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FAQ - Faculty and Staff


Faculty and Staff

What should faculty members do to support students who need to miss class due to illness or quarantine requirements?

While they are not expected to simulcast class meetings, faculty members have supported students by providing Zoom access to in-person classes; offering recordings of class sessions; or sharing PowerPoints, notes, and other in-class materials electronically. They should also allow for extensions on assignments as needed and ensure that students’ participation grades are not negatively impacted. As a reminder, faculty should not ask students for medical documentation and should consider medical absences as excused. Students should be expected to make up all missed work.

Do faculty need to record where students are sitting in the classroom during each meeting to ensure that contact tracing can be done effectively?

No, students and faculty members are not expected to keep records of seating arrangements in each class. Determination of close contacts depends on an interview with the individual who tested positive for COVID-19. We have not observed any evidence of classroom transmission and the risk of COVID-19 exposure in the classroom setting remains low.

Do professors need to wear masks while teaching? If not, why do faculty receive an exemption from the mask mandate in this case?

AU’s current policy allows for faculty to lecture without masks within our directive on face coverings. This exception is based upon the DC mask mandate, which also provides an exemption for public speaking if a suitable distance (at least six feet) can be maintained. Speaking from a lectern at the front of a classroom typically allows for that distance, while sitting at a seminar table with students most often does not. Faculty should also be responsive to student concerns about mask wearing to support a welcoming learning environment. We strongly encourage faculty teaching without a mask to get tested for COVID-19 weekly.

Are faculty members able to obtain clear masks and/or microphones to use while teaching

Faculty should contact their school or college dean’s office to explore the availability of these resources.

Are faculty members able to use discussion groups in the classroom, or are students expected to stay as far apart from one another as the room allows?

As much as possible, we are aiming to provide a traditional classroom experience in this fall’s face-to-face class meetings. Faculty members are encouraged to use their judgement to teach their classes as they normally would, which may include the use of discussion groups (with students remaining masked).

Are academic departments and programs allowed to host events on campus?

Yes, starting in the month of October, we will begin to schedule in-person, academic-related events targeted at an internal audience. These events should not be advertised to the public until further notice, but departments may invite some outside visitors or guest speakers. Please know that space will continue to be limited (e.g., Constitution Hall will remain unavailable given that it is in use as a testing location) and remember that some purposes may be better served by keeping certain events virtual.

Academic hosts should schedule their in-person, internal events through normal channels. Spaces may operate at full capacity and hosts are encouraged to explore livestreaming options if attendance is likely to exceed the number of available seats.

It is preferred and strongly encouraged that visitors or guest speakers be vaccinated. All health and safety guidelines much also be followed. Event hosts should retain the names, email addresses, and phone numbers for each invited visitor or guest speaker for contact tracing purposes throughout the remainder of the semester. Medical information should not be collected or stored, but an attestation may be requested.

Will guest speakers be allowed in classes? If so, do they need to be vaccinated?

Starting in the month of October, faculty are permitted to host guest speakers physically on campus if they wish to do so. It is preferred and strongly encouraged that such guests are vaccinated. All health and safety guidelines should also be followed. Hosts should retain the names/email addresses/phone numbers for each invited guest lecturer for contact tracing purposes throughout the remainder of the semester. Medical information should not be collected or stored, but an attestation may be requested.

Can/should faculty and staff open windows in classrooms and offices to increase air flow? How should concerns about temperature be addressed?

No, windows should not be opened in classrooms and offices. The HVAC systems are designed to change the air in accordance with CDC guidelines and opening the windows can have a detrimental effect on space conditioning. Please contact 2fix to report any temperature concerns.

Will faculty be required to come to campus during the 2021-2022 academic year?

Most faculty will be expected to teach on campus during the 2021-2022 academic year. However, some residential program courses will be offered in a hybrid or online modality. Decisions regarding class modality will be made by the unit dean and will be based on a set of factors including space, pedagogy, international student needs, enrollments, and other needs determined by the unit.

Faculty can request an workplace accommodation based on the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act. Faculty can learn more about our fall plans at the How We Work page.

Will staff be required to come to campus during the 2021-2022 academic year?

Beginning August 2021, American University is implementing a new way of working based on learnings from the past year and new workplace approaches to advance our mission, serve our students, and support our staff. Many staff members will work some days on-campus and some days from a remote location in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia region (DMV). This is referred to as a hybrid work environment that combines the elements of remote work with the benefits of campus presence. Our new way of work is part of the University’s commitment to increase staff satisfaction, retention, and productivity. It is how AU works now and in the future.

Staff can learn more about our plans for fall 2021 at the How We Work page.

To ensure the health and safety of our community, AU will require COVID-19 vaccinations for faculty and staff for fall 2021. All faculty and staff must complete the vaccine attestation form available on the AU Forward portal or request an exemption to the vaccine requirement by August 1, 2021.The University has developed a procedure for vaccine attestation and for requesting a medical or religious exemption that follows recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, DC Department of Health, and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. We have also revised and improved our process for employees to request workplace reasonable accommodations due to a disability. As a reminder, AU is hosting a vaccination clinic on campus this summer. Information and schedules can be found on the Student Health Center website.

What support is available for conducting classes online?

All courses during the summer and scheduled for Fall 2021 will be delivered in Canvas, the university’s new learning management system. During the summer, faculty are encouraged to make the transition to Canvas by taking advantage of the additional support and workshops available. To sign up for one of the workshops and keep up to date with future trainings, please visit the Upcoming Canvas Workshops page and to begin migrating your content from Blackboard, set up a consultation with your school’s embedded instructional designer. Additionally, the e-Learning Support Services  office at canvas@american.edu is available to help with migration, and Canvas Support is available for 24-hour assistance (click on the Help icon, lower left navigation bar) or call 202-885-3904. Several self-help articles can also be found in the Learning Support Services portal.  

During the Fall 2021 term, Blackboard will be available for faculty and staff to copy/download remaining courses until December 31, 2021. For Blackboard support, please reach out to blackboard@american.edu or 202-885-3904. As of January 1, 2022, Blackboard will be permanently unavailable at AU.

Can faculty hold in-person office hours in the fall? Are they required to do so?

Yes, faculty can hold in-person and/or virtual office hours. We ask that faculty remain flexible and responsive to student needs. If faculty are concerned about the size of their offices or are planning to meet with several students at once, they should explore reserving a meeting/conference room to speak with students in person. Outdoor meetings are also an option, as the weather permits.

Can a faculty member move an in-person class online due to a conference, sick family member, childcare issue?

The ability to move a class meeting or two online due to a conference, childcare issue, etc. should be at the discretion of the faculty member. A faculty member should have an established plan around how a change to the course modality (for one or two class meetings) will be communicated to students and with as much lead time as possible. It is not acceptable to change the established modality of the course for longer than one week of instruction without permission from the school Dean’s office.

Can staff and faculty take their AU-owned IT equipment home to aid productivity during the COVID-19 pandemic and the fall semester?

Office equipment such as desks, desktop computers and printers that were authorized for home use will generally need to be returned to the campus offices at the onset of the hybrid work environment. Employees should contact their departments to explore accessing laptop computers instead of desktops that can be ported from office to home.

Can hybrid work schedules be adapted for seasonality or during particular times in the year where classes are/are not in session? 

Every position will have a modality, which represents their work schedule for the majority of the year. There may be peak times where staff will be expected to work on campus more often and units will provide staff with reasonable notice. 

How will the university support the technology needs of faculty and staff members in the new hybrid work environment?

OIT is evaluating solutions to support and improve the hybrid employee experience. They will continue to assign workstations and provide remote assistance for employees through the Help Desk. In accordance with university policy, faculty and staff are issued one workstation As resources allow over time, and as computers come up for replacement, departments may implement more hybrid optimized technology, including technology to enable hybrid meetings. Review the My Assets for information about the replacement schedule for your PC.  

How will the university support employees' childcare needs?

August 16th is the start date based on the university’s schedule and there is often a mismatch between the university start date and the first day date of public schools. Staff may backup caregiving resources through Bright Horizons for short term caregiving needs, and the university CDC and Bright Horizons for long-term caregiving needs. Caregiving resources are available on the HR website.

Will accommodations be made for people with compromised immune systems, disabilities, or chronic illnesses?

Exemptions to the vaccine requirement will be considered for individuals with medical conditions that prevent them from being vaccinated and for individuals with sincerely held religious beliefs that prohibit them from being vaccinated, consistent with federal and DC law. Those requiring an accommodation due to a disability or medical condition to allow them to perform the essential functions of their job should complete the Reasonable Accommodation Request Form. Accommodations may include but are not limited to additional or enhanced protective measures, temporary modifications of work schedules, or revised office space. Generally, accommodations will not include remote work for duties that require campus presence.

What is the remote work policy for employees who have high-risk family members in the household?

Reasonable Workplace Accommodations are applicable for the employee only. Employees seeking modified schedules to care for family members or support household members who may be immune compromised may consider Family Medical Leave.

How will the university manage situations where employees cannot be vaccinated?  

Employees who receive a medical or religious exemption to the vaccine requirement will follow additional health and safety protocols, including but not limited to mask wearing and more frequent COVID-19 testing. An awareness campaign will help educate the community about vaccines. Any discrimination, retaliation, intimidation or other adverse action against an employee due to vaccination status inconsistent with AU’s values and prohibited by University policy. The vaccine requirement and associated exemption process supports the health and safety of our community and is designed to assist all members of the community.

Are the fall hybrid work modalities intended to be permanent?

Yes, the goal is for the hybrid work environment to become the norm at AU. While we will learn important lessons this fall and make adjustments as necessary, our new way of work is part of the University’s commitment to increase staff satisfaction, retention, and productivity.

What is the role of HR vs. individual units in managing a hybrid schedule? 

Department heads are responsible for determining and communicating the work modality and schedules for the full and part-time positions in their unit, and for establishing the unit’s core day(s) for in person collaboration.  Department heads are also responsible for identifying and budgeting for any supplemental technology equipment, beyond what is provided by the Office of Information Technology, that is needed to support hybrid work and coordinating with OIT to arrange for the replacement of eligible workstations. 

Human Resources is responsible for the design and implementation of hybrid work including communicating, educating, gathering feedback and refining the approach as necessary to meet the needs of the university. Human Resources is responsible for reviewing the program and position modality classifications to ensure fair and consistent application in accordance with the University’s commitment to inclusion and equity as well as EEO policies.

How do flex/compressed schedules factor into hybrid modalities?

Employees with existing flex or compressed schedules can speak with their manager about incorporating these arrangements into the hybrid work schedule.

Will parking be prorated depending on how many days faculty and staff come to campus?

AU community members may choose to take advantage of the “Virtual Self-Park Code.” The location code offers a discounted $0.75/hour rate (plus $0.35 service fee) through the PayByPhone mobile application to park in all general parking areas on campus, as well as the garages at the Spring Valley Building and 4401 Connecticut Ave (a separate authorization is required for this location). To get the discount code, go to the Parking Portal and select Affiliated Login and enter your AU credentials. Click the Get Permits button and select the "Virtual Self Park Code" option to register your vehicle, obtain the discount code and get instructions for use. Logins using a guest account do not have access to this parking option. Visit the Parking and Commuter Services website or email parking@american.edu for more information.

What is AU’s dress code for faculty and staff in the Fall 2021?

At AU, all faculty and staff are expected to dress in a professional manner that aligns with the nature of their role at the university and their individual functions at any given time. Staff who work in certain university positions, such as  facilities and public safety, are provided with uniforms. For other positions, in general, business casual dress is appropriate. Business casual dress generally includes shirts with collars, business casual tops and shirts, blouses, and polo shirts. Casual slacks, trousers, skirts, dresses, and jeans are appropriate but does not include shorts. Casual slip-on or tie shoes, boots, dress sandals, and athletic shoes are appropriate.  

Traditional business attire may be expected when meeting with parents, alumni, or external organizations. Although it is impossible and undesirable to establish a universally applicable dress code given the range of roles and functions at AU, the university will apply a reasonable and professional workplace standard. An employee who is unsure of what is appropriate should check with their manager or supervisor.