Welcome to a new academic year.
I hope many of you have had the opportunity to enjoy the sounds of our marching band practicing on central campus last week. The upbeat music is a reminder of how vibrant our campus can be. It also reminds us of our passion for learning and discovery, and I am grateful that your passion for these important endeavors contributes so much to everything we do in our college.
As we engage in what may be another challenging year, I am also inspired by your support of students and colleagues to stay healthy and safe. I understand many of you have concerns about the campus environment, and I encourage you to review the university’s Moving Forward website for the most recent updates to COVID-19 safety policies and resources, as university leadership continues to advocate for faculty, staff and students.
Vaccinations are a priority in keeping campus healthy, and Iowa State continues to offer clinics and testing. Faculty, staff and students can get a free vaccination during any of the ongoing clinics on campus. However, please remember that according to this summer’s Iowa Board of Regents memo, we cannot ask faculty, staff or students to provide their vaccination status.
Classrooms and instructional settings
I encourage all instructors to read Provost Wickert’s most recent memo which provides updates on class attendance policies, class modality, mask requirements and a standard syllabus statement that you can use.
Also, please clarify your class attendance policy in your syllabus, as most university policies have transitioned back to pre-pandemic state. Encourage your students to establish a “study buddy” system or other backup plans for potential absences. A great example can be found here. The health center will not notify instructors about positive test results, so you may need to give your students a little extra latitude in working with their absences.
You can also direct students to a new comprehensive website with collected support and wellness resources here.
New employee guidance
On Friday, the university issued a message about some new COVID-19 leave guidelines, which provide additional paid sick leave in certain instances. The memo also outlines workplace modification opportunities for immunocompromised individuals. This is great news to help address the challenges we still face working through the pandemic.
In just a few weeks, we will celebrate recipients of college and university awards, and I will also deliver my usual State of the College address. This year, we will limit attendance to 125 people, in an effort to maintain safe spaces. However, we will share a recorded version of the State of the College address after the event—and please feel free to reach out and congratulate your colleagues any time.
In the meantime, thank you for your flexibility, for your ingenuity and for your passion for learning and discovery. In a landscape that is still rapidly changing, LAS continues to be an extraordinary place for students, faculty and staff.
In case you missed it, here is a quick video of the marching band as they prepared for the new academic year.