Guidance for Supporting Community Expectations During COVID-19 Pandemic




At Iowa State University, the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff are always significant considerations.  With regard to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important for all ISU community members to recognize that it will take a community-wide effort to keep everyone as safe and healthy as possible.


This guidance is provided to encourage accountability to a community of care, which reflects not only behavior associated with self-care, but also behavior in consideration and empathy for the wellness of others. As members of the Iowa State community, we all have a responsibility to protect our campus and the Ames area. Please uphold ISU’s Principles of Community and do your part to show care and empathy as we work together to have a healthy fall semester. 

Based on the university’s revised face covering policy from August 5, 2020, the following expectations apply to all community members.

  • Appropriate face coverings (e.g., cloth face covering or disposable cloth mask) must be worn by all individuals within university classrooms, laboratories, public and communal work areas, libraries, dining centers, on-campus residential space, and all other learning spaces. In addition, face coverings are required on all other university property whenever physical distancing is not possible. Instructors may use a face shield as long as they are able to maintain 8 feet of physical distance between themselves and students during the entire instructional period.
  • The university is providing two cloth face coverings to all students, faculty, and staff who request them, free of charge. 
  • Even where face coverings are not required, the use of a cloth face covering is encouraged both on campus and in the greater community. The university has implemented various measures to help facilitate physical distancing practices. All members of the campus community are expected to cooperate and help in maintaining physical distancing wherever expected and possible. The university recognizes that maintaining at least six (6) feet of physical space between persons may not be possible in all spontaneous and informal situations, but expects the campus community to demonstrate a concerted effort to abide by all physical distancing measures including, following traffic patterns as indicated, respecting room occupancy limits, and being mindful of one’s surroundings.
  • Community members who are sick or experiencing any symptoms should not attend class or go to work. Individuals who are feeling sick or symptomatic should stay home, contact their instructor or supervisor, take care of themselves, and seek medical care if necessary. Student who are feeling sick or symptomatic should contact Thielen Student Health. The university is expecting instructors to implement flexible attendance and makeup policies and simultaneously expecting students to use this flexibility for appropriate absences only.  
  • Iowa State University enacted a new COVID-19 policy on Student Social Gatherings on August 21, 2020 and provided helpful FAQs for students, faculty, and staff.

The guidance that follows is intended to assist faculty and administrators in implementing these expectations in the classroom, workplace, and other university buildings.

Clear Communications of Expectations

To assist in achieving campus-wide compliance with these expectations, the university will provide ongoing communication, updates, and education regarding its community health and safety expectations.  The university is providing two cloth face coverings to all students, faculty, and staff who request them, free of charge. Campus units should reserve face coverings for their employees through Central Stores. In addition, signage will be posted to inform individuals of face covering and physical distancing requirements. Also, instructors are encouraged to include a statement in their syllabi explaining the requirement to wear face coverings and practice physical distancing in classrooms and other instructional areas.

While the university has campus-wide expectations for community members, due to the diversity of university space, facility use, health and safety precautionary measures may vary slightly.  Certain classrooms and learning environments, laboratories, facilities, offices and services may have additional restrictions or expectations to accommodate certain activities and spaces (e.g., Recreation Services, Dining Services, Department of Residence).  The site-specific expectations will be clearly posted and communicated in associated buildings, facilities, classrooms and offices. The most current information and details will continue to be posted at the university website pertaining to Covid-19 Updates and Resources.


Students who choose not to wear a face covering may participate in available remote/virtual instruction, but may not attend class in-person. This is to protect their health and safety as well as the health and safety of their classmates, instructor, and the university community. 

Students with a documented health or medical condition that prevents them from wearing a face covering, should consult with Student Accessibility Services (SAS). Where appropriate, SAS can help facilitate communication between the student, the student’s academic advisor, and relevant instructors to explore available options, which may include participating in the course through synchronous remote learning, moving to an online section of the course, or securing access to the course in future semesters. Employees who are unable to wear face coverings should contact UHR.

It is further important to note that all classroom spaces may not allow for 6 feet of physical distancing. In these situations, a student that is unable to wear a face covering may not be able to remain enrolled in that course, if it requires them to be physically present, and/or where an online option is not available.

Implementation Philosophy

These expectations are important to help mitigate the risk of COVID-19 as we return to a residential campus and support our academic mission. Face coverings and physical distancing are a key element of our “new normal.” Modeling these expectations and requirements and educating our campus with care and compassion are how we can help everyone understand the importance of this and other mitigation efforts. 

The university’s focus is on a positive approach to implementing these expectations and not a punitive approach.  Creating positive reinforcement regarding the wearing of face coverings and practicing physical distancing is the best method to encourage compliance. There may be situations that you encounter where individuals are not adhering to these expectations. In these situations, it may be appropriate to request the individual put on their face covering or obtain one prior to entering an office or classroom or participating in a program or service or remind them of the expectation to practice physical distancing.

With regard to non-compliance, in general, faculty and staff should contact their own supervisor when the situation involves another staff or faculty member. In situations where a student deliberately or repeatedly refuses to comply, the situation can be referred to the Dean of Students Office.

The university is committed to facing this challenging time together as a community.  These expectations are designed to help protect each of us and our friends, families, fellow students, co-workers, first responders, and especially those at higher risk of serious infection. We do not want face coverings and physical distancing to become a source of conflict or division on our campus. Below are examples of progressive responses to situations that faculty and staff may find helpful.