Response team hotline connects employees to COVID-19 answers 24/7

Even after an unprecedented planning effort, many questions are bound to emerge this fall. Some will be predictable. Some won't. The COVID-19 response team that launched this week will give faculty and staff an easy way to quickly get assistance with common issues and, when the unanticipated comes up, connect with university leaders to seek answers.

"We know there will be unanswered questions we haven't considered," said study abroad center director and C.G. "Turk" and Joyce A. Therkildsen Professor of Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering Frank Peters, who is leading the response team effort.

How to get help

Faculty and staff can call the COVID-19 response team helpline 24/7 at 800-447-1985 to request assistance, report a problem or share a solution. Team members and other details are available on the response team webpage.

Employees can reach the response team 24 hours a day by calling the Iowa Concern hotline at 800-447-1985. Operators will have information, provided by the response teams, for addressing common concerns such as needing more Cyclones Care signs or enforcing the face coverings policy.

In some cases, calls will be routed to the response teams in each college and academic affairs unit. College-level representatives have a good handle on local operations, needs and priorities, Peters said. Colleagues also can contact the college-level response team leads directly instead of through the hotline.

Some questions will require a university-level response and will be taken up by the university response team, which includes experts in health, logistics, legal, information technology, communications, human resources and other fields as well as representatives from each college, extension, library and research. The university response team will identify frequently asked questions that call out for communication, whether across campus or for specific groups. For some problems, it will need to develop solutions and best practices.

The response team will meet daily, and Peters -- along with vice president for extension and outreach John Lawrence, a response team member and chair of the executive fall planning committee -- will be in daily senior leadership meetings and emergency operations center meetings. Tracking the inquiries submitted to the response team will give leaders a way to hear direct feedback from faculty and staff, who in turn have a conduit to decision-makers.

"Essentially, this is a phone number you can call and be one step away from senior leadership," Peters said.

The response team doesn't supplant existing 24/7 phone numbers for university services such as IT (294-4000), facilities planning and management (294-5100) or public safety (294-4428).

For more information about the response team, including a list of university-level and college-level representatives, check out the response team webpage.