August 10, 2021; amended August 17, 2021

The University of Iowa strongly encourages members of the campus community to be vaccinated, to protect their own health and to reduce risk on campus.  Vaccines continue to be available at no cost to students and employees and are easily accessible.  Encouraging vaccines is in accordance with the Board of Regents State of Iowa (BOR) guidelines for mitigating the spread of COVID-19.  However, it is important to recognize that vaccination is a personal health decision.

The university encourages the use of face masks on campus, and strongly encourages the use of face masks in all classroom settings and during in-person office hours.  However, face mask usage is not required except on CAMBUS and in specified research and healthcare settings.  These protocols apply to visitors as well as to faculty, staff, and students, and are in accordance with the Board of Regents State of Iowa (BOR) guidelines for mitigating the spread of COVID-19.

Thank you for your continued leadership and partnership as we welcome our students back to campus in the coming days.  We know that together we can manage and persevere through the challenges we will face in the coming weeks. 

See below for additional guidance regarding COVID-19 protocols and how they should be communicated.  Please know that as the situation evolves, this document will be updated to reflect the most current health information as well as institutional practice and guidance.


Q: May I include information in a welcome message or in other communications to my students, on my ICON course site, and/or in my syllabus regarding COVID-19 vaccinations or mask usage? 

A: Yes, you are encouraged to use the statement below in a welcome message or in other communications to your students, on your ICON course site, and/or in your syllabus.  Please note that any published statement may need to be updated as new guidance is released. 

“The University of Iowa strongly encourages students, faculty, and staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19.  The university also encourages students, faculty, and staff to wear a face mask while on campus, and strongly encourages the use of face masks in all classroom settings and during in-person office hours.  However, face mask usage is not required except on CAMBUS and in specified research and healthcare settings.”

An additional option you may wish to include: 

“You should feel comfortable wearing a mask if you choose.  I will be wearing a mask during in-person classes and/or during in-person office hours because...”

(Offering a reason for your choice is optional.  Some examples include: “I live with children who are not able to be vaccinated.”  “I’m living with an immunocompromised individual.”  “I have a health condition that suppresses my immune system.”)

Q: May I make statements in the classroom regarding mask usage or vaccinations?

A: Yes, we encourage you to ensure students are aware of university guidelines and protocols.  Additionally, to encourage students to wear face masks, you may wear a face mask yourself and share why you have made that decision, if you are comfortable doing so.  You are encouraged to post university signage in your office and you may encourage students individually and in group settings to wear a face mask.  You may also have discussions or make statements regarding mask usage as long as all sides have a voice in the conversation.  This should not be the classroom focus and should align with the policy in the Operations Manual (OM III-15.6) and the BOR policy on Academic Freedom.

Instructors should be especially mindful to avoid discussing a student’s vaccination status.  Additionally, you may not penalize or criticize students for not wearing face masks; provide tangible incentives, such as extra credit or a higher grade, to students who wear face masks; or direct students to sit in different areas of the classroom based on whether they are wearing face masks.

Q: Must I have in-person office hours if I am teaching an in-person or hybrid class?

A: Faculty office hours may be held either in-person or virtually.  Some students may request virtual meetings, and others may be more comfortable and better served meeting in-person.  If you are not comfortable meeting in the smaller space of your office, you may choose to meet virtually or investigate options for other spaces that allow for greater distancing while still providing confidentiality.  Please talk with your department executive officer if you need assistance with space.  Additionally, you are always welcome to wear a mask and to avail yourself of protective shielding (plexiglass).

Q: If a student in my in-person class needs to quarantine or isolate, do I have to teach the class virtually as well as in-person?

A: You are not required to teach your class virtually.  The university will follow standard university absence from class policies, located on the Office of the Registrar website under the Registration tab.  Students should also check with their college for any additional guidance on absences.

Q: May I retain the protective shielding (plexiglass) in the classroom?

A: Yes, you may.  If this has been removed from your classroom, please contact classroom scheduling at classrooms@uiowa.edu to have it reinstalled.  Additionally, protective shielding (plexiglass) can be utilized in other spaces such as offices, reception areas, and other common spaces.

Q: Will university signage be available to post in university buildings encouraging individuals to wear a mask?

A: Signage, flyers, and communication guidelines encouraging mask usage and other health tips are available here.  Facilities Management and Classroom Scheduling will place signage in campus buildings and classrooms.  You may post signage from this site in your office or other locations in your building.

Q: Does the option for a Temporary Alternative Work Arrangement (TAWA) still exist?

A: TAWA has been phased out.  If you have medical or other concerns and have a need for reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), please initiate the process through Faculty and Staff Disability Services.

Q: Does the option for a Temporary Alternative Learning Arrangement (TALA) still exist for students?

A: TALA has been phased out.  If a student contacts you with concerns about a need for reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), you should direct them to contact Student Disability Services (sds-info@uiowa.edu).  Students are also encouraged to contact their advisor or collegiate student services office for additional assistance.  If students have other concerns related to their health and well-being, they may contact Student Care and Assistance (dos-assistance@uiowa.edu).  

Q: How can students, faculty, and staff get a COVID-19 test?

A: Students, faculty, and staff should consult a health care provider to see if they need COVID-19 testing, which is readily available on campus and free to students, faculty, and staff.  Students may visit the Student Health website for information about how to request a test.  If they need to speak to a nurse, they may contact the Student Health Nurseline (319-335-9704) or send an email (student-health@uiowa.edu).  Faculty and staff should call their health care provider or contact UIHC at 319-384-9010 to inform them of their symptoms or schedule a video visit through MyChart.

Q: What happens if a student tests positive for COVID? 

A: The student is instructed to follow public health recommendations as a result of a positive test.  Johnson County Public Health will continue to implement contact tracing and contact those who may have been in close contact to discuss next steps.  Anyone testing positive for COVID-19 will be instructed to complete the COVID-19 self-reporting form.  Specific guidance for what to do if you are sick, test positive, or may have been exposed, is available on the “What to do if you’re sick” UI Coronavirus website.

Q: Will the student self-reporting form still be available? 

A: Yes, anyone testing positive for COVID-19 is instructed to fill out the COVID-19 self-reporting form.  Instructors will not be notified of students who may be absent from their class due to COVID-19.  Johnson County Public Health conducts contact tracing and will make notification according to its protocol.  The university will follow standard university absence from class policies, located on the Office of the Registrar website under the Registration tab, starting in Fall 2021. 

Q: Will isolation and quarantine housing be available for students? 

A: Yes, students living in university residence halls will have access to isolation or quarantine housing.  Guidance and protocols will be provided to the student regarding housing options on receipt of a student’s COVID-19 self-reporting form. 

Q: What should I do if I think I have COVID?

A: Specific guidance for what to do if you are sick, test positive, or may have been exposed, is available on the “What to do if you’re sick” UI Coronavirus website

Q: How will my classes be covered if I test positive for COVID?

A: You should follow the process in your department, program, and/or college regarding instructor absences.  

Q: Will the employee self-reporting form still be available?

A: Yes, faculty and staff who test positive for COVID-19 are instructed to complete the COVID-19 self-reporting form to assist Johnson County Public Health with contact tracing.  

Q: If I have been vaccinated, do I need to quarantine if I’m exposed to someone who tests positive for COVID-19?

A: Specific guidance for what to do if you are sick, test positive, or may have been exposed, is available on the “What to do if you’re sick” UI Coronavirus website.


The guidance provided in the FAQ does not supersede specific guidance or regulations from Board of Regents (BOR) directives or state or federal laws regarding operations.  UI Health Care and other campus health care staff should follow guidance from their respective units.  Guidance related to the research enterprise is available through the Office of the Vice President for Research. 


It is the responsibility of University of Iowa employees and students to follow university guidance regarding COVID-19 protocols.  See University of Iowa Operations Manual, Part III, Chapter 15 (re faculty) and Chapter 16 (re staff), and Code of Student Life (re students).  Violations may result in disciplinary action.