Designated Seating and Contact Tracing Process

The ISU Public Health Team and the Academic Continuity Working Group have collaboratively developed the designated seating chart guidance and contact tracing process described below.

In response to COVID-19, designated seating in classes is needed to assist in contact tracing, if necessary, and to augment social distancing. In a hybrid course with alternating attendance days, a seating chart will be needed for each group of students meeting face-to-face. For studios, labs and other specialized spaces in which students might not have specified seats, a location chart will be needed.

Designated Seating Charts

  • Lecture-based courses  
    • Create a designated seating chart
    • We suggest allowing students to choose their seat in an effort to respect student’s different learning styles and needs.
    • Fillable seating charts will be made available for each university scheduled classroom and posted to this CyBox, and also available via a link on the SVPP website and the FP& M Room Scheduling site. You will need to be logged into CyBox with your iastate netid to access the CyBox.
    • In all university classrooms, seats are marked to indicate which ones to use and not.   
    • For classrooms with movable desks, the expected seating arrangement will be provided and posted in the classroom. Either the extra desks will remain to promote distancing or marks will be provided on the floor to designate desk locations.
  • Laboratory and studio courses
    • Create a designated seating chart if possible, even if just for some of the instructional days.
    • Faculty should keep notes each class period about the general activities and interactions between students that would aid in contact tracing if needed.
    • Students should be encouraged to document which students they had significant contact with (e.g. within 6 feet for > 15 minutes of continuous, close contact) each class period.
    • When possible, faculty should try to design instructional time to minimize the interactions between participants. For instance, if there is more than one lab group, try to minimize interactions between groups.
  • A CyBox folder will be created for each instructor of record after the first week of classes. Instructors may upload their seating chart document(s) to that CyBox folder in the second week of classes, or when seating plans have been established. This step is optional; if the seating chart is not located in CyBox, the contact tracing team will reach out to the instructor via email and request one if necessary. The seating chart should only be uploaded if the faculty member is quite confident that it will not change and the class situation is static each day (e.g. no movement for group work).

Attendance Records

  • While taking attendance is not required, if faculty have attendance records, they should provide them to the case investigator if asked. If attendance records are not available, then the case investigator will ask specific students if they attended in-person class/lab/studio on a particular day. We encourage faculty to communicate to students that attendance records should not be perceived as punitive for grading situations, since through the Cyclones Care initiative, students are instructed to stay home if they are having symptoms.

When a Class Participant Tests Positive:

  • A case investigation will begin.
  • During the case investigation interview, the infected student will be asked (among other questions) what class(es) they have attended during the period of interest.
  • The period of interest starts 2 days prior to onset of symptoms; or if asymptomatic, 2 days prior to testing positive.
  • A contact tracer will get notification that a classroom exposure was identified.
  • The Office of the Registrar will provide the contact tracer the class list, the instructor of record, and the department chair.
  • A Registrar staff member will upload the requested information into CyBox.
  • The contact tracer will send a standardized classroom notification from to all students, instructors, and department chairs identified by the Registrar that there was a participant in the class who tested positive.
  • The participant will not be identified, except in rare instances where the health team determines it is necessary for the faculty to know the student to accurately complete the case investigation. 
  • The contact tracer will send a separate email to the instructor and department chair requesting the seating chart and any relevant attendance notes they may have (e.g. were they in their seats, were they doing group work, other participants in the classroom), and any other information that may assist the case investigator in identifying contacts.  If a seating chart was loaded previously, the contact tracer will ask if it was accurate for period of interest).
  • The instructor will need to notify any graduate assistants, teaching assistants, or other classroom visitors of the exposure.  This can be as simple as forwarding the original notification message.
  • Seating charts and attendance notes will be forwarded to the case investigator assigned to the case to determine if there are classroom contacts that need to quarantine.
  • This information will be used to identify class participants who had significant exposure (e.g. >15 minutes of continuous interaction within 6’ of the infected person (case)). These individuals will be added to the list of contacts the contact tracing team work will work from.
  • If the participants are determined to have been at significant exposure, they will be contacted by a member of the contact tracing team and told to quarantine for 14 days from their last contact with the case. Students living in residence halls will be moved to on-campus quarantine housing (Oak or Elm Halls). Note that getting tested will not shorten this time period, as symptoms of COVID-19 may take up to 14 days to develop. 
  • The participant that tested positive will be contacted by a member of the case investigation team and will need to isolate for 10 days. Students living in residence halls will be moved to on-campus isolation housing (Linden Hall).
  • Students who need to isolate or quarantine are to notify all of their instructors of their upcoming absences. Faculty will not be advised from a central source of students who need to isolate or quarantine due to health confidentiality constraints.