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February 26, 2020
Dear AU Community,
With ongoing global developments related to COVID-19 (Coronavirus), the university continues to take steps to protect the health and safety of our community and provide extensive support to students who are affected by this unfolding situation. Our teams have been monitoring the situation closely, as additional cases are reported in countries such as South Korea, Japan, and Italy. As a reminder, the university has already coordinated the return of students who were studying abroad in China and provided alternate academic options and other support so they may continue their studies. All university-sponsored travel to China remains suspended.
Yesterday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) raised the Travel Advisory for South Korea to Level 3: Avoid Nonessential Travel, and to Level 2: Practice Enhanced Precautions for Italy and Japan. In response to this guidance, the university has notified AU students studying abroad (or planning to travel) in South Korea that they should return to the United States as soon as possible. All university-sponsored travel to South Korea has been suspended. The university has taken these actions based on our evaluation of the new information from the CDC and the U.S. State Department, our ongoing commitment to the safety our of community, and our dedication to supporting students in their educational pursuits.
The Provost’s Office, the Office of Campus Life, the Office of Risk Management, AU Abroad, and the individual schools and colleges of the affected students are working to support their return. This includes academic, financial aid, housing, and other arrangements for the remainder of the semester, and students have been provided specific resources and contacts in each area to address their individual needs. The goal is to minimize disruption to their educational progress and foster a smooth transition back to the United States. Yonsei University (our partner institution for study abroad in South Korea) has delayed the start date of its semester to March 16 and cancelled international student orientation, so our students have not yet started classes. This change allows us to work with students before the start of their academic program, so they can return to American University to continue their studies through other avenues.
At this time, American University has not changed the status for travel or in-country educational programs for Japan and Italy, but has informed students studying in those countries of the new information from U.S. health authorities. Additionally, university operations on campus are continuing as normal and no events or classes have been canceled. There are no confirmed cases in the DC region and the CDC states that at this time, this virus is not currently spreading in the community in the United States. We will continue to monitor these developing situations and make decisions based on further guidance updates from CDC.
As we support students studying in the affected countries, we also want to remember that many members of our community are from these countries and have family and friends living there. It is important that we support our fellow Eagles as they may be struggling with this difficult situation. The International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) has reached out to students from those countries to check on them and provide support. Resources are available from the AU Counseling Center, Kay Spiritual Center, and the Faculty & Staff Assistance Program for community members who may need assistance.
More information about the COVID-19 virus, health guidance, and answers to frequently asked questions can be found on the university’s Coronavirus Resource Page. News and information regarding this virus is rapidly evolving. AU community members with further questions are encouraged to visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
We will continue to closely monitor the situation and provide additional updates to the community as needed.
President of Campus Life & Inclusive Excellence