Spring semester will be completed online; university remains open

Iowa State will provide virtual instruction for the remainder of the spring semester to protect the health and safety of students, faculty and staff, President Wendy Wintersteen announced March 18 in a campus email. It replaces a two-week plan to teach online, with an option to extend.

The university will remain open, but Wintersteen shared other changes to the delivery or availability of campus services and programs. The residence department will close its residence halls but allow students who can't return home to request an exception to stay on campus. The move-out window is March 20-May 9. University apartments will remain open. Parks library, university museums, recreation services facilities, Reiman Gardens, Stephens Auditorium, Fisher Theater and the Memorial Union, including ISU Book Store, all closed earlier this week and will remain closed until further notice.

Reiterating a message she shared earlier this week, Wintersteen also asked the campus community to practice social distancing -- keeping at least six feet between you and others -- and offer flexible work arrangements to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 cases.

Spring commencement

Spring commencement ceremonies, normally separate events for undergraduates, graduate students and veterinary medicine students, have been canceled. Campus leaders are working on plans for a livestreamed graduation address in May, and spring graduates also will have the opportunity to participate in the December commencement ceremony.

These university steps, intended to limit the risk of infection from the coronavirus, are consistent with Gov. Kim Reynolds' March 17 declaration of a public health disaster emergency and state Board of Regents president Mike Richards' March 18 state of emergency declaration on all three regent university campuses. Richards' announcement included relaxing several rules in the Iowa Administrative Code or the board's policy manual that address use of sick leave and donating or receiving vacation time during the time of emergency. Supervisors should not interpret and implement Richard's announcement on their own. Wintersteen said ISU leaders will share next week the details of what those changes mean for Iowa State employees. Until then, the university's current policies and procedures on employee leave remain in effect.

In her message to the campus community, Wintersteen acknowledged the concerns and frustration that will result from these decisions.

"We know these new developments raise questions and concerns, as well as many emotions, including frustration and disappointment," she wrote. "As you know, these are unprecedented circumstances. We ask for your patience and understanding as we work through this rapidly changing situation and prioritize the health and safety of our community."

Other changes

Employees and students are encouraged to regularly check the campus safety page for updates and information. The page includes a link with the latest changes and closures on campus.

Wintersteen included these directives for the rest of the semester in her memo:

  • University meetings must be moved online. If an in-person meeting is necessary, it should include no more than 10 people who practice social distancing.
  • Academic support services, including academic advising and career services, will be provided online or by phone.
  • Laboratories, studios, performance instruction, computer labs and other experiential learning sections will not be held in person, and the impacted academic program will decide how and whether to offer substitute assignments or makeup activities.
  • In line with the governor's public health directive allowing only food carry-out or delivery, ISU Dining has posted modified hours for a half-dozen locations.