COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Update – March 12, 2020
Throughout the world, the recent outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has led to serious reflection and changes by all institutions and organizations in order to minimize any adverse health impact on our lives. Like others, we remain confident that this issue will be overcome and all of us will be able to return to our routine activities. However, in the near term, certain precautions should be taken by all to minimize potential effects by this virus on our daily lives. There are numerous websites and organizations which can be consulted for the latest travel advisories and good personal operating procedures.
At American National University, our first priority is the health and well-being of all of our staff, faculty, and students. At the current time, to our knowledge, there have been no individuals within the American National University family that have been affected by this issue. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), health threats to Americans from this virus remain relatively low at this time. Of course, we have continued, and will continue, to monitor events and national and world news related to this health issue.
Recently, the President of the United States issued certain travel restrictions for individuals from selected international countries coming into the United States. In addition, certain communities or jurisdictions within the United States may limit travel. To our knowledge, none of those travel restrictions, either nationally or locally, directly affect any individuals at American National University, and we do not expect them to affect our educational programs moving forward.
At American National University, students are able to access nearly all of their classes through our High Tech/High Touch Zoom live interactive classroom sessions. The synchronous Zoom sessions will continue without interruption. In addition, asynchronous online instructional activities in all classes will continue as scheduled. However, out of an abundance of caution, we are changing a few attendance requirements which will affect certain faculty and students.
Many governmental organizations have adjusted their procedures and policies to recognize the difficulties caused by the outbreak of this global emergency. Recently, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), which governs the attendance of international students at American National University and the University of Fairfax within the United States, issued revised guidelines which SEVP-certified institutions may use to adapt their procedures and policies to address the COVID-19 health crisis.
In accordance with SEVP guidelines, attendance requirements for weekly and weekend classes for many of our international students will be adjusted for the rest of this term at American National University and at the University of Fairfax. Classes are already scheduled in Salem, Virginia, on March 12, 13, 14, and 15. These classes will be conducted as usual since many students have already traveled into this location to attend these classes. Not holding these classes for the students who have already arrived would be a significant inconvenience. Students unable, due to travel restrictions or other issues, who have been unable to to travel to the Salem campus in the Roanoke Valley will be counted in attendance as long as they are able to participate via the Zoom Interactive Classroom system. Attendance via the computer Zoom system or physical attendance at the campus will be considered equivalent.
Classes scheduled during the weekend of March 19, 20, 21, and 22 may be attended by international students by the Zoom Interactive Classroom system. Regular and continuous attendance by connection to the classroom presentation from wherever the student is physically located will be counted as regular classroom attendance. Those international students who are required to attend classroom sessions will be counted in attendance for purposes of their F-1 visa status as long as they participate continuously via the Zoom system. The institution will ensure that recordings of the student’s attendance is maintained for purposes of their SEVIS requirements. Information about future scheduled classes will be announced as necessary.
English as a second language classes will continue to be held as usual at the Salem, Nashville, Louisville, and Bartlett campuses since these classes are small and very little student and public interaction occurs. In the future, if necessary, appropriate modifications for attendance at these classes may be made. Furthermore, the small laboratory and clinical classes scheduled at all campuses will be held as usual.
By now, most of you are familiar with the many suggestions that have been promulgated by various agencies and news media about actions that should be taken to prevent the spread of germs and viruses in our daily interactions. However, it is helpful to continue to stress these minimal suggested activities:
• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
• If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Stay home when you are sick.
• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
Additional and further official communications about our attendance policies or changes the institution adopts as a result of this health situation will only be made by this office, the office of Dr. Rick Livingood, Chief Academic Officer, or Chuck Steenburgh, Vice President of Marketing & Communications.
For more information, see the Centers for Disease Control web site.