g., entrances, stairwells, hallways, restrooms). This may include:

  • Installing plexiglass barriers and touchless door openers
  • Rearranging furniture to support social distancing
  • Limiting occupancy in communal areas
  • Designating specific doors for entrance-only and exit-only
  • Designating one-way or divided hallways for foot traffic

Any changes will follow Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and fire code requirements.

Cleaning and Disinfecting

Facilities Management will continue to follow CDC guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting, including the frequent cleaning and disinfecting of high touch surfaces. Hand sanitizing stations (distributed and restocked by Facilities Management) will be available at the entrances of each university building. See UI Facilities Management's COVID-19 response page for more information.