UI developing plan for in-person fall semester, faculty and staff to continue remote work

Six UI planning teams submitted recommendations to their Critical Incident Management Team, which will finalize and communicate the UI’s strategy. UI employees were also advised to continue to work remotely until further notice.


Jeff Sigmund

The Old Capitol is seen on April 13, 2020.

Naomi Hofferber, Arts and News Reporter

On Friday, the University of Iowa took another step in its planning process for reopening in the fall, a campus-wide email informed UI students, faculty, and staff.

UI planning teams submitted scenarios and recommendations on how to reopen the university for in-person education safely to the UI’s Critical Incident Management Team, which will finalize and communicate the UI’s fall strategy.

Additionally, the Critical Incident Management Team is developing the process for UI faculty and staff to return to campus. Until then, the email said employees working remotely should continue until otherwise told by their dean, vice president, or unit manager.

Six different planning teams, made up of campus experts, have been meeting daily to develop the method in which the UI will go about reopening.

Key topics the UI will have to address, according to the email, include finalizing the best method to provide safe housing for students, how to implement social distancing in common, more populated areas, such as libraries, rec centers, or larger lecture halls, how to approach face-to-face instruction, how to secure the proper protective equipment, and how custodial protocols will change. 

In this uncertain time, we find ourselves confronting challenges we’ve never seen before, challenges that often shift weekly and daily,” Rod Lehnertz, senior vice president for finance and operations, said in the email. “Rest assured, as Hawkeyes we remain nimble, and as Hawkeyes we roll up our sleeves and work hard to do the right thing—the safe thing—for our campus community.”

The UI’s largest college, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, informed faculty and staff this week it’s planning to conduct classes with 50 or more students in an all-online or partially online format, and asked instructors to compartmentalize their classes in case COVID-19 would prompt a quick shift to all-virtual instruction.

Most businesses statewide were allowed to reopen at half capacity on Friday, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds announced on Wednesday. Many businesses in Iowa City made plans to open their dining rooms with modified operations, such as requiring customers to wear masks, encouraging ordering from digital menus, and expanding outdoor seating. Others decided to remain closed.

Montse Fuentes, the Executive Vice President and Provost for the UI, sent a campus-wide email on Friday acknowledging students this semester for their resilience over the past few months, and held a positive outlook for facing the future semester.

Continuing students, we acknowledge there is still a lot of uncertainty in front of us,” Fuentes said in her email. “But thanks to the hard work, resilient spirit, and mutual support I have seen the university community demonstrate over the past weeks, I know we are not only going to weather this storm, we will thrive as we continue to learn together.