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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

Vaccinations


Health & Safety

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

If you are vaccinated, masks are no longer required outside. However, masks should be worn outdoors if you are in a large gathering of people (25 or more). Inside our buildings, face coverings must remain on unless you are alone in an office or residence hall room, in a gathering of fewer than 15 people (with limited exceptions such as the fitness center, shuttle busses, Student Health Center, and COVID testing site, where masks are required at all times), or you are eating. Masks are still required indoors for any classes, events, or large gatherings. We understand this is a greater level of caution than current guidelines, but we are continuing this safety measure until we reach a high vaccination level across our community.

If you are not yet fully vaccinated, masks will continue to be required indoors and at large outdoor gatherings. Maintain physical distancing if unvaccinated persons are present, or if vaccination status is unknown.

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 physical distance while on campus. The university has taken active steps to proactively establish conditions, to facilitate maintaining physical a distance.

Are there self-screening and self-reporting requirements?

AU community members with a campus presence will test once per week regardless of vaccination status as we continue our surveillance testing. If you are not yet vaccinated, the daily self-screening form must be completed on any day you come to campus. For community members who are vaccinated, you no longer need to fill out the form. These steps, along with the updated airflow systems in our buildings that meet all CDC requirements, will continue to help keep our community safe. Please note that the campus buildings with reduced heating/cooling services in support of our cost savings will remain in this mode during the summer.

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: Constitution Hall; 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’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.

Is time spent getting the COVID test considered hours worked?

Time spent getting tested at the AU testing site during work hours or adjacent to work hours is compensable.

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.

Vaccinations

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 require that students be vaccinated this fall?

Yes. All students who come to campus for any reason in Fall 2021 must be vaccinated against COVID-19. This includes full-time and part-time students, undergraduates and graduate students, and residential and non-residential students. Please see vaccine FAQs for more information.

Will AU require that faculty and staff be vaccinated this fall?

Yes, American University will require COVID-19 vaccinations for faculty and staff­. This includes adjunct faculty members, part-time employees, visiting scholars/researchers, affiliates/volunteers, and full-time contract workers.

Why are faculty and staff required to be vaccinated for COVID-19?

The COVID-19 vaccines are critical to further reducing or even eliminating the transmission of the virus. The CDC has outlined the many benefits of getting a COVID-19 vaccine including: preventing serious illness even for those who contract the virus; protecting others, particularly people at increased risk for severe illness; and allowing us, once fully vaccinated, to participate in many activities that stopped during the height of the pandemic. By achieving widespread vaccination within our AU community, we will support the return to in-person classes, residential experiences, and other campus and community activities in the fall. Additionally, by lowering case counts and transmission through extensive vaccination, we also reduce the potential for new virus variants that may be resistant to the vaccines and could cause future outbreaks.

What categories of employees are covered by the vaccination requirement?

All full and part-time faculty and staff members are required to be vaccinated or request an exemption to the requirement. This includes adjunct faculty, visiting scholars and researchers, and full-time contractor workers (e.g., dining workers). Contractors who only come to campus for episodic work will continue to participate in the daily health screening.

Will newly hired employees, particularly those who join the university after the July deadlines, have to complete the vaccine attestation form or exemption request?

All new hires will complete either the attestation form or exemption request within 30 days of their start date.

When will faculty and staff who are returning from an approved leave (sabbatical, research, medical, family) be required to complete the vaccine attestation form or exemption request?

All employees returning from an approved leave will complete the attestation form or exemption request within 30 days of their anticipated return date.

What vaccines are accepted for the requirement?

All COVID-19 vaccines authorized by the FDA, including those under emergency use authorization, will be accepted by AU. Currently, those vaccines include Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson.

What is the process for proving vaccination?

Faculty and staff will submit a vaccine attestation form by July 30, 2021.

Once I submit my vaccination information, will my personal health information be protected?

An implementation team for the vaccine requirement will ensure compliance with federal and local laws including those related to employee confidentiality. We are not requiring personal health information such as COVID-19 vaccination cards.

How will the vaccination information I submit be used?

We will collect information, which you voluntarily provide through a secure form, concerning your COVID-19 vaccination. AU will use this information only as part of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We will not share your information with outside organizations except as needed for public health purposes related to the pandemic, when legally required to do so, at the request of governmental authorities to conduct an investigation, to verify compliance with our policies and applicable laws, or to protect against misuse or unauthorized use of your information.

Are there exemptions to the requirement? How do faculty and staff request an exemption?

Exemptions will be considered for medical or religious reasons, and for faculty and staff with no campus presence. Faculty and staff may request an exemption to the vaccine requirement by July 15, 2021. Prudential (AU’s insurance provider) will evaluate requests for medical exemptions and make an appropriate determination. Religious exemption requests will be reviewed by Human Resources in consultation with the Office of General Counsel. In addition, AU will ensure that this process protects every employees’ confidentiality. Faculty and staff may appeal any decision regarding an exemption to the Office of Human Resources pursuant to university policies.

Employees who receive an exemption and anyone who does not complete the attestation form or exemption request will follow additional workplace health and safety practices and conditions to support our community. Specific arrangements for these employees will be based on factors including job responsibilities, primary location of job duties, interaction with other community members, etc. The safety measures will include more frequent required COVID-19 testing, mask wearing at all times on campus, and adjustments to campus workspaces, among others. Those who are not vaccinated will be advised not to attend large gatherings on campus. The workplace safety arrangements will not automatically lead to a faculty or staff member performing their duties exclusively remotely/online.

Can I be exempt from vaccines requirements for other reasons beside medical and religious?

The only other exemption is if you are on leave or a NextSource employee working out of state. Otherwise, no other exemption applies.

I do not have a religious or medical exemption but do not wish to get vaccinated. How does this impact my role at AU?

Those seeking such an exemption will follow additional workplace health and safety practices and conditions to support our community. Specific arrangements for these employees will be based on factors including job responsibilities, primary location of job duties, interaction with other community members, etc. The safety measures may include more frequent required COVID-19 testing, mask wearing at all times on campus, and adjustments to campus workspaces, among others. Those who are not vaccinated will be advised not to attend large gatherings on campus. The workplace safety arrangements will not automatically lead to a faculty or staff member performing their duties exclusively remotely/online. Exemption or non-compliance with the vaccine requirement does not change

Is it legal to require faculty and staff to be vaccinated for COVID-19, particularly since the vaccines are not fully approved by the FDA?

The emergency use authorizations (EUAs) currently in effect for the COVID-19 vaccines do not prevent the university from requiring vaccinations. The FDA and CDC have advised that COVID-19 vaccines are generally safe and effective and help to protect the broader community from the worst effects of COVID-19. The EUA accelerates access to the vaccine during the current public health emergency and requires the same clinical studies and standards for safety and effectiveness as full FDA approval. Additionally, some COVID-19 vaccines have been submitted for full FDA approval and the others are expected to follow.

If faculty and staff members are vaccinated, do they have to follow the COVID testing protocol?

Once vaccination status is confirmed, faculty and staff will be tested less frequently for COVID-19, but some level of surveillance testing will continue to support overall community health and safety. Employees who receive an exemption and anyone who does not complete the attestation form or exemption request will follow additional workplace health and safety practices and conditions to support our community. Specific arrangements for these employees will be based on factors including job responsibilities, primary location of job duties, interaction with other community members, etc. The safety measures may include more frequent required COVID-19 testing, mask wearing at all times on campus, and adjustments to campus workspaces, among others. Those who are not vaccinated will be advised not to attend large gatherings on campus. The workplace safety arrangements will not automatically lead to a faculty or staff member performing their duties exclusively remotely/online.

How will the requirement be enforced?

To support compliance with vaccine requirement, faculty and staff will provide a vaccine attestation form by July 30, 2021, or submit an exemption request by July 15, 2021. Employees who receive an exemption and anyone who do not complete the attestation form or exemption request will follow additional workplace health and safety practices and conditions to support our community. Specific arrangements for these employees will be based on factors including job responsibilities, primary location of job duties, interaction with other community members, etc. The safety measures may include more frequent required COVID-19 testing, mask wearing at all times on campus, and adjustments to campus workspaces, among others. Those who are not vaccinated will be advised not to attend large gatherings on campus. The workplace safety arrangements will not automatically lead to a faculty or staff member performing their duties exclusively remotely/online.

Should issue arise with compliance, we will use discretion to manage the vaccination requirement. This may include addressing extenuating circumstances beyond the control of faculty and staff that may delay their opportunity to be vaccinated. The university also reserves the right to take further steps, if necessary, for faculty and staff who do not follow the attestation or exemption procedures.

Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe? Isn’t emergency use authorization only a temporary measure?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FDA have concluded that the vaccines currently authorized for use in the United States are safe and effective. More than 189 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in the United States since the first authorization in December 2020, under rigorous and ongoing safety monitoring protocols. This includes the appropriate investigation of a small number of reported adverse events with one of the vaccines. All COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the US underwent thorough testing with tens of thousands of participants in clinical trials. The vaccines met FDA’s rigorous scientific standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality needed to support emergency use authorization (EUA). Additionally, the vaccines are expected to seek and obtain full FDA approval this year. You can also contact your doctor or medical provider to answer more direct questions about the safety of the vaccines.

Is there any charge to get vaccinated?

No, COVID-19 vaccines are available at no cost to you. If you have questions about where to obtain a vaccine, contact your medical provider, local public health department or visit Vaccine Finder to find a no-cost provider.

Some communities are hesitant about taking a vaccine because of issues of race and racism in American medical history. How can I trust the vaccines and the entities that created and authorized them?

We understand that members of the AU community, including people of color, are cautious about some medical treatments given racial disparities and unethical practices that previously occurred. The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected communities of color and it is critical to ensure these communities have access to the vaccines, which are fundamental to stopping the spread of the virus.

There has been a concerted effort by the developers of the vaccines, the public health authorities, medical organizations and institutions that represent communities of color in the health care sector, and others to ensure that the COVID-19 vaccines were equitably developed, tested, and distributed. For example, the National Medical Association, established a task force that reviewed the clinical trial data and found that “both the percentage and number of Black people enrolled are sufficient to have confidence in health outcomes of the clinical trials.” The safety and efficacy of these vaccines have been affirmed by many trusted Black medical leaders who have deep experience in public health in communities of color, including the presidents of Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, the National Black Nurses Association, Meharry Medical College, and Morehouse School of Medicine. The Kaiser Family Foundation also has helpful information from health care workers of color.

Will I still need to follow physical distancing and mask wearing protocols after I receive the vaccine?

Yes, the current AU health and safety protocols remain in effect. As we approach the start of the academic year, we anticipate aligning the safety guidelines with the latest information from the CDC and DC Department of Health. This will continue throughout the fall and spring semesters.

Will I still need to use the daily self-screening form to go to campus after I receive the vaccine?

Yes, the self-screening process remains in effect.

Are visitors to campus required to have a COVID-19 vaccination?

No, the COVID-19 vaccination requirement only applies to students, faculty, staff, and certain contract workers with a campus presence this fall. Visitors will be required to follow AU’s health and safety protocols including mask wearing and self-screening.

I have no presence on campus but will be participating in an AU-authorized/organized program overseas (e.g., Study Abroad, immersion programs, etc.). Do I need to comply with the vaccine requirement?

Yes, any student, faculty member, or staff member participating in a university-sponsored program featuring overseas travel will follow the vaccine requirement or must request an exemption. This is to protect the health and safety of our community members in these programs who may be traveling to countries with ongoing community spread of COVID-19.

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 who is not yet vaccinated. The screening will be completed via the AU Forward portal.