April 11, 2022
Dear AU Community,
It is an important and exciting time of the year as we approach the conclusion of classes, the exam period, and our commencement celebrations. To support our community of care and help students, faculty, and staff successfully and safely complete this critical stretch, we are reinstating the indoor mask requirement effective Tuesday, April 12. Masks will be required in all campus buildings except when individuals are alone in private offices, inside residence hall rooms with only roommates, or when actively eating or drinking. We are focused on helping the AU community stay healthy, limit isolation, and maintain their academic and professional pursuits.
The BA.2 variant now the dominant strain of COVID-19, with the entire DC region experiencing case growth, including at universities and other institutions. We believe increased levels of transmission in the region will continue in the coming weeks. It is also likely that there are additional underreported cases from more at-home testing. Cases in the AU community similarly rose over the last several weeks, with our positivity rate also steadily increasing. However, we are not seeing severe cases in the AU community due to our extremely high levels of vaccination and boosters.
Community members must wear well-fitting, high-quality masks such as N95s or KN95s while in all campus buildings. Our distribution sites will continue to provide free KN95 masks. Faculty can choose whether to wear a mask while teaching if there is at least three feet of distance from others in the class, and faculty and students can briefly remove masks to drink during class. We also strongly recommend wearing masks when in large public groups or social gatherings off campus.
Importantly, the best protection is to get your COVID vaccination and booster. We are continuing our current COVID testing protocol, with ongoing surveillance testing for students, and faculty and staff encouraged to test at home or on campus twice per month. The campus testing facilities remain operational (check the testing schedule for the current hours) and any community member can get tested.
As we look to the conclusion of the semester, we are planning our May commencement celebrations and the events will likely require masks for all attendees. Further details will be shared in advance of the ceremonies.
We will revisit the mask protocol by May 9 and provide further updates as needed based on any additional changes to public health conditions or our protocols. While reinstating the indoor mask requirement is another adjustment in the ongoing COVID environment, we have navigated these challenges with care and support for one another. Thank you for your ongoing commitment to our community of care.
Peter Starr, Provost and Chief Academic Officer
Fanta Aw, Vice President for Undergraduate Enrollment, Campus Life, and Inclusive Excellence
Seth Grossman, Vice President for People and External Affairs and Counselor to the President