You are here: American University Student Affairs Novel Coronavirus Update

Student Health Center Offices of Campus Life

January 28, 2020

Dear AU Community,

With ongoing global developments related to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, we want to update you on the university’s activity to protect the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff. Our teams have been monitoring the situation closely, both in China and in the United States.

Last night, the U.S. State Department raised the Travel Advisory for China to Level 3 and recommended that U.S. citizens reconsider travel to China. Concurrently, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) raised its Warning Level for China to Level 3 and recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to China.

In response to these warnings, the university has notified AU students studying abroad in China that they must return to the United States as soon as possible. The Division of Student Affairs and AU Abroad have been working with the students to support their return and make academic arrangements for the remainder of the semester. Additionally, all university sponsored travel to China has been suspended.

The university has taken these actions based on our evaluation of the new information from the Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. State Department, in addition to our ongoing commitment to the safety and well-being of our students.

While it is important to take appropriate precautions, it is also important to understand the current situation:

  • As of tonight, there are no confirmed cases in the Washington, DC region. Travelers from China and affected areas are being screened at airports.
  • The 2019 Novel Coronavirus has an incubation period (time between exposure and developing symptoms) of 2-14 days. Therefore, students and staff who have traveled from affected areas more than two weeks ago and have not exhibited symptoms are unlikely to have been affected. 
  • The CDC does not recommend any form of quarantine for individuals who may have been exposed to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus. 

To minimize the potential spread of all respiratory viruses, we recommend that members of the community continue to follow good health and hygiene practices. These practices include washing hands or disinfecting hands with liquid hand sanitizer, covering coughs and sneezes into one’s elbow, and minimizing the sharing food, cups or utensils. Students, staff and faculty who are ill - no matter the cause - are encouraged to stay home and to communicate by email to relevant parties (professors, supervisor, etc.) to let them know they are sick.   

More information about the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, health guidance, and answers to frequently asked questions can be found on the Student Health website. News and information regarding this virus is rapidly evolving. AU community members with further questions are encouraged to visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

We will continue to closely monitor the situation and provide additional updates to the community as needed.


David Reitman, MD
Medical Director,
Student Health Center
American University

Dan Nichols,
Assistant Vice President,
Risk, Safety & Transportation Programs
American University