You are here: American University President Announcements December 8, 2021

AU Memo Letterhead

Dear AU Community,

I hope you are enjoying the holiday celebrations around campus (with all necessary safety precautions) as we begin the finals period (good luck to our WCL students starting exams this week) and wrap up our successful in-person fall semester. It has taken every member of our community to make this journey possible and I want to say thank you. All of our students, on-campus and online, have worked extremely hard to advance their studies while also bringing change to communities near and far. Our faculty brought incredible knowledge and experiences to our classrooms, produced impactful new scholarship, and were honored for their outstanding contributions. Our staff reinvented how we work with our hybrid environment and delivered outstanding service to our community. And our alumni continued their changemaking ways, both in their professional pursuits and in support of our community. The dedication of our entire AU family to health and safety, to our mission, and to our community has been the foundation of everything we have achieved this fall.

After a well-deserved holiday break (including the additional time off for our full time staff and faculty), we are looking forward to our in-person spring semester. The fall return to campus demonstrated just how important it is to be in-person and safely conduct our activities together. While the pandemic endures, we must not only be vigilant in our health and safety protocols, but also continue moving forward with our mission, our daily lives, and our engagement with each other.

For the spring, we will operate as we did this fall:

  • Classes will be conducted in-person, with a limited number of sections with more than 50 students offered online and our traditional online graduate programs operating as usual. The academic calendar will follow the original schedule, with main campus and WCL classes starting on January 10.
  • On-campus activities will proceed under our health and safety guidelines and updated visitor and guest policies will be released later this week.
  • COVID-19 testing will continue at current campus locations. Testing is recommended before you leave for break and upon your return in January.
  • The hybrid work environment will continue.
  • Mask requirements will continue inside all campus buildings. This safety measure not only supports our COVID-19 mitigation efforts, but also helps reduce the spread of flu and other respiratory ailments. We will continue to evaluate all our safety protocols as the pandemic conditions evolve.

Another key safety pillar that supported our fall semester, helped to keep case counts low, and will be essential for the spring is our high rate of vaccination. If you have not yet received your COVID-19 booster, please do so as soon as possible or when you are eligible. The data indicates that boosters provide enhanced protection that will be critical as we proceed through the winter months, and the updated CDC guidance recommends that all adults over 18 should get a booster. For our faculty and staff, please complete the proof of vaccination process that was announced last week.

We continue to monitor developments related to the Omicron variant. While more scientific study is needed to completely understand its potential impact, indications are that our current approaches to health and safety will keep our in-person operations as they are. Should any further safety measures be necessary, we will provide updates to the community.

Thank you again for all your efforts this semester. I hope you get some rest over the holidays and that you have a moment to reflect on what you achieved individually and all that we achieved as a community. Good luck with finals and the completion of the semester and happy holidays to all!

Be safe and be well.

Sylvia M. Burwell