Iowa State students begin moving into the residence halls

Student receiving COVID-19 test

Iowa State student Teri Jo Lane prepares for a COVID-19 test at Lied Recreation Center. Photo by Matt Van Winkle, ISU Alumni Association

AMES, Iowa – New students are starting to move into the residence halls at Iowa State University. The move-in process for fall is starting earlier than usual and spread out over a longer period of time to help maintain physical distancing in the residence halls.

Approximately 9,300 students will move in to campus housing over the next two weeks before classes start on Aug. 17. They are required to complete a COVID-19 test prior to move-in. Iowa State’s public health and emergency command teams are coordinating the testing at Lied Recreation Center. Testing is not required for students living off campus.

“We want to take every step possible to limit the spread of infection, and testing allows us to quickly identify and isolate positive cases,” said Kristen Obbink, who is serving as ISU’s COVID-19 public health coordinator. “Students will receive test results within 24 hours and our public health team will provide support to those who test positive.”

Iowa State’s Department of Residence is staggering move-in for roommates to allow time for testing. The department is implementing several other mitigation strategies for fall including:

  • Bedroom occupancy is limited to one or two people.
  • Community bathrooms are deep cleaned daily with a secondary sanitization.
  • Common areas are cleaned and sanitized daily.
  • Students and staff are required to wear cloth face coverings in common areas.

The complete list is available on the department’s website. Students living in the residence halls will also have access to isolation and quarantine housing throughout the semester. Pete Englin, associate vice president for campus life and director of residence, says living on campus is an important part of the student experience.

"Students told us they want to live in a community with each other. Our goal is to provide a community that practices the most effective strategies: use of face coverings, physical distancing, hand hygiene and no large group gatherings,” Englin said. “Combining that with isolating and quarantining students who test positive or have been exposed to COVID-19 provides the best foundation for a successful fall."

Testing, case management and contact tracing

Throughout the semester, all students, faculty and staff with symptoms of COVID-19 can be tested at Thielen Student Health Center. The university’s public health team will provide case management and contact tracing for all positive cases on campus. Team members will provide support and guidance for isolation as well as identify and contact other individuals exposed to positive cases.

Erin Baldwin, interim senior vice president of student affairs and director of Thielen Student Health Center, says these are important strategies to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on campus and in the Ames community.

“An effective contact tracing and case management program can ensure that those at risk of having been infected are rapidly identified and triaged to prevent unnecessary spread of COVID-19 and assists with disease management,” Baldwin said.

Cyclones Care

To limit the spread of infection, Iowa State developed the Cyclones Care campaign to promote four healthy behaviors:

  • Wear a face covering
  • Physical distancing
  • Wash or sanitize hands often
  • Stay home when ill

Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to adopt these four healthy behaviors on campus as well as at home and in the community. The campaign includes signage to provide consistent messaging throughout university facilities, buildings and grounds. Several community partners are collaborating on this effort and promoting Cyclones Care in local businesses and city buildings.