University updates COVID-19 policies for summer 2022

Changes include a mask-optional policy on campus and an update to testing format

 University updates COVID-19 policies for summer 2022
American University's testing clinic is housed in Constitution Hall.

In an email to the American University community on May 11, University officials announced multiple changes to on-campus COVID-19 testing, mask protocols and University travel. 

Masks will become optional in most campus spaces beginning May 23. Masks will still be required in campus medical facilities and on any vehicle used for AU transportation, including the shuttle. They will also be required for the remaining commencement ceremonies on May 21 and 22. 

The email was sent out by Provost Peter Starr, Vice President of Campus Life Fanta Aw and Vice President Seth Grossman. In the email, they did not provide reasoning for the onslaught of changes.

“With the transition to summer activities on campus, including a significant lower number of residents on-campus, we are updating our health and safety protocols,” said Elizabeth Deal, Assistant Vice President for Community and Internal Communication, in an email to The Eagle.

These changes also include a change in University-provided tests from PCR to rapid antigen, which began on May 16. The antigen tests are for take-home use only, and no testing will take place at the site. Tests are available on the first floor of Beeghly Hall from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. An AU ID is required to obtain a test.

“Faculty and staff, as well as students enrolled in on-campus/in-person summer courses, must continue to self-report positive test results from both on-campus and off-campus testing,” the email said. Test results can be self-reported at AU’s website for all test results.

On-campus isolation housing will be provided throughout the summer for on-campus residential students who test positive. Additionally, faculty and staff will no longer need University pre-approval for domestic travel. University approval is still required for international travel.

Currently, the PCR test result data displayed on AU’s COVID-19 dashboard is accurate and up to date as of the week of May 9. After that week, the University will stop reporting data for the summer, Deal said.

“As we did last year, the dashboard will go on hiatus this summer. The data on the dashboard is accurate as the transition to antigen tests began this week and will continue throughout the summer,” Deal said. 

There was also a small error under “Weekly Percentage of Positive Tests” during the reporting period that ended May 17. Initially, it read that there were “9,483 out of 483” positive tests that week, when it was actually 47 out of 483. This has since been corrected.

Updated health and safety guidelines for the fall will be released before classes, the email reads. 

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