With classrooms set to reopen for Session 1 on Monday, August 30, Upper Iowa University has accepted the COVID-19 College Vaccine Challenge. The initiative, created by the White House and the U.S. Department of Education, invites colleges and universities across the country to join in furthering the efforts to end the pandemic.
By participating, each of the institutes of higher education commit to the following three actions to help achieve a fully vaccinated campus community:
- Engage every student, faculty and staff member through communication and messaging
- Organize the college community and implement a plan to get as many people vaccinated as possible
- Deliver vaccine access to all
“Joining this nationwide initiative was an easy decision for our University,” UIU President William R. Duffy II said. “We have already met the expectations set forth by the Challenge, and we wanted to exhibit our support of all colleges and universities with similar goals and ambitions. Through this effort, we not only continue to impact everyone here at UIU, but we are a part of something bigger that may bring an end to this pandemic.”
UIU was only one of five Iowa private colleges and universities recognized by Educate to Career (ETC) in May 2020 for its early response to the COVID-19 pandemic. During the onset of the pandemic, UIU adopted the practice of requiring students, personnel and guests to wear a face covering when in group settings or when six feet of distancing is not possible. Classrooms were modified to allow for distancing. Many University spaces were reconfigured, and designated entrance and exit points were determined to support distancing. Additional cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch areas were also implemented.
Since July 2020, a group of Upper Iowa University staff members spanning across various departments have quietly served on the front line to best assure the safety of the entire Campus community during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As members of the UIU CARE team, the volunteers were assembled, and joined by Fayette Police Chief Ben Davis, to directly address any health and safety issues that could potentially impact Campus. Now numbering approximately 20 members, the CARE Team continues to evolve with each new problem or concern that develops from the effects of COVID.
With the help and guidance of community health partners in April, students, faculty, staff and family members were among over 450 people administered the one-shot Johnson and Johnson (J&J/Janssen) vaccine at UIU’s main Fayette, Iowa, Campus. UIU and other local volunteers had previously collaborated with Fayette County Public Health in hosting a number of successful COVID-19 vaccination clinics at Fayette Campus.
In-person classes to resume
UIU’s upcoming Session 1 classes will be in person except in rare cases where an approved accommodation is necessary. Offices, academic services, residential living, student activities, food service, athletics, and all other aspects of campus life are expected to also resume in-person.
While not required to have the COVID-19 vaccination, students, faculty and staff are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated if it is safe for them to do so. If fully vaccinated, masks are optional for students, faculty and staff. Individuals who are not fully vaccinated are strongly encouraged to wear a mask when indoors or in group settings. This guidance is in place at all UIU locations except where otherwise directed by federal, state, local, tribal or territorial laws. The UIU community is asked to also continue good hand hygiene and stay home when ill.
“On behalf of the UIU Student Government Association (SGA), I would like to encourage each of our fellow students to get the COVID-19 vaccine,” SGA president Carter Harris, a biology major from St. Cloud, Florida, said. “I received my vaccine in February and felt very little side effects. Being able to return to a normal life has been great this summer. My father received the vaccine because he was at high risk. When he later tested positive for COVID-19, after coming in contact with someone who had COVID, his symptoms were minor and I believe that was due to the vaccine.”
For additional information about UIU’s Fayette Campus Care Plan, universitywide communications, and other COVID-related facts, materials and updates, visit uiu.edu/covid-19-updates.
Since its inception in 1857, UIU’s unwavering commitment to accessible higher education and lifelong learning ensures that current and future UIU students are provided with the skills they need to be successful in the classroom, career and life. A private, nonprofit university, UIU provides undergraduate and graduate degree programs to about 4,500 students at over 20 U.S. education locations.
For additional information, visit uiu.edu.