Key Information for Instructors - Fall 2020


Keeping Up to Date:

To access the most current information, resources, and updates related to COVID-19 check out the following:

  • Office SVPP website: The most up-to-date information on decisions affecting students, faculty, and staff related to academic programming this fall will be maintained here.
  • COVID 19 Response: Information, updates, and resources related to ISU’s response to COVID 19 for the fall.
  • CALS website: Specific information for CALS students, faculty and staff.
  • Response Team: CALS faculty and staff can contact the college response team to request assistance, report a problem, or share an idea of a creative, innovative approach to a recent challenge at or 515-294-0705. For assistance after hours contact the ISU Response Team helpline at 1-800-447-1985.


Every course is required to have a Canvas site this semester and a back-up instructor. For assistance with Canvas or to access their recommended template visit the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) at

Classroom and IT resources

Classroom Attendance

This fall, students will be required to miss class and/or field trips if they are sick, have tested positive for COVID-19, or are in quarantine/self-isolation. Please make every attempt to be flexible and provide online or other alternative learning pedagogies to allow these students to continue to make progress and stay enrolled in your classes. Be proactive with strategies to accomplish this goal.

Possible Solutions:

  • Do not use attendance as part of your grading rubric this year.
  • Provide opportunities for self-learning or online learning wherever possible.
  • Provide opportunities for alternative online exams with online proctoring.
  • Provide alternative learning opportunities for labs or experiential learning where possible (potentially using on-line assignments or videos).
  • Use incompletes or alternative learning opportunities rather than dropping students whenever possible.
  • Use teaching assistants (both graduate and undergraduate) to help these students make up missed classes, laboratories, assignments, and exams.

We strongly encourage departments to collectively discuss specific issues related to their courses/labs and consider possible solutions that are relevant and consistent within their programs.

Responding to students with positive COVID-19 test

The SVPP Fall Planning Resources for Faculty and Staff website has several documents that provide guidance related to the communication process for when a student in a class tests positive for COVID-19. These include:

  • Classroom contact tracing process
  • Instructor talking points to help students understand the process for when a student tests positive for COVID-19
  • University and public health guidelines for if a student needs to be absent from class due to a positive COVID-19 test or needs to quarantine

Please note: when the general classroom notification comes out regarding a positive case in the class, it states that no one needs to do anything at that time, and they will be contacted directly if they were a close contact. The entire class should not be told to quarantine or be tested. 

If a student is contacted by a contact tracer to let them know they were a in close contact and are told to quarantine, a test is not required. Testing is a choice the student can make for themselves and a negative result does not shorten their length of quarantine. If a student does choose to get a test, they need to wait at least 48 hours after exposure.


Custodial staff will clean all instructional spaces once a day. There will be specialized cleaning supplies available in each classroom for instructional stations and technology only.

Students may be encouraged to clean their own space or use hand sanitizer before they sit down but they cannot be required to do so (except in specialized learning spaces, such as labs).

Communicating with your students

We strongly encourage you to reach out to your students via email before your class begins. Many students are probably feeling apprehensive about the semester (as are we!) and have many questions (as do we!). Consider providing them with information on what to expect in your class, the best way to contact you, health and safety protocols (how to safely enter and exit the classroom, face covering requirements, etc), clarification on the mode of instruction (see below), and information regarding the laptop policy (see below). And, you can simply remind them that we are all in this together!

Course Modes

Courses listed on the Schedule of Classes have been confusing for students (and their advisers) to interpret. Below is an explanation:

  • If a class lists “normal” meeting times with no course delivery mentioned the class will meet face-to-face.
  • If a class lists no meeting time other than ARR, and course delivery is listed as WWW, the class is 100% online and asynchronous.
  • If a class lists “normal” meeting times, but shows course delivery as WWW, the class is 100% online and synchronous (students must login at a specific time for online instruction).
  • If a class lists some meeting times, and shows course delivery as hybrid (online and F2F instruction) the class has some face-to-face and some synchronous online components


Laptop computers are required this fall. However, they may not be available for many students for the first few weeks due to a potential shortage of library loaners and delays in the availability of purchased computers.

Possible solutions:

  • Assess the student situation the first day and encourage students that do not have laptops to explore the availability of loaners. Ask them to keep you informed.
  • For at least the first month of the fall semester, try to keep your online assignments and course materials low-tech and easily accessible.
  • Work with your departmental IT people to identify potential opportunities for students to connect remotely to departmentally owned computers.

Dismiss class on time

While five minutes has been added to the passing time for classes meeting on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, this time should be reserved for safely entering and exiting classrooms and buildings.

Food and drink in the classroom

Please discourage eating and drinking in learning spaces that require students to remove face coverings. Exceptions may be necessary for longer class periods or for students with underlying health conditions. Please use your judgement and discretion when establishing rules and expectations within your classes.

Seating Chart

Every instructor should maintain a designated seating chart for each course. Students should be allowed to select their own seats based on learning styles but then remain in that seat for the semester. If students move, the seating chart should be revised accordingly. For labs or spaces where students work in groups, a location chart can be completed. This information will be requested from the ISU Public Health Team for contact tracing purposes if a student in your class tests positive for COVID 19. The fillable classroom seating charts can be accessed through the SVPP website.

Student Services Office

20 Curtiss; Tel: 294-6434

For fall semester, the majority of the Student Services Team will be working remotely. We will have front desk coverage for students with immediate needs and either Assistant Dean of Student Services, Dr. Howard Tyler, or Audrey Kennis, will be available Monday through Friday from 8-5. If you are working with a student that has extenuating circumstances as a result of the pandemic - regardless of whether these are academic, financial, medical, mental health, or family challenges – please refer them to our office and we will help them find the appropriate resources to address their needs.

There may be changes to deadlines and policies this semester. Please direct any enquiries to Dr. Howard Tyler.

Syllabus Statement

Please include the most current version of the COVID-19 health and safety syllabus statement, available on the CELT website and pasted below.

The following new language developed in collaboration with the Academic Continuity Workgroup, Dean of Students Office, and Faculty Senate Executive Board, is to be included verbatim in the syllabus for any course you teach having an in-person (face-to-face) component. The health and safety syllabus language distributed previously has been revised to reflect the change in Iowa State University’s face covering policy. The following language supersedes the template distributed in SVPP COVID-19 Communication #15 on July 22, 2020.

COVID-19 health and safety requirements 

Students are responsible for abiding by the university’s COVID-19 health and safety expectations. All students attending this class in-person are required to follow university policy regarding health, safety, and face coverings: 

  • wear a cloth face covering in all university classrooms, laboratories, studios, and other in-person instructional settings and learning spaces. Cloth face coverings are additionally required to be worn indoors in all university buildings, and outdoors when other people are or may be present where physical distancing of at least 6 feet from others is not possible. Students with a documented health or medical condition that prevents them from wearing a cloth face covering should consult with Student Accessibility Services in the Dean of Students Office. 
  • ensure that the cloth face covering completely covers the nose and mouth and fits snugly against the side of the face. 
  • practice physical distancing to the extent possible. 
  • assist in maintaining a clean and sanitary environment. 
  • not attend class if you are sick or experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.
  • not attend class if you have been told to self-isolate or quarantine by a health official. 
  • follow the instructor’s guidance with respect to these requirements. Failure to comply constitutes disruptive classroom conduct. Faculty and teaching assistants have the authority to deny a non-compliant student entry into a classroom, laboratory, studio, conference room, office, or other learning space. 

These requirements extend outside of scheduled class time, including coursework in laboratories, studios, and other learning spaces, and to field trips. These requirements may be revised by the university at any time during the semester. 

In accordance with university policy, instructors may use a face shield while they are teaching as long as they are able to maintain 8 feet of physical distance between themselves and students during the entire instructional period. Some form of face covering must be worn at all times in learning spaces regardless of the amount of physical distancing. 

Faculty may refer matters of non-compliance to the Dean of Students Office for disciplinary action, which can include restrictions on access to, or use of, university facilities; removal from university housing; required transition to remote-only instruction; involuntary disenrollment from one or more in-person courses; and other such measures as necessary to promote the health and safety of campus. 

It is important for students to recognize their responsibility in promoting the health and safety of the Iowa State University community, through actions both on- and off-campus. The university’s faculty asks that you personally demonstrate a commitment to our Cyclones Care campaign. Iowa State University’s faculty support the Cyclones Care campaign and ask you personally to demonstrate a commitment to our campaign. Your dedication and contribution to the campaign will also protect your family, classmates, and friends, as well as their friends and families. Our best opportunity for a successful fall semester with in-person learning and extramural activities requires all of us to collaborate and fully participate in the Cyclones Care campaign.