Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Dear Hawkeye students and families,

In a few short weeks, the next chapter of your educational journey will begin. We recognize that the experience will be different in many ways from what it has been in the past. Our goal is to provide as much choice and certainty as possible to our campus community while aligning with guidance from; the Board of Regents, State of Iowa; the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH); and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

With more than 30,000 students and thousands of faculty and staff at the UI, opinions vary regarding how our campus should operate for the fall semester. While we are confident there will be a COVID-19 vaccine available in the near future, we must work together in our present circumstances to minimize exposure to the virus while still providing an opportunity to pursue an education.

This will require not only flexibility from the university, but understanding from everyone that we will try our best to deliver on our commitment to you. The university has produced a short video to help you think through what campus will feel like come late August.


On Aug. 24, the University of Iowa will begin the semester with a blended format that includes online as well as some face-to-face instruction, with the following changes:

  • With a few exceptions, courses enrolling 50 or more students will be moved online. For courses with a lecture/discussion or lecture/lab format, the larger lecture section will move online while the smaller discussion/lab sections may still meet in person.
  • For courses enrolling fewer than 50 students, face-to-face instruction will be prioritized, especially courses that are uniquely challenging to teach virtually. Note that courses enrolling fewer than 50 students may still be moved to an online or hybrid format if necessary social distancing measures taken in the classroom make online or hybrid delivery a better approach. It will also be necessary to offer some courses and sections online due to the COVID-19 health concerns of some students and instructors.
  • University classrooms will be outfitted with additional cameras and audiovisual equipment to enhance the educational experience.
  • In accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance, the university, in coordination with Johnson County Public Health, is prepared to test symptomatic individuals and asymptomatic individuals with a known COVID-19 exposure.

The length of time we will be able to maintain a blended, face-to-face teaching format will be determined by how members of our campus community adopt the changes required by the university and the city of Iowa City:

  • At the UI, face coverings (e.g., cloth coverings, disposable or cloth masks, face shields) must be worn inside campus buildings unless a person is alone in a private office or their residence hall room.
  • The city of Iowa City recently implemented a face-covering order for all public spaces.
  • At the start of the semester, students, faculty, and staff will be provided with a protective equipment (PE) kit, including cloth face coverings, disposable masks, a face shield, and hand sanitizer.


We know that every family must consider its individual circumstances when making a determination for the fall semester. The CDC has recognized conditions that may make one more vulnerable to COVID-19; if a student has one of the listed conditions, we strongly recommend that they consult with a medical provider before making a decision about returning to campus in person.

Additionally, we recognize that members of our community may want to wait to enroll until the spring 2021 or fall 2021 semester, or they may want to pursue online-only coursework for the same time period. We support these choices, and we ask that you work with the following offices so that we can accommodate your request:

  • Residence hall students. If you decide that living in a residence hall is not a safe option for you, or if you decide not to come to campus for other reasons, please contact University Housing and Dining Contracts and Assignments at 319-335-3000, or fill out this form prior to the start of move in on Aug. 15.
  • Course format adjustments. To request a temporary alternative-learning arrangement, which may include all-online coursework, please visit this site.
  • Enrolling in a future semester. Students who choose to not enroll for the fall 2020 term can work with the Office of Admissions on the process of enrolling for a future term, and be connected to resources that will assist in transfer of academic credit toward their degree at Iowa.


The UI does not set tuition; that is the purview of the Board of Regents, State of Iowa. Recognizing the impact the pandemic has had on families, the board voted in June to freeze tuition for the coming academic year. While this does not diminish the impact that the pandemic has had on families, it does mean that tuition discounts will not be offered.

Full tuition is necessary to cover the university’s ongoing operations, including retaining the faculty and staff needed to provide a high-quality educational experience for every single student. And while the fall 2020 semester will be different than the past, our faculty and staff have spent the summer preparing for this new environment.

Today, more than ever in our lifetime, we are struggling with a sense of powerlessness. However, each of us has the ability to control our own actions. Wearing a face covering, practicing social distancing, making decisions that support our mental health, and providing grace to others—these are all within our control.

Our faculty and staff stand ready to support you, whether you choose to be on campus in person or virtually. We will continue to offer you stimulating classes, high-quality advising and academic support, and a variety of ways to engage and form connections with the Hawkeye community.

As always: Once a Hawkeye, always a Hawkeye.


Upcoming Mental Health Virtual Panel Discussion

Coping in the time of COVID-19 is an uncharted, life-changing task for everyone, and it can make caring for your own mental health and the mental health of those around us a challenge.

Whether you are currently on campus or are preparing to return, the fall 2020 semester will bring new challenges. Join or re-watch these mental health panel discussions to identify ways you can continue caring for yourself and others.

Caring for self

Caring for students and others

You can find more information, including the panelists and recordings of previous mental health virtual panel discussions, on the University Counseling Service website.