This story has been updated with a statement from Director of Public Affairs Stacie Burgess.
The University is extending the transition to online classes through the entire semester instead of returning to in-person instruction in April, President Sylvia Burwell announced in an email to the AU community on Thursday afternoon.
“There are almost constant developments, and we are making decisions based on the best available information,” Burwell said in the email. “I know you have received a great deal of information, and it is a time of uncertainty. It is easy to start feeling overwhelmed, but I hope that through continued communication, we can do our part to help reduce anxiety and provide support as we move forward.”
Students remaining on campus are asked to leave as soon as possible, and must vacate residence halls by March 23, Burwell wrote. All University-sponsored public events, as well as university-sponsored domestic travel for students and official business, were also suspended through May 5.
Burwell cited the World Health Organization’s declaration that the coronavirus has reached pandemic levels, the announcement that D.C. is now in a state of emergency, and the D.C. Department of Health’s recommendation against non-essential mass gatherings as some of the reasons behind the decision.
Professors were notified of this extension in an email from Provost Dan Meyers and Deputy Provost Mary Clark Thursday afternoon before Burwell’s campus-wide email.
“In light of the evolving situation with COVID-19, the World Health Organization’s recent declaration of a pandemic, and consultation with university and faculty leadership, we believe that our recent decision to transition to online instruction should remain in place for the remainder of the semester,” Meyers and Clark wrote.
The announcement comes less than a day after all study abroad programs were cancelled in the wake of President Trump’s decision to restrict travel between the U.S. and Europe in response to the coronavirus.
On Tuesday, administrators told the AU community that classes would be going online starting March 18, and normal classes would resume in person on April 3.
Stacie Burgess, the director of public affairs, told The Eagle that spring commencement will continue as scheduled. She also said that refunds to students that paid for on-campus housing and meal plans are prorating and that more information about these payments are forthcoming.
The University plans to offer training to professors to assist them with the transition to online classes, the email explained. More information and support would be provided going forward.
This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.