You are here: American University Student Affairs COVID-19 Community Update

Office of Campus Life, American University

Dear AU Community,

As the COVID-19 (coronavirus) situation continues to evolve, we know there are many questions. American University is taking all necessary steps to protect the health and well-being of our students, faculty, and staff. As part of supporting our community, we wanted to provide the latest information.

The university has a comprehensive approach focused on supporting our study abroad students in affected countries and preparing our campus and community as the COVID-19 (coronavirus) situation develops in the United States. We have a cross-functional emergency response team that has been and continues to conduct thorough planning for all contingencies and respond to new developments.

At this time, university operations continue as normal and students are strongly encouraged to maintain their academic activity and routines. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and DC Department of Health have not recommended canceling any classes or events. We do anticipate cases will be confirmed in the DC region at some point and are planning accordingly. In that scenario, we will follow updated guidance from CDC and the DC Department of Health and provide immediate updates regarding university operations based on new information from the health authorities.

The most effective steps you can take right now are to practice good hygiene such as regular and thorough hand washing and covering your mouth with your elbow when you cough or sneeze. Anyone exhibiting symptoms of respiratory illness (e.g., cough, fever, shortness of breath) should stay home from class and/or work, avoid others for the duration of the symptoms, and contact your health provider for guidance. Members of the AU community can contact the Student Health Center at 202-885-3380 or Faculty and staff should contact their primary care physician.

With spring break coming soon and members of our community planning travel for leisure, family reasons, business, or as part of the Alternative Break program, we encourage you to watch CDC and local health guidance for areas you may visit. At this time, the Alternative Break programs will proceed and the university will continue to closely monitor conditions related to those locations using the same standards as for AU Abroad programs. We do understand that students, faculty, and staff may have concerns about traveling. If you have questions about Alternate Break and possible accommodations, please contact 202-885-7378 or

Outside of the U.S., the CDC and the U.S. Department of State have raised their alerts for Italy to Level 3: Avoid Nonessential Travel. As we have for other countries that have reached this level, AU suspended programs in Italy and is assisting students studying abroad in that country return to the United States. All university-sponsored travel to Italy is suspended, following our same approach for China and South Korea. Any member of the community with personal travel plans to South Korea and Italy must report that information to the Office of Risk Management at

The vast majority of the students in Italy will be able to continue their studies remotely because our partner institutions have been able to move their programs online. These students are being encouraged to return to their home states or countries and our team is working with them to facilitate their travel. Those who may be unable to return to their homes will be provided on-campus housing. We are working with our partner institutions and the remaining small number of students whose educational programs are not online to provide alternative arrangements so their studies can proceed.

We know this is a disruptive and upsetting time for these students, and we are ensuring they have the academic, health, and financial aid support and information to navigate this challenging situation. Travelers from Italy returning to the United States will be screened before departure and upon arrival at a domestic airport. The CDC recommends that people who have spent time in Italy in the last 14 days and exhibit symptoms such as fever, cough, or difficulty breathing monitor their health, practice good health hygiene, and contact their medical provider. There is no self-quarantine guidance for travelers returning from Italy at this time.

It is possible that CDC and the State Department will classify additional countries as Level 3 in the coming days. We are already working on plans for students studying in those countries and providing updates to them and their families.

While this time of active preparation continues, we know this situation can increase stress and concerns. Many members of our community have friends and family in all the countries experiencing outbreaks of COVID-19 (coronavirus). Now is the time for us to support one another in a variety of ways. Encourage anyone having a difficult time with this situation to use resources available on campus, including the AU Counseling Center, Kay Spiritual Center, and the Faculty & Staff Assistance Program. The International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) continues to support students from all the affected countries.

We encourage you to read our Coronavirus FAQ and check the CDC and DC Health websites for the latest information. This situation will continue to evolve quickly and the university will take all appropriate actions to support and protect our community.


Dan Myers

Fanta Aw
Vice President of Student Affairs & Inclusive Excellence