Employees whose work either supports the student experience or needs to be done on campus for a successful fall operation should make plans to return to their campus workspace by Aug. 3, President Wendy Wintersteen announced in a July 2 email to the Iowa State community. Supervisors should be identifying and communicating with those employees as part of their local workspace plan, which can include variables such as staggered daily start and end times or day-of-the-week rotations to accommodate physical distancing in the office.
The goal, Wintersteen wrote, is to ensure campus is ready for fall semester when classes begin Aug. 17. She also acknowledged it will take time to fully adjust to the "new normal."
"We know that circumstances continue to change, and we continue to make decisions based on the best information we have available," she wrote. "We deeply appreciate the commitment of our faculty, staff, postdocs, graduate students and students as we work toward resuming as a residential campus this fall."
Workspace plans may need ongoing tweaks as employees return to campus, she noted.
As part of a strategy to limit the number of people on campus, supervisors also may ask some employees to continue working from home after Aug. 3 if their duties permit it. The important thing, Wintersteen said, is to "communicate continuously" and have clear expectations between employees and their supervisors.
Alternative work requests
Noting that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in late June updated its guidance on who is at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19, Wintersteen reminded employees they may submit a request for an alternative work arrangement if they -- or someone they live with -- meets the criteria. That process is outlined on university human resources' COVID-19 website. Employees who already submitted a request may update it via an email to COVIDHRSupport@iastate.edu.
Travel and a quarantine
Consistent with CDC guidelines for returning from international travel, faculty and staff who have left the United States on personal travel this summer should self-quarantine for 14 days when they return. They must complete their self-quarantine before they come to campus.
International travel for university business, which the state Board of Regents is regulating at all three regent universities, remains prohibited.
Wintersteen said employees may resume domestic business travel with approval from their direct supervisor. Travelers should follow CDC domestic travel guidelines and plan ahead for any restrictions they may encounter at their destination.
Face coverings required
Effective July 1, everyone on campus is required to wear a face covering that covers nose and mouth in offices, classrooms and any other areas -- indoors or outdoors -- where physical distancing of six feet can't be maintained. Plans for enforcing the requirement among the employee and student populations are being finalized and will be shared with the campus community as soon as they're ready.
Wintersteen also encouraged ISU employees and students to wear face coverings when they leave campus. The Ames community, spearheaded by city staff, is promoting the Cyclones Care behavior messaging campaign to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
Testing site on campus
Faculty and staff who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or have been in contact with someone with a confirmed case can get a COVID-19 test at the Thielen Student Health Center on campus. They should complete the online questionnaire, and Thielen staff will follow up with them.
The capacity of the nearly 650 classrooms and teaching laboratories on campus will be limited by 50% this fall to maintain physical distancing during in-person instruction. In coordination with the fall planning teams, facilities planning and management (FPM) has developed guidelines for preparing classrooms and teaching laboratories.
Paul Fuligni, associate vice president for facilities, said measures to limit use must be simple and quick to implement, and flexible enough to respond should safety standards change. Given the limited storage on campus, unused furniture should remain in the classroom or lab. Fuligni said FPM will prepare general university classrooms. Colleges and departments are responsible for assessing and preparing their classrooms using the following standards:
- Allow 8 feet between the instructor and closest student seating. No plastic or other barrier should be placed between the instructor and students.
- Use every other seat in each row. If possible, stagger occupied seating of alternate rows.
- Ensure all accessible seating remains open, with the exception of seating within 8 feet of the instructor. Adjacent seats should be unoccupied.
- In rooms with tablet arm chairs, retain half of the left-hand chairs.
Guidelines for download
FPM documents on creating appropriate spacing in instructional areas and common areas are available under the July 8 update on the COVID-19 updates website.
Fuligni said the guidelines are designed to make the best use of the space without obstructing accessible seating or emergency exits. That is why clear plastic or any other type of barrier is not allowed at the front of the classroom.
"Barriers could reduce the ability of students to hear and see their instructor and displayed information. They also restrict the instructor's movement at the front of the class," Fuligni said. "Large barriers could obstruct emergency exiting from the room. For these reasons, we're adding extra distance between the instructor and students."
If teaching laboratories are not configured with at least 6 feet of separation between stations, only use every other station without eliminating any accessible stations. Libraries on campus -- Parks, Veterinary Medicine and College of Design -- need to provide 6 feet of separation between occupied seats and maintain accessible seating.
The downloadable document includes illustrations on how to set a room with moveable tables and chairs as well as a room with moveable tablet arm chairs -- the two most common classroom arrangements. "Do not use" stickers are available through printing services. Fuligni recommends using the stickers wherever possible to designate seating that will not be used. To ensure seats are not occupied near the instructor or accessible seating, or where a sticker is not possible, use a zip-tie, strap or plastic wrap.
Recommendations for building common areas
FPM also developed guidance, approved by the university emergency operations center, for common areas, such as hallways, waiting areas and restrooms. Fuligni said the intent is to maintain 6 feet separation where possible. The following recommendations may not work for all buildings.
- Building entrances: Designate separate entrance and exit doors using university-approved signage. Make sure entrances and exits are fully accessible and fire exits are not obstructed.
- Corridors and stairs: Designate single direction for walking in each hallway and staircase that allows access to the entire building. Paths must be accessible and routes cannot end in stairways.
- Open waiting areas at service counters: Mark 6 foot intervals on the floor with university-approved markings.
- Elevators: Post signage encouraging people to use the stairs, if able, and limiting elevator use to one person at a time if possible. If more than one person is on an elevator, they should wear face coverings.
- Restrooms: Post signage for face coverings.
- Open-seating areas: Seating must be separated by 6 feet. Tables should be limited to one seat when separation is not possible.
- Cyclones Care campaign kicks off with building signage, July 2, 2020
Eighteen members of the Iowa State community will join co-chairs Reginald Stewart, vice president for diversity and inclusion; and faculty senate president Carol Faber on the university's Committee to Establish Principles on Renaming. President Wendy Wintersteen announced the appointments July 8 in a campus memo and said she asked the group to develop a university policy that lays out "a consistent, evidence-based and historically thoughtful means by which to evaluate historical naming and honors."
She emphasized it's not being asked to review any specific renaming issues.
Charge to the committee
"In recognition of Iowa State University's commitment to research and factual evidence, academic freedom and intellectual inquiry, the university charges the committee to develop a policy to ensure a consistent, evidence-based and historically thoughtful means by which to evaluate historical naming and honors. This policy will strive to provide integrity, consistency and clarity to the process in order for these principles to endure. When the committee completes this policy, a formal process will exist for the investigation of renaming issues."
Joining Faber and Stewart on the committee are:
- LeQuetia Ancar, assistant director of student services; director of multicultural student success, College of Engineering
- Sebastian Braun, associate professor, world languages and cultures department
- Joseph Cheatle, director, Writing and Media Center, dean of students office
- Simon Cordery, chair, history department
- Paula DeAngelo, deputy counsel, office of university counsel
- Kurt Earnest, associate director of residence life, student engagement and academic excellence, residence department
- Simon Estes, adjunct professor, music and theatre department
- Eleanor Field, president, Graduate and Professional Student Senate
- Morgan Fritz, president, Student Government
- Monica Gordillo, associate teaching professor, management department
- Daniel Hartwig, head, special collections and university archives, university library
- Gloria Jones-Johnson, University professor, sociology department
- Maggie LaWare, associate professor, English department
- Sheryl Rippke, policy administrator, office of university counsel
- Samarth Vachhrajani, senior in architecture, College of Design
- Amy Ward, past president, Professional & Scientific Council; and learning technologies coordinator, Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching
- Ross Wilburn, associate program director and diversity consultant, ISU Extension and Outreach Community and Economic Development
- Brian Meyer, associate director for strategic communications, strategic relations and communications (ex-officio)
The lack of a university process for reconsidering historical memorials and naming decisions was highlighted in early June when social media posts drew attention to a 1926 plaque on campus honoring former student William T. Hornaday, the first director of the Bronx City Zoo. In 1906, Hornaday set up a zoo exhibit that featured a Congolese man, Ota Benga. Last month, the plaque was removed as an interim step and stored in university archives at Parks Library. Wintersteen announced she would appoint a committee, led by Stewart and Faber, to develop a policy to review historical naming decisions for Iowa State.
Once the committee has completed its work, she said questions such as the Hornaday plaque or Catt Hall, named for alumna and suffragist Carrie Chapman Catt, can be reviewed under a consistent process.
- Policy, review planned for reconsidering historical honors, June 18, 2020
A new online mental health tool for Iowa State employees and students went live on July 1. The training program, offered through the New York-based Kognito company, offers mental health simulations to prepare individuals for real-life conversations.
The simulation training was created by mental health experts and provides learning exercises using interactive role-playing scenarios. The program is partially funded by a Garrett Lee Smith Campus Suicide Prevention Grant awarded to student wellness by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
One-time training sessions are tailored to either student or employee participants. Both are grounded in an effort to help individuals identify and engage with students who may be emotionally distressed.
"The goal is to increase awareness in general about mental health -- that everyone has mental health," said Carrie Giese, prevention and health promotion coordinator in student wellness. "It helps identify students in distress so we're able to have a conversation and effectively refer them to the appropriate resources."
Faculty and staff are strongly encouraged to participate in the training and can do so at anytime. All new incoming students are required to complete the training by Aug. 1 and returning students will be offered the training during the fall semester.
To participate in the 45-minute session, employees should log in to Learn@ISU and use the search keyword "at-risk." A short post-training survey -- less than 10 minutes in length -- will be sent to participants two months after completion.
Faculty and staff can download a certificate of completion and earn 100 Adventure2 points at the conclusion of the training.
"ISU WellBeing is excited to partner with student wellness in offering the mental health training to support employee and student well-being," said Stephanie Downs, ISU WellBeing coordinator. "We are committed to caring for our university community and invite all employees to join us by participating in this training."
Procurement services implemented new procedures July 1 for employees using university-issued procurement (P) or travel and hospitality (T&H) cards. The changes are intended to ensure cardholders complete transactions and expense reports in Workday within the 30-day window as required in their cardholder agreement -- and avoid having their cards temporarily or permanently suspended.
Procurement services director Cory Harms said most cardholders meet their transaction deadlines and use their cards appropriately. However, a small minority of employees take longer to provide the required information -- as long as eight months, in some cases.
Cardholders have until July 31 to complete any outstanding transactions. Charges more than 60 days old will not be moved to a cardholder's U-Bill until Aug. 1.
Harms identified several reasons for diligence about meeting the 30-day deadline:
- Within 60 days, procurement services is able to dispute a transaction, but after 60 days it's very difficult to get a refund from a vendor. For example, in the case of a fraudulent transaction or damaged equipment, by hitting the 30-day deadline, the problem is caught and there's time to correct it.
- Some cardholders incorrectly believe not completing the transaction in Workday prevents a vendor from being paid. Actually, it only prevents procurement services from reconciling its internal accounts. The vendor is paid within days of the transaction, Harms said.
- The longer a cardholder waits to submit receipts, the more likely it becomes to lose or misplace them.
- It consumes procurement services and finance service delivery staff time to repeatedly contact cardholders to ask them to submit receipts or otherwise complete paperwork.
Help is available
Dave Baker, assistant finance manager in improved service delivery, worked with Harms to strengthen support for the card service. He said procurement and expense specialists in finance service delivery are available to answer cardholders' questions or reconcile transactions for them via ServiceNow. Cardholders should email firstname.lastname@example.org, include a Worktag, transaction description and business purpose and attach a receipt, and the trained team will complete the financial record for them. Cardholders can email their questions to the same address. Baker said specialists also send an email to a cardholder when transactions exceed 30 days and action is needed to keep a card active.
Check your transactions
Not sure of the status of recent card uses? Harms reminds cardholders they can run their own reports in Workday to see what's outstanding. Click on the procurement icon, find "cardholder reports" in the right column and select P-card transactions not completed or T&H card transactions not expensed. Unless employees have turned off the function, they also should receive notifications in Workday when card purchases need their attention.
Fewer travel receipts required
Effective July 1, T&H cardholders need to provide receipts only for items that exceed $75.00. This also applies to transactions that occurred prior to July 1 and remain outstanding. Previously, receipts were required for all purchases and expenses.
Avoid suspension: Rules to keep your card privileges
Harms said the new emphasis on the 30-day requirement is intended to improve efficiency and help cardholders keep their P-card or T&H card privileges. The new rules include:
- Failure to provide information within 30 days so transactions can be reconciled may result in suspended card privileges. A suspension is lifted when all outstanding transactions are reconciled.
- On a third card suspension, the cardholder permanently may lose card access.
- If unreconciled transactions pass the 60-day mark, they will be moved to the cardholder's personal U-Bill. This can be waived if a cardholder faces unavoidable circumstances that prevent them from verifying the transaction(s) -- and they contact procurement's card services for assistance.
- The same suspension/loss of card terms apply when cardholders misuse their cards, for example, sharing a card with a colleague or splitting a transaction that exceeds the card's limits.