University freezing student accounts for those without boosters as of Monday
Consequences for non-compliant faculty and staff remain unclear
American University began placing holds on the accounts of students without proof of a COVID-19 booster shot on Monday. Although the deadline to upload their booster shots to the health portal passed on Feb. 10, the University had yet to take action against non-compliant community members.
Faculty and staff without proof of booster shots will be contacted by human resources, University spokesperson Elizabeth Deal said in an email to The Eagle.
For students, an account hold will prevent them from registering for classes and getting transcripts and commencement tickets.
School of Communication professor Scott Talan received his booster shot in October but has not yet uploaded proof of this to the University portal in as an “experiment” on the system. Talan received an email reminder from the Office of Human Resources on Feb. 15 but said he believes there should have been more communication since.
“I would say that is a C grade,” Talan said in reference to the Feb. 15 email. “It's not personalized, either to me really as the receiver or from the sender, and that's two critical parts.”
The email, shared by Talan with The Eagle, did not include a new deadline to upload proof of a booster.
According to Deal, the University plans to personally follow up with non-compliant community members, and data on booster shots in the community will follow after these check-ins. Deal did not specify how human resources will enforce the booster requirement among faculty and staff.
Talan said although the University COVID-19 dashboard is helpful, it is missing vital information.
“They don't tell you how many people are part of the AU universe. What is the total population at AU? It's not on the dashboard … So the dashboard, however helpful, is incomplete,” he said. “And also it's too general, doesn't break down information into categories, i.e. student cases versus staff versus faculty. I think that's very valuable to know.”
The dashboard used to break data down into these categories, but this feature has been removed since the start of the 2021-2022 academic year.
“Our reporting of COVID-19 data has changed each semester as the situation continues to evolve based on latest/best information and trajectory of the pandemic and the interventions,” Deal wrote in response to this. Deal did not specify a reason for the change in data reporting.
Although the University has handled many pandemic protocols well, including the transitions to online classes and the booster requirement, communication and enforcement remain an issue, Talan said.
“I think most of the stuff is indeed a communications issue and a communications challenge,” Talan said. “Get a vaccination and a booster and wear masks and get tested, right? So how you then communicate these things becomes vitally important.”
Correction: A previous version of this story wrote that the COVID-19 dashboard included a specific breakdown until the start of the spring semester. The breakdown was removed from the dashboard at the start of the fall semester. The language surrounding the information Deal provided about a timeline for booster shot data has been clarified.