Student Information for Fall 2020 Semester

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Fall semester plans, requirements

The fall 2020 semester starts August 17, and ends on November 25, prior to Thanksgiving. Classes will be held on Labor Day, September 7.

Cloth face coverings are required indoors in all university buildings, and outdoors in the presence of others. More information about face coverings can be found here. Guidance for supporting community expectations, such as wearing face coverings and maintaining six feet of physical distance, during the COVID-19 pandemic can be found on the Dean of Students Office website. Examples of how to handle various scenarios of non-compliance with the community expectations can be found here.

Quarantine required after arriving from abroad. To comply with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), students, faculty and staff arriving from outside of the United States must self-quarantine for 14 days before participating in any in-person activities on campus, including classes. Further information here.

Laptop computers required for all students

Beginning in the fall, all students will be required to have a laptop computer or other mobile device appropriate to their discipline and learning needs. Laptop recommendations for CALS courses can be found here.

Class lists now available

Class lists are now available on AccessPlus. Students may make changes to their schedules without instructor and/or adviser approval until Friday, August 21.

Changes to class schedules

  • Class times on Monday/Wednesday/Friday will be adjusted to allow more time between classes – 15 minutes instead of 10 – to allow for social distancing while walking to class. These classes will remain 50-minute class periods. New times will be listed on your course schedule later in July. See start and end times for Monday/Wednesday/Friday classes here.
  • Tuesday/Thursday classes will remain as is – 75 minutes, with 15 minutes between classes.
  • Classes will be held on Labor Day, Monday, September 7. 
  • Finals will be Saturday, November 21 and Monday through Wednesday, November 23-25. The fall semester will end on November 25, prior to Thanksgiving.

Key dates for students

Dates for course schedule changes, midterm grades and final grades can be found here.

Completing coursework in quarantine or self-isolation

We want students to 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 will 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.

Find information about COVID-19 testing for students, contract tracing and quarantine procedures here.

Accommodations for students concerned about their risk for COVID-19

Students who are at high risk for severe illness from COVID-19 and students who cannot tolerate wearing a face covering due to underlying medical or mental health conditions should carefully review the options presented on the Student Accessibility Services website. For additional questions, please call 515-294-7220 or email

Further details can be found on the COVID-19 Fall Planning webpage. Questions about the fall semester can be directed to


Find details about on-campus living this fall, move-in dates, dining plans and more here.

Move-in procedures for on-campus living

All students living in on-campus housing – residence halls and apartments – are required to be tested for COVID-19 before move-in. You should have received an email outlining the steps for move-in day, including instructions to report first to Lied Rec for testing and to pick up your keys.

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.

Tools for online course success

Access to Wi-Fi

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.

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 workers should discuss with their supervisor their plans during the university online instruction period. 

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. The continued requirement that students' hours not to exceed 20 hours per week remains.

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

Study abroad, travel updates

Fall study abroad programs that were scheduled to depart before Dec. 1, 2020, have been canceled. Iowa State made this difficult decision as a result of continued global concerns with COVID-19 and to allow students ample time to defer their study abroad to another semester and register for fall classes on campus. The university will continue to monitor the situation and will provide updates when decisions are made on study abroad programs scheduled after Dec. 1.

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

Domestic business travel now allowed, but not recommended. Travel within Iowa and the U.S. for university business is allowed, but must be pre-approved by the employee’s direct supervisor. Travelers should follow CDC guidance. Further information and guidance can be found here. Questions regarding travel and international visitors can be directed to CALS Associate Dean David Acker,

Student organization meetings, events

Health and Safety Guidelines for Student Organizations regarding meetings, events, and other functions this fall can be found here.

COVID-19 testing for students, faculty, staff

Students can get tested for COVID-19 at Thielen Student Health Center (TSHC) 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. Students should call 515-294-5801 to discuss symptoms and determine if they qualify. More information about testing can be found here.

Responding to 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. Since the beginning of COVID-19, case management and contact tracing has been managed by Story County Public Health and the Iowa Department of Public Health. They continue to complete these processes at the present time.

Wellness Resources

  • The university encourages students who may have anxiety or depression regarding how they are affected by the COVID-19 outbreak to seek mental health services through Student Counseling Services or the Thielen Student Health Center. CALS students may also reach out to CALS Assistant Dean for Student Services Howard Tyler or CALS Student Services Specialist Audrey Kennis.
  • Keep Community, Stay Informed, Be Well. Student Health and Wellness, in partnership with ISU WellBeing, has launched the Keep Community, Stay Informed, and Be Well campaign during remote work, online instruction and social distancing. Students are navigating many changes, so prioritizing your well-being is essential.
  • CALS students may also reach out to CALS Assistant Dean for Student Services Howard Tyler or CALS Student Services Specialist Audrey Kennis.
  • More resources are available for Iowa State students dealing with financial difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Office of Student Financial Aid has an application for limited grant-funding to assist students. A temporary food pantry is available for students and their families in the lower level of Union Drive Community Center. And, students can reach out to Dr. Howard Tyler ( for support from CALS. Find links to apply for funding in this letter to students from President Wintersteen.