Capital Clicks

Regents president declares emergency, universities cancel commencement

By: - March 18, 2020 2:13 pm

The Old Capitol building on the University of Iowa campus in Iowa City. (Photo courtesy of University of Iowa)

Iowa Board of Regents President Mike Richards has declared an emergency at the institutions and has moved to make it easier for employees to take time off during the COVID-19 outbreak.

All three state universities have canceled commencement and will only offer courses online for the rest of the spring semester, the schools announced. Many events and activities have been canceled.

The regents govern Iowa State University, the University of Iowa, the University of Northern Iowa, the 576-student Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School in Vinton and the 104-student Iowa School for the Deaf in Council Bluffs.

Richards said the state of emergency will last until he declares it over. He said he is following the advice of federal and state public health officials and Gov. Kim Reynolds, who has banned gatherings of more than 10 people and ordered school districts to call off classes. 

Regents employees will be able to use an unlimited amount of their accrued sick time to care for their families. They will be able to use family leave to care for their children who are home because their school or child care center closed. They also will be able to donate vacation to others, or accept donated leave time from others, for reasons related to the virus outbreak.

Employees will be able to use up to 80 hours of paid sick leave for any permitted purpose related to COVID-19, Richards announced.

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