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COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Summary Information

Updated - March 28, 2020

American University is closely monitoring the COVID-19 (coronavirus) situation in the United States and around the world, and taking all necessary steps to protect the health and well-being of our students, faculty, and staff. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser declared a state of emergency for the District of Columbia and the DC Department of Health recommended that nonessential mass gatherings, including conferences and conventions, be postponed or canceled. Please see the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Coronavirus COVID-19 page for the latest information on confirmed cases within the United States and around the world.

The university has a comprehensive approach led by a cross-functional emergency response team to respond to this situation and support our community. This COVID-19 Resources page provides summary information about our actions, updates to the community, and answers to frequently asked questions for students and parents, faculty, and staff. You can read more about the university’s overall approach to emergencies on the Emergency Preparedness site.

This situation is evolving rapidly, and updated information can be found from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the DC Department of Health.

Operating Status

On March 12, AU announced that all classes will move to online platforms following spring break for the rest of the semester. Spring break will be extended through Monday, March 16 and Tuesday, March 17, and classes are canceled for those two days. 

Online Classes:

The previously announced transition to online classes beginning on Wednesday, March 18 will now continue through the rest of the spring semester. There will be no on-campus instruction for the remainder of this semester, and courses will be completed remotely. This includes the Washington College of Law (WCL), where online classes will begin Monday, March 23. Faculty will update students with specific instructions. As previously announced, services such as counseling, advising, and academic support will be available online.

On Campus Housing:

Students currently remaining in the residence halls are instructed to leave campus by Monday, March 23 and return to their permanent addresses for the remainder of the semester. We strongly encourage students to depart campus as soon as possible to help reduce the potential risk of transmission or spread of COVID-19. We know this is challenging and stressful for students and their families and can cause financial and other hardships. American University will work with students to provide support to facilitate this transition. Further details will be forthcoming, including emails and webinars. We know some students may not be able to depart the residence halls due to extraordinary circumstances, and they should contact the Office of Campus Life for help at

Study Abroad Programs:

All study abroad programs are canceled, and all students are being instructed to return immediately to their permanent addresses. Students are not to return to campus. The university will work with these students on academic arrangements and financial matters. 

University Operations:

The university transitioned to an expanded telework environment for the majority of operations beginning Monday, March 16 and continuing through Sunday, April 5. The university has not been closed, and services are available on campus with limitations. To the extent possible, many services will be provided remotely. University employees will continue to be paid as normal. University leaders in the President’s Council will coordinate telework arrangements throughout their organizations.

University Travel:

All domestic travel for official university business and university-sponsored student and recognized student group trips is suspended through May 5 (the last scheduled day of exams this semester). This includes all travel that has been previously approved. The ongoing suspension of all university-sponsored international travel announced on March 5 remains in effect. 


University-sponsored public events, both on and off campus, are suspended through May 5 (the last scheduled day of exams this semester). This includes events organized by students, all academic and administrative units, and all external individuals and organizations utilizing campus space for events such as conferences. This is necessary to limit close contact among large groups of people, consistent with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance on social distancing. For private meetings, the university is strongly encouraging department offices, student organizations, and other operations to use teleconferences and virtual meeting tools, limit face-to-face meetings as appropriate, and conduct activity via email and instant messaging. In-person meetings that must occur should follow social distancing guidelines.

  • While the Washington College of Law (WCL) operates on a different calendar, the travel and event guidance and timeline apply to all WCL faculty, staff, and students as well. 
  • A very limited number of exceptions to the travel and event suspensions may be made for select activities, considered on a case-by-case basis. Exceptions will require the approval of the AU president, provost, and/or the appropriate vice president, depending on the exact circumstances. 

The most effective steps you can take right now are to practice good hygiene such as regular and thorough hand washing and covering your mouth with your elbow when you cough or sneeze. Anyone exhibiting symptoms of respiratory illness (e.g., cough, fever, shortness of breath) should stay home from class and/or work, avoid others for the duration of the symptoms, and contact your health provider for guidance. Members of the AU community can contact the Student Health Center at 202-885-3380 or Faculty and staff should contact their primary care physician.

Who To Contact