Tuesday, January 18, 2022

University of Iowa teaching assistants,

Welcome to spring semester 2022! I hope you were able to find some time during the winter break to relax and recharge in preparation for the new semester.

Whether you are a new or a seasoned teaching assistant, your role in helping to educate our undergraduate students is an integral part of this university and central to its mission. Please know that I am grateful for all that you do and that the Graduate College faculty and staff are here to serve you.

As you may have seen in Thursday’s communication from President Wilson, the Iowa Board of Regents has confirmed previous guidance, stating that Regent’s institutions “are expected to engage in a face-to-face environment this semester.”  President Wilson acknowledged that there may be mixed reactions to this announcement; however, she encouraged the university community to commit to continue working together.

With that in mind, I recognize that you may have concerns about the COVID-19 variants and your ability to keep yourself and others healthy. I take these concerns seriously and understand that frequent, clear communication is important.

I strongly encourage you to re-commit to the following safety standards:

  • Wear a mask in all indoor public spaces, regardless of your vaccination status. KN95 respirators and Level 1 medical-grade masks are available in all campus buildings and most classrooms.
  • Get vaccinated, including a COVID-19 booster and a flu shot.
  • Stay home if you’re sick and self-report any positive COVID-19 test using this form.

The university has provided guidance for instructors that will help you as you prepare to teach this spring. Please review this carefully as you will find some key changes in this guidance from fall semester 2021. Notably:

  • Instructors will receive a daily report, by class section, of students who may not be able to attend in-person classes and/or who may be absent from hybrid/online classes.
  • Instructors who seek to temporarily move online because the instructor needs to isolate or quarantine, or due to high student absenteeism, may do so after approval from their college leadership through submission of an Instructor Modality Change Request Form. Please check if your college has additional guidance for TAs.

I also wanted to remind you of the many university resources available to you. I know some of you may be concerned about childcare and leave options or have questions about how to address personal or family mental health concerns. University Human Resources has a Working During COVID-19 website dedicated to these resources and I encourage you to review this information. The coronavirus.uiowa.edu website is also up to date.

Again, the health of everyone on campus is paramount and we are here to support you. As we’ve observed throughout the pandemic, we all do better if we choose to work together to find our way through.


Amanda Haertling Thein, PhD (she/her/hers)

Associate Provost for Graduate & Professional Education

Dean, Graduate College