Instructors can’t ask students to wear a mask, encourage masks or vaccines in classroom

Guidance from the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost outlines what instructors can and can’t say when it comes to masks and vaccines.


Jeff Sigmund

Classroom 105 in the English-Philosophy Building sits empty on Aug. 28, 2020.

Caleb McCullough, Executive Editor

When the fall semester begins, instructors at the University of Iowa won’t be able to ask students to wear a mask in their classrooms or offices, and they can’t make statements ascribing value to getting vaccinated against COVID-19 or wearing a mask, according to an FAQ for instructors from the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost released Tuesday.

The FAQ says instructors can only make statements regarding mask usage or vaccination when it’s part of a course material for discussions on health-related issues.

“Outside that context, if you are asked, you may share your personal choice regarding the decision to wear a mask or be vaccinated without making a statement regarding the value of the choice or any value judgments about decisions not to be vaccinated,” the FAQ says.

While the UI suggests instructors not make a value judgement about vaccines, the UI itself has strongly encouraged students to get vaccinated.

The guidance also bars instructors from asking students or colleagues about their vaccination status.

“Vaccination status is a personal matter and should be treated as such,” the guidance says. “Asking someone about their vaccination status may cause them to feel pressured to share personal or private information.”

The FAQ also deals with instructor office hours, Temporary Alternative Work Arrangement, quarantining for students, and contact tracing of COVID-19 exposures. The full FAQ can be read here.