March 12, 2020
By now you will have received the message from President Burwell that AU will transition to online classes for the entire semester, students are urged to leave the residence halls, and most university operations will move to a virtual work environment.
This is difficult news to hear, and I know it asks a lot of all of us. This letter shares important details and information – the logistics of moving out, what we know at this point about financial issues, and how you will still be supported. I also want to confirm that to date there are no known cases of COVID-19 in the AU community.
First, though, let me acknowledge what this transition means to all of us. I’m heartbroken that you will not be able to be on campus to finish the year (and, for many, your AU careers) in the cherished company of your friends and classmates. All of you have had so much going on and planned this semester that would have made being together in person so important and special – events, internships, activities, shared projects, personal plans.
Even though we know it’s necessary, and while our faculty and staff are absolutely dedicated to continuing our core educational commitment to you at the highest level, there is much that you will miss by not being here in person. I do not want to minimize that loss, or the stress and disruption of this sudden change for you and your families.
We also know that this transition will have particular stresses for some members of our community. We are committed to doing everything we can to support you and will stay connected with you. We will do our absolute best to minimize the very real challenges faced by the most vulnerable of us.
We are here for you. Let us be here for each other. Our community has come together like I have never seen before, and though most of what we’re all doing to meet this crisis may not be visible and is happening behind the scenes, it’s incredible. I am absolutely convinced that is true for every student, family, department, and program at AU, and that we will all meet this challenge.
Through it all, we must remember that we are a community committed to our values of inclusivity and human dignity. Let us be here for each other during this time and treat each other with utmost respect, compassion and care.
Now I’d like to share some of the key logistics in areas of student life as we implement these changes. Faculty will be in touch about academic issues. If you don’t hear from your faculty members within a few days, please reach out to them.
Vacating Residence Halls
We have made this difficult decision in order to safeguard the health of students who share very close quarters, including bathrooms and eating facilities. To keep everyone as safe as possible, we need students to return to their permanent residence and complete their coursework remotely. A follow-up communication detailing move-out processes, storage and shipping will be sent by Housing and Residence Life to all affected residents shortly.
- Move-out Timing. Now through Monday, March 23 at 5 pm.
Students Unable to Leave Residence Halls
We recognize that in rare cases some students may be unable to return to a permanent residence for various significant reasons and will need to stay in their residence halls. For instance, some international students will not be able to return at this time to their permanent address in their country of residence or home country, and some students may have other serious reasons to remain on campus.
Residence halls will remain available to students where necessary, although we expect the vast majority of residents to return home. This will make it easier for remaining students to maintain social distance and stay as healthy as possible.
- Process for remaining. For students who feel that they are in a serious situation that may require them to stay in the residence halls, we ask that they please contact us as soon as possible at EmergencyHousing20@american.edu
- Dining on campus. We will assure that at least some dining options remain available on campus. More information will follow.
Students Living Off Campus
If you live off campus, staying or leaving is a choice you must make for yourself. Either way, you will be studying online and there will not be campus activities. If you live and work in the community, please follow recommended hygiene and social distancing practices. (This also applies to students returning to permanent addresses.)
Financial Concerns and Support
- Housing and meal plan costs. We are working on prorating these costs. Our goal is to reduce economic hardship for students. Stay tuned for more details.
- Difficulty with affording travel. We will work with students to support transportation and related challenges for those with high financial need. We encourage anyone with a significant challenge affording transportation to your permanent residence to please reach out to the Financial Aid office at firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible, but before March 23.
- Food insecurity. The AU Market will remain open. This is a discrete, free resource for all students who remain on campus or in the DMV area and experience food insecurity.
Student Jobs and Internships
All student workers should reach out to their employers to discuss options. Students with Federal Work Study (FWS) will continue to receive their payments, which has been made permissible through new Department of Education guidelines. For students with on-campus jobs that are not work study, supervisors are being encouraged to find ways to allow students to work remotely.
Students should also reach out directly to faculty supervising their internships so they can explore with the employer whether remote work is possible.
Graduate assistants and research assistants should consult with their faculty supervisors regarding how to continue their assignments remotely.
Some Important Student Services
- Student Health Center will be fully operational. We know that many students require ongoing health care (e.g. refills, psychiatric care, etc.) during this time. Students who are less than 50 miles away (or can come to campus) can make appointments with the Student Health Center for ongoing care. Students further away should contact their home healthcare provider for ongoing care. If there are any questions about this, please contact the Student Health Center via secure messaging (within the Student Health Portal.) If you or a family member has had a potential COVID-19 exposure as outlined by the CDC. Please call ahead of time rather than coming in directly or making an appointment online.
- Counseling Center. We know this will be a time of great stress and anxiety. Legally, our clinicians are only able to practice within the District of Columbia. Students physically located in D.C. can access services at this link. All current clients at the Center will receive an email and a phone call from their clinician outlining treatment options and referral resources. For all students, regardless of location, crisis intervention will be available 24 hours a day via AUProtoCall Services at 202-885-7979.
- Academic advising, disability services and academic support. Academic advising, disability support and services (ASAC) and coaching will be available to support students through this time through remote appointments. Students should continue to work with their individual academic advisors. Please see FAQs for more information.
- Dean of Students, Financial Aid, AU Central and other AU offices will continue to be accessible remotely. Contact the offices by email or phone.
Where to Find More Information
We will connect with you continuously. Some key ways:
- Webinars. There will be a webinar for students at 4 pm today. Students, register for the 4 pm webinar at https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/1370090849765121547. It will be videotaped and made available if you can’t make it. We will also have future webinars.
- Community Resource site with FAQs. AU’s central site for COVID-19 information is the AU Community Coronavirus Resource Page, which includes all messages distributed to the community and an ever-expanding, continuously updated list of FAQs. If questions aren’t answered there yet, please keep checking. This is being updated as quickly we have concrete information to share.
- Emails. Please remember that official university communication is shared to your AU email address. Make sure that you are checking your email regularly.
In challenging times, it becomes ever more important to understand and value community. As your AU family, know that our commitment to care for each other and be there for each other is essential to who we are.
Vice President of Campus Life & Inclusive Excellence