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FAQ - Academics and Campus Life

Academics and Campus Life

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Online Classes

Residence Halls

Dining

Student Health

Transportation and Parking


Academics and Campus Life

Online Classes

Is the university closing?

Classes will be held online beginning Wednesday, March 18 through the end of the semester. The university will not be closed, and services will be available on campus with limitations. Students currently remaining in the residence halls are instructed to leave campus by Monday, March 23 and return to their permanent addresses. Faculty instructors, advisors, and other university support staff will continue to be available remotely during this time.

On Monday, March 16, the university transitioned to a telework environment for the majority of operations through Sunday, April 5. During this period, university employees will continue to be paid. University leaders in the President’s Council are coordinating telework arrangements throughout their organizations. Learn more on HR's COVID-19 Expanded Telework environment.

How will I access my classes online?

Faculty instructors are preparing for the shift to online education. They will contact students before March 18 with information about how to access course materials and other next steps. Individual faculty will be the primary contact for students as we move to online instruction. Please watch your email regularly during this period as it will be an important source of information from your instructors and the university.

Are there strategies for transitioning to online learning?

As students transition to online learning, there are specific tips and strategies for navigating online courses. These strategies focus on time management, developing habits to support increased virtual communication, and approaches to organizing online work. Academic Coaching is also here to support students virtually through one-on-one academic skills development sessions, which includes organizing online work, breaking down online assignments, and study strategies. Students can sign up for an Online Academic Coaching Session using YouCanBookMe. Students can open the link, select the appropriate appointment type, and then fill out our intake form. On the intake form under "Session Method", students can use Zoom video and input the appropriate information.

Additionally, students are encouraged to work with their faculty to develop strategies as they transition to online learning for each of their classes. Faculty can answer questions about their online class structure and give guidance on how to approach online learning in their class.

What should I do if I don’t have the necessary computer equipment or internet access to participate in my classes?

Please contact your individual faculty members and instructors to discuss arrangements. Faculty are working to be flexible and provide support for students.

Where can I access books, reading materials, etc.?

If you can pick up your materials from campus, you are welcome to do so. If you are missing essential items and can’t come to campus, please notify your professors. Faculty are being asked to make every effort to be accommodating, flexible, and supportive. We understand this is difficult and that some students have circumstances that will make it challenging.

The AU Library can scan textbooks in their collections or on reserve and link them to class syllabi in Blackboard. Individual faculty will be determining the specific materials and how they will be available for each class, so please look for instructions from your faculty.

What if I don’t have or can’t afford internet service for virtual class participation?

Please consider visiting your local library if social distancing is possible as recommended by the CDC when in public spaces. Also contact your area internet provider to see if they are offering any discounts on internet services to help during this crisis.

What will happen if I can’t complete my assignments? Can I withdraw from classes?

You should work with your faculty members to explore options for completing your assignments. The university is extending the last day to withdraw from classes from March 20, 2020 to April 27, 2020 (the last day of classes, NOT the last day of exams). Withdrawing will result in a W on the transcript; a withdrawal at this point in the semester does not result in a refund. Students should consult with the Office of Financial Aid and their academic advisor before withdrawing from a class or classes, as withdrawals can impact financial aid and academic progress. Students using veterans educational benefits should consult with AU Central prior to withdrawing by emailing veterans@american.edu. If you are otherwise passing the course, you can also explore the possibility of an incomplete. Be sure to consult with your academic advisor as well as the Office of Financial Aid as you are making decisions.

If I need accommodations for online class, how can I arrange that?

For the duration of online classes during the Spring 2020 semester, approved disability-related accommodations will work as follows:

Testing Accommodations:

  • Main Campus Students: Make sure that your faculty member has a copy of your Academic Support and Access Center (ASAC) accommodations letter, and work with your faculty member regarding your accommodations. If you need additional assistance or have a new accommodation need, please review the information on ASAC’s website, or contact ASAC at asac@american.edu or 202.885.3360.
  • WCL Students: WCL students should continue to work with the Office of Student Affairs for exam accommodation implementation.
  • Faculty: As we move classes online, it is critical that faculty continue to provide reasonable accommodations, including testing accommodations, to students in their classes. Faculty should pay close attention to students’ ASAC memos and be in contact with students about their accommodations. The ASAC is committed to helping faculty work through challenging situations and can be contacted for guidance at asac@american.edu or 202.885.3360.

Accommodation Guidance for Blackboard Assessments:

  • Can I use Blackboard for accommodated assessments? 
    Exams and quizzes on Blackboard are not compatible with the software many of our students use to take exams. If you plan to use this platform you will need to create alternative assessment formats for students with text-to-speech accommodations. For questions/guidance, please reach out to exams@american.edu.
  • How do I extend time for a student on Blackboard?
  1. Left click on the small circle next to the assessment title you want to modify
  2. Click “Edit the test options”
  3. Scroll down to “Test availability exceptions”
  4. Click “Add user or Group”
  5. Select the student with accommodations and click submit
  6. Select the criteria for that student (attempts, time, availability)
  7. Click “Submit” all the way at the bottom
  8. More Resources:
    View “Adding Extended Time to Quizzes and Tests in Blackboard.”
    For technical questions, visit the AU Blackboard support page.

Notetaking Technology:

  • Both Sonocent Audio Note-Taker and Livescribe pens to record online lectures in real time can continue to be used for notetaking purposes.  

ASL and CART Accommodations:

  • Services for synchronous lectures will be provided remotely. Students can continue to request ASL interpreters for meetings with professors, staff, and other course-related activities; interpreters will be provided through video relay. Interpreter and CART requests can be sent to the ASAC via the Interpreter CART Request Form.

Captioning Accommodations:

Faculty and students are also encouraged to use readily available assistive technology supports within their computer’s operating system:

For any questions regarding accommodations please contact the ASAC at asac@american.edu or 202.885.3360.

What support is available?

Support services for students, such as the Counseling Center, the Writing Center, Academic Coaching, and Tutoring services will be available and also be accessible remotely. Academic advisors will be available, and you should reach out to your individual advisor to schedule a remove appointment.

As the university moves to an online model for learning, Academic Coaching is here to support students virtually through 1:1 academic skills development sessions designed to support student thriving. These sessions will assist students in creating engagement opportunities to intentionally interact with their courses virtually. Sessions will be held on Zoom and Skype for students to easily access.  Students can sign up for an Online Academic Coaching Session using YouCanBookMe. Students will open the link, select the appropriate appointment type, and then fill out our intake form. On the intake form under "Session Method", students will select Skype Video or Zoom Video and input the appropriate information.

I am an international student and there is a significant time difference between my location and AU. Will my classes only be available during the regularly scheduled time or will there be other options?

We are using online learning tools to be flexible for students in different locations. Once your faculty instructors have provided information about how your class will be conducted, please follow up with them directly to discuss specific questions about time and schedules.

I am a student in a country that doesn’t support Google and Blackboard. Is there another way for me to access online resources through AU?

Students in countries where Google and Blackboard are not supported can use the AU Virtual Private Network (VPN). We have added user licenses to expand our VPN capacity. Students can either go to help.american.edu and search “VPN” or enroll your mobile device with the Duo two-factor authentication app. See the How to Enroll in 2-Factor Authentication video on YouTube; then access the VPN following the steps for your device.

Will international students with full time enrollment in face-to-face classes be allowed to take more than one online class, since immigration regulations normally limit the amount of online instruction?

Under the circumstances, the Department of Homeland Security published guidance permitting international students to maintain full time enrollment by taking online classes while the university is providing online education only.

Have registration deadlines for fall and summer classes been extended?

Yes, priority registration for summer and fall classes will be delayed by two weeks. Summer 2020 registration, originally scheduled to begin Monday, March 23, has been changed to Monday, April 6. Registration for Terms 2020T3, 2020T4 originally scheduled to begin Wednesday, March 25, has been changed to Tuesday, April 7. Fall 2020 registration, originally scheduled to begin Wednesday, March 25, has been changed to Tuesday, April 7. Additional details are available on the registration web page. (Please note that WCL follows a different academic calendar).

Residence Halls

Do I need to leave my residence hall room?  

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 EmergencyHousing20@american.edu.

If you would like additional information on the move-out process or suggested moving companies, please visit the Housing Spring Closing Page.

Who can remain on campus?

We recognize there are students for whom returning home isn’t feasible, particularly some international students or those with significant financial concerns. If you are in this group, please be assured that support services will continue, including dining services and support staff. Make sure to indicate on your mandatory online form (emailed to you on March 11) that you must remain on campus.

Do I need to take everything out of my space?

Yes, please remove all personal items from your residence hall rooms.

Do I need to inform AU when I check out?

Yes. You will receive an email from Housing & Residence Life with a link to a form. It is essential that all students complete this form. 

If I can’t hand in my mail key in person, where should I send it?

Mail keys can be sent to:

Housing and Residence Life
Anderson Hall
4400 Massachusetts Avenue
Northwest Washington, DC 200016

Please tape the key down in the envelope and include your room building/assignment.

Will I be reimbursed for room and board for the rest of the 2020 Spring semester?

Housing:

Students who are not approved for Emergency Housing will receive a prorated credit on their student account. Proration of housing charges will be calculated from March 24, 2020 through May 6, 2020.  If this credit produces an overall credit balance, then the student will be issued a refund. Please note any student who receives financial aid, the Office of Financial Aid will need to review it, to ensure the financial aid package is not over-awarded before a refund can be issued. Students do not need to apply to have their housing charges prorated. You can expect to receive a prorated credit on your student account and will be issued a refund if applicable.

Meal Plan Charges:

Students will not be charged for the portion of the term they will not be utilizing meal plans. Students should expect to receive a prorated credit on their student account. If this credit produces an overall credit balance, then the student will be issued a refund. Please note, Eaglebucks are excluded from refunds; they will remain on the student’s OneCard for continued use next semester.

Student Refunds:

Students do not need to apply for refunds.

  • Student Accounts will automatically produce an ACH refund to all students with banking information on file. If no banking information is on file, then a refund check will be mailed to the mailing address on file.
  • Please note any student that receives financial aid, the Office of Financial Aid will need to review the financial aid package to ensure it is not over-awarded before a refund can be issued.

Please note prorated credits will begin to post in April 2020. If you have any questions, please contact AU Central at AUCentral@american.edu.

How will students who can’t go home be supported in the residence halls?

Support services such as residence hall staff, dining services, and some activities will continue for students who can’t be at home during this time.

For the small number of students approved to stay on campus beyond March 23, how often will common bathrooms, laundry rooms, kitchens, and lounges be cleaned? 

All areas of the residence halls continue to be cleaned daily, with special consideration to high-touch areas such as bathrooms, door handles, elevators, handrails and lobbies.  

For students staying on campus, how should we address health concerns?

Please see the subsection on Student Health below.

How is the university handling mail and packages?

During the COVID-19-related suspension of regular activities, all packages delivered to campus will be rerouted temporarily to Mail Services. This applies to packages delivered by USPS, Federal Express, UPS, DHS, Amazon Prime, and WB Mason.  

Mail Services will only deliver to open offices on Tuesdays and Thursdays. However, packages may be picked up from Mail Services (3201 New Mexico Ave. NW) Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.

While representatives from the various courier services have been notified of the temporary address change, Mail Services nevertheless asks that all offices throughout the university place a sign on their doors instructing couriers to deliver packages to Mail Services.

We also ask that during this time, you order only essential items.  If you must place any orders for delivery, be sure to use the following address:

American University
3201 New Mexico Ave. NW B2
Washington, DC 20016-8048

If you have additional questions, please contact Siraaj Abdullah at siraaj@american.edu in Mail Services.

Where can I find more information on the residence hall check-out process?

Housing & Residence Life has created a Spring Closing page with FAQs related to the check-out process.

Dining

What happens with my meal plan if I am no longer on campus and am not using it?

If you are not on campus to use your meal plan an adjustment will be made to your student account. The meal plan is based on dining days.

What happens with my meal plan if I am still in the area and want to use it?

Your meal plan will operate as usual. Meal Swipes and Meal Exchanges will be available at any open dining location.

What are the components of the meal plan?

The meal plan consists of Meal swipes and Eaglebucks. For example, if you are on a 175 Block Meal Plan; you were given 175 swipes and $400.00 Eaglebucks. Usage of Eaglebucks and not meal swipes equals usage of your meal plan.

If my meal plan is pro-rated how will the amount be determined? Will I have to request a refund, if not using the meal plan?

Meal Plans will be pro-rated based on the University calendar for Spring 2020 dining days. The Spring 2020 meal plan had a total of 108 dining days.

Refunds are automatically processed when the credit balance appears on the account. For more information on refunds, see the Finances, Refunds, and Financial Aid section.

When will I see the refund on my student account?

To Be Determined by Student Accounts. For more information on refunds, see the Finances, Refunds, and Financial Aid section.

What dining services are available on campus? What are the hours?

In accordance with the public health and safety recommendations, AU Dining will be operating on the following schedule from March 24 to March 29:

Starbucks

7:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Eagles Nest

8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Mary Graydon Center (Outside of Pom + Honey)

Tuesday (3/24) to Friday (3/27)
Breakfast: 8:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.
Lunch: 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Dinner: 5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.

Saturday (3/28) to Sunday (3/29)
Brunch: 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Dinner: 5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.

We will continue to provide dining services updates on a regular basis.

Student Health

What if I am experiencing increased anxiety or stress related to concerns about family who might have been exposed to or affected by COVID-19? What if I notice a student, colleague, or member of my staff who seems to be experiencing related difficulty?

We recognize the emotional stress this situation can cause and our need to support one another. You should encourage anyone having a difficult time with this situation to use resources available from the university. We encourage you to show compassion and support for those most closely impacted, know that COVID-19 is not confined to any one group or community, and maintain our values of inclusivity and compassion.

Students seeking assistance with non-medical concerns about COVID-19 can contact the Office of the Dean of Students or the Counseling Center remotely as in-person counseling services are suspended at this time. Please follow this link to access AUCC triage services. Counseling Center triage hours are 10 a.m. to noon and 1-4 p.m. Monday through Friday. If you require urgent assistance outside of these hours, please contact AUCC ProtoCall Services at 202-885-7979.

International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) continues to support international students during this difficult time.

Faculty and staff are encouraged to seek support via the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FSAP), which makes confidential professional counseling services available to all full-time and part-time faculty and staff members and their immediate families. Contact Dale Rampell at FSAP@american.edu or 202-885-2593.

Faculty and staff concerned about students, should file a CARE report.

What is social distancing and what steps should I be taking now?

Social distancing is a public health practice designed to limit the spread of infectious disease by creating sufficient physical distance between individuals. By decreasing opportunities for close contact among people, we can decrease the potential for disease transmission or spread. Social distancing measures include limiting large groups of people coming together to 10 or less, closing buildings, and canceling public events. This includes civic, cultural, athletic, education, and social gatherings. Other specific steps you should consider include staying at home, maintaining a personal distance between yourself and other people. The recommended minimum distance is six feet. Avoid shaking hands. Importantly, if you are sick or feel unwell, stay home.

I am on campus and may have come in contact with someone who has coronavirus and/or I feel as though I may have coronavirus, what should I do?

The university is following the guidance from U.S. health agencies and continues to implement steps to keep the AU community safe and healthy. The Student Health Center has implemented new policies and procedures with dedicated personnel to handle coronavirus-related concerns.

Symptoms of coronavirus generally include fever over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, coughing and/or trouble breathing. If students are experiencing trouble breathing, they should call 3636 if on campus, (or 911 if off-campus), or proceed to the nearest emergency room if that is possible.

If you or a family member has had a potential COVID-19 exposure as outlined by the CDC, please call (202) 885-7777 or email SHCcoronavirus@american.edu for further instructions. Please call ahead of time rather than coming directly to the Student Health Center or making an appointment online. Messages will be checked Monday through Friday between 9:00am and 4:30pm.


If it is after 5 p.m. on a weekday or if it is a weekend, students can direct questions to the Nurse Advice line at 833-381-8545.

I am off-campus, may I use my school insurance?

Yes. Information about AU’s student health insurance is available on the Student Health Center site.  Please also take a moment to read CareFirst’s COVID-19 Information page, including the message from president & CEO of CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield, Brian D. Pieninck about changes that have been made to make healthcare easier and more accessible to its members.

I want to know more about the positive cases among members of the AU community, what can you share? Why can’t you tell me where they are/were?

We are protecting the privacy and medical information of our community members who have tested positive for COVID-19. While it is understandable to question if you have come into contact with someone who has a confirmed case, AU’s Medical Director, Dr. David S. Reitman reminds us in his message to the AU community on March 20, that there are two important things to remember. First, the public health departments will determine who needs to be contacted (for contact tracing) based on their investigation of each case. Second, with ongoing community spread of COVID-19 around the region, country, and world, the most important thing for all of us to do is practice good health hygiene and social distancing and follow the guidance from U.S. and local health authorities. If you have been in high risk countries or areas of the U.S., be vigilant about following CDC guidance for monitoring your health and self-isolating. 

It’s also important to remember that confirmed cases do not always indicate active infections. In fact, many individuals who have tested positive have already recovered or are in the process of recovering.

Please keep these things in mind and help support both the individuals who have COVID-19 and our entire community.

 

Transportation and Parking

Will the university shuttle continue to operate?

AU’s shuttle service is currently operating under its normal service. Starting Saturday, March 21, the shuttle will begin operating on an adjusted schedule.

What parking restrictions are in effect on and off campus?

Enforcement of on-campus parking restrictions is suspended until at least April 5 for students, faculty, and staff. Individuals will be able to park in general parking areas on campus without a permit or paying the daily fee through April 5. However, parking in residential neighborhoods will still be considered in violation of our Good Neighbor Parking Policy. You can find more information on the parking and commuter services site.

Will parking costs be prorated?

There will be no refund of parking deductions for March. However, faculty or staff who wish to suspend payroll deductions beginning in April, should submit a request to parking@american.edu by March 31.