VM4 COVID-19 Policy Regarding Vehicles with Student Passengers

Dear students,

As you work next week in rearranging your 4th year schedule, we would like to make you aware of our current COVID-19 policy regarding vehicles with student passengers in our ambulatory services or courses with field trips. It is recognized that vehicles could pose a risk for COVID-19 transmission considering the smaller airspace in vehicles and the challenges with maintaining the suggested 6 foot separation differences between individuals. There are currently no CDC guidelines regarding the maximum passenger capacity in a vehicle. Risk mitigation practices continue to emphasize the importance of wearing a face covering, maximizing separation distancing, extra hygiene practices, as well as minimizing the number of passenger in a vehicle.   

Field trips and ambulatory services by definition require travel in a vehicle. Logistics and biosecurity considerations will often require multiple individuals to travel in the same vehicle. Please consider the following important information before enrolling in a course that requires travel (field trips or ambulatory service):

  • No student will be required to take a course that requires travel
  • There may be limited times when students could choose to drive on their own
    • Often this will not be the case due to logistics and biosecurity
    • The option for student driving on their own will be fully at the discretion of the instructor in-charge
    • Student who chose to drive their own vehicle (their choice) are responsible for their expenses (no mileage reimbursement) and liability
    • If appropriate, university vehicles could be provided to mitigate student liability for those students approved to drive by ISU Transportation Service
  • Use of face coverings will be required by all passengers when inside a vehicle
  • Face coverings or any PPE used in the vehicle must not interfere with the ability of driver to operate the vehicle safely.
    • For example: There may be a unique time when individuals have just completed a physical activity that caused them to breathe heavily. They may need to drive for some time without a face covering so as to not impact their health before they can reasonably go back to wearing the face covering comfortably.
  • Vehicles will be cleaned and disinfected on a regular basis
    • At a minimum, cleaning and disinfection of commonly touched surfaces in the vehicle will occur at the beginning and end of each shift
  • The maximum number of students allowed in a vehicle will depend on duration of the trip:
    • Trips < 15 min - No restrictions on number of individuals in a vehicle (similar to any mass transit system)
      • Examples:
        • Dual cab pickup – Up to 6 passengers
        • Minivan – Up to 8 passengers
        • 15 passenger van – Up to 15 passengers
    • Trips > 15 min – Must maintain at least one empty seat between individuals
      • Examples:
        • Dual cab pickup – Up to 4 passengers (e.g., 1 driver + 3 student)
        • Minivan – Up to 6 passengers
        • 15 passenger van – Up to 10 passengers 
    • Currently, health officials believe that close interactions with positive individuals for less than 15 minutes, pose negligible risk for COVID-19 transmission
    • The above numbers are used as absolute maximum numbers and faculty will do their best to try to minimize the number of passengers in vehicles
    • The use of non-recirculating air will be used to increase ventilation

Again, please be aware of these guidelines as you finalize your 4th year schedule.  If you have questions, please feel free to contact the following individuals: 

  • For questions on the academic implication of these guidelines: Dr. Jared Danielson (jadaniel@iastate.edu)
  • For questions regarding these COVID-19 health and safety guidelines: Dr. Alex Ramirez (ramireza@iastate.edu)
  • For questions on the specific implementation of these guidelines for each course: 

Thank you for your understanding as we continue to navigate the current COVID-19 situation.      

Alejandro “Alex” Ramirez, DVM, MPH, PhD
Assistant Dean for Academic and Student Affairs