COVID-19 information for CALS faculty, staff, students

The state of Iowa is under a Public Health Disaster Emergency. The below information is the most up-to-date and available at the time of distribution and includes college-specific guidelines. Please refer to the Iowa State University COVID-19 website frequently for updated information.

Summer semester plans

Iowa State University is monitoring the outbreak of COVID-19, a disease caused by the new coronavirus. As a precaution, all summer semester credit classes will be taught online. This includes summer session I, summer session II, full semester courses, and short courses. A limited number of exceptions to this policy will be made for clinical course experiences in the professional program within the College of Veterinary Medicine.

Fall semester plans

It was announced June 10 in a letter from President Wendy Wintersteen that fall 2020 semester classes at Iowa State will begin early, Aug. 17, and the semester will conclude Nov. 25, the day before Thanksgiving. Iowa State is implementing changes that balance the university’s academic mission with the need to keep students, faculty and staff safe and healthy. These include:

  • Reducing the number of students in a classroom
  • Face coverings and/or face shields will be required in classrooms, offices, and other areas where physical distancing is not possible, starting July 1 (announced by President Wintersteen in a June 24 letter)
  • Modifying time between classes to avoid congestion in campus buildings, walkways, buses, etc.

Additionally, a new social responsibility campaign, “Cyclones Care,” has been implemented to encourage and incentivize compliance with COVID-19 mitigation strategies on campus and in the community. This will include signage and other materials and tactics. 

Many classes will be offered in multiple delivery options (in-person, online, hybrid) to meet the varied needs of students and faculty, including the need for individuals to self-isolate if they are exposed to the virus.

Further details can be found in President Wintersteen's letter and on the COVID-19 Fall Planning webpage. Anyone with questions regarding the fall 2020 semester plans can email

Student Information

General information regarding CALS undergraduate and graduate student coursework, class registration, support services, Wi-Fi access and employment can be found here.

Questions can be directed to CALS Assistant Dean for Student Services Howard Tyler,

Study abroad information can be found here.

Further information can be found on the Iowa State University Students FAQ webpage.

Science-Based COVID-19 Resources for Ag and Natural Resources

#CALSproud COVID-19 Response

We are #CALSproud of all our faculty, staff and students who are finding innovative ways to excel and overcome challenges during this time of uncertainty and change. Check out some examples of the extraordinary efforts happening throughout the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences on the #CALSproud COVID-19 Response webpage.

Business Continuity Encouraged

Iowa State University remains open to support the transition to virtual instruction and provide critical operations and services. As of June 1, Iowa State will begin a phased approach to increase on-campus operations over the course of the summer. Supervisers (or designees) within the various colleges and departments will put together plans to allow employees to safely return to their workspaces.

Until those plans are in place, Iowa State is asking all divisions, colleges, departments and units to accomodate flexible work arrangements to maintain university operations while maximizing social distancing - a CDC mitigation strategy to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 cases. “Cyclones Care,” a new social responsibility campaign, has been implemented to encourage and incentivize compliance with COVID-19 mitigation strategies on campus and in the community. Supervisors and employees should work together to make the best decisions for their units.

  • View the university’s Employee FAQ for additional guidance for supervisors and employees, or contact University Human Resources HR Partner Kathey Schuckert,, or CALS Senior Associate Dean Joe Colletti,
  • IT Support for Working Remotely: For CALS, contact David Wallace,, for assistance, advice and support. ISU’s IT Solution Center is available, virtually. Report a problem by completing an incident form online, sending email ( or leaving a voicemail (515-294-4000). If you need immediate assistance or have a business-critical issue, leave a detailed voicemail with your Net-ID and phone number. You’ll receive an email confirmation, and an IT Solution Center representative will get back to you as quickly as possible.
  • Words of encouragement and advice for online course instruction - Todd Vans, program coordinator in the Brenton Center, gathered thoughts from CALS faculty members regarding setting up and delivering online courses. You can read them here.
  • The university's Zoom contract will be extended another 15 months for those currently licensed. Users who have not adopted a video conferencing platform are asked to use Webex. An enterprise version is available to all ISU faculty, staff and students. Learn how to gain access to and use Webex here.
    • Prevent “Zoombombing” - It has been reported that some Zoom users are experiencing "Zoombombing," where non-students join your Zoom session to disrupt a class or a meeting. These disruptions may involve sharing of racist, misogynistic or vulgar content. This also is possible for those using WebEx outside its Canvas Integration. ISU Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning has posted a workaround for both Zoom and WebEx to prevent this activity.
  • Information about research continuity can be found under the Research heading farther down on this page. Contact CALS Senior Associate Dean Joe Colletti,, with research questions.


  • 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 and employees are navigating many changes, so prioritizing your well-being is essential. Check out the employee and student action plans on the link — you’re highly encouraged to work with your staff teams and provide to your students to fill out the action plans and prioritize your wellbeing.
  • If You’re Struggling - Don’t hesitate. Try the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) online chat feature for help and resources. Also, check the Health and Wellness links under Campus Resources on the ISU COVID-19 safety page. A new set of FAQs has been added to the ISU COVID-19 site to help manage stress and mental health concerns, and personal finance issues. See the Employees section, under General Guidelines, FAQs GG13-GG15.
  • Free virtual counselingCOVID Recovery Iowa offers free virtual counseling and assistance for all Iowans affected by COVID‑19. The Iowa Department of Human Services is partnering with Abbe Center for Community Mental Health Inc., Heartland Family Service, ISU Extension and Outreach, Pathways Behavioral Sciences and the University of Iowa to provide recovery resources, including:
    • Confidential counseling through the Iowa Concern Hotline
    • Virtual group activities, including yoga and cooking
    • Discussions about how COVID-19 has changed the workplace
    • Strategies to deal with stress — or help others dealing with stress — on the farm
    • How to avoid burnout and self-care tips
    • Question. Persuade. Refer. (QPR) suicide prevention training
    • Mental health first aid
    • Family financial consultations
    • Farm financial planning

We Are One: Advocate to Combat Bias

Theressa Cooper, CALS assistant dean of diversity, said worry about COVID-19 can trigger numerous reactions. This crisis affects members of our community differently. For some, concern about personal well-being and the health of family and friends may lead to anxiety, hypervigilance, inability to focus and difficulty sleeping. For others, fear and anxiety may contribute to broad generalizations and assumptions about China and people from other Asian countries. We must remember that we are one Cyclone family. Each of us are responsible for advocating on behalf of others to confront stereotype, bias and prejudice — that includes engaging in dialogue based on accurate information about the coronavirus, whether online or in public. Iowa State works hard to be a welcoming, accessible and inclusive campus; it is embodied in our Principles of Community. Watch for more virtual opportunities to build your cultural competency coming from Assistant Dean Cooper. 

CALS Farms Remain Functional

CALS farms are functioning during the COVID-19 pandemic, as much as possible, and are conducting essential operations while practicing social distancing. Farm superintendents and managers are available to discuss needs and processes with all farm users. Farm facilities are open for essential operations to ISU staff - group activities (tours, field days, etc.) are suspended.

COVID policies posted: All ISU farms’ locations have posted COVID-19 protocols/precautions near the farm entrances and office entry doors. The primary goal of this guidance policy is the health and safety of our individual farm staff. This set of farms includes Ag 450, Iowa Crop Improvement Association, BioCentury Research Farm, Animal Science Farms, FEEL Lab and more.

Reach out before visiting: Before traveling to ISU Research Farms across the state, please contact the farm manager. Prior knowledge of your arrival will help transport items from campus, make you aware of COVID-19 protocols and facilitate planning and coordination.

2020 Fields Days: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be no field days in 2020 at this time. The Horticulture Station demonstration garden “field day” will be held via recording and as a virtual field day posted on websites in late summer. Rock Rapids and Onawa county fair sites will have home demonstration gardens as self-guided tours. Produce harvested from the gardens will be tallied and donated to local food pantries.

COVID-19 protocols at ISU Research Farms

Livestock and poultry appear to be safe from COVID-19, and meat, milk and eggs remain safe to eat, as reported by the Iowa State University News Service.

Searches on Hold

CALS has suspended searches for the chair of the Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology and the chair of the Department of Entomology. Guidelines for hiring managers.

Travel and Study Abroad Updates

Check the university COVID-19 Travel and Travel Restrictions FAQ website for the latest information on travel restrictions in place. Questions regarding travel and international visitors can be directed to CALS Associate Dean David Acker,

All university-sponsored international travel remains suspended and all university-sponsored non-essential domestic travel is prohibited until further notice, effective immediately. View ISU President Wendy Wintersteen’s complete message. Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds announced March 13 that all non-essential state employee travel is canceled. As a state institution, Iowa State University is included in this directive.

Iowa State has made the decision to cancel all summer 2020 study abroad courses that start before Aug. 15. The CALS Global Programs staff will be following up with impacted students regarding these trips in the coming days. This will impact 124 CALS students who would have traveled to 18 different countries and two U.S. territories: 89 students on seven faculty-led programs that would have traveled between May-July to Germany, the United Kingdom, Belize, Guam and Hawaii, France, Italy and Uganda; 23 GRS students planning to complete required international internships in 13 different countries; one student planning to complete an independent internship in Uganda; and 11 students on summer semester programs to Greece (eight) and the U.S. Virgin Islands (three).

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. In CALS, one travel course, led by agronomy and animal science faculty, aimed to travel to New Zealand in November. That was canceled, impacting 24 students. Also, four CALS students who’d planned to spend the fall semester in Greece and the Netherlands will not be traveling, as the host schools have canceled those programs.

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

Campus Events

CALS BBQ canceled: The annual CALS BBQ scheduled for Sept. 5 at the Hansen Agriculture Student Learning Center has been canceled. We look forward to welcoming our alumni and friends back to campus for this event in 2021.

Larger events on campus that have been canceled, postponed or altered (for example, moved online) are listed on the Iowa State University website.

Guidance on events — and a new requirement: A set of recommendations for all university events hosted at Iowa State has been posted on the COVID-19 Response events and venues page (see Event Guidance in right margin). This will help us work together to maintain a safe, welcoming environment that reflects not only best practices for reducing the spread of COVID-19, but also the need to consistently manage events using ISU grounds and facilities. Event hosts, including colleges, departments, administrative units, venues and student organizations, are now required to register events in the University Event Authorization System. Questions may be directed to Kurt Beyer, Risk Management,

Extension and Outreach

COVID-19 resources page

Extension and Outreach has put together a webpage with COVID-19-related information regarding families and personal finance, Farmers Markets, food industry and food safety resources and tips for farmers.

Educational events across the state

While ISU is moving all classes online through the summer 2020 semester, the university will remain open for business. ISU Extension and Outreach face-to-face educational offerings and events have been canceled and will be moved to an online format, as appropriate. Find local staff contact information online to confirm the status of local educational offerings. For guidance, review these considerations from John Lawrence, Vice President for Extension and Outreach.

Daily updates from the Office of the Vice President for Extension and Outreach can be found here.

Research Information


The Office of Vice President for Research has consolidated all its guidance and resources related to COVID-19 into one set of FAQs. The set includes guidance on a phased approach to resuming normal on-campus research.

Beginning June 1, 2020, the Iowa State research community will follow a measured and phased approach to resuming normal on-campus research activities. To begin this process, research leads/PIs are expected to carefully review the updated FAQs and adhere to the Guide to Returning to the Workplace handbook.

All research leads, regardless of setting or current campus footprint, should use the Supervisor Workspace Plan for managing your research teams and activities. The completed Supervisor Workspace Plan must be shared and discussed with the supervisor (department chair, VPR center director). Research leads who are already working in campus laboratories and facilities or who plan to have additional research group members working on campus should assess the research spaces used by team members for risks, and ensure that the team members have adequate supplies (PPE, disinfectants) for a safe working environment.

Those who supervise employees, including students, in research settings should review guidance on the Employee FAQ webpage

Questions specific to CALS research continuity should be directed to CALS Senior Associate Dean Joe Colletti,, or CALS Associate Dean Manager Mark Honeyman,

Students Involved in Research

All Iowa State employees who are able to work remotely, as determined by their supervisors, are to work remotely. This directive applies to all graduate students, post-docs and undergraduate student workers. All meetings that can be virtualized should be virtualized, even one-on-one meetings with colleagues having offices or laboratories in close proximity. These actions should be taken immediately and to the maximum extent possible. 

Graduate students and research assistants should obtain specific guidance from their principal investigators, advisers, major professors and/or program directors, departments and/or the Graduate College. Find details and updates at the university’s student FAQ webpage.

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