Spring public health measures to be similar to fall

Faculty, staff and students will have another opportunity to get vaccinated on campus, with a clinic planned soon at State Gym in partnership with Hy-Vee, senior leaders announced in a campus message last week. 

Details on the date of the clinic aren't set yet, but offering the vaccine on campus helps provide easy access to the best tool for fighting COVID-19. Vaccination against COVID-19 is safe and effective at both preventing infection and reducing severity of breakthrough infections, which are more common with the omicron variant that is driving an increase in cases nationwide.

On-campus vaccine clinics also were offered before and during the fall semester, one of many spring semester public health measures that will resemble those in the fall, with one key exception. Here are some highlights of the plans, based on the Jan. 6 message from senior leaders and a Jan. 6 companion message from the provost's office that provided guidance on instruction:

Isolation and quarantine

The most significant change in public health measures for the spring is the update to isolation and quarantine procedures, based on the most recent recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

People who test positive for COVID-19 should isolate for five days after the day their symptoms first emerged or their test sample was taken. After five days, those who are fever-free and seeing improvement in other symptoms can end isolation if they wear a mask around others for five more days.

Those exposed to a person who tests positive don't need to quarantine if they're fully vaccinated. Unvaccinated individuals should quarantine for at least five days after the day they had contact with a person with COVID-19. Regardless of vaccination status, people exposed to COVID-19 should get tested at least five days after the contact and wear a mask for 10 days.

Further changes could come when the CDC releases specific guidance for schools and universities.  


As in the fall, the default method for instruction and student services will be face-to-face. If a course was taught in a classroom before the pandemic, it likely will remain in that mode unless a change in delivery method for pedagogical reasons has been approved by the department chair and dean's office. Instructors can supplement their usual office hours with online availability, but virtual offerings shouldn't replace a physical presence. Meetings that aren't student-facing have more flexibility to move online as needed.

Cyclones Care

Health practices promoted in the Cyclones Care campaign continue to be encouraged, including getting vaccinated and boosted when eligible, staying home when sick, washing hands frequently and, as recommended by the CDC, wearing a well-fitting mask around others. Masks are encouraged in all indoor settings, including shared offices and classrooms, and are required in some spaces, such as on CyRide.


All community members can schedule a PCR test at Hy-Vee's on-campus drive-thru site, in Lot F west of Stephens Auditorium (free with lab processing, $119 for rapid test). At Thielen Student Health Center, the Memorial Union and Union Drive Community Center, employees and students can pick up a free Test Iowa kit, a self-administered PCR test that provides results within 24 hours after the lab receives the sample.

Symptomatic students can schedule a COVID-19 test at the Thielen Student Health Center. They also can schedule vaccinations at Thielen.

When positive

Faculty, staff and student employees have access to an extra bank of sick time for COVID-19-related absences (80 hours for full-time workers) through June 30 under a program approved last fall by the state Board of Regents. The time off can be used by employees diagnosed with COVID-19, quarantining due to exposure, or receiving or recovering from a COVID-19 vaccine. Employees also can access COVID-19 leave if they are caring for an immediate family member with COVID-19 or a child whose school or child care provider has closed due to COVID-19.

Employees with COVID-19 who feel well enough to work from home while isolating can contact their supervisor to make remote work arrangements. Instructors isolating with COVID-19 who wish to shift a course online temporarily can do so, following the established approval process.  

Instructors should provide reasonable flexibility to students who are not feeling well, but they are not required to post lectures online.

Keeping informed

The central site for finding information about the university's COVID-19 response remains the Moving Forward webpage, which includes updates and relevant links. Data from on-campus testing of symptomatic students and required student-athlete testing is posted online every Wednesday.