You are here: American University President Announcements March 10, 2020

AU Memo Letterhead

Dear AU Community,

I know right now is a time of great uncertainty and we are working daily to adjust to the changing context and information about COVID-19.  As we do, our focus is you – our students, faculty, and staff – and your health and safety.

I am sending this update as we make a major temporary change in how we deliver on a core part of our mission. Following spring break, American University will shift to online classes for three weeks. The university will remain open and we are ensuring support for students, faculty, and staff. Critical functions for teaching, research and other services will continue. This includes shifting some services online. We will also continue to monitor the situation and will provide ongoing guidance to faculty and staff to support their work and well-being. 

While the risk to our community remains low at this time, this could change quickly. Our precautionary actions will help limit potential exposure to COVID-19 and enhance our ability to manage and/or isolate any suspected or confirmed cases that may occur at the university. A three-week period of online classes will reduce the number of people living in close proximity on our campus, limit interactions, and hopefully see reductions in the overall spread of COVID-19 in the country and the DC region. The currently planned schedule also provides enough time in April to resume on-campus instruction, conduct finals, and complete the semester’s requirements if the conditions support that decision.  

We are taking the following actions to safeguard our community and continue our educational and research mission:

  • Spring break will be extended through Monday, March 16 and Tuesday, March 17, and classes are canceled for those two days. 
  • Effective Wednesday, March 18 all American University classes and instruction will move fully online. Classes will continue online through Friday, April 3. 
  • Washington College of Law (WCL) classes will begin online on Monday, March 23, following the college’s spring break next week, and continue through Friday, April 3.
  • All in-person classes are currently scheduled to resume on Monday, April 6. We will evaluate this timetable based on the evolving situation and provide updates as needed.
  • All students will receive instructions from their faculty regarding how their classes will operate prior to the resumption of classes on Wednesday, March 18. Please be sure to watch your AU email regularly during this period, as it will be the main source of information from your instructors and the university.
  • Our campus will remain open and operational during this time. Core functions and services for our students will be accessible remotely. The COVID-19 Resources page will continue to provide information.
  • Further information for faculty and staff will be forthcoming from the Human Resources team and department leadership. 
  • You can find additional information and answers to frequently asked questions on our COVID-19 Resources website, which will be updated regularly.

We strongly encourage students to return to their homes (or stay home if already there) for this period. Residence halls will remain open for students who cannot return home. Dining and other campus services will continue, though there may be modifications to schedules. Students can return to campus to pick up educational materials and personal belongings.

For our faculty and staff, offices are open and functioning. As part of supporting our teams, Human Resources will provide guidance to department leaders and managers for preparations and flexibility, including the possibility of expanded telework depending on how the COVID-19 situation evolves. All units will plan for continuity of operations, including identifying essential services and backup plans. We will continue to work with individual team members on appropriate arrangements for those who may have health concerns, need to support family who are sick, or may experience interruptions in child or family care.

We should all continue good health hygiene practices and follow guidance from health authorities that previous notes and our FAQ have outlined.  Working on Ebola and Zika when I was Secretary of Health and Human Services, I know the importance of the team on the ground – from public health officials to universities and local communities – coming together to help.  The collaboration is key to getting through this uncertain time with the least possible harm to our health and daily lives.

I want to thank our faculty and staff as they work hard to implement these initiatives; they are dedicated to the best interests and success of our students and the AU family.  I also want to thank our students for taking the COVID-19 situation seriously, following guidance, and remaining committed to their academic pursuits. We will continue to provide updates and you can check the COVID-19 Resources page for information and details.

Our AU community is at its best when we are working together to take on challenges. While these times are difficult, I know your dedication and commitment to each other will help us all see this through. Be safe, be well, and I look forward to seeing you all soon.