Dear AU Community,
While I appreciate that I have written you already about commencement, I wanted to continue with our now regular Monday communication to share information and stay connected. I wanted to provide several updates, but also highlight some of the inspiring stories of our Eagle changemakers:
- Our public health students are continuing their important work to support public health organizations like the DC Department of Health.
- Junior Ryann Ashley helped to build an app that connects people to more than 300 different COVID-19 resources, including financial assistance and employment programs.
- School of Communication interim dean Laura DeNardis and Washington College of Law (WCL) professor and faculty director of the Tech, Law & Security Program Jennifer Daskal explored the cybersecurity lessons of COVID-19.
- The dedicated WAMU team continues to bring the latest news on COVID-19 to the DC region with a live news blog with DCist and a special episode of the What’s With Washington podcast that explored the challenge of COVID-19 testing.
- Mark Bucher, SPA/BA ’90, is using his Northwest DC restaurant, Medium Rare, to ensure quarantined local seniors are well-fed.
- Laura Yochelson, CAS/BS '12, CAS/MS '19, published helpful insights for students transitioning to living and studying at home during COVID-19.
As part of our ongoing response to COVID-19 and to safeguard the well-being of our community, we will continue our expanded telework arrangements through Friday, April 24, consistent with directives from local governments, including the stay-at-home orders issued today by the District, Maryland, and Virginia. We will be reaching out to those employees whose presence is required on-campus fully or part of the time to provide them necessary information. We know these limitations create additional challenges in our lives, and we are working with team members who may not be able to telework to find other duties and ways for them to contribute.
Even though it has been a major adjustment for many of us, our telework transition has gone well overall as we do our part to limit the spread of the virus. HR will be providing additional guidance about the extension, including the process of redeploying team members whose work may not be conducive to telework after April 6.
We are working on fiscal decisions for the future of the university that will best serve our whole community. As part of this effort, the university will be temporarily limiting new hires for staff positions to those that are critical to AU operations or the continued health of the university. To be clear, this is not a hiring freeze. All new staff hires will require the approval of the appropriate cabinet member during this period. Additional guidance will be shared with the HR representatives, and the Office of the Provost will be providing guidance on faculty hiring.
The constant pressures and changes due to COVID-19 are creating new forms of stress and mental health challenges for our community as we cope in different ways with this unprecedented time. We are here to help, and I want to make sure everyone knows about the resources we have that can support our students, faculty, and staff. The AU Counseling Center is available online for our students through the Virtual Counseling Center and the 24-hour ProtoCall crisis line can be reached at 202-885-7979. The Counseling Center team has also collected helpful resources for everyone coping with these times. Faculty and staff can contact the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FSAP) at firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional information and resources are available on the COVID-19 webpage. Though we may not be together in person, we are here for one another.
It has been a little more than two months since the first message about COVID-19 (it was just coronavirus then) was sent to our community. The pace of change has been rapid. I am grateful for everything that you’ve done to support our community, and I am hopeful for our future because of the dedication and creativity we’ve seen in so many places at AU. Our Eagle family is truly resilient. We approach this challenge with the same passion and purpose that is the hallmark of our community, and I am proud to stand with each and every one of you.
Be well and be safe.