Friday, October 16, 2020

Update: Revised face covering policy

The University of Iowa is revising its COVID-19 policies in order to align with updated guidance from the Iowa Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In this video, Campus Health Officer Dr. Dan Fick explains the updated requirements:

How COVID-19 spreads: Updated information from the CDC indicates that COVID-19 can sometimes spread via airborne transmission in indoor environments with poor ventilation, and when talking loudly and singing. This means that some infections can spread by exposure to small droplets and particles of the virus that linger in the air.

While available data indicate that it is much more common for the virus that causes COVID-19 to spread through close contact, it is important that we all continue to work together to do as much as we can to  continue to slow the spread of the disease.

Revised face covering policy: The CDC cautions that the effectiveness of gaiters and face shields is unknown at this time, so the university is updating its face covering requirements in order to lower the risk of transmission.

Effective Friday, Oct. 23, 2020, the university will no longer allow gaiters or face shields (when worn without a mask) as appropriate face coverings.

Students, faculty, staff, and visitors are required to wear face masks in all university buildings, including classrooms, unless alone in a private office or your residence hall room. Masks should be worn outside when social distancing is not possible.

Appropriate face coverings now include:

  • Cloth mask
  • Disposable mask

Students, faculty, and staff may wear face shields for additional protection so long as they are worn with a face mask.

*Instructors may wear a face shield in certain situations where instruction requires an unobstructed view of faces and in situations requiring student accommodations. In these instances, instructors will need to maintain a minimum distance of 6 feet from those they are instructing.

NOTE: UI Health Care has separate face covering guidelines due to patient care. For full personal protective equipment requirements for UI Health Care staff, see The Loop.

Updated signage available: The university is in the process of updating signage and flyers across campus to align with the revised face covering policy. Updated materials are available on the UI’s Coronavirus website.

University of Iowa self-reported COVID-19 testing

These data reflect new cases since Oct. 14, 2020.

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 of COVID-19


  • New cases: 10
  • Semester-to-date: 2,075


  • New cases: 7
  • Semester-to-date: 70

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. These data will not match data reported by UI Hospitals & Clinics or 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: 1*

Number of residence hall students in self-isolation: 4**

*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.

Main Library health and safety updates

  • Main Library open on weekends: The Main Library is open Saturdays and Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m. Users can access the Learning Commons as well as the second and third floors.
  • Increased monitoring for required face covering use: In response to student feedback, UI Libraries is partnering with the Office of Student Accountability on a program to monitor and encourage use of face coverings in library facilities.
  • Extended weekday access to second and third floors of Main Library: Users now have access to the second and third floors of the Main Library from 7:30 to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday.

For details, see