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FAQ - Health & Safety

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Health & Safety

COVID-19 Testing

How To Test

Receiving Results

If You Test Positive

If You Are Exposed

AU’s Shield T3 Testing and Partnership


Health & Safety

Will everyone be required to wear a face covering while 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. Please see Health and Safety Directive: Face Coverings.

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.

Are health acknowledgment forms mandatory?

Faculty and staff with campus presence this spring will complete a health and safety acknowledgement on the AU Forward portal, and students with campus presence will complete a pledge. Acknowledgements and pledges must be completed by January 30, 2021. The acknowledgement and pledge are only required for those community members who will have a campus presence during the spring semester. The acknowledgement/pledge summarizes updated information about health and safety measures and indicates your compliance with all university health and safety policies, directives, and procedures.

Are there self-screening and self-reporting requirements?

Following the same approach as the fall semester, for any day you will be on campus, complete the daily Self-Screening form. If you are experiencing any COVID-19 related symptoms, you are in quarantine, or you tested positive for COVID-19, you will submit a Self-Report to confidentially notify the university. There is no need to submit a Self-Report if you are healthy. Please see COVID-19 Testing FAQs.

Are there any travel advisories or quarantine requirements in D.C.? What is the policy on notifying the university of personal travel?

AU continues to follow the District of Columbia’s ReOpen DC plan. Please see Health and Safety Directive: Return to Campus Requirements After Travel Outside of the District of Columbia for AU requirements.

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 hand sanitizing stations be placed throughout campus?

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

COVID-19 Testing

How To Test

How often should I test?

There are different categories, based on your level of presence on campus. Please see the details on our COVID-19 Testing Procedures page.

What type of test is AU providing?

It’s a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) saliva test, which tests for active infection. It tests for an active COVID-19 infection. It does not show if you have previously had COVID-19. Effective March 1, 2021, AU will utilize the University of Illinois Shield T3 testing system.

Is there a charge for this test?

No. For faculty and staff, testing will be considered compensated work time.

Where do I go to be tested?

There are different sites, depending on whether you are an asymptomatic student, an asymptomatic faculty/staff member, or a symptomatic student. Here are the details:

  • Asymptomatic students (regular testing): Constitution Hall; see schedule for times.
  • Asymptomatic faculty/staff: University Club; see schedule for times.
  • Symptomatic students: Make appointment with Student Health Center (SHC) by calling 202-885-3380 or scheduling online (AU login required).
  • Symptomatic faculty and staff: Test with your personal health provider or local COVID-19 testing sites.
  • Contract workers: Contact your supervisor for more information.

Can I make an appointment?

If you are a student with symptoms, yes. Any student with symptoms – whether on campus or off-campus – can make an appointment to be seen and tested at the SHC. To schedule an appointment call 202-885-3380 or schedule online (AU login required).

You may also be tested by your health provider or local urgent care. If you are in distress, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.

If you are asymptomatic (have no symptoms), you cannot make an appointment for testing. Your regular tests, to approve on-campus presence, will be drop-in tests according to the schedule.

Faculty and staff cannot make appointments.

How should I prepare?

You cannot have anything to eat, drink, or chew for one hour prior to testing. This includes brushing your teeth, chewing gum, taking medications, smoking, or vaping. If you have a smartphone or tablet, please bring your device to your appointment so that you can register to receive your test results. If you do not have a mobile device, there will a device available onsite.

I’ve been vaccinated for COVID-19. Do I still need to test?

Yes, at present you must be tested, according to your category, even if you have been vaccinated.

Will AU administer COVID-19 vaccinations?

American University will not administer them at this time. COVID-19 vaccines are being distributed in various formats across different jurisdictions. States and localities established their own criteria, eligibility categories, and timelines. We recommend that you sign up for vaccination updates from the health departments in your local community–D.C., Maryland, Virginia.

Please follow guidance from your local health department and/or health care provider about obtaining the vaccine when you become eligible. Some state eligibility criteria are based on occupation and definitions of essential workers. Human Resources is working on a process for those employees who may need employment verification to qualify in certain categories. If you have specific questions about employment verification, please contact employeerelations@american.edu.

After you have been vaccinated, you still need to follow AU’s COVID-19 testing protocols.

I’m a student and am concerned I may have symptoms of COVID-19. What do I do?

Any student who has possible symptoms of COVID-19 -- whether you are on-campus or off-campus, full-time or part-time -- can make an appointment to be seen at the SHC. Make appointment with Student Health Center by calling 202-885-3380 or scheduling online (AU login required).

You may also be tested by your primary care provider or off-campus sites in Washington, DC, Maryland, or Virginia.

If you are in distress, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.

I’m a staff or faculty member and am concerned I may have symptoms of COVID-19. What do I do?

AU does not offer testing for symptomatic staff or faculty members. Testing must be done through your health provider or at off-campus sites in Washington, DC, Maryland, or Virginia.

Self-report by using the Self Report Dashboard (AU login required) in the AU Forward portal.

While you are not feeling well, do not come to campus.

Receiving Results

How do I get results?

Please monitor your email. The results will be emailed by the lab once they are available. You will receive an email once your results are available at the email address you used to create your account with the lab services provider.

When will I receive the results?

At present, it will take around 72 hours. After March 1, it will take around 24 hours.

If You Test Positive

What happens if I test positive for Covid-19?

First, make sure to Self-Report.

If you have a physical presence on campus and AU is aware that you have tested positive, you will be contacted by phone by an AU Covid Case Coordinator to help connect you with resources you may need and provide guidance as appropriate.

Next steps will depend on your circumstances:  

Your COVID-19 Case Coordinator will also work with you to determine whether you had close contact with any campus community members. Any contacts will be notified with the date of potential exposure, but no identifying information about you will be disclosed.

Select information gathered by your COVID-19 Case Coordinator will be shared with the DC Department of Health to assist their contact tracing efforts. You should expect the DC Department of Health to contact you to identify additional contacts and to provide guidance on when you may end isolation.

For details on contact tracing at AU, see this document on Affiliate Notification.

I’m a student in the Washington, DC region. What happens if I test positive, but not through AU-provided testing?

Self-report by using the Self Report Dashboard (AU login required) in the AU Forward portal.

Self-report if you have tested and are awaiting results; have tested positive; or are in quarantine due to known exposure. You may also self-report symptoms.

What is the difference between quarantine and isolation?

“Quarantine” refers to those who have been exposed and must stay home to avoid the possibility of infecting others. “Isolation” is used to refer to people infected with the virus. The CDC explains the terms. Please see Health and Safety Directive: Requirements Following COVID-19 Exposure, Positive Test, or Suspected Infection.

I’m a student not in the Washington, DC region. What happens if I test positive or am exposed? Do I need to report it? What supports are available?

Students, please connect with the Dean of Students office if you need assistance. They can help you notify faculty that are not able to participate in classes.

If You Are Exposed

If I’ve been exposed at AU, how will I find out?

If AU is aware that you have been exposed through our Affiliate Notification Program, you will be contacted by a COVID Case Coordinator who will provide you with guidance on limiting your daily activities, share applicable campus support resources, and answer any questions or concerns related to the exposure notification.

The date of contact will be shared, but no identifying information about the individual who tested positive will be disclosed.

Please see Health and Safety Directive: Requirements Following COVID-19 Exposure, Positive Test, or Suspected Infection. For details on contact tracing at AU, see this document on Affiliate Notification.

What if I’m exposed, but not notified through AU?

Members of the community may be exposed to the virus in ways that are not related to AU. If you find out that you have been exposed, self-report by using the Self Report Dashboard (AU login required) in the AU Forward portal.

Self-report if you have tested and are awaiting results; have tested positive; or are in quarantine due to known exposure. You may also self-report symptoms.

I live on campus. If I’m exposed, what happens next?

You will quarantine, but will not need to relocate.

I’m an off-campus student, faculty or staff member. If I’m exposed, what happens next?

You must quarantine immediately. Please follow CDC guidelines on quarantine and see Health and Safety Directive: Requirements Following COVID-19 Exposure, Positive Test, or Suspected Infection.

File a Self-Report with AU and a Covid Care Coordinator will contact you.

Can a student who has been exposed be tested on campus for active COVID infection?

Yes. Your Covid Care Coordinator will share this information with you.

Can I attend in-person class and am exposed?

No, you must quarantine in your residence, whether on-campus or off-campus. Do not come to class. Connect with the Dean of Students Office if you need help in ensuring that faculty are notified about your absence.

Can a faculty or staff member who has been exposed be tested on campus for active COVID infection?

No. AU does not provide testing for faculty or staff with known exposure or symptoms. Testing is available through your health provider or at off-campus sites in Washington, DC, Maryland, or Virginia.

AU’s Shield T3 Testing and Partnership

What is Shield T3 testing?

The University of Illinois Shield T3 testing system is an accurate, affordable, and convenient saliva-based PCR test that has been used more than 1.3 million times with the University of Illinois community. The technology is also being used by the University of Wisconsin, the University of Maine, Vanderbilt University, and Santa Clara University, among others.

Why is AU changing to Shield T3 testing?

American University is leading a partnership that will expand access to COVID-19 testing for our community and the DC region. We are working with the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area, Gallaudet University, Catholic University, Marymount University, and Baltimore City Schools. The Shield T3 test and mobile laboratory will also provide faster turn-around time for test results. This will support our in-person activities and the health and safety of our community.

Will there be changes to the testing process for AU community members?

Members of the AU community will continue to participate in COVID-19 testing in the same way as they do today, with the tests processed at the new mobile laboratory located at Gallaudet. This local approach will reduce the turn-around time for test results. The only difference for our students, faculty, and staff will be a new app (Safer Community) for receiving results information. Students will start with the new app on March 1, staff and faculty will begin using the new app during the week of March 8.

Will I need to download the new app to take part in testing?

Yes. The new app, Safer Community, will allow you to get the COVID-19 testing and receive test results in a rapid and easy manner. Please download the app prior to arrival at the testing site.

Does Shield T3 test for the variants of COVID-19?

Shield T3’s PCR test looks for three genes (N, S, and ORF1ab) present in the coronavirus, versus other tests which look for just one, earning it high specificity and very few false positives. It also helps with detection of some of the UK variant. 

At the end of December, research began showing that the S-Gene is “dropping out” from detection in some positive samples (for the UK variant). This three-gene test observes such S-gene dropout, allowing the test to identify individuals that likely have this mutation.

Why is AU funding the mobile laboratory for other universities?

Robust COVID-19 testing is essential to the health and safety of the American University community and the entire DC area. Bringing together universities, K-12 schools, and community organizations to provide the Shield T3 testing will increase knowledge about the virus, help prevent further community spread, and advance in-person activity. To support our community, we need access to fast and reliable testing, and this approach is cost-effective and efficient. It is also a powerful illustration of AU’s strategic commitment to working with Washington.

Will this change create a new cost for students, faculty, or staff when they get tested on campus?

No, there will be no new costs for community members for the Shield T3 testing. Asymptomatic testing remains free for AU community members.

Do I still have to do the daily health screening form if I am coming to campus?

Yes, none of AU’s health and safety procedures will change. If you are coming to campus, please continue to fill out the daily health screening form ahead of time.

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.