Cyclones Care: A community update

Health and safety are a top priority as Iowa State University plans for the fall semester. University leaders are developing a broad list of mitigation strategies to limit the risk and spread of COVID-19 while supporting the mission of the university and the success of the community.

For months, university leaders have met regularly with public health officials and other city, county and state leaders to respond to and mitigate the health risks, economic impact and other challenges posed by COVID-19. These partnerships are critical to the success of the community at large.

Return of Students to Campus – Consistent with the Board of Regents’ intention regarding fall 2020 planning, Iowa State University will resume as a residential campus for the fall 2020 semester. The University Executive Committee for Fall Planning has been meeting daily to develop a comprehensive plan for fall 2020. A detailed description of the guiding principles for fall semester 2020 planning can be found here. Pursuant to these guidelines, plans are being developed across campus. An update of the decisions announced in key areas is summarized below and links to key documents are also provided for more information. Additionally, important information can also be found on the university’s COVID-19 Response website, which provides more detailed information and updates.

COVID-19 Mitigation Strategies:

  • The university will work with Ames and Story County to coordinate and share in a social responsibility campaign – “Cyclones Care” to encourage and incentivize compliance with mitigation strategies on campus and in the community.
  • The university will reduce its overall campus density.
  • Face coverings and/or face shields will be given to all students, faculty, and staff and will be required in classrooms, offices, and areas where physical distancing is not possible. This is an adjustment from the university’s original face covering policy. Additional details will be given on specific face covering directives. 
  • Physical distancing will be encouraged and promoted in all campus activities.
  • In cooperation with Story County Public Health, the Iowa Department of Public Health, and the Veterinary Diagnostics Lab, the University has developed a COVID-19 testing and contact tracing plan to quickly identify and isolate infected campus community members to prevent further spread.
  • Enhanced cleaning and other building adjustments will be made to reduce the risk of spread.
  • Students, faculty, and staff will be asked to conduct daily health self-checks to identify COVID-19 related symptoms, including elevated temperatures. 
  • Students and faculty or staff members who have any symptoms associated with COVID-19 should not come to campus, but should call the Thielen Student Health Center or other medical professional for testing.

Academic Programs:

  • Fewer faculty, staff, and students will be on campus at one time to reduce person to person contact.
  • Individual classroom size will be reduced to 50% of capacity.
  • Large lecture-based classes will be online and supplemented by in-person recitation sessions or small group learning opportunities.
  • Mitigation methods in teaching and research will include wearing face coverings, physical distancing, hand washing, and staying home when sick, as well as the campus testing and contact tracing programs. 
  • The academic calendar will be changed so that the semester will end before Thanksgiving, thereby reducing travel to and from campus in the latter part of the semester.
  • Enhanced online options for students who prefer to reduce or eliminate in-person classes in their schedule.
  • Passing times between classes will be extended to enable greater opportunity for physical distancing as students enter and leave classrooms and make their way across campus.
  • More detailed information about fall academic plans can be found here.

University Events:

  • University events will be managed to reduce the number of attendees.
  • In general, university venues will be limited to 50% of normal capacity.
  • Seating and other venue specific modification will be made to encourage physical distancing and to manage and control crowd congestion and contact.
  • Specific rules for face coverings will be issued for each venue and specific event to promote the use of face coverings appropriate to each event.
  • Event attendees will be encouraged to conduct a symptom check prior to attendance and to stay home if they are exhibiting any potentially COVID-19 related symptoms.
  • More detailed information about university event management can be found here.

University Housing/Dining:

  • Residence halls will be offering single and double occupancy dorm rooms and apartment style living.
  • Campus dining will be open and serving our campus community modifying dining services to expand get-and-go options and locations and contactless payment.
  • Campus housing is developing a COVID-19 mitigation strategy that will include testing, contact tracing, isolation for infected residence, physical distancing strategies, enhanced cleaning, and face coverings.
  • More details about the plans for campus residence halls can be found here.
  • Details about campus dining can be found here.


  • All returning student athletes are being tested for COVID-19.
  • Any student athlete testing positive for COVID-19 is isolated from all team activities and community members.
  • Athletes and athletic teams are returning to campus to begin training on a staggered basis through the months of June, July, and August in order to avoid a large influx of student-athletes all returning at one time. The only athletic team that is returning to campus prior to July 6th is the football team.
  • All student athletes and staff are required to wear face coverings when possible given the demands of the particular activity they are participating in. A more detailed summary about the Athletics Department student athlete mitigation strategies can be found here
  • As guided by the Governor, the CDC, Iowa Department of Public Health and other state and federal health experts, the current plan is for a 50% capacity limit for events at Jack Trice Stadium, including football. Additional mitigation strategies will be used to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread such as physical distancing, face coverings, electronic ticketing, and crowd management designed to reduce fan congestion and contact. More information regarding football at Jack Trice Stadium can be found here.
  • More information about COVID-19 mitigation strategies at Jack Trice Stadium, Hilton Coliseum and other athletic venues will be distributed prior to the opening of any venue to the public for a sporting event.

University Child Care

  • University Child Care is offered for use by faculty, staff, and students and is managed by three providers – Bright Horizons, University Community Childcare, ISU Child Development Laboratory School.
  • Each of these providers follow Iowa Department of Human Services guidelines for providing childcare services.
  • DHS guidelines provide specific requirements for the provision of childcare services in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The DHS guidelines include COVID-19 mitigation requirements for things like face coverings, class size, cleaning, temperature checks, drop off and pick up procedures, and the provision of meals.
  • More information about childcare COVID-19 mitigation efforts being followed by university childcare providers can be found here.