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

FAQ - Faculty and Staff

Faculty and Staff


Faculty and Staff

If my department has someone who cannot return to the US as a result of travel restrictions, whom should I consult for ongoing assistance?

The university’s administration will work with individual departments who may be affected by this matter. If you have questions, contact the Office of Risk Management at prepared@american.edu.

Does the suspension of university-sponsored international travel apply to all research trips?

The travel guidance applies to all international destinations and all university-sponsored trips for any official purpose.

Where do faculty/staff go for more information on telework, benefits, leave, and other issues regarding expanded telework during COVID-19?

Beginning Monday, March 16, the university transitioned to a telework environment for the majority of operations. Our expanded telework arrangements will now continue until further notice, consistent with the stay-at-home order issued by the District of Columbia. Learn more on HR's COVID-19 Expanded Telework environment.

What should I do for students who cannot participate online?

Please work with individual students and provide support and flexibility to the extent possible.

In this online teaching environment, it is critical that faculty continue to provide reasonable accommodations, including testing accommodations, to students in their classes. Faculty should pay close attention to students’ ASAC memos and be in contact with students about their accommodations. The ASAC is committed to helping faculty work through challenging situations and can be contacted for guidance at asac@american.edu or 202.885.3360.  

Are faculty expected to come to campus to teach their online courses?

Faculty are encouraged to make arrangements that best facilitate online instruction for our students and enable you to continue progressing your courses. The technology and tools available enable faculty to conduct most courses remotely without having to come to campus.

What support is available for conducting classes online?

The primary online teaching support service for faculty is being managed by Michael Piller's team (blackboard@american.edu and 202-885-3904). The OIT help desk is fully functional and also handling support inquiries. But specific calls about Blackboard, Blackboard Collaborate (for broadcasting live lectures), and Kaltura (for recording lectures) will be redirected to Michael's team. The OIT help desk director will call on other OIT staff to augment the help-desk bandwidth if needed. In addition, the Provost’s Office has scheduled workshops to help familiarize you with Blackboard, Blackboard Collaborate, and Kaltura.

What additional support is available to faculty and staff?

Library News

Many of the academic publishers are making their journals, e-books, and textbooks available to faculty and students at no charge during the pandemic. Faculty should be in touch with their subject librarians to access these materials. In addition, Project MUSE is pleased to support its participating publishers in making scholarly content temporarily available for free on their platform. Among the publishers currently opting to make content free on Project MUSE are:

  • Johns Hopkins University Press (all books and journals)
  • Ohio State University Press (all books and journals)
  • University of Nebraska Press (all books and journals)
  • University of North Carolina Press (all books)
  • Temple University Press (all books)
  • Vanderbilt University Press (selected books)

Research Guidance

The Office of Sponsored Programs and Grants and Contracts Accounting continues to be available to support your ongoing and developing research projects. As federal and private sponsors are continuing to accept new proposals, our teams have been busy working with research administrators and PIs across the university on submissions, project adjustments, and we continue to receive new awards. Please reach out to your department and unit teams to help you with your proposals.

We continue to support and encourage the university’s core research function. During the current pandemic, it is necessary to suspend all off-campus research activities that require in-person interactions with research subjects. Off-campus research projects that require in-person contact to collect data using surveys, interviews, focus groups, including face-to-face research outsourced to non-AU staff, must halt data collection immediately. This suspension of in-person human subject research includes projects conducted in the US or foreign countries.

Projects may be able to move to telephone or online formats, but any changes in this regard must be approved by the IRB as a modification, as the resulting risks posed to human subjects, for example, confidentiality, may change. Research functions that do not involve face-to-face interaction can continue. Please see Research Continuity FAQ for more information.

Should I continue to have office hours?

Please communicate to your students about how you are going to conduct office hours or other opportunities for discussion, questions, etc. Some faculty offer experiential learning components, and students will be seeking information about how those elements will be addressed during the online instruction period.

Does AU have a research continuity plan?

AU has established a Research Continuity Task Force, which has put together a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for research continuity.

What is AU doing to keep the service workers (custodial, dining, etc.) and medical personnel safe from COVID-19?

AU continues to take precautionary steps for the safety and well-being of our AU community, including service workers, medical personnel, and others with public-facing positions. All public shared spaces are being cleaned daily by staff, with special consideration to high-touch areas such as bathrooms, door handles, elevators, handrails and lobbies. Staff members are reminded to follow CDC good health hygiene recommendations to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including washing hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based sanitizer. We are also encourage following the CDC’s social distancing guidelines. Employees are provided appropriate protective gear as necessary. Where applicable, the university has made some services available only online or via appointment to reduce face-to-face contact.

I am not comfortable teaching in-person, what should I do?

Faculty may request a COVID-19 accommodation or modification to teach remotely with accompanying medical documentation due to a disability or medical condition, due to age (65 or older) or if they have a member of their household who is immunocompromised. To request an accommodation or modification please contact employeerelations@american.edu. If none of those categories apply, then you should speak to your school or college’s deans’ office and/or department chair/program director to learn more about how in-person instruction is being configured this fall.

I observed students/colleagues not practicing physical distancing or wearing a face covering. What should I do?

Adherence to the guidelines to keep our students, faculty, and staff safe is not only a shared community responsibility, it is a matter of adherence to university policy. If you see someone who is momentarily not adhering to the guidelines, a discreet, gentle reminder is usually sufficient to correct the matter. However, community members also have the option of reporting violations to the Office of Human Resources or the Office of Student Conduct.

With a variety of schedules for faculty and staff, how will parking be handled?

As of June 16, parking access, enforcement, and payment requirements remain suspended until further notice. Faculty and staff who have canceled their payroll deductions will have the same options as before and are eligible to re-enroll when needed. They may enroll in payroll deductions at a cost of $126 per month by logging into the online parking portal using their AU credentials. Alternatively, those who may not be on campus regularly or for shorter hours, may use the pay-as-you-go options. These options are PayByPhone app (select the virtual self-park discount code option) or pay-as-you-go pay stations located in the Katzen, SIS, Spring Valley, and WCL garages and the East Campus surface lot. Enforcement hours remain the same: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday (8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at WCL). Parking is free in general parking areas outside of these hours. Additional information is available on the Parking and Commuter Services page or by emailing parking@american.edu for assistance.

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

While the Office of Information Technology does not encourage taking AU equipment home that is not designed to be portable/mobile, we understand that these are unprecedented times. Staff or faculty wanting to take AU-issued desktops and monitors home must agree to the following requirements:

  • Obtain the approval of your supervisor or department head to take the equipment home.
  • Email the IT Help Desk at helpdesk@american.edu to inform us of the change in location, so we have a record for tracking and accountability. 
    • Be sure to include the AU Asset Tag Number, Make, and Model.
    • Agree to properly care for the equipment so that it is not damaged. 
    • Use added caution transporting the equipment.
    • Select a location where children or pets will not have easy access.
    • Do not leave the equipment in a car, where it is an easier target for theft.
    • Understand that the equipment must be returned as soon as you may safely return to work or your employment ends. 
    • Staff/faculty will not be issued more than one workstation, so you cannot have one AU-owned workstation at home and another in the office.
    • Accept responsibility for dismantling and reassembling the workstation set-up independently, as OIT staff are not permitted to travel to personal homes.
    • Agree to bring the equipment back to AU’s campus in the event of a hardware problem that requires in-person assistance.

Please contact the IT Help Desk for guidance at 202-885-2550 or helpdesk@american.edu.

How can faculty and staff find out more information about how AU is approaching the fall semester?

Staff and faculty can find more information about AU’s approach to moving to the next phase of how we work on the Human Resources webpage.