Regents direct universities to recall all faculty, staff, and students out of the country

Sarah Watson, Managing Editor

In a release Saturday, the governing body of the three state universities, the Board of Regents, asked University of Iowa, Iowa State, and University of Northern Iowa to recall all faculty, staff, and students currently traveling outside of the country. University presidents have the flexibility to make exceptions on a case-by-case basis. The callback is for university-related travel, but the regents recommend avoiding locations with a high number of cases.

The board previously had called back students, faculty, and staff from countries with a Level 3 travel health notice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including China, South Korea, and most of Europe. Those included canceling study abroad programs such as CIMBA and university-sponsored trips.

Universities also have in place a rolling 30-day university-sponsored international travel ban, and the board continues to “recommend avoiding travel to any area with high numbers of infection.”

“We recognize this decision may cause frustration and hardship, but the COVID-19 pandemic continues to expand worldwide. The Board is taking this action in the interest of the health and safety of everyone,” the statement read.

In a press conference on Friday, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds suspended all nonessential work-related travel for state agencies, which includes the regent universities.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic is a rapidly evolving situation, the Board will continue to evaluate this on a daily basis and provide additional guidance if needed,” the regents’ statement read.

Seventeen cases of the coronavirus have been found in Iowa, and 14 of those individuals who tested positive live in Johnson County. All cases are linked to travel abroad, or another case, meaning that there isn’t any evidence of community spread in the state.

The University of Iowa, along with the other two public universities will conduct most in-person instruction online until at least April 3. On Friday, Senior Vice President of Finance and Operations Rod Lehnertz announced that all nonessential in-person events would be canceled and the recreation facilities would close until at least April 3.