DES MOINES, Iowa – Iowa Board of Regents President Mike Richards on Thursday announced that he was lifting the state of emergency at Iowa’s Regent institutions: Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School, Iowa State University, Iowa School for the Deaf, the University of Iowa, and the University of Northern Iowa.
Richards declared a state of emergency for all institutions under the Board’s jurisdiction on March 18, 2020, in alignment with Gov. Kim Reynolds’ public health emergency declaration.
“In recent months, highly effective vaccines have become widely available to adults and older children. The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) currently reports that over 1.2 million Iowans have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Positivity and hospitalization rates continue to decline, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently revised guidance with regard to social distancing, mask-wearing, and isolation for individuals who are fully vaccinated. In consideration of significant improvements in the management of COVID-19 both in the State of Iowa and nationally, I am lifting the State of Emergency at the Board of Regents institutions effective immediately,” he explained in a released statement.
Richards ordered that all faculty and staff return to campus effective July 1, 2021, to the extent their pre-pandemic responsibilities require. He said presidents and superintendents at Regents schools can approve remote or hybrid work arrangements in circumstances when there is a legitimate business rationale that serves the best interest of the institution, or as may otherwise be permitted or required by law or established institutional policy.
He also ordered Regents institutions for the Fall 2021 semester to offer in-person academic coursework and educational experiences to the same extent they were offered prior to the pandemic. Richards added the institutions may continue to explore hybrid or distance learning academic coursework and educational experiences provided they consult the Board of Regents office and it is in accordance with Board of Regents policy. He stated that institutions are expected to resume traditional student life activities and opportunities effective for the Fall 2021 semester.
Richards ended, effective immediately, mask and physical distancing requirements. He noted that campus transportation (i.e. buses), the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC), veterinary medicine facilities, research laboratories, or any other healthcare operation, setting, or service are exempt from this guideline. He encouraged unvaccinated people to wear masks and to physical distance where possible.
He encouraged all members of Regent campus communities to receive a COVID-19 vaccination, but will not require it.
“The Universities will continue to ensure vaccine availability to faculty, staff, and students either through vaccination opportunities on campus or in partnership with external providers. The institutions shall make information regarding COVID-19 vaccines easily available to all members of the campus community. However, the institutions under the jurisdiction of the Board of Regents (with the exception of University of Iowa Healthcare) may not impose any requirement that students, faculty, or staff receive or provide evidence of having received a vaccination for COVID-19,” Richards said.