BREAKING: University announces plans for in-person spring semester

Mask requirement remains indoors and information regarding guest policy to come later this week

BREAKING: University announces plans for in-person spring semester

President Sylvia Burwell announced plans for an in-person spring 2022 semester in an email to the American University community Wednesday.

The University is monitoring the Omicron variant of the coronavirus but said their current health and safety guidelines will keep the current in-person operations.

“Should any further safety measures be necessary, we will provide updates to the community,” Burwell wrote in her email.

Classes will continue to be conducted in-person, while some sections with more than 50 students will be offered online.

Additionally, the current hybrid work environment used in fall 2021 will continue. 

Masks will continue to be required inside all campus buildings. This decision follows the University’s announcement to keep masking protocols in place after Mayor Muriel Bowser lifted the district’s mask mandate. Bowser then issued a “mask advisory” two weeks later.

“This safety measure not only supports our COVID-19 mitigation efforts but also helps reduce the spread of flu and other respiratory ailments,” Burwell said. 

COVID-19 testing will continue at the current locations. In her email, Burwell recommended testing before leaving for break and upon returning to campus. On-campus activities will continue under the health and safety guidelines.

Information regarding updated guest and visitor policies will be released later this week. 

The email encouraged those in the community who are eligible to receive their COVID-19 booster dose. Burwell also reminded staff to complete their proof of vaccination process that was announced last week. 

All AU employees will need to submit proof of vaccination by Dec. 23, in compliance with new federal requirements. Previously, AU employees without approved exemptions were required to be vaccinated but not required to upload proof.

“While the pandemic endures, we must not only be vigilant in our health and safety protocols, but also continue moving forward with our mission, our daily lives, and our engagement with each other.” Burwell said. 

The administration is also considering mandating booster shots for the AU community for the spring, Vice President of Campus Life and Inclusive Excellence Fanta Aw told The Eagle. To make the decision, officials are considering data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, consultations with D.C. Department of Health and other resources.

“The CDC guidance states that if you’re 18 or older, you should take the booster shots,” Aw said. “The other thing also is that there is more and more research that indicates that the booster shots really do in many ways … increase the antibodies.”

The AU community should expect a decision from the administration on a booster shot mandate on or before Jan. 1. To give students and other community members enough time to receive a booster, Aw said that the potential policy would likely not go into effect until the beginning of February. Aw added that the administration would ensure the community has access to boosters if they are required.

This story has been updated with additional information from Fanta Aw.

aturner@theeagleonline.com and jschlanger@theeagleonline.com

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