Iowa State University has announced that the 2020 fall semester will start and end early due to continuing concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.
This school year’s first term in Ames is scheduled to begin on Aug. 17 while final exams will be completed on Nov. 25, which is the day before Thanksgiving, according to a university press release on Wednesday. This plan is similar to what many other schools across the country have announced in recent weeks.
“We are making every effort to maximize in-person learning and the student learning experiences that are a defining characteristic of an Iowa State education,” said President Wendy Wintersteen in the release. “Adjusting the calendar will allow us to complete the semester before Thanksgiving and minimize the potential spread of COVID-19 due to holiday travel.”
The school also plans to hold classes on Labor Day, unlike it does most years.
Other changes students can expect to see on campus include reducing the number of students in the classroom, expecting students and faculty to wear face coverings and modifications to the time between classes in order to avoid over-crowding on sidewalks, buses and in campus buildings.
“While campus will be different, we are making every effort to prioritize experiential learning opportunities,” said vice president for ISU Extension and Outreach and chair of the fall planning committee John Lawrence. “We know that clubs and other activities are also important, so we have a group dedicated to the student experience.”
Iowa State will also offer only single and double occupancy in its resident halls to go along with added cleaning practices and measures to prioritize students’ safety. That will run hand in hand with changes to ISU Dining that include reducing capacity in dining halls, the elimination of self-serve options and expanded take-out measures.
Finally, the Thielen Health Center is working to develop comprehensive COVID-19 testing plans for students, faculty and staff. This includes contact tracing across campus and space will be reserved in residence halls for individuals who may be required to self-isolate.