Dear AU Community,
It has been a month of momentum across our community as we prepare for the safe return to in-person learning on January 31 and we continue to advance and excel at our mission. Earlier this week, our School of Education and partners including Martha’s Table and Trinity Washington University received a $5 million grant from JP Morgan Chase to support an early education collaborative that will increase access to education, skills, and training opportunities for Black and Latina women, particularly in DC’s Wards 7 and 8. Our School of Communication established a new investigative journalism fellowship with ESPN and our AU Museum at the Katzen Arts Center debuts new exhibits this week highlighting human rights, Israeli art, and local DC and mid-Atlantic artists.
I hope you had the chance to watch Tuesday’s community forum, which addressed many of our health and safety and operational updates for the spring semester. Below is a summary of the key points and I encourage you to review the Spring 2022 COVID-19 Guide and the updated AU Forward resources including the Health and Safety Plan, the Event Planning and Space Reservation Guidelines, the Visitor Protocol, and the Contact Tracing Program. Updated FAQs for spring 2022 are also available.
Testing, Contact Tracing, and Isolation
- COVID-19 testing is available to students, staff and faculty at the testing facilities in Constitution Hall, the Washington College of Law, and 4401 Connecticut Avenue.
- All community members are required to have a PCR test within 48 hours of the first time you have presence on campus or in any affiliated building—whether to live on campus, visit the library, go to the office, etc. It is preferred and highly recommended that you test at one of AU’s testing sites. This requirement will be considered fulfilled if you were on campus at any point in January and were tested at a campus site within 48 hours of that time. If you tested positive within the last 90 days, either at a university testing site or you self-reported an off-campus test, you are exempt from this testing requirement.
- If you test positive, whether through AU’s testing center or off campus, self-isolate immediately and fill out the Self-Report Form. Following submission of the self-report form, monitor your AU email for a message with information, contact tracing, and next steps from email@example.com.
- As a reminder, you need to download the Safer Community app for testing at all campus sites. It is available for both iPhone and Android devices.
- KN95, N95, or KF94 masks, which provide the highest level of protection, are required in all indoor common spaces on campus (classrooms, residence hall common spaces, the AU shuttle, university buildings and offices, and the fitness center) regardless of vaccination status. Masks are not required if you are alone in a residence hall room (including with a roommate) or private office.
- Community members may pick up free KN95 masks (with AU ID) at campus distribution sites.
- Faculty will wear masks while teaching for the foreseeable future. Masks cannot be removed in the classrooms, as eating is not currently permitted in classrooms. Individuals who need to drink or eat must excuse themselves and go to the hallway.
Vaccines and Boosters
- All students, faculty, and staff who come to campus for any reason or who participate in university-sponsored activities (such as Study Abroad), must receive a COVID-19 vaccination and booster.
- Proof of receiving your COVID-19 booster is required by February 10 (or 14 days after you become eligible).
- Exemptions from the booster requirement are only available for medical reasons and anyone receiving an exemption must follow additional university health protocols.
- Our goal is to provide the best possible learning experience and minimize disruption. As we resume in-person learning on January 31, classes will be provided in their originally scheduled modality. Face-to-face classes will be offered in person, and our fully online offerings will continue in that format.
- Individual faculty and students cannot make local arrangements to continue a face-to-face class online for the entire semester.
- We know students have unique situations, including some of our international students who may face travel and logistical challenges, and they should work with their academic advisor to meet individual needs.
- The academic calendar, including spring break, will remain as originally scheduled.
- If a student tests positive and needs to miss class for isolation, they should contact their faculty members to obtain course materials. COVID-related absences will be treated as excused, and students will be expected to make up any missed work.
- If a faculty member tests positive and needs to be in isolation, they will communicate with their students as soon as possible and provide guidance for how a class will proceed.
- Building on our workplace approach from the fall, we will resume our hybrid modality on January 31 following the health and safety measures outlined above. Staff will return to their schedules that were in place for the fall.
- We know that COVID-19 continues to create challenges, including for families with caregiving needs. With ongoing isolation requirements and potential disruptions to K-12 schools, we recognize that scheduling issues may arise. There are resources available including Bright Horizon’s backup care and different leave scenarios that can support our team members in these situations. We are also encouraging managers, department chairs, associate deans, and other leaders to work with employees on potential schedule adjustments or other flexible arrangements to address short-term needs while continuing to provide services to our community.
Events and Visitors
- Visitors are not permitted on campus until February 14, with limited exceptions including admissions, advancement, and in-person class purposes. Community members planning face-to-face events and needing to reserve space must comply with the Event Planning and Space Reservation procedures. Visitors after February 14 must comply with the visitor guidelines.
- We are planning for an in-person commencement in May. To our soon-to-be graduates, watch your emails for information in the coming weeks.
I know this has been yet another period of uncertainty. COVID-19 continues to evolve, and we have to adapt as we look forward. Importantly, we are moving to a more standard operational approach that will allow us to live, work, and learn safely and effectively while the virus continues to circulate. Our community has continued to address each challenge, stay focused on our priorities, and contribute to our community of care, which is critical for supporting one another and our overall well-being. If you have questions, please use the following email addresses:
- Washington College of Law–firstname.lastname@example.org
- Housing and Residence Halls—email@example.com
- Student Technology Support—firstname.lastname@example.org
- Health and COVID-19 Testing—email@example.com
- Faculty/Staff HR Matters—firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for your ongoing support and dedication, and let’s make this a great semester!
Be safe and be well.