COVID-19: Moving Forward

Birdseye view of Beardshear Hall entrance


Keeping our campus community healthy

We must work together to keep ourselves and our campus community healthy. Getting the COVID-19 vaccine is the best way to protect your physical health and mitigate the spread of the virus to others. Thank you to everyone who has taken this important step.

Vaccination clinics

Thielen Student Health Center (TSHC) offers COVID-19 vaccination clinics for students from 9 a.m.- 4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday. More information and a link to schedule an appointment is available on the university’s vaccination webpage. Clinics are free, confidential and open to all students. 

Employees are encouraged to contact their medical provider. For additional vaccine options: Search, text your ZIP code to 438829, or call 1-800-232-0233 to find locations near you.

Please remember that you cannot ask students or employees if they have received the vaccine.

CDC Community Levels for Masking

The CDC has developed new COVID-19 Community Levels to help communities decide what prevention steps to take based on the latest data. The three levels – low, medium and high – are based on the number of hospital beds being used, hospital admissions and the total number of new COVID-19 cases in an area. These data act as an early warning indicator of potential increases in health system strain in the event of a COVID-19 surge.

This link to the COVID-19 Community Levels allows you to check county level (Ames – Story County) and provides recommendations for masking and testing based on current level. For those in a low community level, wear a mask based on your personal preference and informed by your personal level of risk, the CDC states. People may choose to mask at any time. People should wear a mask if they have symptoms, a positive test or exposure to someone with COVID-19. Be respectful of others' choices and do not pressure anyone to wear, or not wear, a mask.

Classrooms, labs, offices

Classroom and lab capacities are no longer restricted and distancing is not required.

Learning spaces: Instructors can encourage students individually and in group settings to wear face masks. This guidance is consistent with current CDC recommendations for indoor settings. Instructors cannot: require face masks, penalize or criticize students for not wearing one, offer incentives (such as extra credit) to those who wear one, or direct students to sit in different areas of the classroom based on masking or vaccination status. More information for instructors is available in the Provost's Jan. 6 message.

Class attendance policies: Consistent with the policy outlined in the Faculty Handbook, faculty will set their own standards for attendance with one exception: faculty are expected to treat a positive COVID test result as appropriate documentation for a university excused absence. The excused absence must extend to the full length of the isolation period under current CDC guidance. Students seeking accommodations to make up exams, assignments, and other missed coursework, must be willing to present proof of a positive COVID test.

Public health monitoring

Iowa State’s public health team continues to actively monitor COVID-19 data for campus, including data from Story County Public Health and other community partners. The team is ready to respond and provide recommendations to university leadership. Any changes to current public health efforts will be shared on this website.

Thielen Student Health Center is providing COVID-19 tests for symptomatic students. Campus data is posted on the COVID-19: By the numbers page. All positive COVID-19 test results are reported to the Iowa Department of Public Health and that data is included in the state’s COVID-19 in Iowa website. The state website is the most complete source for information as it includes test results from students, faculty and staff who use the IDPH at-home test kits or test through their medical provider. 

Testing and exposure

Iowa State has several testing options available for students and employees, which includes free, rapid antigen tests for individuals with symptoms of COVID-19. A complete list of testing options is available on the COVID-19 testing page. Antigen tests are available at the following locations: 

  • Theilen Student Health Center (8 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays, except Weds. 9 a.m.-5 p.m.)
  • Memorial Union information desk (7 a.m.-10 p.m. Mon-Sat, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.)
  • Union Drive Community Center mailroom (8 a.m.-6 p.m. Mon-Fri, Sat 1-5 p.m.)
  • Maple Willow Larch hall desk (8 a.m.-6 p.m. Mon-Frid, Sat/Sun 1-5 p.m.)
  • Vet Med Room 2270 (8 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays) 

If you test positive or have been in close contact with someone who tested positive, use this flowchart for isolation and quarantine guidance. (Updated Jan. 6, 2022)

    Isolation and quarantine housing

    The Department of Residence (DOR) will continue to provide isolation and quarantine housing in Linden Hall for students that live in DOR housing. The public health team will notify DOR of positive cases of COVID-19 or other illnesses that require mandatory isolation or quarantine.

    Positive case notifications

    As the COVID pandemic has shifted, Iowa Department of Public Health guidance has transitioned to reduced case investigation and contact tracing. Accordingly, Iowa State is no longer providing case investigation or contact tracing for the campus community. If you test positive or need to quarantine according to CDC guidance, it’s your responsibility to contact your instructor or supervisor and make arrangements for class or work. Faculty will not be notified of students in their class who test positive.

    • Faculty members or supervisors made aware of a positive case in their classroom or work area should not share this information with others. This parallels how we handle other medical information about an employee or student and protects the privacy of the individual. Furthermore, faculty and supervisors may not have all of the details to make accurate notifications.

    Immunocompromised protocols, COVID-19 sick leave

    Iowa State has created a program that allows immunocompromised faculty and staff, as well as faculty and staff with immunocompromised household members to qualify for workplace modifications. University Human Resources has provided definitions and details for those who qualify.

    ISU also is offering up to 80 hours of additional COVID-19 paid sick time off. Read the guidelines.

    Cyclones Care

    Throughout the pandemic, we have shown how Cyclones Care for one another. Please continue to show care and follow our four pillars for fall: vaccinate, monitor your health, stay home if you’re ill and wash your hands often.


    By the numbers

    Graphic with calculator icon

    Data from campus COVID-19 testing and vaccination clinics is available in a weekly summary.

    Response teams

    The University Response Team is available to assist faculty and staff with questions or address issues. Please use the appropriate contact information for your unit or college.