The University of Iowa

The University of Iowa is committed to the safety and well-being of its students, faculty, and staff and is taking deliberate steps to reduce the risk of exposure to the COVID-19 virus. For official UI Coronavirus updates, please visit: The following guidelines are intended to inform students, staff, and faculty of what they can expect in the University Classrooms

The following guidelines are based upon this document prepared by the university’s Critical Incident Management Team (CIMT) for returning to campus. 

Course Delivery Plans

The university will follow the current Academic Calendar.

Spring 2021:

  • The spring 2021 semester will begin January 25 and end on May 14.
  • The last day of classes is May 7 and finals week is May 10-14.
  • There will be no spring break, however, there will be no classes on:
    • Tuesday, March 2
    • Wednesday, April 14
  • Course delivery: 
    • Classes for spring 2021 will be offered in similar formats as the fall 2020 semester with a blended format that includes online and face-to-face instruction. 
    • Course sections with enrollments of 50 or more students will generally be moved to an online format.
    • For courses with a lecture/discussion or lecture/lab format, the larger lecture session will move online, while the smaller discussion/lab sections may still meet in person. 
    • For classes with fewer than 50 students, departments have developed a plan to ensure there will be a reasonable number of in-person course sections in each college while still ensuring online sections are available. 

Additional details may be found at

Video Experiences

Rod Lehnertz, senior vice president for finance and operations, recently walked through the UI’s Pappajohn Business Building to show and explain to you what to expect as you return to campus buildings. To watch the video, click this link.

Instructor & student presentation of what to expect in a University Classroom can be viewed here.

Classroom camera and microphone experience can be viewed here.

UI Facilities Management describe custodial cleaning practices during COVID here

What to expect in University Classrooms

Details and ordering information for products that are being used in University Classrooms can be found on the Products Used in University Classrooms page.

Face Masks

  • Students, faculty, staff, and visitors are required to wear face masks (cloth or disposable) in all university buildings, including classrooms, unless alone in a private office or your residence hall room. Effective Friday, Oct. 23, 2020, the university will no longer allow gaiters or face shields (when worn without a mask) as appropriate face coverings.
  • Instructors may wear a face shield in certain situations where instruction requires an unobstructed view of faces and in situations requiring student accommodations. In these instances, instructors will need to maintain a minimum distance of 6 feet from those they are instructing.

Classroom Precautions

  • ADA compliant hand sanitizer stations will be placed at the entrance of each classroom as well as throughout university campus buildings for student and instructor use.  "Cover your cough stations" containing hand sanitizer, masks, and tissues will also be placed at building entrances. 
  • Signage will be posted in each classroom stating the maximum capacity of each classroom.
  • Signage will be posted classroom advising of physical distancing and other measures to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus.  
  • Where possible, foot traffic will be directed to separate doors for entry and exit.  Please make sure to use the identified doorways to enter and exit.    
    Imagine of Instructor Zone sticker Image of Sit Here sign Image of Seat Unavailable sign

Sign stating that face masks are required
COVID 19 Health Guidelines






Classroom Seating

  • Classrooms will include reduced density seating for classroom decompression at no more than 50% maximum occupancy. Click here for a spreadsheet listing university and department classrooms and their Spring 2021 capacities (you must be logged into Office 365 to view the spreadsheet which is not inclusive of all campus instructional spaces). 
  • Signage to limit seating and maintain social distance will be posted:
    • Multipurpose classrooms (tablet arm seating): seats that are designated for student use will be identified with labels placed directly on the floor beneath chairs.
    • Lecture rooms, computer classrooms, and seminars: labels will be placed on the tables to indicate unavailable spaces.
    • Auditoriums: labels will adhere to the underside of seats to inform students where they can sit so they are visible when the chair is not being used.  Zip ties will be used to lock unavailable seats.
    • TILE Classrooms: labels will be placed on the tables to indicate unavailable spaces.  Group activities should be conducted only when deemed critical to the learning experience in the classroom. 

Instructor Zones

  • Instructor zones will be marked at the front of the room with yellow floor adhesive to aid in social distancing.
  • Each classroom will be equipped with clear protective screens with casters (for use between instructor & student for one on one interaction at close proximity).  See video for ideas for use.  

COVID-19 Classroom Photos

Example photos of what a classroom will look like for the fall session. More photos will be added as materials arrive to campus and rooms are prepared. 

Recommended Classroom Practices

The Office of Teaching, Learning, and Technology (OTLT) has compiled best practices for teaching and adapting during the pandemic on the Keep Teaching Iowa page for UI instructors. Resources include information on facilitating activities, delivering courses, and more. Help sessions and consultations are available.

Similarly, resources can be found for student learning on the Keep Learning Iowa page. 

Please see the FAQ below for recommendations regarding lecture recording, handouts, discussions, and more. 

Classroom Cleaning

  • There will be daily custodial evening servicing to classrooms which will include cleaning and sanitizing frequently touched surfaces in learning environments and public spaces. 
  • Disinfectant wipes will be provided in each classroom for student and instructor workstation cleaning.  ADA compliant wet wipe dispensers with built in trash receptacles will be placed at classroom entrances in addition to hand sanitizer stations. 
    • Facilities Management will provide daily support to restock both supplies and will respond on demand as quickly as possible throughout the day to restock these items. Call 319-335-5071 or follow the QR code located on each station to report outages. Please see the FAQs below for more information. 
  • Please use provided wipes to clean your own workstation upon arrival: 
    • Students: desk, chair
    • Instructors: desk, chair, table/podium, AV equipment, and writing utensils. Glass cleaner will be provided for the clear protective screens, if the wet wipes do not clean glass surface satisfactorily

For additional questions regarding classroom cleaning or other COVID-19 FM operations, please visit the FM@Your Service portal and choose the "COVID-19" option to browse FAQs or submit new questions. You can find Facilities Management's full COVID-19 operational response here

Classroom Technology

  • University classrooms will be outfitted with additional cameras and audiovisual equipment to enhance the educational experience.
  • Follow this link for a short video demonstrating the camera and USB microphone. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

For additional questions regarding classroom spaces, please email Classroom Scheduling at

How will classroom furniture be spaced?

The classroom standards are based on capacity, not distance. No more than 50% of the classroom capacity will be used.

Classroom furniture has been relocated where possible. 

Who should I contact if a classroom runs out of wipes or hand sanitizer?

Cleaning supplies in classrooms (hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes) will be distributed and restocked by Facilities Management. Call 319-335-5071 with questions or to request refills. 

Each wet wipe dispenser and hand sanitizer station will include a sticker with a QR code that links straight to the FM@YourService home page. Anyone with a HawkID and password can log on and choose the "COVID-19" option on the FM@YourService portal to report outages. Please be sure to include the building and room location as well as the item that needs restocked. Thank you for doing your part to keep these items available. 

FM COVID-19 QR Code Sticker

Who should I contact if the classroom signage is damaged or removed?

Please email Classroom Scheduling at and we will replace it as soon as possible. 

Should paper be shared in the classrooms? For example: quizzes, exams, worksheets, etc.

The risk should be quite low, but such activities could be “discouraged” unless deemed necessary (e.g., exams, worksheets).

Is it appropriate for students to turn their chairs towards one another for discussions?

If there are situations where students are facing each other, they should be adequately social-distanced and wearing appropriate PE.  Also, such activities should be conducted only when deemed critical to the learning experience in the classroom.

Who should I contact with questions about remote instruction or the new audiovisual equipment in the classrooms?

Distance and Online Education (DOE) and the Office of Teaching, Learning, and Technology (OTLT) have created a Remote Instruction Team. This team of instructional designers, media staff, and teaching experts has compiled best practices for teaching in online and hybrid formats. You can reach the Remote Instruction Team through online help sessions, workshops, by requesting a consultation, or through the ITS Help Desk. There is more information available at Keep Teaching at Iowa

Where can I record lectures for asynchronous class sessions?

As a result of face-to-face class resumption, most University Classrooms will NOT be available for the lecture recording for asynchronous class session preparation during fall 2020. However, other campus options may be available:

Where can departments order classroom signage?

Classroom signage orders can be placed with UI Printing Services

Can university classroom spaces be used for events?

All university meetings, to the greatest extent possible, will take place in an online format in order to maximize the amount of available classroom space.

Beginning Aug. 1, all essential in-person events will be limited to 50 in-person attendees and must follow public health and university guidance regarding protective equipment and social distancing or be offered through a virtual format.

Programs, events, or meetings with 50 or more attendees will need to be held in a virtual format.

Is it recommended that University Classroom doors be propped open?

Per CIMT direction the university is not broadly implementing actions to prop open doors.  Custodial services within FM will have a building attendant program with one focus being high touch point areas in those buildings on campus with the highest amounts of traffic. 

What should I do if I fall into a high-risk category identified by the CDC and cannot meet face-to-face?

Temporary Alternative Work Arrangements (TAWA)

Employees (outside of UI Health Care) who fall into one or more of the high-risk categories identified by CDC, or who have a household member in one of the high-risk categories, may seek a TAWA for spring 2021. To make a request, please visit this site.

Temporary Alternative Learning Arrangements (TALA)

Students who were verified for a TALA in fall 2020 because they met one or more criteria for populations listed by the CDC as being more vulnerable to COVID-19 will be carried over for winter 2020 and spring 2021 sessions. No additional paperwork needs to be submitted.

Students who are not currently verified but who meet the criteria for populations listed by the CDC as being more vulnerable to COVID-19 may apply for TALA using the form on the TALA web page.

Students who do not already have a TALA in place for the fall 2020 semester but want one for spring must apply by Friday, Nov. 20, 2020, to begin registering for spring 2021 classes on Dec. 1, 2020.

Please note that receiving a TALA does not mean or guarantee that your desired face-to-face courses can be switched to online. Many face-to-face courses have been specifically designed to accommodate in-person learning under COVID-19 guidelines and will not also be online. If you have a TALA and need a specific course that is only offered face-to-face in order to graduate or to maintain your graduation plan, please contact your academic advisor or college/department office to discuss alternative courses or options.

Any student who needs assistance with academic learning arrangements, regardless of a TALA, should work directly with their college and/or academic advisor. Students who have non-academic support needs should contact Student Care and Assistance in the Dean of Students office at more information, please visit the TALA web page.