University of Iowa Instructors:
I write to follow-up on the January 7 university-wide communication regarding the 2022 spring semester.
As we prepare to resume in-person classes and activities on Tuesday, January 18, I encourage you to review the guidance related to instruction provided below. Please watch for further campus communications as more information becomes available, or if guidelines change.
UI Health Care and other health care colleges should follow guidance from their respective units. Guidance related to the research enterprise is available through the Office of the Vice President for Research.
Thank you for your continued leadership and partnership as we welcome our students back to campus. Your diligence, resilience, and dedication to our shared academic mission continue to ensure that together we will persevere through ongoing challenges and keep our community healthy while providing students with a high-quality Iowa experience.
Kevin C. Kregel
Executive Vice President and Provost
Vaccination and Mask Usage
The University of Iowa continues to strongly encourage members of the campus community to be vaccinated and boosted, to protect their own health and to reduce risk on campus. Vaccines continue to be available at no cost to students and employees and are easily accessible. Encouraging vaccines is in accordance with the Board of Regents State of Iowa guidelines for mitigating the spread of COVID-19. However, it is important to recognize that vaccination is a personal health decision.
The university also continues to encourage the use of face masks on campus, and strongly encourages the use of face masks in all classroom settings and during in-person office hours. However, face mask usage is not required except on CAMBUS and in specified research and healthcare settings. These protocols apply to visitors as well as to faculty, staff, and students, and are in accordance with the Board of Regents State of Iowa guidelines for mitigating the spread of COVID-19.
- Communication to students: You are encouraged to use the statement below in communications to your students, on your ICON course site, and/or in your syllabus. Please note that any published statement may need to be updated as new guidance is released.
“The University of Iowa strongly encourages students, faculty, and staff to be vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19. The university also encourages students, faculty, and staff to wear a face mask while on campus, and strongly encourages the use of face masks in all classroom settings and during in-person office hours. However, face mask usage is not required except on CAMBUS and in specified research and healthcare settings.”
To encourage students to wear face masks, you may wear a face mask yourself if you are comfortable doing so. You are encouraged to post university signage in your office and you may encourage students individually and in group settings to wear a face mask. You may also have discussions or make statements regarding mask usage as long as all sides have a voice in the conversation. This should not be the classroom focus and should align with the policy in the Operations Manual (OM III-15.6) and the Board of Regents State of Iowa policy on Freedom of Expression.
Instructors should be especially mindful to avoid discussing a student’s vaccination status. Additionally, you may not: 1) penalize or criticize students for not wearing face masks; 2) provide tangible incentives, such as extra credit or a higher grade, to students who wear face masks; or 3) direct students to sit in different areas of the classroom based on whether they are wearing face masks.
Student and Instructor Attendance and Absenteeism
- Student attendance and absenteeism: Students testing positive, who have been informed they were in close contact with an individual testing positive, or who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, are instructed to fill out the COVID-19 self-reporting form. An updated COVID-19 self-reporting form will be active by Tuesday, January 18. Instructors will receive a daily report, by class section, of students who may not be able to attend in-person classes and/or who may be absent from hybrid/online classes. The instructor report will include reminders covering the following information:
- Please work with the identified students who may need flexible/alternative learning arrangements (e.g., allowing the student to participate remotely, extending deadline dates, etc.). Students have also been asked to contact their instructors to discuss specific needs.
- Do not request medical documentation from the student. The daily report serves as the official notice of their absence for course records.
- Due to privacy concerns, do not notify other students in the class that a student may be absent. If the individual student chooses to notify others, they may do so.
- Instructor attendance and absenteeism: Instructors testing positive, who have been informed they were in close contact with an individual testing positive, or who or are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, are instructed to fill out the COVID-19 self-reporting form. An updated COVID-19 self-reporting form will be active by Tuesday, January 18. Instructors should also follow absenteeism policies in their college, department, and/or program, as applicable.
- Impact on student-instructor learning experience: Classes are expected to be taught in the modality as listed in MyUI. However, student absenteeism can be disruptive to student learning if it negatively impacts the in-class, interactive, student-instructor learning experience. Instructors may choose, but are not required, to make recorded lectures available online to support student learning or to enable students to catch-up on material they may have missed.
If the instructor needs to isolate or quarantine they should discuss short-term, temporary options with their college, department, and/or program, as applicable. If the instructor determines they are feeling well enough, an available option may be to move a class online temporarily. Requests to change teaching modality must be submitted using the Instructor Modality Change form (see below).
While some classes may not be able to move to online, short-term (up to two weeks), temporary course modality changes may be possible if there is significant student absenteeism or if the instructor needs to isolate or quarantine. The following guidelines apply to temporarily changing teaching modality on a short-term basis:
- If the change is due to student absenteeism, instructors must follow collegiate guidelines regarding student absenteeism levels, if available. If the college does not have guidelines, instructors must consult with their college and department and/or program to evaluate whether the class absenteeism level is such that it will impact student learning.
- Any changes in course modality need to be clearly communicated to students through ICON and/or direct email. Additionally, instructors should be communicating with their departments and/or programs about changes. Short-term, temporary changes in the course delivery modality will not be shown on MyUI.
- Instructors will need collegiate approval and are required to complete and submit an Instructor Modality Change form if they would like to request to temporarily move online because the instructor needs to isolate or quarantine, or due to high student absenteeism. Instructors will need to resubmit the form to provide notification of their course returning to the original teaching modality. An updated Instructor Modality Change form will be active by Tuesday, January 18.
Other Instruction-Related Information
- Graduate student exams: All graduate student exams, such as comprehensive and final exams, may be held using in-person, virtual, or hybrid modality.
- Instructor office hours: Instructor office hours may be held either in-person or virtually. Some students may request virtual meetings, and others may be more comfortable and better served meeting in-person. If you are not comfortable meeting in the smaller space of your office, you may choose to meet virtually or investigate options for other spaces that allow for greater distancing while still providing confidentiality. You are always welcome to wear a mask and to avail yourself of clear protective screens. Please talk with your departmental executive officer if you need assistance with space or obtaining clear protective screens for your office.
- Student Care and Assistance: If students have concerns related to their health and well-being, encourage them to contact Student Care and Assistance (email@example.com).
- Faculty and Staff Disability Services: If you have medical or other concerns and have a need for reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), please initiate the process through Faculty and Staff Disability Services.
- Cleaning Procedures: The university will continue to follow CDC-recommended cleaning procedures in classrooms. Employees are responsible for keeping their own personal work areas clean. Students, faculty, and staff will be responsible for practicing recommended hand hygiene before using items that might be shared by others, as well as cleaning items after use.
- Clear Protective Screens: Screens have been retained in university classrooms. If a screen has been removed from your classroom, please contact classroom scheduling at firstname.lastname@example.org to have it reinstalled. Additionally, clear protective screens can be utilized in other spaces such as offices, reception areas, and other common areas. Please talk with your departmental executive officer if you need assistance with obtaining clear protective screens for areas outside of the classroom.
- Health Stations and Classroom Supplies: Health stations that include hand sanitizer and medical-grade and KN95 masks will be positioned in buildings throughout campus, and the Building Attendance Program is still in place. Classrooms will be equipped with hand sanitizer, wet wipe buckets and disposable masks (currently both medical grade and KN95).
- Signage: University signage and flyers encouraging individuals to wear a mask and providing other health tips continue to be available to post in university buildings. Facilities Management and Classroom Scheduling has provided signage in campus buildings and classrooms. You may post signage from this site in your office or other locations in your building.