March 5, 2020
Dear AU Community,
Over the past few weeks, the COVID-19 situation has been rapidly evolving around the world. American University has been closely monitoring the situation in individual countries in order to best support our community, including students who are studying abroad, and make decisions about university programs. After careful consideration and deliberation on recent developments, AU has made the decision, effective immediately, to suspend all university-sponsored international travel until further notice. This includes Alternative Break trips and individual and group travel outside the United States. AU students who are currently abroad on academic year or semester-long programs in countries that have Level 2 or below travel advisories from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) remain in place at this time.
We know this is both an inconvenience and a disappointment to many who had upcoming international travel plans, but the ongoing uncertainty of the COVID-19 situation in many parts of the world requires us to take the appropriate steps to safeguard our students, faculty, and staff. Refunds will be arranged for anyone who has already made reservations for university-sponsored international travel.
The university continuously monitors the latest information from the Department of State, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and other organizations working on COVID-19. These inputs are used as part of an extensive assessment of the risks involved with international travel. Today, there are many uncertainties regarding possible flight cancelations and changes to airline operations, international border closures, and restrictions/quarantines related to COVID-19 in other countries. We must also consider our ability to support large numbers of students, faculty, and staff who may travel overseas and these conditions could create a challenge to do so. The decision was reached after a thorough review of the conditions and to help members of our community avoid potentially unsafe conditions.
If you are planning personal travel outside the U.S. for spring break or other reasons, it is recommended that you reconsider those plans, as further developments and guidance from U.S. health authorities could affect your ability to return. Depending on your international destination and potential future updates to CDC guidance, there may be a self-isolation requirement for 14 days upon your return. If you are traveling to South Korea or Italy for personal reasons, you must inform the Office of Risk Management at firstname.lastname@example.org. Students who live on campus and choose to cancel personal international travel plans can of course remain in their housing during spring break.
The students in the ongoing study abroad programs are already in their place of study and there are no concerns about their travel into those countries. Working with our educational partners in these countries, we have strong support systems in place and can monitor the location and status of our students. The university has already suspended study abroad programs in countries with Level 3 alerts (China, South Korea, Italy) and will continue to do so if additional countries are raised to Level 3.
We understand the challenges and uncertainties that the COVID-19 situations have created and are supporting members of our community as we navigate these developments together. The Alternative Break Program and individual schools and colleges are working with the students, faculty, and staff whose trips are affected by this decision. AU Abroad continues to support our students studying in other countries and those that have returned. For our on-campus community, we encourage you to reach out to the many resources that are available to support you during this time. You can find information about these on our updated COVID-19 resources page.
Vice President of Campus Life & Inclusive Excellence
Daniel J. Myers
Provost and Chief Academic Officer