You are here: American University President Announcements December 29, 2021

AU Memo Letterhead

Dear AU Community,

We hope you are having a good break. We are closely monitoring the rapidly changing COVID-19 situation, and we wanted to update you as soon as possible on our latest actions. With increasing case counts in the DC region and around the country and all of us learning to adapt to continued COVID-19 transmission, we are taking the following steps for the start of the spring semester to support the health and safety of our AU community, as we sustain our operations and keep our mission moving forward:

  • Classes will temporarily move online from January 10 to January 30. In-person instruction will resume on Monday, January 31. We are exploring possible arrangements for a small number of science labs and arts courses that have unique in-person requirements. OIT’s Student Technology Task Force can assist students who may not have personal computers, internet access, or other technology resources that are impacting their experiences for online classes.
  • COVID-19 testing (PCR or antigen) is strongly recommended for all students, faculty, and staff 48 hours before you return to campus. This is an important element of our community of care and your own personal safety and well-being. Identifying positive cases and taking appropriate steps before the return to campus will help support our continued activities and safety throughout this first month when overall community spread is expected to remain high.
  • Upon your initial return to campus from the break—whether for students living in the residence halls, students residing off campus using the libraries or other facilities, or faculty/staff for work purposes— you are required to test within 48 hours of being on campus. Additional testing requirements will be in place during January for vaccinated community members, and unvaccinated individuals with approved exemptions will be required to test twice a week. Certain populations may also have additional testing requirements based specific activities or risk. If you test positive, you will be required to isolate for five days. We are following the CDC’s updated isolation protocols, but we will also require a negative test to leave isolation.
  • On-campus COVID-19 testing will resume on January 3 and the testing schedule will be posted early next week. Community testing will continue to be funded by the university.
  • The residence halls will open on schedule and students can return to campus as needed. For January, we encourage students to remain at home or other locations if they can as it may be more convenient for isolating if you test positive or for participating in online classes.
  • Dining services will be modified, with grab-and-go options available on main campus. Further details will be provided, and residential students should watch for information next week from the Housing and Residence Life team.
  • Faculty will teach online, with possible exceptions for a small number of science labs and arts courses. Staff with hybrid work schedules will work fully remotely and those with full presence required schedules will generally return to the work arrangement that was in place for their position in summer 2021. This temporary change will be in place from January 3 through January 30. Departments and units will coordinate schedules to ensure continued services, including any changes from previous work arrangements that are necessary because of increased student presence on campus or other changes to university operations since summer 2021, and address individual situations. The Child Development Center will remain closed through January 30.
  • On-campus research and laboratory activities can continue, but all safety protocols must be followed and interactions involving groups of people should be limited.
  • Our mask requirement remains in effect for all campus buildings, and we strongly recommend wearing a mask in all public spaces or social situations. Data indicates that KN95 masks are more effective for preventing transmission of omicron and we strongly encourage you to upgrade your mask. We have ordered KN95 masks which will be available on campus in January.
  • COVID-19 boosters are still required for all community members by February 10. If you are eligible and have not yet received your booster, please do so as soon as possible. Data shows that boosters provide important protection against omicron infections and serious illness
  • For the month of January, campus events will be online, and no campus visitors or guests will be allowed. Exceptions will be considered by the provost/vice presidents.

We are sharing this updated approach now so you can prepare accordingly before the semester begins. While we sought to avoid another move to online classes, this is not a return to the situation we faced in spring 2020. Rather, it is a short-term, prudent approach to the current situation and risk factors. These measures will help keep our community safe; provide time to make any additional adjustments needed to help us continue to live, learn, and work with the ongoing spread of the virus; and support in-person classes and activities for rest of the spring semester. We are also working to help our community members as the rise in cases affects other parts of our lives, from family health to K-12 schools.

Our approach is based on the three principles that have guided our response since the beginning of the pandemic—support the health and safety of our community, advance our mission, and contribute to the overall response to COVID-19. We continue to work through many additional questions and details, and we will not have all the answers right away. We ask for your patience as we gather further information and as the university remains closed this week for the traditional winter break. If you have specific questions, please use the following emails and we will respond beginning next week when university operations resume after the break:

Thank you for your continued support of our community of care. Please watch for additional information during the week of January 3. We wish you a happy new year and we are looking forward to safely seeing you next month.

Be safe and be well.

Sylvia M. Burwell

Peter Starr
Provost and Chief Academic Officer

Fanta Aw
Vice President of Undergraduate Enrollment, Campus Life, and Inclusive Excellence

Sarah Baldassaro
Chief of Staff and Counselor to the President

Matt Bennett
Vice President and Chief Communications Officer

Traevena Byrd
Vice President, General Counsel, and Board Secretary

Brontè Burleigh-Jones
Chief Financial Officer, Vice President, and Treasurer

Seth Grossman
Vice President, People and External Affairs and Counselor to the President

Steve Munson
Vice President and Chief Information Officer

Courtney Surls
Vice President, Development and Alumni Relations

Billy Walker
Director, Athletics and Recreation