COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Summary Information

Updated - October 26, 2020

As we continue with the fall semester, American University is preparing for spring 2021 as COVID-19 still affects our community and the nation in many ways. We are committed to a robust spring experience across our community that continues to expand in-person opportunities throughout the semester. We intend to ramp up activity as we carefully monitor the fundamental indicators of the pandemic and evolving public health conditions.

  • Class Modality (Curricular) - We will expand in-person classes in the sciences, visual and performing arts, media studies, and selected other areas While the majority of spring classes will be offered online, we will double the number of in-person classes offered in the fall. Classes will start January 19 (one week later than originally planned), spring break will be canceled to support the health and safety of our community, and AU Community of Care tuition discounts will continue.
  • The Student Experience (Co-Curricular) - We will increase both in-person co-curricular activity and virtual engagements, including student-faculty meetings, wellness activities, and exploring local DC spaces and interests. Additional buildings and campus spaces will be available for studying and small group meetings.
  • Residential Opportunities - We will increase university housing in a limited way for students with specific programmatic requirements to be on-campus and/or acute housing needs. We are also exploring a residential “mini-mester” where several hundred additional first-year students could live on campus for the latter half of the semester, and preparing for even more residential opportunities in the summer.
  • Health and Safety - We will expand COVID-19 testing availability for students, faculty, and staff living on campus or regularly coming to campus. Most faculty and staff will continue to telework through the spring semester, with some physical presence needed in select areas to support increased on-campus activity.

Decisions regarding our spring operating status are based upon the values that have guided us throughout the pandemic— protecting the health and safety of our community, advancing our education and research mission, and supporting the broader COVID-19 response in the Washington, DC, region.

This creative approach allows for more in-person community engagement, flexibility for students who are online, and a continuing focus on equity. Importantly, all health and safety measures remain in place and we are prepared to adapt as needed. We are going to do everything possible to make the spring successful, but we need the capacity, conditions, and cooperation to make it successful. If we can act together as a community, we can stay safe, meet our shared goal of increased in-person opportunities on campus, and achieve even more rapid acceleration on our ramp of activity through the spring months and into the summer.

COVID-19 offers no easy answers, and we all must take difficult steps to navigate these times. We made the decision to communicate the broader framework as quickly as possible to help the community prepare for the spring. Please refer to frequently asked questions (FAQs) for updates.  

AU Forward: Health & Safety

  • Health Status Report: If you are experiencing any COVID-19 related symptoms, you are in quarantine, or you tested positive for COVID-19, submit a Self Report to confidentially notify the University.

  • Daily Self-Screening for COVID-19 symptoms is required for any community member with a physical presence on campus. The screening will be completed via the AU Forward portal.

  • The Fall 2020 Health and Safety Plan has been amended in accordance with ReOpen DC guidelines. See the Amended Plan.

Operating Status

To arrive at the spring plan, we again evaluated our existing criteria—case count and trajectory of the virus; availability, reliability, and speed of COVID-19 testing; local public health requirements; and the operating status of local public K-12 schools. Additionally, we have learned a great deal over the past months, both from our experience and from other universities and institutions. These inputs, along with our health and safety protocols, help to determine the additional spring activities and operations.

The spring semester will feature continued online instruction with additional opportunities for select in-person classes, increased co-curricular activities, and increased residential options on a limited basis for students with acute housing needs or specific requirements to be on campus for programmatic needs. This approach allows for more in-person community engagement as conditions permit and a focus on equity. Importantly, all health and safety measures remain in place and we are prepared to adapt should the public health situation change.

For health and safety reasons, we will adjust the spring semester calendar. It is likely that case counts and community spread will continue at high levels throughout the winter months and the following changes will help maintain the health and safety of our community. Spring classes will begin on January 19, one week later than originally planned. Spring break will be canceled to avoid a situation where travel and social gatherings can cause an increase in cases locally and communities around the country. AU Community of Care tuition discounts will continue.

Our specialized facilities, such as the Hall of Science, Don Myers Building, and Media Innovation Lab can be utilized for select in-person classes in compliance with health and safety guidelines. Students in the DC area can access study spaces on a limited basis, with all visitors required to complete a daily self-screening questionnaire, wear face coverings, and practice physical distancing. There will be expanded COVID-19 testing for students for spring 2021 through the Student Health Center. Students living on campus or coming to spend time on campus will be required to have regular COVID-19 testing.

Most faculty and staff will continue to telework through the spring semester, with some physical presence needed in select areas to support increased on-campus activity. Departments will work with individual faculty and staff who may need to come to campus to support in-person classes and activities. Any faculty and staff required to come to campus regularly for work requirements will have access to COVID-19 testing.

We will provide updates about our ongoing spring planning throughout the remainder of the fall semester.

Health and Safety

The AU community is expected to adhere to required health and safety guidelines established by the university, the District of Columbia, and other local jurisdictions. While this modified fall 2020 approach will further reduce density on campus, it is important that we all continue following health and safety guidelines at all times, including wearing a face covering, practicing physical distancing, and washing your hands frequently. These are the critical steps that will help slow the spread of COVID-19 and we all must do our part. COVID-19 testing will be available for students in the DC region at the Student Health Center and any AU community members who comes to campus this fall will take a required health and safety training.

On-Campus Housing

Students assigned on-campus housing and off-campus AU-leased housing will automatically have the assignments cancelled for fall and student accounts will be adjusted accordingly. We will provide emergency housing to a very limited number of students with demonstrated need and who face extraordinary circumstances. An application process will be available from Please see Housing and Residence Life for more information. Applications will be reviewed by a committee in the same manner as the spring semester.

Buildings, Facilities, and Student Services

Effective August 24, all campus buildings can only be accessed with an AU ID card and many buildings will have interior temperature adjustments to conserve energy. There are specific buildings with normal temperature levels accessible for student use, and faculty and staff will have access to offices/work areas as outlined below. As a reminder, all community members are required to follow university health and safety protocols and directives when visiting any campus facilities, including wearing face coverings and practicing physical distancing. Any day that you come to campus, you must complete the daily Self-Screening form on the AU Forward portal.

The Student Health Center is open for students living on-campus or in the DC region, both for in-person appointments and telehealth visits. The Counseling Center is open virtually. Fitness center facilities will remain closed. Limited dining services will be available for students living in emergency housing, other dining facilities/services will remain closed.


AU will continue the pre-August 1 workforce categorizations (e.g., full telework, full or partial physical presence, etc.) for the time being. Human Resources will work with each of the units on revising their staffing plans and communicating updates to the workforce.

A significant portion of the workforce is expected to continue working remotely throughout the fall.


The Patriot League has announced that there will be no competition in either championship (men's and women's cross country, men's and women's soccer, field hockey, volleyball) or non-championship (lacrosse) sports in fall 2020. The league will decide about winter sports later this fall.

All training for student-athletes and the opening of Athletics & Recreation fitness centers and facilities are suspended until further notice.

Study Abroad

All study abroad programs for the fall semester are suspended. While studying abroad in the fall will not be possible, students are encouraged to consider classes or internships through AU Abroad's Premier Centers in Madrid, Nairobi, and Brussels.

University Travel

Travel outside of the Washington, DC, Metropolitan Area, continues to be suspended pending reassessment in the fall.

Who To Contact