You are here: American University President Announcements August 17, 2020

AU Memo Letterhead

Dear AU Community,

Thank you for your ongoing efforts in preparation for the fall semester and continued work to advance our education and research mission and maintain the strength of our community in the time of COVID-19. While there is still much to do in the coming weeks, we are moving forward with momentum and the excitement of a new academic year because of your dedication and creativity. We look forward to the start of classes and the community engagement it brings.

As we approach the start of our fall online semester, I want to update you on our health and safety measures. These protocols are critical to the functions of the university, so please make sure to review the information below about training, self-screening, and testing. The well-being of our community is our top priority and creating the safest possible environment is critical. And we all have a role to play. 

All students, faculty and staff—whether residing in the DC region or elsewhere—must complete the mandatory web-based course “AU Forward: COVID-19 Health and Safety Training.” The training is live on the AU Forward portal and must be completed by September 11. At the end of the training, you will be asked to complete either a student pledge or employee acknowledgement that you will follow the health and safety guidelines. Our community’s knowledge of guidelines and our actions to comply with them is essential for the health and safety of our community and beyond.

Daily Self-Screening for COVID-19 symptoms is required for any community member with a physical presence on campus. The Daily Self-Screening will be completed via the AU Forward portal. If you are experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19 or if you have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19, do not come to campus. Maintaining distance from others will be important to limiting the spread of COVID-19 throughout the different stages of the pandemic.

For students in the Washington, DC area, COVID-19 testing will be available in the Student Health Center. Initial baseline testing is mandatory for students in emergency housing. All other student testing will be voluntary, available by request or for those exhibiting symptoms who contact the Student Health Center. Faculty and staff should seek testing and medical care from their personal primary care provider, as the student health center is only licensed to provide care for our students. If you have a confirmed case of COVID-19 or are experiencing symptoms, report it to the university through the Self-Report page on the AU Forward portal. All information submitted through the portal will be kept confidential. This reporting process will enable AU to provide support to community members who may become ill and contribute to the broader public health response.

Testing is just one mechanism in a comprehensive approach to the COVID-19 pandemic. The key steps we all can take to slow the spread of COVID-19 include wearing face coverings, practicing physical distancing, and regularly washing our hands (or using hand sanitizer when washing is not possible). As a reminder, face coverings are required on campus at all times, inside and outside, except for when you are alone in an office. Physical distancing of six feet is also required both inside campus buildings and in outdoor spaces. 

To support these health and safety behaviors and procedures, we are implementing a new Communicable Diseases Policy and associated directives. This is an evolution of previous university policies and plans designed to contain or mitigate the spread of infectious diseases. This includes, but is not limited to COVID-19. For further detail on how these measures will be implemented, please see the Face Covering Requirements; Physical/Social Distancing; COVID-19 Testing, Mandatory COVID-19 Training; Self-Screening and Reporting, Requirements Following COVID-19 Exposure, Positive Test, or Suspected Infection; and Self-Quarantine Requirements After Travel Outside of the District of Columbia.

The details and trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic change daily. Our scientific understanding of the virus is advancing, and effective prevention measures are vital. We must be vigilant and will have to continuously adapt throughout the upcoming semester. If we all commit to our community of care, we will be well-positioned for a safe and productive semester. By working together as a community and adhering to the health and safety guidelines, we can deliver on our mission; support our students, faculty, and staff; and move forward in the safest possible way.

Finally, I am going to start reminding everyone now—don’t forget your flu shot! While this simple yet effective preventative measure is important every year, it is absolutely essential now. Flu shots will be available free of charge to all students during the fall semester and the Student Health Center will provide additional details. CareFirst and Kaiser will offer on-site flu shot clinics this fall for faculty and staff, with appointments scheduled through an online portal. Watch for more information from Human Resources.

Thank you for your commitment to these health and safety measures. In addition to the health benefits, that commitment supports an important part of our mission beyond learning and research and scholarship—our community.

Be safe and be well.