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FAQ - Health and Safety

Health and Safety

Health and Safety

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

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. In addition to wearing face coverings, all members of the AU community are expected to exercise personal health precautions through frequent hand washing, 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, wherever possible, in the residential, dining, and academic settings, to facilitate maintaining a distance of 6 feet.

Will the university do contact tracing and how? What is the protocol?

Contact tracing is a public health tool used to identify people who have come in contact with diseases or in contact with a COVID-19-positive individual in an attempt to reduce the spread of the disease. Contact tracing is conducted by DC Department of Health (DOH), and if a person has tested positive for COVID-19, DOH will:

  • Alert individuals who may have been in close contact with the potential exposure.
  • Identify localized outbreaks and ultimately control the spread of illness across campus.

Medical confidentiality and privacy will be maintained. Contacts will only be told they have been exposed to a positive case, but the identity of that case will not be directly revealed. Sensitivity to individual situations will be maintained. Individuals with a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 can return to the campus, or, if living on campus as a student, leave isolation only after they are no longer infectious, quarantined for a minimum of 14 days, and with no presenting symptoms for a 72-hour period and/or according to the latest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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 students. Testing for faculty/staff should be conducted through their health-care providers. Symptomatic individuals must refrain from coming to work or classes. 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.

Will my student health insurance cover testing for COVID-19? What if I’m a faculty or staff member?

COVID-19 on-campus testing will be conducted at the Student Health Center and covered as any other medical condition under a student’s health insurance. The student health insurance is portable and covers students anywhere in the United States. If a student is getting tested off-campus, they should call ahead to their doctor’s office to insure they take your specific plan. Testing for faculty/staff should be conducted through their health-care providers.

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.

What is the university’s process in the event of a spike in COVID cases? What if our campus becomes a hot spot?

American University will continue to cooperate and coordinate with the District of Columbia governmental agencies tasked with planning for, responding to, and managing the effects of COVID 19. Furthermore, we will comply fully with the directives of the city and will act accordingly. Measures have been put in place to respond quickly to positive cases of COVID-19 including testing, isolation/quarantine facilities and procedures, and the coordination of contact tracing.

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?

Upon the full opening of campus, the Jacobs and Cassell fitness centers will available for AU student use only and the Duber Fitness center will be open for small group programming only. Fitness Center hours will be reduced to help ensure we have ample time to appropriately clean each facility and social distancing of equipment and patrons will be expected. We will also continue to provide virtual personal training.

Students with medical concerns relating to COVID-19 are encouraged to contact the Student Health Center. The Student Health Center has increased its capacity to perform COVID-19 testing for any students with symptoms consistent with the infection, as well as students who are asymptomatic but might want to be tested. Students who test positive for COVID-19 will follow isolation protocols to minimize spread to other students or to faculty and staff. The Student Health center is open Monday-Friday and sees students by appointment only. Students should be referred to the Student Health website at www.american.edu/healthcenter for more information or to make an appointment.

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. Mental health crisis intervention support will be available 24 hours a day via AUProtoCall Services +1-202-885-7979. All students will be able to access this number from any location and receive crisis intervention services. 

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.

How will the university handle students who travel to campus (do not live in the residence halls)? Will they be screened every time they enter?

To support personal health screening, the university will provide a technology platform for all employees and students to use to routinely measure their state of health against known COVID-19 symptoms. Based on the results of each health screening, students (and all community members) will be provided instructions on next steps, which may include quarantining and testing. In addition, mandatory training on health and safety for students and our entire community will be provided to ensure that everyone understands their shared responsibility around health and safety. Students living off campus, but in the local proximity, will also have access to student testing and support at American University’s health center.

If a student tests positive for COVID-19, will they be sent home? What health services are available on campus? What about a faculty or staff member?

Isolation will be mandated for anyone who tests positive and anyone deemed to be in close contact with a confirmed case. Testing should be conducted by the appropriate health-care provider (students with the AU student health center; faculty/staff through their health-care providers). Testing protocols will be in accordance with health guidelines, symptomatic individuals will be tested, and voluntary tests will be available. Symptomatic individuals must refrain from coming to work or classes. Self-monitoring protocols will be instituted with an online questionnaire that community members must complete. COVID-19 positive cases must be reported to the university via a reporting mechanism that will be deployed for the fall semester and contact tracing will be coordinated through the DC Department of Health.

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.