Face coverings will be required when distancing isn't possible

Starting July 1, cloth face coverings or face shields will be required on campus in any area where physical distancing isn't possible, strengthening previous guidance that wearing a face covering was expected in such situations.  

Sharing plans with public

A June 24 news release reiterated plans senior leaders have made to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 as employees and students return to campus this summer and fall. Highlights include:

  • Reducing campus density campus by offering more online teaching, adjusting schedules and limiting capacity to 50% in classrooms and other facilities, including venues
  • Enhanced health measures, including a requirement to wear face coverings when physical distancing isn't possible and plans for testing and contract tracing
  • A joint social responsibility campaign, "Cyclones Care," with the city of Ames and Story County to support compliance with mitigation strategies

President Wendy Wintersteen announced the change in a June 24 campus message that also included information about coronavirus testing and new mental health training.

Requiring students and employees to wear face coverings in classrooms, offices and other areas where it's difficult to remain 6 feet from others is an important way to reduce the risk of COVID-19 as Iowa State resumes its academic mission as a residential university, Wintersteen said in the campus message. She also encouraged ISU community members to cover their faces when unable to distance in off-campus crowds, such as when shopping or riding CyRide.

"Face coverings are a key element of our 'new normal.' Modeling this requirement and educating our campus with care and compassion are how we can help everyone understand the importance of this and other mitigation efforts," Wintersteen said.

Wintersteen said she doesn't want face coverings to become a source of conflict at ISU, and positive reinforcement is the best method for encouraging compliance. A "Cyclones Care" messaging campaign is being developed in partnership with the city Ames and Story County to promote face coverings, physical distancing, hand washing and other mitigation practices.

Senior leaders are developing policies and procedures for enforcing the face covering requirement when needed, Wintersteen said. In general, faculty and staff should contact their supervisor and students should contact the dean of students office regarding concerns about individuals not wearing face coverings.

The university is providing two free cloth face coverings to each student and all employees who request them. Units and departments should reserve face coverings as a group through central stores. Face shields also are available. Plans for distributing student face coverings are in the works.  


No one experiencing coronavirus symptoms should go to work or class. Faculty and staff who have symptoms or were exposed to someone with COVID-19 should inquire with their primary care provider about being tested. Thielen Student Health Center and the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory are developing plans for on-campus testing for faculty and staff. More information will be shared soon about a comprehensive testing and contract tracing program.

Thielen Student Health Center is providing free testing for students enrolled for summer or fall classes if they meet Iowa Department of Public Health testing criteria.

Positive results

Students, faculty and staff who test positive should report the results via this confidential online form.

Employees who test positive can only return to work after they've met three criteria:

  • Ten days have passed since the first symptoms appeared
  • No fever for 72 hours without the use of medicine
  • Other symptoms such as cough and shortness of breath have improved


Uncertainty and change are stressful, and mental health is an important priority. All students, faculty and staff are encouraged to take the Kognito mental health training that will be available through Learn@ISU beginning July 1.

Other resources are available through ISU WellBeing, ISU Extension and Outreach and the Keep Community. Stay Informed. Be Well. campaign by Student Wellness.