Temporary Course Modality Changes for Instructors Who Test Positive for COVID-19


Date:              September 1, 2021

To:                  Department Chairs

From:             Jonathan Wickert                                       
                       Senior Vice President and Provost

Subject:         Temporary Course Modality Changes for Instructors Who Test Positive for COVID-19


**  Note: The process below remains in effect for the Spring 2022 semester. **


Given the continuing nature of the pandemic, instructors may test positive for COVID-19 during the fall semester. I am writing to share information about flexibility for temporarily changing course modalities when such circumstances occur.

An instructor with a positive test for COVID-19 may move their class online for the duration of their isolation period assuming, of course, that the instructor is not seriously ill and remains both willing and able to work during isolation away from campus.

Isolation Guidelines - UPDATED

Per guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, if an instructor tests positive, regardless of vaccination status:

  • Stay home for five full days.
  • Wear a well-fitting mask when around others for 10 full days.
  • End isolation after five full days if fever-free for 24 hours without the use of medication, and other symptoms have improved; continue to stay home if fever and symptoms have not improved. (Note that loss of taste and smell may persist for weeks or months after recovery, and need not delay the end of isolation.)

Instruction During the Isolation Period

If the instructor feels well enough to do so, at their discretion, the instructor may temporarily move their courses into an online format for the duration of their isolation to minimize disruption of student learning.

On the other hand, if an instructor, at their discretion, does not feel well enough to teach online during the isolation period, they should follow standard university policy and use either BOR COVID-19 sick time off or sick leave, depending on eligibility, until they are well.  In this case, the department is to arrange course coverage through its standard approach, with the preference being for in-person instruction.  In the case that an instructor continues to be ill beyond the isolation period and needs to remain out, they should communicate with their department chair about next steps. 

Process for Requesting a Temporary Modality Change for Instructors Who Test Positive

  1. An instructor who tests positive for COVID-19 should provide the results of their positive test to hr_delivery@iastate.edu.  The corresponding HR Delivery team will ensure the documentation is sufficient and maintain appropriate records.  Instructors should not provide test result documentation directly to the department chair.
  2. The HR Delivery team will inform the department chair of the positive test result.
  3. The department chair will communicate with the instructor and notify the cognizant college associate dean.
  4. The department chair will notify students in the affected course(s) using the template message below.

Notification to Students

Academic departments should communicate to students as early as possible to let them know of the temporary course modality change using the following template message:

The delivery mode of a course in which you are enrolled is being temporarily changed with university approval. (COURSE/SECTION NUMBER) will change to an online synchronous section, effective immediately, for approximately two weeks. You will be notified at that time when in-person instruction of this course will resume.

Please accept our apologies for this disruption. Our goal is to provide a healthy, safe, and productive learning environment for both students and instructors throughout the fall semester.

Please contact (DEPARTMENT CHAIR OR ASSOCIATE CHAIR) with any questions. 


With best wishes for a successful semester,



Additional information may be added to the notification if the period of temporary modality change includes in-person exams or other activities.

I ask that department chairs share this memo with all instructors, including graduate student instructors, and teaching assistants, and academic advisors and staff engaged in instruction and student success.