Cloth face coverings always required indoors, with few exceptions

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Beginning Aug. 11, faculty and staff can call the 24/7 COVID-19 response team helpline at 800-447-1985 to request assistance, report a problem or share a solution. More details about the teams and additional contacts are available on the response team webpage.

An update to the university's policy on wearing face coverings to limit the spread of coronavirus clarified that a cloth face covering, preferred instead of a face shield, is required in university buildings with few exceptions. It also is required outdoors on campus anywhere distancing may be difficult.

President Wendy Wintersteen announced the revised policy in an Aug. 5 message to the campus community. Previously, a cloth face covering or face shield was required when physical distancing of 6 feet could not be maintained. She noted university leaders are basing their responses to the COVID-19 pandemic on the best public health and science-based guidance available, which requires ongoing adaptations. 

Instructors may use a face shield instead of a cloth face covering if they can stay 8 feet from students during the entire class period. A face shield also may be approved as an accommodation for employees or students who can't wear a cloth face covering for verified medical reasons. Students should contact student accessibility services and employees should contact university human resources to seek a waiver that allows wearing a face shield.

As updated, Iowa State policy requires everyone -- including on-site visitors, vendors and contractors -- to wear a cloth face covering in all indoor spaces on campus. Exceptions include:

  • Employees in a workspace where they can keep 6 feet away from other people
  • Students working or spending time in a study area, workspace, office or other area on campus where they can stay 6 feet away from others
  • While eating or drinking at university dining facilities
  • Residents of on-campus housing while in their assigned room, though face coverings must be worn in all common areas of residence halls
  • While participating in physical activities, athletic practices/events or classes that require exercise

A cloth face covering is required outdoors anywhere other people may be present and keeping 6 feet of distance is not possible, including parking lots, sidewalks, bus stops and outdoor gathering areas.

Face coverings shouldn't be a source of division on campus, and reminding others of the policy should be approached with kindness, Wintersteen said. Guidance is available for responding to instances of noncompliance. 

Deliberate repeated violations of the policy could lead to disciplinary actions. Compliance is a condition of in-person enrollment for students and a condition of employment for faculty and staff, according to the revised policy.