What to do when face coverings policy is ignored

Positive reinforcement, modeling and education are the main approaches for promoting adherence to Iowa State's policy requiring everyone to wear face coverings on university property when within 6 feet of other people, including in classrooms and offices. As it has been since the policy was enacted July 1, compliance is expected to be widespread when in-person instruction resumes this fall.

But there will be students -- and employees -- who disregard the requirement, whether inadvertently or intentionally. A July 22 memo to faculty from senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert and resources released this week by the dean of students office – including a statement of community expectations and tips and advice for common scenarios -- give some direction on what to do when the face coverings policy is ignored and what actions may be taken in case of repeated deliberate violations.

"We are encouraged that, by and large, our students are going to want to ensure the safety of their Iowa State community, as aligned with the Principles of Community, and our "Cyclones Care" messages for the fall. We are hoping it is rare to have to rely on any type of enforcement of these measures meant to lead us safely through the semester," said Sara Kellogg, assistant dean of students and director of the student conduct office.

The first reaction should be a reminder about the requirement and the health and safety reasons face coverings are required. Faculty have the authority and the obligation to stop a student from entering or remaining in a classroom or other learning space if they're not wearing a face covering. Specific strategies and possible responses to potential situations are included in the resources developed by the dean of students office.

Students unable to wear a face covering due to a documented health condition should be referred to student accessibility services for possible accommodation. If an accommodation is approved, faculty members will be notified, and the student will be referred to an academic adviser to facilitate appropriate arrangements. Employees unable to wear a face covering should contact university human resources (UHR).

If a student refuses to comply with the policy, report the incident to Kellogg by phone (294-1020) or email (skellogg@iastate.edu). Report noncompliant faculty or staff to your supervisor for referral to UHR. Do not call ISU Police to report individuals who aren't wearing a face covering.

Refusing to comply with COVID-19 health and safety requirements deliberately and/or repeatedly is considered disruptive conduct by a student. If a noncompliant student refuses to leave a class, the instructor should adjourn the class and report the incident to the student conduct office. The Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) offers resources for managing disruptive conduct in learning spaces and has a webinar on the topic scheduled for Aug. 5 (12:10-1 p.m.).

Escalating administrative action in response to a disruptive student could include restricting access to university facilities, removal from university housing, required transition to remote instruction or involuntary disenrollment.

In his memo, Wickert directed faculty to include, verbatim, a statement outlining COVID-19 health and safety requirements in the syllabus of every course with an in-person teaching component. The COVID-19 statement is included in CELT's online collection of recommended syllabus statements.