COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Summary Information

Updated January 14, 2021

As the global COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect us all, American University will offer a robust and safe spring experience across our community that continues to expand in-person opportunities throughout the semester. We have ramped up activity as we carefully monitor the fundamental indicators of the pandemic and evolving public health conditions.

  • Class Modality (Curricular) - We have expanded in-person classes in the sciences, visual and performing arts, media studies, and select other areas. While the majority of spring classes are being offered online, AU has significantly increased the number of in-person classes offered in the fall. Classes start January 19 (one week later than originally planned) and AU Community of Care tuition discounts will continue. While Spring Break 2021 is canceled in light of the significant public health risks associated with community travel, the university has identified alternative ways to help students, faculty, and staff decompress, recharge, and get caught up on work during the semester. To that end, we have converted March 7–13 into a Wellness Week that will offer a change of pace while allowing the delivery of course content to continue. Classes will still meet synchronously or move forward with asynchronous material, but the week will be free of written assignments, required reading, quizzes, and exams. 

With the ongoing security concerns in Washington, DC following the January 6 events at the US Capitol and in preparation for any potential incidents in the lead-up to the January 20 presidential inauguration, all AU class meetings, including at the Washington College of Law, will be fully online through January 24. While most courses are already in a virtual format due to the pandemic, any previously scheduled in-person class meetings during the next two weeks will be rescheduled/moved online by the faculty.

  • The Student Experience (Co-Curricular) - We have increased both in-person co-curricular activity and virtual engagements, including student-faculty meetings, wellness activities, and exploring local D.C. spaces and interests. Additional buildings and campus spaces are available for studying and small group meetings.
  • Residential Opportunities - We are excited to welcome over 1250 undergraduate students to campus for a mid-semester residential experience that will begin in March and run through May. Please see the Mid-Semester Residential Experience FAQs for additional information. This is in addition to the limited number of students in emergency housing. We are preparing for even more residential opportunities in the summer.
  • Health and Safety – AU has expanded 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.

The health and safety of the AU community is our top priority. Accordingly, we have updated health and safety protocols for the spring 2021 semester. There are requirements regarding a Spring Health and Safety Acknowledgment/Pledge, Self Screening and Self Reporting, AU COVID-19 Testing Procedures, Affiliate Notification, and COVID-19 Vaccinations. A safe and successful semester depends on all of us following these procedures and supporting our community of care.

Our approach to spring operations continues to be 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.

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.

Operating Status

To arrive at the spring approach, 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 throughout the pandemic, 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.

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 and 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.

Who To Contact