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FAQ - Health & Safety

Health & Safety

COVID-19 Testing and Contact Tracing



Health & Safety

Where can I get more information on COVID-19?

For up-to-date information, please check the following websites:

Will everyone be required to wear a face covering while on campus?

In accordance with the university’s Health and Safety Directive on Face Coverings, all individuals will be required to wear face coverings over their mouths and noses at all times while indoors except when alone inside private offices, in their own residence hall rooms or apartments, when eating or drinking, while giving a public speech, and in other limited circumstances as outlined in the directive. Face shields do not fulfill the face covering requirement. Individuals are not required to wear masks while outdoors on the university premises unless they are in a group of 25 or more. Individuals who prefer to wear face coverings outside of these requirements are encouraged to do so.

Given the vaccine requirements, faculty, staff, and students can meet in offices if mask mandates are followed. Exempted unvaccinated staff or faculty sharing workspaces may work with the Office of Human Resources and their managers on alternate office space arrangements (including staggered work arrangements, installment of plexiglass, or relocation of space). With the exception of reception desks, partitions will not be provided for meetings in individual offices. Individuals meeting with others in their offices must abide by masking directives and should attempt to physically distance to the extent possible. Most offices allow for physical distancing during a meeting. If an office layout does not permit distancing, faculty or staff member should work with their units to arrange for use of larger, department-controlled spaces.

Will AU provide me with face coverings and other specialized PPE?

Faculty, staff, students and visitors are expected to bring their own face coverings with them to campus. Disposable face coverings will be provided in the instance that an individual forgets or loses their face covering.

Other PPE, such as N95 and KN95 masks, face shields, gloves, etc. are not generally provided by the university, however they may be needed in certain settings where work practices require a greater level of protection, such as in clinical and patient care settings. Exception requests can be made to the Environmental Health and Safety office.

What is the policy on physical distancing while on campus?

Members of the AU community should maintain physical distance where feasible, but the university will not institute a threshold for distancing as locations return to full occupancy. These guidelines are subject to change based on evolving national and local guidelines.

Are there self-screening and self-reporting requirements?

If you are not vaccinated/have a vaccine exemption, the daily self-screening form must be completed on any day you come to campus. For community members who are vaccinated, you no longer need to fill out the form.

If you are experiencing any COVID-19 related symptoms, you are in quarantine, or you tested positive for COVID-19, you will submit a Self-Report to confidentially notify the university. There is no need to submit a Self-Report if you are healthy.

Will students be required to quarantine in Washington, D.C.?

All unvaccinated or partially vaccinated students arriving from outside DC/MD/VA must comply with Washington, DC Department of Health guidance for travelers. Students in this category must:

  • Self-Quarantine for seven days
    • Residential / university housing students must self-quarantine in their residence hall rooms. This means remaining in your room for seven days, except for clear necessities such as picking up food and COVID testing. Students in quarantine may participate virtually in convocation and Sophomore welcome through live stream and participate in virtual activities during All-American Welcome.
    • Off-campus students must self-quarantine at their residence. Remain in your home or apartment except for essential trips, such as COVID testing. You may not come to campus during this period, except for a COVID test.
  • Test for COVID-19 3-5 days into your self-quarantine period. Testing is available on campus, and you may come to campus for this purpose only. If you do not test 3-5 days after arrival, quarantine is extended to 10 days per DC Dept of Health regulations.
  • If the test is negative, you may leave self-quarantine after completing the 7-day quarantine and be present on campus, following protocols for unvaccinated students (such as twice-a-week testing and masking) until fully vaccinated.

Are there any travel advisories or quarantine requirements in D.C.? What is the policy on notifying the university of personal travel?

An interim travel approval process has been implemented for university authorized, sponsored, or funded travel including study abroad programs, timely or critically needed faculty and graduate level research and grant-related travel, participation in dual degree programs, travel for NCAA sanctioned athletic competitions, admissions and recruitment activities, and individual staff travel required to carry out critical functions related to the AU mission. The university will review travel requests and make informed decisions regarding the risks posed by travel, particularly to destinations which may not be safe due to local COVID-19 conditions. AU authorized or sponsored travel within the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia (DMV) region will not be applicable to the travel approval process. Additionally, personal travel plans not related to or sponsored by AU will also be excluded from this process.

Can off-campus students quarantine on campus?

If students living off-campus are quarantining for any reason (for instance, because they are coming from a designated high-risk area or have been in contact with a COVID carrier), they must quarantine in their off-campus living spaces. During this time, they may have access to services from the Student Health Center (virtually or in-person, depending on the issue), Counseling Center (virtually), and other support services. Non-urgent medical care is not recommended during the quarantine period.

Will hand sanitizing stations be placed throughout campus?

Yes, hand sanitizing stations will be placed at all building entrances and elevator lobbies.

Do campus facilities have updated air quality systems?

Yes, all university buildings, including the Child Development Center, the WCL Tenley campus, 3200 Wisconsin Avenue, 4401 Connecticut Avenue (WAMU), and the Spring Valley Building have updated airflow systems that meet all CDC requirements.

Will there be specialized or enhanced cleaning of offices and campus buildings?

The university will follow DC Health guidance on cleaning and disinfecting when applicable. Because the risk of COVID-19 surface transmission is considered minimal, cleaning will generally return to normal levels and frequency. Staff and faculty are responsible for cleaning their desks. Units with refrigerators and other kitchen appliances are responsible for the upkeep and cleaning of this equipment. Units are responsible for acquiring and maintaining adequate levels of cleaning supplies for desks, private kitchens, etc.

What precautions will be taken in classrooms?

In-person instruction will be capped at 50 persons per class. Individuals attending university classes must wear face coverings in accordance with the Health and Safety Directive on Face Coverings. Class participants may occasionally drink in class as needed for general health and hydration. No eating will be permitted in classrooms during designated class periods.

What health and safety precautions will be taken in offices spaces?

Given the vaccine requirements, faculty, staff, and students can meet in offices if mask mandates are followed. Exempted unvaccinated staff or faculty sharing workspaces may work with the Office of Human Resources and their managers on alternate office space arrangements (including staggered work arrangements, installment of plexiglass, or relocation of space).

With the exceptions of reception desks, partitions will not be provided for meetings in individual offices. Individuals meeting with others in their office must abide by masking directives and should attempt to physically distance to the extent possible. Most offices allow for physical distancing during a meeting. If an office layout does not permit distancing, the faculty or staff member should work with their unit to arrange for use of larger, department-controlled spaces.

In the event of the spread of a vaccine-resistant variant, what procedures will be put in place to support the health and safety of the AU community?

American University can enact procedures to quickly adjust operations should there be a resurgence of COVID-19 that compels the DC government to return to Phase One of the city’s reopening plan. Any changes to operations or health and safety protocols will be immediately communicated to the AU community.

Will visitors to campus be required to provide documentation of a COVID-19 vaccination?

No. The COVID-19 vaccination requirement only applies to students, faculty, staff, and certain contract workers with a campus presence. Visitors are required to follow AU's health and safety protocols, including mask wearing for unvaccinated individuals.

Are the fitness centers open for use?

RecFit is excited to welcome students, faculty and staff back to the Cassell Fitness Center by appointment only. Walk-ups are not allowed. Please visit the facilities page to reserve a workout and the RecFit website to download the reservation mobile app, and learn more about summer in-person and virtual programming. The Outdoor Track and Outdoor courts are open for AU student use only and we expect to reopen Jacobs Fitness Center for Summer Session 2 on June 28.

You must reactivate your membership virtually before reserving a workout time. To start the process, please contact Akeem Pridgen at

As we reopen, the health & safety of everyone remains our top priority. To help ensure a safe return to fitness and before your first visit, please take a moment to read and understand the updated Policies & Procedures on the RecFit website.

My professor is teaching unmasked; what should I do if I am uncomfortable with that?

If you are uncomfortable about your faculty member teaching without a mask, you are encouraged to speak with them directly. If you do not wish to approach your professor, you may consult with the appropriate department chair or program director to maintain anonymity. Faculty members are generally allowed to teach without masks if they are vaccinated and a suitable distance (normally six feet) can be maintained, but they will want to be made aware of student concerns. Please note that, if students are masked and vaccinated, the risk of transmission remains low.

My roommate was exposed, do I have to have class on zoom now?

If you have been contacted by AU’s contact tracing team, you will be given instructions on specific next steps. If you have not been contacted, you should continue your daily activities and monitor your health. If you develop symptoms associated with COVID-19 at any time, please get a COVID-19 test and self-isolate right away.  Classes may be moved online for a short period (e.g., one week) if it is deemed necessary. However, most proximity notifications for the existence of a confirmed case in a class do not require any changes to class modality.

I was at a party where people didn’t wear masks. Should I come to class?

If you are vaccinated and have no symptoms, you may continue your activities including attending class, while monitoring your health. If you believe you have been exposed, you should get tested.

COVID-19 Testing and Contact Tracing

Where can I find information on testing and contact tracing?

For questions related to testing and contact tracing, please review the extensive COVID Testing and Contact Tracing FAQs.


Will AU require that students be vaccinated this fall?

Yes. All students who come to campus for any reason in Fall 2021 must be vaccinated against COVID-19. This includes full-time and part-time students, undergraduates and graduate students, and residential and non-residential students. Please see the Student Health Center vaccine FAQs for more information.

Will AU require that faculty and staff be vaccinated this fall?

Yes, American University requires COVID-19 vaccinations for faculty and staff­. This includes adjunct faculty members, part-time employees, visiting scholars/researchers, affiliates/volunteers, and full-time contract workers.

How will American University manage vaccine booster shots?

On September 22, the FDA announced emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine to allow for use of a single booster dose, to be administered at least six months after completion of the first and second doses. At this time, the Pfizer 3rd dose will be available only to individuals 65 years of age and older; individuals 18 through 64 years of age who are immunocompromised; and individuals 18 through 64 years of age whose frequent institutional or occupational exposure COVID-19 puts them at high risk of serious complications of COVID-19, including health care workers, teachers, and other workers at risk.

The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are moving ahead with their plans for booster shots. Once final approval and guidance regrading boosters are issued, the university will implement the appropriate protocols to support our community. This may include providing opportunities for AU community members to obtain a booster shot on campus or at nearby health care providers or pharmacies. We will provide updates as additional information becomes available. The COVID-19 vaccines continue to be remarkably effective, and the booster shots are designed to augment and prolong the immunity provided by the vaccines. 

If I have additional questions, who can I talk to?

For other questions, including questions relevant to faculty and staff (such as the attestation process and exemption request process for faculty and staff), as well as general questions on vaccine-related university policy and more, please review the extensive Vaccination FAQs on the Coronavirus Community Resource page.

For students, FAQs on the Student Health Center page address concerns relevant to students, along with services for the whole community, such as COVID-19 testing.

If you do not find your questions answered on these pages, questions may be sent to