Student Information for 2020-2021 Academic Year

COVID-19 Self-reporting Form

On this page:

Fall semester requirements

Cloth face coverings, worn over your nose and mouth, are required indoors in all university buildings, and outdoors in the presence of others. More information about face coverings can be found on the ISU COVID-19 response webpage.

Laptop computers required for all students

As of the fall 2020 semester, all students are required to have a laptop computer or other mobile device appropriate to their discipline and learning needs. The CALS Laptop Recommendations webpage lists specifications to consider when determining if a laptop meets students' needs.

Key dates for students

Dates for course schedule changes, midterm grades and final grades can be found on the ISU COVID-19 Response webpage under "Class Schedules."

Graduate student information

Information specific to graduate students for the fall 2020 semester can be found on the Graduate College's website.

Graduate assistants should contact their supervisors with specific concerns due to their health, work environment, duties and schedules.

Graduate students may also submit concerns to CALS Assistant Dean for Graduate Programs Ruth MacDonald or CALS Senior Associate Dean Joe Colletti.

Fall 2020 graduation dates

Iowa State University’s Fall 2020 Commencement Ceremonies and the Fall 2020 CALS Convocation will be moved to a virtual format. The pre-recorded celebrations will be available for viewing beginning at 10 a.m. (central time) on Saturday, November 28, 2020. More information is available on the ISU Graduation and Commencement webpage. The CALS Convocation videos will be made available later on the CALS Convocation webpage.

Spring 2021 plans

A five-week winter session will take place December 14 - January 21 (no classes held Dec. 24-25, Jan. 1, Jan. 18). A list of winter session courses can be found on the Winter Session website. Registration opens Oct. 28 and closes Dec. 16.

Spring semester classes will begin January 25, 2021. There will be no spring break - classes will be held the week of March 15-19, 2021. The spring semester, including final exams, will end May 6, 2021. Course delivery will be in four delivery modes: face-to-face, online, hybrid and arranged. Classrooms and lecture halls will continue to have limited capacity.

The 2020-2021 Planning FAQ webpage is available for questions about the winter session and spring 2021 semester.

COVID-19 testing for students

Johnny's in Hilton Coliseum

Students can get tested for COVID-19 at Johnny's in Hilton Coliseum if they are experiencing symptoms as indicated by the CDC or have been in contact with someone who has a lab-confirmed case of COVID-19. This testing site will be open during the following times:

  • Monday/Tuesday/Thursday/Friday: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Wednesday: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Saturday: 9 a.m. to noon

Call 515-294-5801 to schedule an appointment, or make an online appointment. You must complete the required ISU pre-testing questionnaire before being tested.

Random testing

To further mitigate the risk of infection, randomly selected students will be asked to undergo a COVID-19 test at Johnny's in Hilton Coliseum to help Iowa State identify asymptopmatic positive cases. Students selected for random testing will be notified via email or text message.

Students who are selected and undergo the test will receive a $5 ISU Dining gift card and be entered into a drawing for larger prizes - 10 $50 ISU Dining gift cards, 10 $500 scholarships, a one semester Department of Residence housing contract, and a one semester ISU Dining contract.

ISU Research Park, 2503 South Loop Drive

This drive-in testing site, operated by Mary Greeley Medical Center, will be open for testing 12:30-7:30 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Complete an online assessment at before scheduling an appointment by phone, 1-800-866-3492. Though the assessment is required and those with symptoms or contact with a person with COVID-19 are prioritized for scheduling, Test Iowa is available to individuals who don't have symptoms or known exposure.

Visit the FAQ: Quarantine, Isolation and Contact Tracing webpage for additional information.

Reporting positive COVID-19 test results

Students should immediately self-report if they test positive for COVID-19. Positive test results must be reported by completing 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. It is required that all students, faculty and staff self-report and self-isolate once they receive a positive COVID-19 test result.

Iowa State now has a COVID-19 Public Health Data website that is being updated weekly with information about test results and isolation and quarantine cases and capacity.

Completing coursework in quarantine or self-isolation

Students should stay home when they are sick. It is likely that some students may need to self-quarantine or self-isolate during the semester. Many classes have an online option for students to stay current with the course work. For classes that do not, instructors may provide alternative options for classes and assignments that are missed.

When to return to class

If a student has tested positive for COVID-19, Iowa State policy indicates the student must meet the following three criteria before returning to the classroom:

  • Individual has been isolating for at least 10 days following their positive test result, and have self-reported to Thielen Student Health Center
  • Individual has been fever-free for 24 hours without the aid of meds or other fever reducers (Tylenol, Ibuprofen, etc.)
  • Individual’s symptoms are improved from the original onset of the illness

Accommodations for students concerned about their risk for COVID-19

Prior to the fall semester, students at increased risk for severe illness of COVID-19 (as defined by the CDC) were encouraged to complete a form to assist with accommodations through Student Accessibility Services. Students who completed the form for fall don’t need to complete it again. However, students who did not previously self-identify or who are new should complete the form via this Dean of Students Office websiteDeadline is Dec. 4.  For additional questions, please call 515-294-7220 or email

Tools for online course success

Access to Wi-Fi on campus:

Campus users are now able to access wireless internet in select outdoor areas around campus, as shown on this outdoor wireless locations map.

Access to Wi-Fi off campus:

Students in Iowa in need of Wi-Fi should contact county ISU Extension and Outreach offices about access to high-speed internet. Some offices are operating at reduced hours or students may be able to access Wi-Fi signals from a radius outside the building. Students are encouraged to call the extension office, check their website or signage on the office door about hours and Wi-Fi access. Students outside Iowa may wish to contact their state’s Extension program for similar access.

Eduroam allows ISU students, faculty and staff to use members’ Internet (anywhere in the world) using their own institution's login credentials ( and your password). In the U.S., this is a link to an interactive map showing where all the sites are. Besides ISU, in Iowa these sites include the campuses of Northwestern College, University of Iowa, Drake University and University of Northern Iowa.

Accessing Parks Library materials from afar

Students have remote access to ISU Parks Library databases and journals. The library has a COVID-19 Response page that points to best ways to contact the library and lists online services students need to support their research and learning. This includes a Distance Learning Library Support Guide, detailing how distance/remote users can access library materials. Important: Make sure you turn off your VPN when connecting to library resources, otherwise a database or journal may fail to connect or provide a paywall.

Study abroad, travel updates

Spring study abroad programs scheduled to depart before May 1, 2021, have been canceled. The university will continue to monitor the global situation and provide updates when decisions are made on study abroad programs scheduled after May 1.

Questions about study abroad can be directed to CALS Study Abroad Program Coordinator Jodi Cornell,

Student organization meetings, events

Health and Safety Guidelines for Student Organizations regarding meetings, events, and other functions this fall can be found on the Student Activities Center website.

Effective August 21, 2020, all on- or off-campus social gatherings involving university students must comply with all public health orders then in place (Federal, State, County, City, and University). Students attending on- or off-campus social gatherings must wear appropriate face coverings, as outlined in the University Policy on Face Coverings, and comply with physical distancing guidelines of the CDC. Further information is available on ISU's COVID-19 Response webpage.

Undergraduate Student Employees

Supervisors should identify faculty, staff or students to serve as a back-up for employees who may become unable to perform essential work functions (animal care, lab processes, etc.) due to absence or illness. There should be two-levels of back up support identified for essential operations.

Student employees who continue to work are expected to perform the normal practice of check in and out for time worked, and to submit their time sheet in Workday at the end of the work week as they normally would.

Further information about student workers can be found on the university's student FAQ webpage.

Wellness Resources