CORONAVIRUS

Thousands of University of Iowa students haven't signed COVID-19 safety agreement

Agreement tied to repercussions for face covering, distancing violations

The Pentacrest on the campus of the University of Iowa is shown. (The Gazette)
The Pentacrest on the campus of the University of Iowa is shown. (The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Thousands of University of Iowa students did not complete required COVID-19 safety training — which includes an acknowledgment committing them to follow distancing and face covering guidelines — by the deadline administrators set and by the start of classes Monday.

The university’s more than 30,000 students were supposed to take the training and sign a safety acknowledgment by Friday.

As of Monday — the first day of classes and after a weekend of student partying downtown without masks or six feet of distance — 23,632 students had completed the required training, according to UI officials.

The university has not said how many students are taking online-only courses or how many are taking this semester remotely from another location — like another state or country.

And, as of Wednesday, the number of students to complete the training had ticked up to 25,099 — meaning about 82 percent of students have signed the safety agreement administrators have cited in warning of repercussions for violations both on and off campus.

“Since it is possible for the off-campus behavior of community members to impact the University of Iowa, I want to be explicit that the failure to adhere to the expectations in the student agreement will be responded to using the Code of Student Life,” according to a Tuesday message from Angela Ibrahim-Olin, assistant dean and director of student accountability.

“If a student is alleged to have violated any expectations from the student agreement, the student will be given the opportunity to change their behavior to align with campus expectations.”

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If they don’t, UI could impose sanctions, including housing contract cancellation or suspension.

The student agreement commits them to use face coverings in public, maintain 6 feet of distance when possible, report and seek health care guidance about COVID-19 symptoms and, if necessary, to isolate, quarantine and cooperate with contact tracing efforts.

Ibrahim-Olin cited those commitments in her letter reminding students of expectations.

She also provided a web form to report concerning behavior in violation of the student accord that requests the name of the reporting party, dates and details of the incident, names and other information about everyone involved and contact information.

The reporting form asks a series of questions, like whether the bad behavior involved failure to wear a face covering, failure to distance, failure to isolate or quarantine after being told to, or something else. It requests a brief narrative, details of how else the issue has been reported, and supporting documentation — if it exists.

Attachments can include photos, videos and email.

When asked whether students face any sort of punishment for not completing the required training in time, UI spokeswoman Jeneane Beck said the Office of Student Accountability is working with UI colleges to follow up with students who haven’t done the training.

“Students may receive outreach from the Office of Student Accountability, including receiving a registration hold, if they fail to complete the training in a timely fashion,” according to Beck.

The completion rate is higher among colleges with more undergraduate students, at 87 percent, while the rate for professional schools is about 75 percent.

Additionally, 3,888 of 6,443 UI employees have completed required COVID-19 training — excluding UI Health Care employees, who went through separate training.

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Human resources representatives are reaching out to those who still need to take the training, Beck said. The employee deadline is Oct. 21.

“Supervisors may take appropriate corrective action for non-compliance,” Beck said.

Iowa State University did not require students and employees complete COVID-19-specific training. The University of Northern Iowa did, and that campus is working to get a remaining 10 percent of students to fulfill the requirement.

About 90 percent have completed the training, according to UNI spokesman Steve Schmadeke, and “nearly all of our employees (more than 1,800 individuals) have taken employee safety training.”

Comments: (319) 339-3158; vanessa.miller@thegazette.com

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