You are here: American University Coronavirus Community Resource FAQ - Faculty and Staff

FAQ - Faculty and Staff


Faculty and Staff

What should faculty members do to support students who need to miss class due to illness or quarantine requirements?

While they are not expected to simulcast class meetings, faculty members may support students by sharing PowerPoints, notes, and other in-class materials electronically and (if feasible) providing Zoom access to in-person classes or offering recordings of class sessions. They should also allow for extensions on assignments as needed and ensure that students’ participation grades are not negatively impacted. As a reminder, faculty should not ask students for medical documentation and should consider medical absences as excused. Students should be expected to make up all missed work.

Do faculty need to record where students are sitting in the classroom during each meeting to ensure that contact tracing can be done effectively?

No, students and faculty members are not expected to keep records of seating arrangements in each class. Determination of close contacts depends on an interview with the individual who tested positive for COVID-19. We have not observed any evidence of classroom transmission and the risk of COVID-19 exposure in the classroom setting remains low.

Do professors need to wear masks while teaching?

Yes, faculty must wear masks while teaching.

Are faculty members able to obtain microphones to use while teaching

Faculty should contact their school or college dean’s office to explore the availability of these resources.

Is drinking and eating permitted in classrooms?

No, if students or faculty need a drink of water or to eat, they should excuse themselves and step out in the hallway to do so.

Are faculty members able to use discussion groups in the classroom, or are students expected to stay as far apart from one another as the room allows?

As much as possible, we are aiming to provide a traditional classroom experience in face-to-face class meetings. Faculty members are encouraged to use their judgement to teach their classes as they normally would, which may include the use of discussion groups (with students remaining masked).

Are academic departments and programs allowed to host events on campus?

For the month of January 2022, campus events will be online, and no campus visitors or guests will be allowed. Exceptions will be considered by the provost/vice presidents.

Will guest speakers be allowed in classes? If so, do they need to be vaccinated?

For the month of January 2022, campus events will be online, and no campus visitors or guests will be allowed. Exceptions will be considered by the provost/vice presidents. Classes will be conducted online and virtual guest speakers can join at the discretion of the faculty.

Can/should faculty and staff open windows in classrooms and offices to increase air flow? How should concerns about temperature be addressed?

No, windows should not be opened in classrooms and offices. The HVAC systems are designed to change the air in accordance with CDC guidelines and opening the windows can have a detrimental effect on space conditioning. Please contact 2fix to report any temperature concerns.

Will faculty be required to come to campus during the 2021-2022 academic year?

Most faculty will be expected to teach on campus during the 2021-2022 academic year. However, some residential program courses will be offered in a hybrid or online modality. Decisions regarding class modality will be made by the unit dean and will be based on a set of factors including space, pedagogy, international student needs, enrollments, and other needs determined by the unit.

Faculty can request a workplace accommodation based on the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act. Faculty can learn more about our fall plans at the How We Work page.

Will staff be required to come to campus during the 2021-2022 academic year?

Beginning August 2021, American University is implementing a new way of working based on learnings from the past year and new workplace approaches to advance our mission, serve our students, and support our staff. Many staff members will work some days on-campus and some days from a remote location in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia region (DMV). This is referred to as a hybrid work environment that combines the elements of remote work with the benefits of campus presence. Our new way of work is part of the University’s commitment to increase staff satisfaction, retention, and productivity. It is how AU works now and in the future.

Staff can learn more at the How We Work page.

To ensure the health and safety of our community, AU will require COVID-19 vaccinations for faculty and staff. COVID-19 boosters are required by February 10, 2022.

We have also revised and improved our process for employees to request workplace reasonable accommodations due to a disability. As a reminder, AU is hosting a vaccination clinic on campus this summer. Information and schedules can be found on the Student Health Center website.

Can faculty hold in-person office hours? Are they required to do so?

Yes, faculty can generally hold in-person and/or virtual office hours. However, with classes and operations moved online for January 2022, office hours should be conducted virtually during this time. We ask that faculty remain flexible and responsive to student needs. Beyond January 2022, if faculty are concerned about the size of their offices or are planning to meet with several students at once, they should explore reserving a meeting/conference room to speak with students in person. Outdoor meetings are also an option, as the weather permits.

Can a faculty member move an in-person class online due to a conference, sick family member, childcare issue?

The ability to move a class meeting or two online due to a conference, childcare issue, etc. should be at the discretion of the faculty member. A faculty member should have an established plan around how a change to the course modality (for one or two class meetings) will be communicated to students and with as much lead time as possible. It is not acceptable to change the established modality of the course for longer than one week of instruction without permission from the school Dean’s office.

Can professors use their offices to teach classes?

Faculty and staff can work from offices, but please be advised that those buildings are not being brought back from the energy curtailment until January 31 and may have lower temperatures.

Please remember you must test 48 hours within arriving on campus (whether to live in a residence hall, work, or study) unless you tested positive for Covid within the past 90 days. If you tested positive during break or off-campus, submit a self-report through the Self Report Dashboard (AU login required).

Can faculty continue their on-campus research throughout January 2022?

The Office of Research launched an On-campus Research Request form through the AU Forward website. The form captures the names and work location for all proposed researchers and staff members seeking an on-campus presence. Per the 12/29 memo from President Burwell, non-AU affiliated individuals are generally prohibited from campus, but exceptions will be considered on a case-by-case basis and with strong rationale. Requests will need to be approved by the Department Chair (where applicable) and Dean before individuals return to campus. All requests for exceptions to the campus guest policy must be approved by the Vice Provost for Research. Requestors will receive an automatic decision email once the approval process is complete.

Can staff and faculty take their AU-owned IT equipment home to aid productivity during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Office equipment such as desks, desktop computers and printers that were authorized for home use will generally need to be returned to the campus offices at the onset of the hybrid work environment. Employees should contact their departments to explore accessing laptop computers instead of desktops that can be ported from office to home.

Can hybrid work schedules be adapted for seasonality or during particular times in the year where classes are/are not in session? 

Every position has a modality, which represents their work schedule for the majority of the year. There may be peak times where staff will be expected to work on campus more often and units will provide staff with reasonable notice. 

How will the university support the technology needs of faculty and staff members in the hybrid work environment?

OIT is supporting the hybrid employee experience in a variety of ways. They will continue to assign workstations and provide remote assistance for employees through the Help Desk. In accordance with university policy, faculty and staff are issued one workstation As resources allow over time, and as computers come up for replacement, departments may implement more hybrid optimized technology, including technology to enable hybrid meetings. Review the My Assets for information about the replacement schedule for your PC.  

How will the university support employees' childcare needs?

Faculty and staff may access backup caregiving resources through Bright Horizons for short term caregiving needs, and the university CDC and Bright Horizons for long-term caregiving needs. Caregiving resources are available on the HR website. For the month of January 2022, the university CDC will be temporarily closed.

Will accommodations be made for people with compromised immune systems, disabilities, or chronic illnesses?

Exemptions to the vaccine requirement will be considered for individuals with medical conditions that prevent them from being vaccinated and for individuals with sincerely held religious beliefs that prohibit them from being vaccinated, consistent with federal and DC law. Those requiring a workplace accommodation due to a disability or medical condition to allow them to perform the essential functions of their job should complete the Reasonable Accommodation Request Form. Accommodations may include but are not limited to additional or enhanced protective measures, temporary modifications of work schedules, or revised office space. Generally, accommodations will not include remote work for duties that require campus presence.

What is the remote work policy for employees who have high-risk family members in the household?

Reasonable Workplace Accommodations are applicable for the employee only. Employees seeking modified schedules to care for family members or support household members who may be immune compromised may consider Family Medical Leave.

How will the university manage situations where employees cannot be vaccinated?  

Employees who receive a medical or religious exemption to the vaccine requirement will follow additional health and safety protocols, including but not limited to mask wearing and more frequent COVID-19 testing. An awareness campaign will help educate the community about vaccines. Any discrimination, retaliation, intimidation or other adverse action against an employee due to vaccination status inconsistent with AU’s values and prohibited by university policy. The vaccine requirement and associated exemption process supports the health and safety of our community and is designed to assist all members of the community.

What is the role of HR vs. individual units in managing a hybrid schedule? 

Department heads are responsible for determining and communicating the work modality and schedules for the full and part-time positions in their unit, and for establishing the unit’s core day(s) for in person collaboration.  Department heads are also responsible for identifying and budgeting for any supplemental technology equipment, beyond what is provided by the Office of Information Technology, that is needed to support hybrid work and coordinating with OIT to arrange for the replacement of eligible workstations. 

Human Resources is responsible for the design and implementation of hybrid work including communicating, educating, gathering feedback and refining the approach as necessary to meet the needs of the university. Human Resources is responsible for reviewing the program and position modality classifications to ensure fair and consistent application in accordance with the University’s commitment to inclusion and equity as well as EEO policies.

How do flex/compressed schedules factor into hybrid modalities?

Employees with existing flex or compressed schedules can speak with their manager about incorporating these arrangements into the hybrid work schedule.

Will parking be prorated depending on how many days faculty and staff come to campus?

AU community members may choose to take advantage of the “Virtual Self-Park Code.” The location code offers a discounted $0.75/hour rate (plus $0.35 service fee) through the PayByPhone mobile application to park in all general parking areas on campus, as well as the garages at the Spring Valley Building and 4401 Connecticut Ave (a separate authorization is required for this location). To get the discount code, go to the Parking Portal and select Affiliated Login and enter your AU credentials. Click the Get Permits button and select the "Virtual Self Park Code" option to register your vehicle, obtain the discount code and get instructions for use. Logins using a guest account do not have access to this parking option. Visit the Parking and Commuter Services website or email parking@american.edu for more information.

What is AU’s dress code for faculty and staff?

At AU, all faculty and staff are expected to dress in a professional manner that aligns with the nature of their role at the university and their individual functions at any given time. Staff who work in certain university positions, such as  facilities and public safety, are provided with uniforms. For other positions, in general, business casual dress is appropriate. Business casual dress generally includes shirts with collars, business casual tops and shirts, blouses, and polo shirts. Casual slacks, trousers, skirts, dresses, and jeans are appropriate but does not include shorts. Casual slip-on or tie shoes, boots, dress sandals, and athletic shoes are appropriate.  

Traditional business attire may be expected when meeting with parents, alumni, or external organizations. Although it is impossible and undesirable to establish a universally applicable dress code given the range of roles and functions at AU, the university will apply a reasonable and professional workplace standard. An employee who is unsure of what is appropriate should check with their manager or supervisor.