Returning to campus next week? Read this

Town hall

President Wendy Wintersteen and other senior leaders will hold the fourth virtual COVID-19 town hall with faculty and staff July 30 from 3-4:30 p.m. Join via Webex Events or call in at 415-655-0001 and enter event number/access code 126 305 1330. Ask questions by typing them in the Q&A box on Webex Events.

Summer's gradual ramp-up is about to give way to fall's fuller return. Most employees who need to work on campus to support a successful resumption of in-person instruction and residential student life will be back in their usual workspaces by Aug. 3, the same date students begin moving into university housing. Returning to prepare for the fall semester ends a long stretch away for some employees. To recap the onslaught of plans made this summer, Inside summarized some of the need-to-know essentials. 

Face coverings everywhere

Everyone must wear a face covering or face shield whenever they're within 6 feet of someone else on university property, indoors or outdoors -- laboratories, offices, conference rooms, sidewalks, shared vehicles, green spaces, everywhere. A face covering is always required in classrooms. Keep one handy at all times, and make sure it covers your mouth and nose when you wear it. Employees who requested a cloth face covering will be provided up to two, ordered by departments. Each student also will receive two face coverings. Guidance is available for responding to noncompliance.   

Cyclones Care

Thousands of signs on campus will promote the main tenets of the Cyclones Care campaign: wear a face covering, practice physical distancing, wash your hands often and stay home when sick. Look for Cyclones Care messaging on social media and throughout the community. See the campaign website for digital signage, editable PDFs, logos, social media graphics, videos, email signatures and links to order signs from printing services. Education and awareness are the most important ways to encourage behavior that fights the spread of COVID-19. 

Training video

All employees are encouraged to complete "Returning to Iowa State University," a 20-minute training available in Learn@ISU that summarizes personal health and safety protocols.


Students, faculty and staff with coronavirus symptoms or exposure to someone infected can be tested at the Thielen Student Health Center by filling out this form. Report positive tests from an off-campus provider within the last 10 days by filling out this form. All students living in on-campus housing will be tested during check-in, which was spread over two weeks, Aug. 3-16, to allow distancing. Employee help is needed to support the check-in process at Lied Rec Center. See the online sign-up for details. 

Tracing and isolating

When ISU employees or students test positive, the university's public health team will notify individuals about isolation requirements and identify who has had close contact with them (defined as spending 15 minutes within 6 feet, even with a face covering). Close contacts will need to quarantine. Isolation and quarantine timeframes will follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations. Custodial supervisors will be notified about positive cases so cleaning crews can disinfect impacted facilities.

Less density, more distance

Facilities crews are cordoning off seats and placing other indicators to support physical distancing in classrooms, which are limited to half capacity or less -- a space crunch that will press the Sun Room, South Ballroom and Great Hall of the Memorial Union into service as classrooms. Guidelines for common areas in campus buildings call for one-way traffic in hallways, exterior doors and stairways as well as avoiding elevators when possible. The time between class periods was extended to 15 minutes to account for the distancing precautions. Departments and units designed local risk mitigation plans based on their own staffing needs and facilities.


The fall semester was adjusted to begin Aug. 17 and end the day before Thanksgiving, with classes held (and needed employees working) on Labor Day. Large courses and student support will be mostly but not entirely virtual, while smaller courses such as studios, labs, team-based learning classes and capstones will be taught in-person or as a hybrid that combines online and in-class instruction. An updated class schedule indicating the delivery mode for each course section will be available by Aug. 3. Every class will use Canvas.

Clean your office

By adding dozens of temporary positions for the 2020-21 academic year, facilities planning and management (FPM) custodial teams are intensifying and narrowing their focus in campus buildings. The priority will be the most-used areas. Classrooms, bathrooms and high-touch surfaces will be cleaned and disinfected daily -- twice daily in Parks Library. Custodians won't be cleaning office and administrative spaces, including conference rooms. Employees will need to clean and sanitize those spaces themselves, and guidelines are available. Hand sanitizer stations will be ubiquitous.

Other logistics

  • Don’t forget to renew your parking permit. Starting July 1, the refund policy is back in effect, allowing faculty and staff to stop payroll deductions or receive a prorated refund if they later decide to return their permit. 
  • Campus buildings are ready to be occupied, but nearly all were locked when limited operations began in mid-March. They’re gradually reopening. Check out the status of a building with FPM’s building information tool.
  • Some breakfast and lunch options are available on campus. See what’s open and when on ISU Dining’s website.


The best place to find information is the central COVID-19 response webpage. It includes campuswide updates, fall planning details and relevant links, such as FAQs by topic and intended audience. Email questions to