You are here: American University Coronavirus Community Resource FAQ - Health and Safety

FAQ - Health & Safety

Jump to section:

Health & Safety

COVID-19 Testing

How To Test

Receiving Results

If You Test Positive

If You Are Exposed

AU’s Shield T3 Testing and Partnership

Vaccinations

 


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 pridgen@american.edu.

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.

COVID-19 Testing

How To Test

How often should I test?

There are different categories, based on your level of presence on campus. Please see the details on our COVID-19 Testing Procedures page.

What type of test is AU providing?

It’s a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) saliva test, which tests for active infection. It tests for an active COVID-19 infection. It does not show if you have previously had COVID-19. Effective March 1, 2021, AU will utilize the University of Illinois Shield T3 testing system.

Is there a charge for this test?

No. For faculty and staff, testing will be considered compensated work time.

Where do I go to be tested?

Please refer to the Testing page for up-to-date information on testing locations and hours.

Can I make an appointment for a test?

Testing is made on a walk-in basis and not by appointment. Please refer to the Testing page for up-to-date information on testing locations and hours.

You may also be tested by your health provider or local urgent care. If you are in distress, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.

Faculty and staff cannot make appointments at the Student Health Center.

How should I prepare?

You cannot have anything to eat, drink, or chew for one hour prior to testing. This includes brushing your teeth, chewing gum, taking medications, smoking, or vaping. If you have a smartphone or tablet, please bring your device to your appointment so that you can register to receive your test results. If you do not have a mobile device, there will a device available onsite.

I’m a student and am concerned I may have symptoms of COVID-19. What do I do?

Any student who has possible symptoms of COVID-19 -- whether you are on-campus or off-campus, full-time or part-time – can make a telehealth appointment to be seen at the SHC (as long as they are living in DC). Make appointment with Student Health Center by calling 202-885-3380 or scheduling online (AU login required).   Students who have symptoms are required to obtain a COVID-19 test as soon as possible. 

I’m a staff or faculty member and am concerned I may have symptoms of COVID-19. What do I do?

If you are feeling unwell, you should not come to campus for work or classes. If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, you should get tested as soon as possible. You can get tested on campus, but please refrain from participating in other campus activities while experiencing symptoms.

Is time spent getting the COVID test considered hours worked?

Time spent getting tested at the AU testing site during work hours or adjacent to work hours is compensable.

Receiving Results

How do I get results?

Results will be in your Safer Community app. You will also receive an email when your results are ready.

When will I receive the results?

It will take around 24 hours, typically less.

If You Test Positive

I’m a faculty or staff member. What happens if I test positive for Covid-19?

If you tested through AU, you’ll get the notification on your Shield T-3 app as soon as the lab has the results. AU is automatically notified at the same time.

If you tested outside AU, use the Self-Report Form to report your results to AU.

Here’s what happens next:

  • You must self-isolate and not return to campus for a minimum of 10 days. (For more information on isolating, please see Health and Safety Directive: Requirements Following COVID-19 Exposure, Positive Test, or Suspected Infection.
  • AU will reach out to you with directions. Your COVID-19 Case Coordinator will also work with you to determine whether you had close contact with any campus community members. Any contacts will be notified with the date of potential exposure, but no identifying information about you will be disclosed.
  • Select information gathered by your COVID-19 Case Coordinator will be shared with the DC Department of Health to assist their contact tracing efforts. You should expect the DC Department of Health to contact you to identify additional contacts and to provide guidance on when you may end isolation.
  • Employee Relations will consult with faculty and staff regarding available leave; coordinate with your supervisor, Dean, or department chair; and facilitate your return to work.
  • AU community members who test positive for COVID-19 are expected to comply with the Affiliate Notification Program and cooperate with contact tracing efforts. Failure to do so may result in disciplinary action.

I’m a student. What happens if I test positive for Covid-19?

If you live in the residence halls, you will be moved to AU’s Isolation Housing for a minimum of 10 days. If you live off-campus, you must self-isolate and not return to campus during that time. Information on Isolation Housing, what happens if you’re a contact of someone else who tests positive, and other key details can be found on the page When a Student Tests Positive.

I’m a student in the Washington, DC region. What happens if I test positive, but not through AU-provided testing?

Self-report by using the Self Report Dashboard (AU login required) in the AU Forward portal.

Self-report if you have tested and are awaiting results; have tested positive; or are in quarantine due to known exposure. You may also self-report symptoms.

If you have a physical presence on campus and AU is aware that you have tested positive, you will be contacted by phone by an AU Covid Case Coordinator to help connect you with resources you may need and provide guidance as appropriate.

What is the difference between quarantine and isolation?

“Quarantine” refers to those who have been exposed and must stay home to avoid the possibility of infecting others. “Isolation” is used to refer to people infected with the virus. The CDC explains the terms. Please see Health and Safety Directive: Requirements Following COVID-19 Exposure, Positive Test, or Suspected Infection.

I’m a student not in the Washington, DC region. What happens if I test positive or am exposed? Do I need to report it? What supports are available?

Students, please connect with the Dean of Students office if you need assistance. They can help you notify faculty that are not able to participate in classes.

If You Are Exposed

If I’ve been exposed at AU, how will I find out?

If AU is aware that you have been exposed through our Affiliate Notification Program, you will be contacted by a COVID Case Coordinator who will provide you with guidance on limiting your daily activities, share applicable campus support resources, and answer any questions or concerns related to the exposure notification.

The date of contact will be shared, but no identifying information about the individual who tested positive will be disclosed.

Please see Health and Safety Directive: Requirements Following COVID-19 Exposure, Positive Test, or Suspected Infection. For details on contact tracing at AU, see this document on Affiliate Notification.

What if I’m exposed, but not notified through AU?

Members of the community may be exposed to the virus in ways that are not related to AU. If you find out that you have been exposed and are required to quarantine, self-report by using the Self Report Dashboard (AU login required) in the AU Forward portal.

Self-report if you have tested and are awaiting results; have tested positive; or are in quarantine due to known exposure. You may also self-report symptoms.

I live on campus. If I’m exposed, what happens next?

If you are vaccinated, you will not need to quarantine and will be instructed to get a test 3-5 after your exposure date but will not need to relocate. More information can be found on the page When a Student Tests Positive.

I’m an off-campus student, faculty or staff member. If I’m exposed, what happens next?

If AU is aware that you have been exposed, you will be contacted by a COVID Case Coordinator who will provide you with directions.

If you are fully vaccinated, you must self-monitor symptoms for 14 days and get a COVID-19 test if you develop symptoms. If you are not experiencing symptoms, you must get a test 3-5 following your exposure date.

If you are not fully vaccinated, you must quarantine immediately. Do not come to campus.

Please follow DC Health guidelines on quarantine and see Health and Safety Directive: Requirements Following COVID-19 Exposure, Positive Test, or Suspected Infection.

Can a student who has been exposed be tested on campus for active COVID infection?

Yes. Your Case Coordinator will share this information with you.

Can I attend in-person class if I am exposed?

If AU is aware that you have been exposed, you will be contacted by a COVID Case Coordinator who will provide you with directions, including testing 3-5 days following your exposure date.

If you are fully vaccinated and are not experiencing symptoms, you do not need to quarantine and can continue daily activities, including class. 

If you are not fully vaccinated, you must quarantine immediately. Do not come to class. Connect with the Dean of Students Office if you need help in ensuring that faculty are notified about your absence.

More information can be found on the page When a Student Tests Positive.

Can a faculty or staff member who has been exposed be tested on campus for active COVID infection?

Yes, faculty and staff members may test on campus, through your health provider or at off-campus sites in Washington, DC, Maryland, or Virginia.

If you test positive for COVID-19 at an off-campus testing location, please be sure to update the university of your health status via the Self report form.

AU’s Shield T3 Testing and Partnership

What is Shield T3 testing?

The University of Illinois Shield T3 testing system is an accurate, affordable, and convenient saliva-based PCR test that has been used more than 1.3 million times with the University of Illinois community. The technology is also being used by the University of Wisconsin, the University of Maine, Vanderbilt University, and Santa Clara University, among others.

Why is AU changing to Shield T3 testing?

American University is leading a partnership that will expand access to COVID-19 testing for our community and the DC region. We are working with the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area, Gallaudet University, Catholic University, Marymount University, and Baltimore City Schools. The Shield T3 test and mobile laboratory will also provide faster turn-around time for test results. This will support our in-person activities and the health and safety of our community.

Will there be changes to the testing process for AU community members?

Members of the AU community will continue to participate in COVID-19 testing in the same way as they do today, with the tests processed at the new mobile laboratory located at Gallaudet. This local approach will reduce the turn-around time for test results. The only difference for our students, faculty, and staff will be a new app (Safer Community) for receiving results information. Students will start with the new app on March 1, staff and faculty will begin using the new app during the week of March 8.

Will I need to download the new app to take part in testing?

Yes. The new app, Safer Community, will allow you to get the COVID-19 testing and receive test results in a rapid and easy manner. Please download the app prior to arrival at the testing site.

Does Shield T3 test for the variants of COVID-19?

Shield T3’s PCR test looks for three genes (N, S, and ORF1ab) present in the coronavirus, versus other tests which look for just one, earning it high specificity and very few false positives. It also helps with detection of some of the UK variant. 

At the end of December, research began showing that the S-Gene is “dropping out” from detection in some positive samples (for the UK variant). This three-gene test observes such S-gene dropout, allowing the test to identify individuals that likely have this mutation.

Why is AU funding the mobile laboratory for other universities?

Robust COVID-19 testing is essential to the health and safety of the American University community and the entire DC area. Bringing together universities, K-12 schools, and community organizations to provide the Shield T3 testing will increase knowledge about the virus, help prevent further community spread, and advance in-person activity. To support our community, we need access to fast and reliable testing, and this approach is cost-effective and efficient. It is also a powerful illustration of AU’s strategic commitment to working with Washington.

Will this change create a new cost for students, faculty, or staff when they get tested on campus?

No, there will be no new costs for community members for the Shield T3 testing. Asymptomatic testing remains free for AU community members.

Do I still have to do the daily health screening form if I am coming to campus?

If you are fully vaccinated, you do not have to fill out the daily self-screening form. If you have a vaccine exemption, you must complete the Daily Self-Screening Form prior to arrival on campus each day.

Vaccinations

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.

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 fallfeedback@american.edu

 

AU Forward: Health & Safety

  • Health Status Report: If you are experiencing any COVID-19 related symptoms, you are in quarantine, or you tested positive for COVID-19, submit a Self Report to confidentially notify the University.

  • Daily Self-Screening is required for any community member with a physical presence on campus who is not yet vaccinated. The screening will be completed via the AU Forward portal.