This page will be regularly updated to include answers to the most frequently asked questions regarding COVID-19 and the university’s plans for spring 2021. For more information, see our COVID-19 Resources Center and Campus Messages pages.
Last update: 20 November 2020
- Dunham School of Business and Public Policy
- School of Arts and Sciences
- School of Education and Human Performance
- School of Nursing
- School of Social Work
Spring 2021 Semester Plans
When will spring 2021 semester classes begin?
Classes will begin on 11 January 2021, a week later than originally planned, to allow sufficient time for individuals to quarantine at home after the New Year’s holiday before returning to the campus. We will not have a spring break. Public health experts warn against long vacation periods during which some may travel and perhaps neglect appropriate precautions.
What exactly are the enrollment options for the spring 2021 semester?
To accommodate the needs of our undergraduate students, we’ve developed multiple options for the spring 2021 semester. Traditional undergraduate classes fall into three broad categories:
- The vast majority will be hybrid. This means that roughly half of the class will meet with the instructor in a classroom on the AU campus, while the other half participates remotely through Zoom.
- About 5% of the courses will be entirely face-to-face. This category includes nursing clinicals and labs, athletic training labs, as well as some music and theatre instruction.
- The remaining small percentage will be offered as remote classes and delivered synchronously. This means that instructor and students will meet in virtual classrooms at prearranged times through Zoom.
Each course will be clearly marked in WebAdvisor as hybrid, face-to-face, or remote.
For the most part, plans call for graduate instruction during the spring semester to return to a face-to-face format. Students should seek specific guidance from their academic deans about spring plans. Those who have transitioned to the online modality have the option of continuing in this format.
Our current intent is to offer spring semester classes on the George Williams College campus and at the Woodstock Center via face-to-face instruction. Some subject matter, such as lecture content in nursing, may be offered via remote delivery. Check the GWC or Woodstock websites for the latest information or reach out with a question.
How do I indicate my instruction location preference?
Student success advisors sent an email to every undergraduate student requesting responses indicating plans to return to campus for face-to-face instruction or to attend all classes remotely. The deadline to reply is Tuesday, November 24. If you do not reply by the deadline, a fully remote schedule cannot be guaranteed.
Simply click the appropriate email below to email your selection to your advisor.
firstname.lastname@example.org – I plan to attend classes in-person for the spring 2021 semester.
email@example.com – I require fully remote instruction for the spring 2021 semester.
Why am I unable to register for or make changes to spring 2021 semester classes?
If you have an administrative hold, you likely have an outstanding balance on your account. To view your balance, log in to the Online Student Account Center or contact the Student Accounts Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 630-844-5470.
Please do the following as soon as possible:
- Resolve unfinished financial aid or unpaid account balances, if any.
- Register for spring 2021 courses if you have not done so — consult your student success advisor as needed.
- Respond to your student success advisor’s email about your face-to-face or remote choice for hybrid instruction.
- Contact us with any questions you may have at email@example.com.
- Continue to wear a mask when you are with other people, both indoors and outdoors.
- Continue to engage in social distancing.
- Continue to wash your hands frequently.
Will I be charged fees this semester?
Consistent with decisions made in anticipation of the 2020 fall semester, the same fees will continue to be suspended for the spring semester. Grant dollars continue to be available to those students with special financial needs through the WeAreOneAU Fund. We are grateful to the generous donors, including members of the faculty and staff, whose contributions make this support possible.
What are my housing options?
We will be offering single and double occupancy rooms. On Friday, October 30, we began accepting spring contracts for current residential students as well as interest forms for those who do not currently live on campus. The priority deadline for students interested in housing for spring was Sunday, November 15. We will do our best to accommodate all housing and room type requests based on the space available. We will continue to take applications after November 15, but your best chance to receive your choice in housing was to apply by the priority deadline. We anticipate sending out housing placements the first week of December.
For spring 2021, housing contracts will start from your assigned move-in date (TBD) and end on Friday, April 30, 2021. You will be expected to vacate your room by 5 p.m. on April 30. As previously announced, there will be no spring break during the semester.
What are the expectations for residential students?
The expectations are in the Spartan Compact. Please read it carefully. You must quarantine at home starting Saturday, January 2, until your move-in date. You must wear facial coverings on campus at all times except when you are in your room, eating, or showering. We also expect you to minimize travel during the semester, especially to those areas that are high risk. You will be expected to monitor your health daily and to notify Health Services if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. There will be a restrictive guest policy that will only allow your fellow residential students as guests (from any building), only one at a time, with no overnight guests. There will be a guest check-in system and you and your guest will be required to wear face masks during the visit.
What is happening with intercollegiate athletic competition?
Conference leaders continue to consider options for 2020–2021 fall, winter, and spring athletic competition. Work also is ongoing within Division III of the National Collegiate Athletic Association. In the meantime, AU coaches continue to work with team members to provide training and conditioning activities. Watch for the Spartan Way newsletter in your email for additional updates.
What is happening with the music and theatre programs?
Faculty and staff are engaged in dialogue and planning regarding music and theatre options and strategies for providing safe co-curricular and club experiences. Most recently, members of the Music Department gathered in small, socially distanced ensembles to perform the annual Christmas concert in a virtual format. The Theatre Department will present its winter play in January, also online.
I have additional questions. How should I seek answers?
First, please watch for the text notifications that will announce the posting of new information on the university’s home page. You also may reach out directly to key university personnel. Each of the university’s five academic deans (Schools of Arts and Sciences, Business and Public Policy, Education and Human Performance, Nursing and Social Work) is prepared to provide information. You may also reach out to your student success advisor or directly to a specific office. A directory is provided here for your convenience.
Can you tell me more about the information sources the university relied upon to make its decision?
Sure. Here’s a list of the external authorities we monitor closely:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Disaster Resilient Universities Network
Illinois Department of Public Health
Johns Hopkins University & Medicine Coronavirus Research Center
Kane County Health Department
National Collegiate Athletic Association
Requirements Before Returning to Campus
Will students be required to quarantine upon arrival to campus?
No. Students will be expected to take appropriate precautions while traveling, including wearing a face covering at all times, practicing excellent hand hygiene, avoiding face touching and, wherever possible, maintaining a 6-foot distance from others.
How will Aurora University ensure that students adhere to all COVID-19 precautions?
Students will be expected to read and sign the Spartan Compact as they return to the campus for the 2020 fall semester. Students will be expected to abide by the terms set forth in the Spartan Compact. Serious consequences are possible for those who fail to do so.
What else will students be required to do when they check in to a residence hall?
Once hall assignments are completed, students will be notified of designated check-in times. Every effort will be made to ensure physical distancing during this process. Masks must be worn at all times. Students will be expected to provide completed health questionnaires and signed copies of the Spartan Compact.
Requirements Once You Are on Campus
Will students be required to test for COVID-19 upon arrival to campus?
Aurora University expects all students to monitor health through daily screening measures. Each student will receive a COVID-19 kit that includes an AU drawstring bag filled with a COVID-19 daily health screening checklist, Spartan Safety guidelines, disinfectant wipes, AU Safety key card, digital thermometer, hand sanitizer, and an AU face mask. Individuals who are sick must remain at home or in their residence hall room. Students will be required to report to AU Health Services any symptoms of COVID-19, exposure to COVID-19, or a personal positive test for COVID-19 (firstname.lastname@example.org/630-844-5434). Additional requirements will be in place for certain populations of students, including those living on campus or student-athletes participating in athletic department activities.
Will students be required to wear face coverings?
Yes. Students will be required to wear facial coverings over their nose and mouth when walking in public (e.g., hallways, common areas, restrooms, across campus) both inside and outside of campus buildings. Facial coverings are not required when alone in a residence hall room, or while showering or eating.
What other requirements will be in place on campus?
All students will abide by the Spartan Safety guidelines. The eight elements set forth in the Spartan Safety document constitute the foundation for Aurora University efforts to mitigate risks associated with the COVID-19 virus and therefore are non-negotiable. All members of the community must comply with these measures.
- Use COVID-19 self-monitoring checklist to monitor for symptoms daily.
- Stay home or in your residential hall room when you are sick.
- Stay at least 6 feet from other people.
- Wear a cloth face covering over nose and mouth at all times on campus, indoors and outdoors, except when in your residence hall room, or while showering or eating.
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer.
- Cover cough or sneeze with tissue (or into elbow/sleeve), and then wash hands.
- Do not touch eyes, nose, mouth, or face.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces, especially those shared by others (e.g., photocopiers, file cabinets, door handles).
Tell me more about the university’s plans to provide COVID-19 testing members of the campus community.
Aurora University will require members of its residence life staff to participate in the testing services provided by the university in collaboration with the Visiting Nurse Association (VNA Health Care) to help all serving in this capacity to understand the process through firsthand experience. Consistent with current recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, other members of the campus community will not be required to participate in entry testing.
Students will be expected to participate in the university’s surveillance testing initiative conducted in collaboration with two external health organizations. Samplings of students in select populations (i.e., student-athletes and residence life) will be required to participate by providing a saliva sample. Test results will be available within 48–72 hours. This testing methodology was approved by the FDA in May 2020.
The university also will invest in making diagnostic testing available to members of AU community free of charge. Individuals who have been exposed recently to the virus or who are evidencing potential symptoms of the virus will be required to participate in the program offered in collaboration with VNA Health Care. Triage will be handled through Health Services for students or through Human Resources for employees.
Will the university also offer thermal screening?
Yes. Thermal testing stations will be located in high-traffic campus locations. Testing will be conducted by a stand-alone Zortemp screening instrument or with a handheld non-contact digital thermometer. Individuals with elevated temperatures will be asked to return to their home or residence hall and to contact Health Services or Human Resources for follow-up screening.
What should I do if I become ill?
Students who are ill, are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, or have a known COVID-19 exposure, will be required to stay home or in their residence hall room. Students should contact Health Services for guidance on next steps.
What happens if a student needs to quarantine or isolate?
It is possible that a student who lives on campus may be exposed to COVID-19 and may be required to isolate or quarantine. Under such circumstances, the university’s strong preference is for the student to return home. However, in the event this is not possible, AU will provide appropriate accommodations for such individuals (e.g., isolated bathroom facilities, appropriate PPE, etc.). AU Health Services will monitor these students on a daily basis. Food delivery will be arranged. Other campus services will be provided via remote delivery. To the extent possible, academic and instructional activities will continue. The university will make every effort to abide by relevant FERPA and HIPPA requirements as these services are rendered safely. VNA Health Care will handle contact tracing in collaboration with AU.
Will there be study abroad or mission trips?
At present, university plans call for suspending study abroad and mission trip experiences for 2020–2021.
What about travel in general?
Current plans call for only essential, domestic travel to be supported by the institution during the 2020–2021 academic year. No international travel will be sponsored. Those students, faculty, and staff who do travel beyond the United States will be asked to follow specific protocols designed to safeguard others upon their return to campus, as outlined here:
- Communicate their plans in advance of departure to Human Resources.
- Follow all relevant CDC and Illinois Department of Public Health guidelines and requirements.
- Self-quarantine at home for 14 days prior to returning to campus.
- Check and record their temperature daily.
- Monitor for symptoms of COVID-19.
- Communicate as required with public health authorities.
In general, the university encourages students, faculty, and staff to consider carefully the potential consequences of international travel and to reach decisions accordingly.
What you need to know about coronavirus (COVID-19)
What is the novel coronavirus (COVID-19)?
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
According to the CDC, patients with COVID-19 can have mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms that include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Visit the CDC website for more details about symptoms.
How is the coronavirus spread?
The 2019 novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, is one of a family of viruses that causes diseases in humans and animals. Experts indicate that the virus primarily spreads from person to person via respiratory droplets. Please visit the CDC website for more information about the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19).
I feel anxious about coronavirus. What should I do?
AU has counselors available to assist students. They provide personal counseling and can provide you with additional resources if you wish. Students on the Aurora campus should contact Counseling and Psychological Services at 630-844-4932 to schedule an appointment or submit an appointment request by visiting the website. Students on the Woodstock campus should contact United Way 2-1-1 at 888-865-9903. Students on the George Williams College Campus should contact Dr. Julie Byers at 262-245-8531. If you are an AU Online student, please call your local mental health agency.
AU’s Employee Assistance Program counselors are available to assist faculty and staff. The program provides personal counseling and can assist you with additional resources if you wish. The toll-free number is 800-272-7255.
What will happen next?
Faculty will continue to prepare and administrators will share additional information as it becomes available. Watch for RAVE announcements that a new posting is available on our home pages.
Are there causes for hope?
Yes. Experts tell us that wearing masks, washing hands and practicing social distancing are major deterrents against the spread of the virus. Reports indicate positive momentum in efforts to produce new prevention and treatment options too. We can and will do this!