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FAQ - Health and Safety

Health and Safety

Will everyone be required to wear a face covering while on campus?

DC Mayor Muriel Mayor Bowser issued an order requiring residents to wear a mask when leaving the house. Exceptions include children under 3, while performing vigorous exercise and when eating or drinking.

There will be a very limited number of people on campus. All members of the AU community will be required to wear face coverings that cover the mouth and nose at all times while on campus, with the exception of alone inside residence hall rooms or alone in private offices. Face coverings may be removed when eating, but diners must ensure physical distancing. In addition to wearing face coverings, all members of the AU community are expected to exercise personal health precautions through frequent handwashing, maintaining a distance of six feet between others, monitoring their own health daily, and seeking medical care if symptoms warrant.

What is the policy on physical distancing while on campus?

All members of the AU community and any authorized contractors or visitors are expected to maintain a distance of 6 feet while on campus. The university has taken active steps to proactively establish conditions, to facilitate maintaining a distance of 6 feet.

What is the university’s testing capacity? How frequently will students/community members be tested? 

The Student Health Center will have testing capabilities to test currently enrolled students. Testing for faculty/staff should be conducted through their health-care providers. Testing is covered by your health insurance if directed by a medical professional. Please see HR's COVID-19 Health Plan & Leave Information page for additional information. You may also contact Human Resources at hrpayrollhelp@american.edu or 202-885-2591.

Symptomatic individuals must refrain from coming to campus. Self-monitoring protocols will be instituted with an online questionnaire that community members must complete. Testing protocols will be in accordance with health guidelines, symptomatic individuals will be tested, and voluntary tests will be available.

What is AU’s self-screening and reporting protocol?

Daily Self-Screening for COVID-19 symptoms is required for any community member, including students (see student protocol) and faculty and staff (see employee protocol), with a physical presence on campus. The screening will be completed via the AU Forward portal.

How do I report a positive COVID-19 test or other information regarding my health status?

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. There is no need to submit a Self Report if you are healthy.

How will policies on face coverings and physical distancing be enforced? Will there be consequences for students/staff/faculty who do not follow the protocol?

Our plan relies on the full understanding, support, and cooperation of every member of the AU community. We must view personal and social responsibility through the same prism and respect that one’s personal adherence to these guidelines will serve to enhance the safety of the entire community and create an environment of community care. With this in mind, we have developed several mechanisms and educational trainings to remind people of the health and safety requirements and their role in ensuring our community stays safe. Anyone who disregards our guidelines and training efforts, thus putting others at risk, will be subject to University Code of Conduct provisions outlined for faculty, staff, and students.

How is the university ensuring that contract employees follow the same health and safety precautions and requirements?

Built into contractual agreements for housekeeping and dining are strict guidelines for health and safety precautions. All requirements must meet the Department of Health and other agency standards. All contractors will be expected to fully comply with these requirements and the university will closely monitor their compliance.

What will wellness services look like – physical as well as mental health?

Fitness Centers

The Jacobs and Cassell fitness centers will remain closed during the fall semester. We will continue to provide virtual personal training.

Student Health Center

The Student Health Center is open for local students, both for in-person appointments and telehealth visits. Hours during the academic year are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. If it is after 5:30 p.m. on a weekday or a weekend and students have concerns or questions, they should call the Nurse Advice line at 833-381-8545. When you make an appointment online, you’ll be asked to choose between in-person and telehealth (video) consultation. Because of licensing rules and regulations, staff can only see students who are physically in the DC area (and this includes telehealth visits).

Counseling Center

The Counseling Center is open. All services will be offered virtually. Hours during the academic year are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday and Thursday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. You may make an appointment online for a telementalhealth visit. 

Crisis intervention is available 24 hours a day through AUProtoCall, 202-885-7979 for any student in crisis, regardless of location.

Due to applicable licensure laws, the Counseling Center can only provide the full scope of its current clinical services (e.g., Urgent Care, Initial Consultation assessments, ongoing counseling) to students who are physically located in the District of Columbia. Students outside the District can be assisted with referral services as well as AUProtoCall crisis intervention.

Please see the Counseling Center FAQ page for detailed information on services provided, how to access them, virtual care drop-in hours, and more.

Will students be able to get COVID tests at the Student Health Center?

There are two different types of tests (diagnostic and antibody) for COVID-19 for currently enrolled students.

COVID-19 PCR testing (diagnostic testing) will be available free of charge during the fall semester. Results for these tests is estimated to be 48-72 hours, however this may fluctuate based on the demand for testing. 

Baseline testing for students, including those who have had a COVID-19 exposure will be available Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-12 p.m., in the Bentley Lounge (Gray Hall, 130) beginning August 24. No appointment is necessary. It is recommended that students wait 5-7 days after a potential exposure to get tested.

Testing for students experiencing COVID-19 symptoms will be available Monday-Friday, 1 p.m.-3 p.m., in the Bentley Lounge (Gray Hall, 130) beginning August 24. No appointment is necessary. Students who want to speak with a medical provider can schedule a telehealth appointment with the Student Health Center by calling 202-885-3380 (select Option 1 and then Option 2). You must be located in D.C. during the time of your appointment. Students may also schedule an in-person visit online via the Student Health portal. 

Students requesting testing on a more frequent basis will be able to receive testing, however this testing may not be free of charge and will be billed to a student’s health insurance.

The university is not able to provide testing required for personal travel (in order to board a plane or avoid a state issued quarantine) since we cannot guarantee when test results will be available. Arcpoint Lab located in Spring Valley may be able to provide COVID-19 PCR testing with a quicker turnaround time, for a fee.

COVID-19 antibody testing is also be available to students. Students will need to schedule an in-person appointment with the Student Health Center online at american.studenthealthportal.com. Insurance will be billed for this testing.

Students will be required to show their AU ID card to receive testing. 

We are only able to test currently enrolled students. External testing sites are available in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia.

Will the university provide COVID-19 testing for faculty and staff?

Faculty and staff will not be provided with COVID-19 testing on campus. Faculty and staff should contact their primary care provider if they wish to get tested or contact the health department for the location of testing near their home.

External testing sites are available in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia.

For faculty and staff participating in the AU Medical plans offered by Kaiser and CareFirst, more information can be found HR's COVID-19 Health Plan & Leave Information page.

Do students still need to apply for an insurance waiver if they won’t be in D.C.?

Yes, students must apply for an insurance waiver by Sept. 18 to avoid being billed. The waiver process accommodates requests to waive based on not being in D.C. Information on how to waive is available on the Student Health Center site.

Are there any travel advisories or quarantine requirements in D.C.?

The District of Columbia’s ReOpen DC plan, now in phase two, requires the following from visitors traveling to D.C. from COVID-19 high-risk states:

  • Before you travel, get a test and if you test positive, don’t travel. Get tested within 72 hours of traveling;
  • If you are a close contact of a confirmed positive case, don’t travel; and
  • If you are visitor to D.C. for more than three days, get tested within 3-5 days of arrival.

D.C. residents returning to the District after traveling to any place other Maryland, Virginia, or a low-risk state or country must either:

  • Limit daily activities and self-monitor for 14 days upon their return; or
  • Limit daily activities until they get tested for COVID-19 (approximately 72 hours after their return) and receive a negative result.

Please see the ReOpen DC plan for exceptions and additional information.

What is the policy on notifying the university of personal travel?

Notification of personal travel is requested for all community members, including students, faculty, and staff. The notification will be completed via the Personal Travel Notification (login required). 

Completing this notification will permit the University to provide you with the latest information on travel restrictions (both domestic and international), including destinations with District of Columbia self-quarantine restrictions.

Your personal travel can also impact the campus community if you will be present on campus upon your return. All community members are expected to be aware of and follow DC Government and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance regarding self-quarantine and COVID-19 testing upon their return from personal travel. Community members who travel to locations designated as high risk must quarantine for 14 days upon return to the District or test negative three days after their return to the District and before returning to AU’s campus. Please contact prepared@american.edu for additional information.

Can off-campus students quarantine on campus?

If students living off-campus are quarantining for any reason (for instance, because they are coming from a designated high-risk area or have been in contact with a COVID carrier), they must quarantine in their off-campus living spaces. During this time, they may have access to services from the Student Health Center (virtually or in-person, depending on the issue), Counseling Center (virtually), and other support services. Non-urgent medical care is not recommended during the quarantine period.

Will the university be providing PPE to all students, or will students be expected to provide their own?

All members of the AU community are expected to provide their own face coverings and will be required to wear face coverings that cover the mouth and nose at all times while on campus, with the exception of inside residence hall rooms, alone in their private offices, or outdoors in settings where they are able to maintain physical distance. The university will provide PPE to employees whose job function limits their ability to maintain physical distancing requirements in the following departments: OIT, FM, AUPD, Housing, Residence Life, AV, and SHC.

Will hand sanitizing stations be placed throughout campus?

Yes, hand sanitizing stations will be placed at all building entrances and elevator lobbies.

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 is required for any community member with a physical presence on campus. The screening will be completed via the AU Forward portal.

  • The Fall 2020 Health and Safety Plan has been amended in accordance with ReOpen DC guidelines. See the Amended Plan.