AU announces new details about campus return plan for fall 2021 semester

Information regarding in-person classes, campus housing shared at student media briefing

AU announces new details about campus return plan for fall 2021 semester

The Mary Graydon Center, pictured in 2016. 

In a student media briefing Thursday, American University administrators announced specific plans for the University’s return to on-campus operations for the fall 2021 semester. 

Fanta Aw, vice president of campus life and inclusive excellence, said that the majority of courses for the upcoming semester will be held in person. However, she said there will be an exception for classes with 50 or more students.

AU will also fully reopen on-campus housing for the fall semester, and returning students have already been invited to register for housing. Aw said that this process will begin for incoming freshmen and transfer students in late May. Dorms will once again be filled at double capacity, although students with accommodations will still have the opportunity to apply for single rooms. One residence hall will be reserved as a coronavirus isolation building, as has been the case for students who are on campus during the spring 2021 semester.

Aw said that the University will adhere to face-covering and social-distancing guidelines promoted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the coming months. 

Aw also acknowledged that some universities are beginning to announce mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for students who want to live and attend classes on campus. As of now, she said that AU’s official policy is simply to “strongly encourage” vaccination for eligible students. However, she confirmed that the University is in talks on whether to implement an immunization mandate. 

Aw said that the hesitation to require COVID-19 immunization for all in-person students stems from the University’s awareness that not everyone will have equitable access to vaccinations. Currently, the administration is exploring what options exist to provide all students with vaccination resources before making a decision. 

The University is also looking into how a COVID-19 vaccine mandate would impact international students, as some vaccinations offered in other countries have not yet been approved by the FDA.

In addition to new details regarding the University’s fall 2021 plan for in-person operations, the administration said that the University intends to expand mental health services for the upcoming semester. 

At the student media briefing, Aw said that the University plans to start the hiring process for three new Counseling Center staff members this semester, with diversity being a priority.

According to Aw, an overarching goal of expanding the University’s mental health staff is to offer additional service hours, giving students more opportunities to access support throughout the day. Much of these services will be offered in person, but the University is also looking to continue offering online options for students to take advantage of.

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