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BREAKING: AU plans to return to pre-pandemic housing and class operations for fall 2021

In email to early decision students, University announces next steps

Fall 2021 campus housing will return to pre-pandemic levels and classes will be held in person, American University administrators wrote in an email Monday to students accepted to AU through the early decision process.

Acting Provost Peter Starr and Vice President of Campus Life and Inclusive Excellence Fanta Aw wrote that the University will make some exceptions in “select circumstances” and for health and safety requirements. AU will also restore student activities, athletics and similar programs with “potential limitations” due to health guidelines. 

"This is not an announcement of a fall plan and is consistent with our ramp up of activity throughout 2021," AU spokesperson Stacie Burgess wrote in an email to The Eagle. "AU intends to operate at full capacity in the fall but as always, all decisions will be made consistent with health and safety guidance."

The news, not yet announced to the student body as a whole, follows the release of the first wave of coronavirus vaccines across the U.S. and President Sylvia Burwell’s Dec. 16 email confirming the University’s intention to allow a limited number of students back to campus for the latter half of the spring 2021 semester.

“Over the course of 2021, American University will increase in-person activity as we plan to safely return to standard on-campus operating levels by the fall semester,” Starr and Aw wrote. “Our priorities remain the same as throughout the pandemic – protecting the health and safety of our community, advancing our education and research mission, and supporting the broader COVID-19 response in the Washington, DC, region.”

Meanwhile, other D.C. universities, including George Washington University, have yet to announce their fall 2021 plans. The Hatchet, GW’s student newspaper, reported on Dec. 14 that GW President Thomas LeBlanc said a return to campus for fall 2021 seemed “unlikely,” although The Hatchet reported Monday that LeBlanc is now hopeful about an in-person fall semester. 

In an email sent earlier on Monday, Burwell announced that AU planned to halt all University-wide furloughs, “barring any unforeseen circumstances.” Other cuts, including the University’s retirement matching contributions program and annual merit increases for faculty and staff, will be rolled back in fiscal year 2022, beginning July 2021, if AU manages to maintain enrollment and expense savings. 

Burwell did not mention fall 2021 plans in Monday's email. 

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

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