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COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Summary Information

Updated - June 22, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic changed our world in so many ways, and American University’s changemakers are moving forward with a plan for a phased in-person reopening of campus for the fall 2020 semester. Though this fall will be different, we are committed to protecting the health, safety, and well-being of our students, faculty, and staff and delivering a high-quality educational experience at AU.

Our strategic approach for the fall—AU Forward—is based on three key principles: 1) safeguarding the health and well-being of our community; 2) advancing our mission of teaching, research, and learning; and 3) contributing to the health and economic recovery of our AU community, the larger DC region, and beyond. Our work is guided by the District of Columbia’s ReOpen DC plan, and provides the university with more flexibility to open portions of campus now that the city is in phase two. We are also following guidance from the DC Department of Health (DCDOH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the American College Health Association (ACHA).

Based on current information and conditions, the fall semester will start on time. It is going to be different and look different, but our mission to deliver a world-class AU education for all our students continues. The AU Forward plan provides flexibility to navigate the changing health and safety conditions, and foster safe engagement with faculty and peers to enhance learning and community.

The COVID-19 Resources page will continue to provide information about the implementation of the AU Forward plan and answers to frequently asked questions for students and parents, faculty, and staff. Additional information about COVID-19 can also be found from the CDC and DCDOH. As the situation evolves, we will continue to provide updates to the AU community.

AU Forward: The Plan for Fall 2020

The health and safety of the AU community remains our top priority. Learn about AU Forward: The Plan for Fall 2020 and our comprehensive response to COVID-19.

See the plan

Operating Status

AU has established three levels of campus operations that support and supplement governmental actions in the District, Maryland, and Virginia. These modes are specific to the COVID-19 pandemic, and provide the university flexibility to scale and adapt operations based on the trajectory of the pandemic and the effects of reopening, not just on our campus, but across the DMV region and country.

  • Remote operations—expanded telework with minimally required physical presence to sustain university operations.
  • Modified operations—managed physical presence and in-person operations.
  • Full operations—return to normal operations.

The university, which has been at remote operations since March 16, 2020, will move to modified operations on July 1, 2020, with the anticipation that the community transmission of COVID-19 will continue to decline during the summer months. Based on current projections, AU will remain in that mode for the fall 2020 semester. Updates to modified operations may be instituted depending on the trajectory of COVID-19.

Below is summary information about key areas of operations. Read more in the AU Forward plan documents.


Follow the guidelines from the DC government, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the American College Health Association (ACHA) to protect the health, safety, and well-being of the AU community.

Follow university safety guidelines and requirements including face coverings at all times, mandatory health and safety training, maintaining a distance of six feet between people, frequent handwashing, self-screening, seeking medical care if symptoms warrant, and following protocols for reporting, testing, and contact tracing.

Refrain from coming to class, work, or other on-campus activity if symptomatic.

Increase cleaning for all common areas and floor bathrooms. Establish additional sanitizer/hand-wash stations, provide personal protective equipment (PPE) for designated staff and instruct residents on sanitizing personal rooms and areas.


Maintain the original starting dates for the fall 2020 semester with the first day of classes commencing on August 21, 2020, for the Washington College of Law and August 24, 2020, for the rest of the university.

Deliver classes through a blended combination of face-to-face or online instruction and purely online instruction that integrate live class sessions and opportunities with asynchronous content.

Transform fall break (October 9-11) into a time of in-person and online symposiums, skill development workshops, and community events.

Conclude face‐to‐face instruction with residential experience and on-campus activity at Thanksgiving break (November 25-29) to allow students to return home and remain there to complete courses online, including finals, avoiding additional travel costs and exposure, and reducing exposure to COVID-19.


Offer on-campus housing to approximately 2,300 first-year and some sophomore students, with all students living in single rooms in the residence halls. Initial room selections are being recalibrated, and new and returning students will soon receive information regarding on-campus housing.


Reopen all academic, administrative, and athletics buildings and facilities with adjustments and restrictions to reduce the density of people in all academic and administrative buildings and athletics facilities. Student services including advising, academic support, and counseling, and the health center will be operational.

Modify operations on the shuttle bus system to ensure physical distancing.


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.


Prepare for a phased resumption of AU Athletics training, practice, and competition according to all university health and safety standards and guidance from the NCAA, Patriot League, and EIWA.


Continue suspension of travel outside of the Washington, DC, Metropolitan Area pending reassessment on September 26, 2020.


Follow the recommendations of the Workforce Planning Task Force regarding staffing levels and personnel policies for all educational, administrative, and operational elements of the university. A significant portion of the workforce is expected to continue working remotely throughout the fall.

The most effective steps you can take right now are to stay at home and practice good hygiene such as regular and thorough hand washing and covering your mouth with your elbow when you cough or sneeze. If you must go out, keep at least six feet between yourself and other people. In addition, CDC is advising the use of cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. Anyone exhibiting symptoms of respiratory illness (e.g., cough, fever, shortness of breath) should 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.

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