Iowa Colleges Combatting COVID, University policies for handling COVID

Iowa recently made national news as students returning to campus transformed their cities into COVID hotspots. Every university is handling the novel coronavirus with their own policies and practices. Higher education institutions are tracking COVID cases, yet only public institutions are required to disclose its results. In an effort to comfort and inform Iowa residents of individual institutions approach to handling the pandemic, below is a consolidated list of what universities are doing.

Iowa State University

Located in Ames, Iowa, Iowa State University became one of the leading COVID hotspots at the beginning of September. Since then, according to university officials, numbers have gone down enough to warrant allowing fans to attend a home football game.

“COVID weekly positivity results from on campus testing have drastically declined from a high of 33% on Aug. 30 to 5% on Sept. 20,” according to the university website. In an effort to curb the spread COVID, ISU adopted a new tracking for the virus.

According to ISU’s website, “If you test positive for COVID-19, you’ll now receive a notification (text or email) from Cyclone Health with a survey that includes the definition of a close contact and asks you to start compiling a list of potential contacts.” Students who test positive are required to isolate for 10 days or until symptoms have improved and they have not had a fever for 24 hours.

ISU estimated on average 1,255 individuals are being tested each week. Last week, between Sept. 21-27, 996 individuals were tested, 68 of those individuals tested positive. For weekly updates of COVID cases at ISU, visit their COVID dashboard.

University of Northern Iowa

Located in Cedar Falls, University of Northern Iowa collects and posts COVID results every Friday to their COVID dashboard. In the past week, Sept. 21-27, UNI has reported 11 new cases, with one being faculty. UNI’s COVID plan is centered around the notion of “Forward Together: Protecting our Panthers.”

UNI implemented The Steering Committee to provide oversight for COVID tracking. “The Steering Committee will work with the UNI COVID-19 Response Team Campus Liaisons which includes individuals from various areas of campus,” According to the universities’ website. “Serving in a key advisory role, the Campus Liaisons will receive data and information regarding cases on campus and will provide feedback and guidance to the Steering Committee. The two groups will meet on a weekly basis to share overall campus data and, when possible, review incidents that have occurred and the campus response.”

In addition to this new oversight committee, UNI is following CDC recommendations for staying safe during the pandemic.

University of Iowa

Located in Iowa City, the University of Iowa is following CDC recommendations to keep students and staff safe. However, unlike other universities in Iowa, UI is not testing their student population. UI is relying on self-reporting to keep the community informed of COVID numbers. According to the university’s website, as of Sept. 7, 1,569 students and 20 employees have reported testing positive for COVID since the start of the school year. Students and employees can report their test results on the universities’ website.

For more information and updated results throughout the year, visit UI official COVID webpage.

Grinnell College

Located in Grinnell Iowa, Grinnell College is working closely with Tempus, a private testing company, to test their students and staff weekly. Since Grinnell is a smaller, private institution, they have more flexibility when it comes to disclosing test results. Results are being uploaded to the university website weekly.

Since August 24, of the 1,817 individuals tested, three tested positive. According to the universities’ website, that puts the positivity percentage rate at 0.17%.

Individuals on campus are required to follow CDC guidelines to ensure safety for all. To keep up to date on the latest testing results at Grinnell, visit the universities’ COVID webpage.

Drake University

Located in Des Moines, Drake University recently appeared in the Des Moines Register for not sharing COVID results with students. Drake is a private institution and is not required to disclose testing results. According to university officials, Drake has been monitoring and tracking COVID cases on campus since the year began.

Since the publication of the Des Moines Register article, Drake since has released some testing numbers. Students are randomly selected every two weeks for the sample testing. The last testing cycle confirmed five out of 192 students tested positive. As of Sept. 25, there are 228 students in quarantines, 84 on campus and 144 off campus.

In a message sent by President Marty Martin on Sept. 16, he shared the universities three step strategy for ensuring students safety.

“First, identifying positive COVID-19 cases. Second, isolating positive or presumed positive COVID-19 students to prevent the spread of the virus. Third, tracing all primary

contacts from a positive or presumed positive COVID-19 case to identify those students who need to quarantine in order to reduce the possible spread of the virus.”

To get updated information of what’s happening on Drake’s campus, visit the universities’ COVID response page.

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