Dear AU Community,
This is an exciting time. We are less than two weeks away from the start of move-in and less than four weeks from all fall classes being underway. I’ve been going to campus most days throughout the summer, and while it is wonderful to be in our scenic arboretum and terrific facilities, I am looking forward to seeing all of you enjoying our beautiful campus.
It is also a time where we must maintain and even expand our health and safety vigilance. While much progress in reducing the spread of COVID-19 was made through vaccinations during the spring and early summer, the Delta variant and low vaccination rates in some areas has led to a resurgence of cases. The concerns and anxiety about the Delta variant are real and we take them seriously. And with cases rising once more, the prospect of adhering to numerous safety protocols again, when we took precautions and made sacrifices for so long, weighs on us all. We are committed to doing everything we can to safeguard our community, as well as supporting our friends and colleagues who are understandably concerned about young children or immunocompromised family members who cannot yet be vaccinated. This includes our requirement that all AU community members be vaccinated, which is the most effective response to the variant.
To advance our community of care, today I am sharing important updates to our health and safety protocols. Please read this entire message, as there are multiple areas with new information and steps we all need to follow. These updates–which cover masking, vaccination requirements, testing, and events, among other areas–are critical to the success of our in-person fall semester and the health and well-being of our community.
We have a shared responsibility to support our community and we all must do our part. In addition to reviewing the information in this message, you can find additional details in the updated AU Forward Fall 2021 Health and Safety Guide on the COVID-19 Resources website and the Health and Safety Directives in the University Policy Library. We will discuss the health and safety protocols during the AU community webinar next Wednesday at 2 p.m., and I hope you will join us. You can submit questions in advance of the webinar to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Based on the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the DC government, and to support our in-person activities, all AU community members will wear masks while indoors in any campus facility or AU building. The only exceptions are when eating/drinking or alone in a private office or residence hall room. Students will mask in class, and faculty have the option of teaching from a suitable distance without a mask to support the learning environment. Masks are not required outdoors unless in groups of 25 people or more.
American University requires COVID-19 vaccinations for all students, faculty, staff, and contractors with a presence on campus or on university-sanctioned study abroad or off-campus activities. I’m proud that our community has embraced this responsibility, and as of today, more than 9,500 students and 3,400 faculty and staff have completed or are in-process of COVID-19 vaccinations. If you have not yet been vaccinated, please do so as soon as possible to protect your health, your family, and our community.
Students must upload their proof of vaccination to their student health portal, and faculty and staff must complete the attestation form on the AU Forward portal. The Office of Campus Life sent reminders and supplemental instructions and timelines to students regarding proof of vaccination and the potential implications if this information is not received. I encourage any student who has not reviewed the OCL message or completed their vaccination form to do so soon.
For faculty and staff, non-compliance with the vaccine requirement or exemption process can result in disciplinary action, up to and including suspension or termination, as noted in the Vaccination Directive. Those students, faculty, and staff who are seeking an exemption for medical or religious reasons must complete the form and receive approval before an exemption is considered final.
Unvaccinated community members with an approved exemption will be tested twice per week. Vaccinated students, faculty, and staff will be tested if they are exposed to someone who has tested positive, if they exhibit COVID-19 symptoms, or if they choose to be tested for safety precautions. Any person experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, regardless of vaccination status, must get a COVID-19 test. Testing will take place at Constitution Hall on East Campus.
Beginning August 16, all unvaccinated students, faculty, and staff with an approved exemption and a presence on campus must complete the daily COVID-19 screening form. Vaccinated community members should monitor their health but do not need to complete the daily screening. If you have any COVID-19 symptoms or feel sick in general, do not come to campus.
Given the high transmissibility of the Delta variant, we will limit in-person events at the start of the semester. Major gatherings such as Convocation and the Sophomore Welcome will proceed with additional health and safety precautions in place. Recognized student organizations will work with the Center for Student Involvement to plan in-person events. Additional considerations and measures have been instituted for the safe operation of university athletics programs.
Most business meetings will continue online to preserve campus space for student-focused activities. Given the vaccine requirements, faculty, staff, and students can meet in small groups (e.g., 2-3 people) in offices if mask mandates are followed. Schools and units can use their conference rooms for team meetings with masking.
All campus visitors are expected to follow applicable university health and safety guidelines including checking for COVID-19 symptoms prior to coming to campus, not coming to campus if experiencing any symptoms, and abiding by any additional measures outlined by the event coordinator/host and all posted signage.
Thank you for reviewing and following these updated protocols. While I hoped some of these would not be needed for the fall, our approach is tailored to maintain our community’s health and safety and continue the in-person opportunities that are so important. I know this was a lot of information, but hopefully, you had a good break from my messages this summer. We all needed to recharge, and I hope you had the opportunity to enjoy family, friends, and some activities that were not possible in 2020. See you soon!
Be safe and be well.