University of Iowa to release number of self-reported coronavirus cases each Friday

The University of Iowa will be sharing self-reported COVID-19 cases in a campus update emailed each Friday.

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Jenna Galligan

The Old Capitol is seen on Thursday, March 12, 2020.

Alexandra Skores, Managing Editor

The University of Iowa will release self-reported positive COVID-19 cases in a campus update every Friday beginning Aug. 28, two weeks after students started early move-in, the UI wrote in an email to students on Wednesday.

Students and employees can self report a positive coronavirus test or close contact with someone who has tested positive by filling out an online form. Those with a positive test are asked to quarantine for 10 days since the start of symptoms per Centers for Disease Control guidelines. Contact tracing will be done by Johnson County Public Health Department.

Students who develop symptoms should stay home and not attend classes, the update stated. The UI is making testing available to those showing symptoms, directing students to the Student Health Nurseline at 319-335-9704 and faculty and staff may contact the UI Hospitals and Clinics at 319-384-9010.

The university is providing isolation space for residence hall students diagnosed with COVID-19 and space to quarantine close contacts. The UI set aside 250-300 rooms in the residence halls available for quarantine and isolation, UI spokesperson Jeneane Beck wrote in an email to The Daily Iowan.

Senior Director of Housing and Dining Von Stange told the DI on Monday that who is notified of a positive coronavirus test will be determined based on Johnson County Public Health contact tracing guidelines. He said a roommate would be notified, but notices wouldn’t be sent out to whole floors of residence halls. According to the UI’s COVID-19 fall plans, areas where someone tested positive for COVID-19 would be closed off for at least 24 hours if possible.

At Iowa State University, which tested all students moving into the residence halls, 175 students tested positive over its move-in period.  The UI is not mass testing students on campus, which officials say falls in line with federal and state guidelines due to false negatives giving students a false sense of security, and would strain resources to complete.

As the UI is set to begin a hybrid in-person and online fall semester, 72 percent of classes will be online, 16 percent face-to-face, and 12 percent blended instruction, which is a combination of in-person and online learning.

On Monday, the UI released 16 criteria the university would look to in deciding whether to move its in-person classes online. Those criteria included the number of positive cases, percent positive cases, availability of contact tracing, and residence hall capacity. There are no set numbers for what would trigger an all-online semester.

“The university has not set specific thresholds for individual metrics but will instead be considering the entire picture,” Beck wrote in an email to the DI.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, one school in the University of Iowa’s peer group, switched to online classes starting Wednesday after clusters of coronavirus cases appeared during its week of in-person instruction. In total, UNC found 279 positive coronavirus cases among students. Michigan State University also asked students to stay home before classes were set to begin, and continue their education remotely, and Notre Dame suspended in-person classes eight days into the fall semester.

Campaign to Organize Graduate Students hosted a protest to in-person classes Wednesday afternoon, demanding the UI transition classes online.

Sarah Watson contributed to this report.

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