University of Iowa outlines plans to handle COVID-19 during its fall semester

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University of Iowa COVID-19 updates at the Iowa Memorial Union. — Izabela Zaluska/Little Village

As classes resume at the University of Iowa for the fall semester, students, faculty and staff members will each be issued two disposable face masks, two cloth face masks and one plastic face shield. This distribution of personal protective equipment was part of the plan UI announced on Wednesday for its resumption of in-person instruction while COVID-19 continues to spread.

“We look forward to seeing you this fall with all your energy and enthusiasm,” UI President Bruce Harreld and Executive Vice President and Provost Montse Fuentes said in a written statement.

Face covering will be required for everyone entering UI buildings, according to the new plan. Only people alone in offices will be allowed to remove their face covering.

In-person instruction will be limited when classes resume on Aug. 24. According to UI’s statement on Wednesday, it will prioritize in-person instruction for freshmen to “ensure that first-year students can connect with others.”

Courses with more than 50 students will be held online, although exceptions “may be made if specialized facilities or equipment makes online instruction infeasible.” All instruction will be online starting on Nov. 30, the first day of classes following the Thanksgiving break. This is an attempt to limit the possibility that students who travel during the break may spread the virus if they return to campus. The semester is scheduled to end on Dec. 18.

Although classes will move online after Thanksgiving, dorms and dining halls will remain open for students.

“University Housing and Dining will offer single and double occupancy room assignments and will communicate directly with students regarding room and board soon,” UI said. There will be changes to how the dining facilities operate, including implementing touchless payment, eliminating self-service food and refillable containers and providing six-feet of separation between tables.

According to UI, “Plans are under development for a COVID-19 testing program for students, faculty and staff.” UI will be working with Johnson County Health to conduct contact tracing for those who test positive.

A full list of the changes UI has announced so far is available on its COVID-19 information page.

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