Campus update: Answering questions about testing methods, self-reported COVID-19 testing data, student health and safety expectations

Friday, August 28, 2020

Campus Health Officer Addresses Questions about COVID-19 Testing

Daniel Fick, University of Iowa campus health officer, recently answered a few frequently asked questions about the university’s COVID-19 testing methods, which are based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Iowa Department of Public Health, Johnson County Department of Public Health, American College Public Health Association, and campus experts.

Watch the video to learn more about what test is used at UI, who gets tested, why you might have to wait longer to be tested after an exposure, and when you might be asked to isolate or quarantine.

To learn more about campus COVID-19 testing methods, see this recent IowaNow story.

 

Campus Operations Update

Iowa City and Johnson County, like other college communities across the nation, are experiencing a growth in COVID-19 cases due to the increased student population. While we are disappointed, campus leadership was prepared for this possibility and is monitoring the metrics established to determine if the university needs to change course. Currently:

  • 76% of undergraduate credit hours are now online
  • The residence halls remain below capacity
  • Classrooms remain available
  • Johnson County Public Health is actively managing contact tracing
  • Facilities Management continues to follow rigorous cleaning and disinfection protocols
  • The UI has ample supply of protective equipment for our students, faculty, and staff, and
  • The UI is testing all symptomatic individuals

The university continues to work with local and state officials to support and implement policies to slow the spread of the virus. The university is pleased with the proclamation signed by Gov. Kim Reynolds on Thursday, Aug. 27, to close the bars in six Iowa counties, including Johnson County, until Sept. 20, 2020. The proclamation also requires restaurants in the designated counties to stop serving alcohol at 10 p.m. during this same time period. 

However, these actions by the governor do not absolve any of us from our personal responsibilities and if the positive case rate does not begin to flatten next week, the university will consider additional actions. These actions will be taken in coordination with the Johnson County Department of Public Health, the Iowa Department of Public Health, and the Board of Regents, State of Iowa.

 

University of Iowa Self-Reported COVID-19 Testing

The University of Iowa has published an updated snapshot of self-reported positive COVID-19 tests from faculty, staff, and students.

Number of self-reported cases for COVID-19*

Students

  • New cases: 500
  • Semester-to-date: 607

Employees

  • New cases: 7
  • Semester-to-date: 11

These numbers reflect only self-reported positive or presumed positive COVID-19 tests from UI faculty, staff, and students on the academic campus since Aug. 18, 2020. They do not include data reported by the UI Hospitals & Clinics and will not match the totals reported by the Iowa Department of Public Health for several reasons, including different testing time intervals and geographic scope. Students who also are employees of the university are only reported in the student number to avoid double counting. The UI has more than 30,000 students and nearly 30,000 employees. Many employees continue to work remotely but have self-reported to authorize sick leave.

Number of residence hall students in quarantine: 40*

Number of residence hall students in self-isolation: 19**

*Quarantine: Quarantine is used to keep someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others.

**Self-isolation: Isolation is used to separate people infected with the virus (those who are symptomatic and those with no symptoms) from people who are not infected.

 

Back-to-School, Leave Options for Parents and Caregivers

The University of Iowa understands that the decisions made by area school districts to hold virtual classes for K-12 students this fall presents many UI employees with the challenge of balancing their children’s education with work demands.

During this time, we want to remind employees of new and existing leave options, including:

  • NEW Expansion of Catastrophic Leave: Changes have been made to this program to provide additional support to employee parents of school-aged children impacted by childcare closures, hybrid or virtual learning, and the medical need to keep child(ren) at home. Learn more.
  • UPDATED Just-in-Time Childcare and Tutoring Resources: This webpage will be updated regularly with information about childcare resources.
  • COVID-19 Leave Options: Paid leave options are available to care for children during school closures, virtual learning, and illness related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more.
  • Workplace Flexibility: Flexible Work Arrangements may provide the flexibility necessary for employees to be able to balance the demands of work and home this school year.

Full details of these programs and links can be found at the University Human Resources - Family Services webpage.

 

Student Health and Safety Expectations on and Off Campus

The Office of the Dean of Students recently reminded students that the COVID-19 health and safety guidelines they are expected to adhere to on campus (wearing a mask/face covering, social distancing) also apply off campus.

Behavior that is deemed to be unsafe will be addressed using the Code of Student Life. This behavior could include:

  • Not following public health and university guidance regarding protective equipment and social distancing health
  • Attending gatherings where individuals are not wearing a mask or face covering
  • Attending gatherings that do not allow for appropriate social distancing
  • Not complying with quarantine or isolation guidelines after testing positive for COVID-19

These expectations are outlined in the student agreement on the Dean of Students website and were shared with all students before their arrival on campus. Students should understand that these procedures are a condition of their continued enrollment at the University of Iowa and that the failure to meet these procedures may be addressed through the Code of Student Life and Accountability Procedure. Community members who observe concerning behavior can report it here.

The letter from the Office of the Dean of Students can be found here.