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FAQ - Faculty and Staff

Faculty and Staff


Faculty and Staff

If my department has someone who cannot return to the US as a result of travel restrictions, whom should I consult for ongoing assistance?

The university’s administration will work with individual departments who may be affected by this matter. If you have questions, contact the Office of Risk Management at prepared@american.edu.

Does the suspension of university-sponsored international travel apply to academic activity (e.g., travel to conferences or workshops) paid for by external grants or funding organizations?

Yes, faculty and staff are not allowed to travel internationally on any official business. Grants or external funding received as part of your official duties at the university are covered by this directive.

Does the suspension of university-sponsored international travel apply to all research trips?

The travel guidance applies to all international destinations and all university-sponsored trips for any official purpose.

Where do faculty/staff go for more information about the university's expanded telework program?

Beginning Monday, March 16, the university transitioned to a telework environment for the majority of operations through Sunday, April 5. Learn more on HR's COVID-19 Expanded Telework environment.

If I am feeling unwell, should I stay home from work?

Yes, CDC and other health authorities recommend that people stay home from work if they are feeling unwell. This is the case as always during the annual cold and flu season. The university provides paid leave benefits to compensate employees who are unable to work due to illness. Staff are provided with accrued sick leave to cover absences for their own illness or to care for an ill family member. They also have access to a sick leave donation pool if they do not have enough accrued sick leave to cover their absence. Staff who have considerable hours built up and would like to help others who may have fewer accumulated sick hours may donate leave to the pool. Part-time staff and student workers are eligible to accrue sick leave benefits for up to seven days per calendar year if they are enrolled as full-time students and work 25 or more days. 

For longer term absences, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides job protection in cases of continuous or intermittent leave for oneself or to care for a family member. Additionally, short-term disability covers extended periods of leave due to one’s own illness (two weeks to six months in duration) and long-term disability provides salary continuation during periods of disability that extend beyond six months. Please contact the HR benefits team at 202-885-3836 or hrpayrollhelp@american.edu for questions about leave policies. At this time, we will generally not require a doctor’s note from an employee who uses sick leave. Medical documentation will continue to be requested in cases of FMLA and short-term disability benefits. 

What should I do if I need to care for a sick child or my child’s school/day care provider is closed?

In cases of local school and day care closings that require parents to remain home with their children, staff may use annual leave or explore the option of teleworking on a continuous or intermittent basis. AU also provides emergency back-up care benefits for dependents through our Bright Horizons benefit. This program consists of a nationwide network of childcare centers and in-home care agencies that are available on short notice. AU faculty and staff are eligible for 15 days of subsidized, emergency back-up care each calendar year. Copayments for childcare centers range from $15 per child per day to $25 per family per day, and the copayment for in-home dependent care is $8 per hour. Please contact the HR benefits team at 202-885-3836 or hrpayrollhelp@american.edu for more information about these important benefit programs. 

What should I do for students who cannot participate online?

Please work with individual students and provide support and flexibility to the extent possible.

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.  

Are faculty expected to come to campus to teach their online courses?

Faculty are encouraged to make arrangements that best facilitate online instruction for our students and enable you to continue progressing your courses. The technology and tools available enable faculty to conduct most courses remotely without having to come to campus.

What support is available for conducting classes online?

The primary online teaching support service for faculty is being managed by Michael Piller's team (blackboard@american.edu and 202-885-3904). Michael has added more members to the Blackboard support team to provide primary support. The OIT help desk is fully functional and also handling support inquiries. But specific calls about Blackboard, Blackboard Collaborate (for broadcasting live lectures), and Kaltura (for recording lectures) will be redirected to Michael's team. The OIT help desk director will call on other OIT staff to augment the help-desk bandwidth if needed. In addition, the Provost’s Office has scheduled workshops to help familiarize you with Blackboard, Blackboard Collaborate, and Kaltura.

What additional support is available to faculty and staff?

Library News

Many of the academic publishers are making their journals, e-books, and textbooks available to faculty and students at no charge during the pandemic. Faculty should be in touch with their subject librarians to access these materials. In addition, Project MUSE is pleased to support its participating publishers in making scholarly content temporarily available for free on their platform. Among the publishers currently opting to make content free on Project MUSE are:

  • Johns Hopkins University Press (all books and journals)
  • Ohio State University Press (all books and journals)
  • University of Nebraska Press (all books and journals)
  • University of North Carolina Press (all books)
  • Temple University Press (all books)
  • Vanderbilt University Press (selected books)

Research Guidance

The Office of Sponsored Programs and Grants and Contracts Accounting continue to be available to support your ongoing and developing research projects. As federal and private sponsors are continuing to accept new proposals, our teams have been busy working with research administrators and PIs across the university on submissions, project adjustments, and we continue to receive new awards. Please reach out to your department and unit teams to help you with your proposals.

We continue to support and encourage the university’s core research function. During the current pandemic, it is necessary to suspend all off-campus research activities that require in-person interactions with research subjects. Off-campus research projects that require in-person contact to collect data using surveys, interviews, focus groups, including face-to-face research outsourced to non-AU staff, must halt data collection immediately. This suspension of in-person human subject research includes projects conducted in the US or foreign countries.

Projects may be able to move to telephone or online formats, but any changes in this regard must be approved by the IRB as a modification, as the resulting risks posed to human subjects, for example, confidentiality, may change. Research functions that do not involve face-to-face interaction can continue. Please see Research Continuity FAQ for more information.

Should I continue to have office hours?

Please communicate to your students about how you are going to conduct office hours or other opportunities for discussion, questions, etc. Some faculty offer experiential learning components, and students will be seeking information about how those elements will be addressed during the online instruction period.

Does AU have a research continuity plan?

AU has established a Research Continuity Task Force, which has put together a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for research continuity.

What is AU doing to keep the service workers (custodial, dining, etc.) and medical personnel safe from COVID-19?

AU continues to take precautionary steps for the safety and well-being of our AU community, including service workers, medical personnel, and others with public-facing positions. All public shared spaces are being cleaned daily by staff, with special consideration to high-touch areas such as bathrooms, door handles, elevators, handrails and lobbies. Staff members are reminded to follow CDC good health hygiene recommendations to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including washing hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based sanitizer. We are also encourage following the CDC’s social distancing guidelines. Employees are provided appropriate protective gear as necessary. Where applicable, the university has made some services available only online or via appointment to reduce face-to-face contact.