Personal health

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Cy leaning against a wall, wearing a face covering

Testing for COVID-19 helps to limit the spread of this disease.


Return to campus, fall 2020.

Students moving into ISU’s residence halls and campus apartments for fall 2020 will be tested for COVID-19. The move-in schedule has been carefully coordinated to minimize crowding on the floor and allow testing to occur in an organized manner.

The Public Health Testing Services (PHTS) at the College of Veterinary Medicine will conduct the testing in accordance with best clinical laboratory standards of practice and guidance provided by the CDC.

Students will be tested using a nasal mid-turbinate swab – more comfortable than a nasopharyngeal swab. Test results are expected to be available within 24 hours.

Students will receive their test results from the Thielen Student Health Center via email. Results will also be reported to the Iowa Department of Public Health, the Department of Residence, and the ISU Contact Tracing Team.

Students living in the residence halls who test positive will be moved to isolation rooms on campus. Quarantine rooms are available for students in the residence halls who are notified through contact tracing that they were exposed to someone who tested positive.

Students living off-campus or in campus apartments will need to isolate or quarantine in place.


The rest of the 2020-2021 school year

Testing is available at Thielen Student Health Center (TSHC) for students, faculty, staff, and employees with COVID-19 symptoms consistent with Centers for Disease Contraol and Prevention (CDC) criteria. They will need to complete a pre-screening questionnaire to help determine whether they need to be tested.  For those who do not meet the testing guidelines for TSHC, other testing options are available through Test Iowa.

This questionnaire feeds into Smartsheet® so it is VERY IMPORTANT to be accurate and complete. Your name, email address, phone number, workspace, supervisors, and campus address will all be used to give you results and begin the contact tracing process should you test positive. Students will be able to enter multiple supervisors if needed.

All students can be seen at TSHC and can call for an appointment. Staff, faculty, and employees will not be seen for medical care at TSHC but can be tested. They will need to follow up with their personal healthcare provider regarding their results.  Faculty and staff who test positive for COVID-19 must self-isolate

Anyone who is tested on campus should direct any questions related to their test results to Thielen Student Health Center 515-294-5801.

If you seek testing and /or medical care elsewhere, you need to self-report using the Iowa State University Positive COVID-19 Reporting Form for Campus.

Along with testing, Iowa State has a dedicated group of ISU Contact case managers and investigators.


Case Investigation


Each COVID-19 infection we can prevent now can lead to big reductions of cases over time.

How is it done?

Case investigators identify and investigate individuals with a diagnosis of COVID-19 (known as cases).

ISU case investigators are interdepartmental volunteers who have received specialized training. They are performing these duties in addition to their regular ISU duties, without extra compensation, to support overall campus efforts to care for our ISU community.

If someone is diagnosed with COVID-19 (becoming a “case”), a case investigator will call and provide education about isolation, criteria to complete isolation, and resources to successfully complete isolation. The investigator also will gather a list of the person’s close contacts. ISU case investigators will contact all ISU associated individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 either through self-report or who were tested at TSHC. Medical care is provided by the case’s medical provider.

A case is instructed to isolate from others for 10 days after COVID-19 symptoms started. The case is released from isolation when these three criteria are met:

  • symptoms have improved
  • no fever for 24 hours and (without the use of fever reducing medications)
  • the 10 days of isolation are completed.

If the case did not have any symptoms, the person is released 10 days after the positive test. There is no need for a “release from isolation” note. Test-based strategies (a negative test) for release from isolation are not recommended.



Contact Tracing

Thielen testing prepContact tracers identify, monitor, and support a case’s (individual with COVID-19) close contacts who have been exposed to, and possibly infected with, the virus.


Prompt identification, voluntary quarantining, and monitoring of COVID-19 contacts can effectively break the chain of infection and decrease further spread of the virus in the ISU community. This is where we can have the most impact.

How is it done?

Contact tracers are interdepartmental volunteers who have received specialized training. They are performing these duties in addition to their regular ISU duties, to support the overall campus efforts to care for our Iowa State community.

Close contacts are defined as having been within 6 feet of a case for more than 15 minutes.

The ISU contact tracer calls all ISU associated close contacts who were identified from the case’s investigation. They inform them of their potential exposure, provide education about quarantining, assist with resources to successfully complete their quarantine, and initiate symptom tracking.

A close contact is instructed to stay home for 14 days after their last contact with an infected individual, to check their temperature at least daily and watch for symptoms of COVID-19, and, if possible, stay away from people who are at higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19. Contacts are instructed to monitor their symptoms and are provided assistance with a “Symptom Tracker” that is sent daily via text until their quarantine is completed. If they develop symptoms, the contact is called and counseled to seek medical care. A negative test does not release a contact from quarantine. They must complete the full 14 days. There is no need for a “release from quarantine” note.  ISU employees should visit the UHR COVID-19 website to review options for time off and leave.

Proximate contacts (those farther than 6 feet from a case or exposed for fewer than 15 minutes) do not need to quarantine.

Why is it important to provide detailed information to contact tracers if you test positive for COVID-19?

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.

Sharing the names of colleagues or friends you were in contact with at work, the gym, or a party will not get anyone in trouble. Providing this information will provide a notification so they can seek testing, and guarantee they get the support and resources they may need during quarantine. 



Isolation and Quarantine


Isolation and quarantine are essential in helping to decrease the spread of COVID-19. This is one of the few things we know will help prevent further infection. Students, staff, and faculty will be expected to follow the isolation and quarantine guidelines set forth by the CDC.

Taking Care of Your Behavioral Health Tips for Social Distancing, Quarantine and Isolation During an Infectious Disease Outbreak

What’s the difference?

Isolation prevents the spread of an infectious disease by separating people who are sick from those who are not. It lasts as long as the disease is contagious.

Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who have been exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick. It lasts long enough to ensure the person has not contracted an infectious disease.

How will it happen for students?

  1. Iowa State University will have designated areas for isolation (Linden Hall) and quarantine (Oak and Elm) available for students living in residence halls. Students may also choose to isolate or quarantine with their families at home.
  2. Parents and students should discuss their plan for isolation and/or quarantine prior to their student arriving at Iowa State for the fall semester.
  3. Students in ISU residence halls will have access to laundry facilities and will have internet access and dining options available while in isolation/quarantine.
  4. Students who live off campus or in campus apartments will be responsible for their own isolation/quarantine living arrangements.
  5. A list of resources will be made available to students who must isolate/quarantine to assist them with any needs they may have during that time.

How will it happen for faculty and staff?

Faculty and staff who test positive and have symptoms of COVID-19 need to follow CDC guidelines to:

  • isolate for 10 days after symptom onset,
  • not have a fever for at least 24 hours (without using fever-reducing medications), and
  • see improvement of other symptoms.

An employee who tests positive but never develops symptoms can discontinue isolation 10 days after the date of their first positive test.

An employee who receives a positive test result from their medical provider or through Test Iowa must self-report using this form. Self-reporting is a safe and confidential process and will allow ISU’s Public Health Team to provide support to those who test positive.

Faculty and staff notified through contact tracing of exposure to a positive COVID-19 case need to follow CDC guidelines for quarantine for 14 days after their last contact with the case, check their temperature twice a day, and watch for symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough, diarrhea, or sore throat).



Health Monitoring

"Cyclones Care sign"Why?

It is critically important that all members of the Cyclone community monitor their health every day before coming to campus and stay home if not feeling well. This is how we can limit the spread of COVID-19. According to the CDC, symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure.

How to monitor?

Everyone should do daily self-health checks to look for the following symptoms:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fever or chills
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

This list does not include all possible symptoms and is subject to change. Visit the CDC website for more information about symptoms of coronavirus.

Also watch for emergency warning signs 

If someone is showing any of these signs, seek emergency medical care immediately.

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Bluish lips or face

Call 911 and tell the operator you are seeking care for someone who may have COVID 19.

What if someone has symptoms?

A student who experiences any symptoms of COVID-19 should:

  • Limit contact with others.
  • Call Thielen Student Health Center.

A faculty or staff member who experiences any symptoms of COVID-19 should:

  • Limit contact with others.
  • Contact their personal healthcare provider.
  • Notify their supervisor.

If a member of the ISU community becomes ill while on campus, the individual should immediately leave campus and return home. Make all necessary notifications that you are leaving via phone call or email.

If a student, faculty, or staff member tests Positive for COVID-19:

The ISU Public Health Team will contact the positive case to provide further guidance.

What do supervisors need to know?

Employees who have been ill can return to work after the following criteria have been met:

  • No fever for at least 24 hours (without the use of fever reducing medications) AND
  • Other symptoms have improved AND
  • At least 10 days have passed since the symptoms first appeared.

An employee who reports close contact with a suspected or confirmed case should be advised to:

  • STAY HOME and self-quarantine for 14 days from last exposure.
  • Contact their personal healthcare provider.

Employee COVID-19 Sick Time Off and Leave Resources


Mental Health and Wellbeing Support


Mental health concerns have a significant impact on the health and safety of the entire Iowa State community, as well as on the academic success of students. The university is creating an accessible and comprehensive plan to support the continuum of needs of our community throughout this stressful time.

What’s the plan?

Iowa State is creating a comprehensive mental health plan that emphasizes awareness, visible programming on skill development, and accessible resources on campus. The plan offers support for the university community, at-risk groups including students who are more likely to face challenges and faculty/ staff who are likely to be in contact with these groups, and distressed groups including students, faculty and staff seeking support due to mental health concerns.

The following resources are free and available to the entire Iowa State community.

  • Kognito is an interactive, virtual role-play training to help students identify, approach, and refer students who may be in distress. Starting July 1, incoming ISU students (graduate, undergraduate, professional, and transfer students) are required to take the training. Kognito will appear in a student’s Canvas account starting July 1, 2020. The deadline to complete Kognito is August 1, 2020.
  • Therapist Assistance Online is an online library of engaging, interactive programs that help you learn life skills and bounce back from disappointments and stumbling blocks. As you watch their videos and engage with the interactive components, you’ll gain the necessary knowledge and self-awareness to achieve your specific goals. Therapist Assistance Online offers:
    • Educational modules
    • Assessments
    • Practice tools and logs
    • A mindfulness library

Additional References


Accommodations for students concerned about their risk for COVID-19

Students at a higher risk to develop severe illness from COVID-19 based on their age or underlying medical condition, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control, will be given preference for placement in online courses. Additional information on this process can be found on the Dean of Students website. However, it is important to note that we will not be able to offer all scheduled courses with an online option in cases such as labs where students use special equipment, or courses that feature a unique instructional experience.