University of Iowa Student Health this week began vaccinating students who provide clinical patient care in the health sciences colleges and departments. This is an important step to protect the students who are serving Iowans and assisting the university in carrying out its health care mission. Because of limited availability of the vaccine, it likely will take several weeks to fully vaccinate the entire group, but the progress is encouraging.
We know many of you are excited to receive the vaccine and are anxiously awaiting information about when your turn will come. The university must follow the guidelines provided by the Iowa Department of Public Health, which prioritize individuals “vulnerable to high risk of exposure or severity of illness.”
Right now, vaccinations are limited to priority populations in Phase 1A, which includes health care personnel and those working and living in residential care or long-term care facilities. UI faculty, staff, and students who are eligible in Phase 1A are being notified and scheduled for an appointment via email.
IDPH just shared updated recommendations for who should receive the COVID-19 vaccine in Phase 1B, including:
- People age 65 years and older,
- First Responders (firefighters, police officers, and child and welfare social workers)
- PK-12 staff, early childhood education, childcare workers
- Frontline essential workers in food, agriculture, and manufacturing sectors who live or work in non-social distanced settings
- Individuals with disabilities living in home settings and their direct care staff
- Staff and individuals living in congregate settings (does not include college residence halls)
- Government officials, including staff, engaged in business at the State Capitol
- Inspectors responsible for health, life, and safety
- Correctional facility staff and individuals incarcerated
The university, along with Johnson County, is reviewing the recommendations to determine eligible populations on campus. We will share more information as it becomes available.
We continue to ask for your patience and support as we work through the process. The university is moving as quickly as the supply allows, but does not control when or how many doses it receives.
Update to University Dining operations
In the fall 2020 semester, all campus meal plan holders were invited to participate in a survey to help to assess preferences and set priorities for the spring 2021 operations. More than 45% of meal plan holders completed the survey. Key findings include:
- Overwhelming preference for current menu options without dine-in seating (72.12%)
- While the majority of respondents (54%) are confident or very confident in University Housing and Dining’s ability to maintain cleaning, safety, and social distancing protocols, only 30.43% have the same level of confidence in students’ ability to follow the same protocols.
With this information in mind, the University Housing and Dining team is working to determine staffing levels, cleaning protocols, and policies for a potential dine-in option later in the spring 2021 semester. When spring 2021 meal plans begin on Jan. 25, all meals will be served through online ordering or express service options.
Find out more at dining.uiowa.edu.
Reminder: Spring protective equipment pickup for students
Students enrolled for spring 2021 can continue to pick up protective equipment (PE) kits at the Iowa Memorial Union in the office of the Dean of Students (135 IMU, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.).
Students living in the residence halls will be able to pick up their PE kits in their residence hall when they return to campus.
Students will need their Iowa OneCard or student ID number to pick up their PE kit. Directions and exact building locations can be found on the UI campus maps website.
If you have questions or require alternative arrangements, please contact Pam Krogmeier in the Office of the Dean of Students at email@example.com.
Spring 2021 semester reminders: Campus health and safety
As we prepare to begin the spring 2021 semester, the University of Iowa continues to take deliberate steps to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 for our students, faculty, and staff, as well as our surrounding community.
The university will continue to closely monitor cases of COVID-19 throughout the spring semester and will take action deemed necessary to help mitigate the transmission of the virus. The university will continue to follow the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in coordination with Johnson County Public Health, the Iowa Department of Public Health, and the Board of Regents, State of Iowa.
Campus operations, including Housing and Dining, will remain open during the spring 2021 semester to serve those who rely on university services.
Campus health and distancing practices
The following health and safety procedures implemented during the fall 2020 semester will continue to be in place for the spring 2021 semester:
- Face masks (cloth mask, disposable mask, or face shield with a mask) will continue to be required in all university buildings, including classrooms, unless alone in a private office/space or your residence hall room. Masks should be worn outside when social distancing is not possible. Be aware that the city of Iowa City face mask order has been extended until May 31. Read more about the order here.
- The university has updated its ventilation system and practices across campus to lower the risk of exposure to COVID-19, and will continue to use filters that help prevent the circulation of bacteria and virus-carrying agents across all campus systems. UI Facilities Management also will continue to purge building air daily, adjust systems while classrooms are occupied to maximize airflow, and make adjustments as needed.
- Do NOT return to class or work if you are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms. Your own department or college may have specific procedures for daily attestations of wellness. In particular, no one should come to work or class if they are beginning to experience any of the following symptoms:
- Fever (temperature >=37.8 C or 100.0 F)
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle pain
- Sore throat
- Difficulty breathing
- Loss of taste or smell
- If you come to class or work and begin experiencing any possible symptoms of illness, you must leave as soon as possible and inform your health care provider and local HR leader.
- If you have questions about being sick, testing positive, or if you may have been exposed to COVID-19, please refer to these instructions on what to do next. If you test positive or have been notified that you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive, complete the self-reporting form using this link. Then, closely follow the specific instructions that are emailed to you.
- All students, faculty, and staff should follow the current guidance from the CDC regarding quarantine and isolation.
- Glove use is discouraged outside of recognized infection or chemical-control protocols in medical or laboratory settings.
- Hand sanitizing stations (distributed and restocked by Facilities Management) will be available at the entrances of each university building.
- Hand sanitizer (distributed and restocked by Facilities Management) will be available in each classroom.
Social distancing is an important tool in reducing SARS-CoV-2 droplet transmission. In order to increase social distancing, the UI will:
- Continue the use of remote work options for employees who can work from home, adjust break and lunch schedules, and stagger arrival and departure times, among other strategies. This practice will reduce the number of individuals within university buildings and on campus, in general.
- Continue the use of plexiglass dividers in areas where social distancing cannot be practiced, such as public-facing offices, labs, or studios.
- Continue social distancing practices both inside buildings and on campus grounds. Common areas (such as hallways, stairwells, entrances, and restrooms) will continue to be configured to allow for social distancing, with appropriate signage.
The UI will continue follow CDC recommended cleaning procedures for:
- High-touch areas and public areas.
- Surfaces or equipment used by the general public (such as credit card terminals, fitness center equipment, etc.). Such surfaces and equipment will be cleaned by the user or a UI employee after each use.
- Areas known to be occupied by a person SARS-CoV-2-positive/presumed positive. The areas will be closed off for at least 24 hours, if feasible. If more than seven days have passed since the person was in the area, only routine cleaning and disinfection is needed.
- Employees will be responsible for keeping their own personal work areas clean, and students, faculty, and staff will be responsible for practicing recommended hand hygiene before using items that might be shared by others, as well as cleaning items after use.
- Cleaning supplies will be available to be used by students, faculty, and staff within classrooms (distributed and restocked by Facilities Management).
- Cleaning supplies will be available to be used by students, faculty, and staff within unit assigned spaces, such as offices, (distributed and restocked by unit).
Testing, contact tracing, isolation/quarantine
- Following guidance from the Johnson County Department of Public Health and IDPH, the UI will continue to have testing available to identify symptomatic cases and to test close contacts of those with confirmed COVID-19 cases.
- The UI will continue to coordinate with the Johnson County Department of Public Health on a unified response for contact tracing and disease investigation for UI community members.
- The UI will monitor local infection rates and disease transmission among students, faculty, and staff to identify groups, locations, and trends.
- The UI will provide isolation space for students diagnosed with COVID-19 who live in residence halls, and space to quarantine close contacts as defined by the Johnson County Department of Public Health. The UI will assist with transportation needs as appropriate.
- As appropriate, UI will provide resources to students living off campus, as well as staff and faculty who are in isolation or quarantine.
University of Iowa self-reported COVID-19 testing
These data reflect new cases since Jan. 20, 2021.
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: 4
- Total cases: 2,891
- New cases: 7
- Total cases: 402
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: 1**
*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.