You are here: American University Campus Life Fall 2022 COVID Health & Safety Update

American University

August 11, 2022

Dear AU Community,

We are preparing for an exciting fall semester and look forward to seeing you soon. While COVID-19 continues to circulate, this is a different stage of the pandemic. We are updating our approach in light of evolving guidance, the ongoing public health challenge, and the increased importance of individual responsibilities. Our revised fall health and safety protocols adjust a number of previous procedures and requirements, support our community, advance the full array of activities on campus, and help to ensure that our operations can continue in all areas. Please review the following protocols for testing, vaccination, masking, and isolation before the semester begins.

Testing, Self-Reporting, and Contact Tracing
We will continue to provide free COVID-19 testing for all AU community members but will no longer conduct surveillance testing or require weekly testing for individuals with medical or religious exemptions to the university’s vaccine requirement. You are expected to test if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or if you have been exposed to someone who has tested positive.

Getting a COVID-19 test on campus is now more convenient. Beginning on August 15, the Shield T3 PCR test (the same type as we provided last year) will be available at no cost via vending machines in the following locations:

  • Mary Graydon Center─East entrance by the doors from the walkway between MGC and Battelle, behind the information desk
  • Washington College of Law─Warren Building, near the student lounge outside the Pence Law Library 
  • 4401 Connecticut Avenue─P1 Level

Full details for how to use the vending machines and the PCR tests are available in the COVID Guide and in this instructional video. You must have a smart phone to obtain a test kit from a vending machine. Once you complete the test, follow the instructions for registering the test on your phone and returning it in the drop box near the vending machines. Tests will be picked up from the drop boxes between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Most test results will be provided via email and/or text within 24 hours.

If you test positive via any method (on-campus PCR, at home rapid test, etc.), you must report the results and close contacts via the online Self-Report form. Our contact tracing team will follow up on all self-reported positive tests and the identified close contacts and provide further information.

Proof of Vaccination
Students, faculty, and staff are required to have their first and second doses and first booster of an approved COVID-19 vaccine. Proof of vaccination for staff and faculty must be uploaded to the AU portal. For students, proof should be uploaded to the Student Health Portal. For information about medical or religious exemptions to the vaccine requirement, please review the online COVID guide.

Masks
Given our continued high vaccination rates, masks will be optional in most campus locations, including offices, libraries, athletic events, and public spaces. Individuals may choose to mask in these areas to enhance their sense of personal safety. If a community member asks you to wear a mask when you are in close contact with one another, please treat such requests with respect and give them full consideration.

As most AU classes are small and feature a great deal of interactive learning, masks will be required in the classroom to support the continuity of the learning experience. Faculty can remove masks while lecturing if there is sufficient distance (generally six feet) between them and their students. Eating in the classroom remains prohibited, but faculty and students may briefly raise their masks to drink. In performing arts and language classes, there may be instances where masks are removed to meet specific instructional needs. We will continue to evaluate the classroom masking protocol periodically based on public health conditions including case counts and hospitalizations. Our hope is to ultimately reach a point where masks can be optional in the classroom.

Masks are also required in the Center for Well-Being Programs and Psychological Services (formerly the Counseling Center), the Academic Support and Access Center (ASAC), and the Student Health Center. Community members can continue to pick up masks at six distribution sites on main campus, WCL, the Spring Valley Building, and 4401 Connecticut Avenue. When wearing a mask in any setting, community members are encouraged to use a high quality (KN95 or N95) mask for enhanced protection.

Student Class Absences and Notifying Faculty
Students are responsible for notifying their individual faculty members of class absences related to COVID-19. Once students submit a positive test result with the Self-Report form, they will receive a letter from the Office of the Dean of Students via email that can be used to notify faculty members of their absence. Faculty should work with students to provide class materials during COVID-19 absences. 

Isolation
As previously communicated, students living on campus who test positive for COVID-19 will isolate in place in their residence hall rooms. Community members living off campus will isolate in their personal residences.  

Additional information is available in our COVID Guide and the Communicable Disease policies and directives. Questions can be sent to covidhealth@american.edu. We appreciate your continued support of our community of care, and we hope you have a successful, enjoyable, and healthy semester.

Sincerely,

Peter Starr
Provost and Chief Academic Officer

Fanta Aw
Vice President for Undergraduate Enrollment, Campus Life, and Inclusive Excellence

Seth Grossman
Vice President, People and External Affairs and Counselor to the President