Aurora University

Coronavirus (COVID-19) - FAQs

Here are answers to frequently asked questions. This webpage will be updated regularly to reflect new developments. For more information, see our COVID-19 Resources Center and Campus Messages pages.

Last update: 1 July 2020

CAMPUS REOPENING

Aurora University plans to resume in-person classes and campus life for the fall 2020 semester.

Over the past few months, many of us have learned that the virus will impose unwelcomed restrictions on some of the activities we most enjoy. Campus life will be different as a result. Student events may be smaller and our residence halls a little less full. Still, we will find many creative ways to keep moving forward together with learning as our primary purpose. Read our Forward Together reopening plan as we continue preparations to bring the AU community safely back to campus.

CLASSES/COURSEWORK

Aurora University, like many other institutions of higher learning, will condense its 2020 fall semester calendar on both the Aurora and George Williams College campuses in order to maximize instructional interaction prior to the holidays. The 2020 fall semester at Aurora University will begin on 24 August as planned. Classes will meet on Labor Day and the traditional Fall Break will be canceled. In-person classes will conclude at noon on Wednesday 25 November 2020. The week after Thanksgiving will be delivered via remote instruction as will the final examination period (7-11 December).

Aug. 24: First Day of Classes

Aug. 30: Last Day to Add Fall Classes

Nov. 8: Last Day to Drop Fall Classes with “W”

Nov.25: Campus-based Instruction Ends at Noon

Nov. 26-29: Thanksgiving Holiday

Nov. 30–Dec. 5: Remote Instruction

Dec. 7–12: Final Examination Week (Remote)

Dec. 15: Final Grades Due to Registrar

During the extraordinary circumstances presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, our goal is to support our students’ desires to fulfill educational goals in the safest way possible. Toward this end, Aurora University is offering three modes of instruction: a modified campus-based program and two off-campus options, namely AU Advantage and AU Online.

Undergraduate students must select the single delivery mode that best suits their purposes (Campus-Based or AU Advantage or AU Online). It will not be possible to select courses across the various options. In other words, you must decide if you will come to campus or not. You cannot “mix and match.”

For graduate students, Aurora University offers a variety of graduate learning experiences, designed to serve the customized academic needs of various audiences. Many of these classes, though offered in modified classroom facilities, will continue unchanged through the 2020–2021 academic year. Students who are concerned about campus-based instruction should consider transitioning to AU Online if their chosen curriculum is available. AU will waive most fees beyond the per credit hour charge in recognition of the financial hardships many are experiencing.

For more information on how classes will be delivered, please see the Forward Together plan to reopen on campus.

Undergraduate students must select the single delivery mode that best suits their purposes (Campus-Based or AU Advantage or AU Online). It will not be possible to select courses across the various options. In other words, you must decide if you will come to campus or not. You cannot “mix and match.”

Both undergraduate and graduate classes will be offered on our campuses via a blended format that allows for appropriate social distancing and face-to-face learning. Courses with smaller enrollments will be held in modified classroom settings, but will be like traditional offerings in all other respects. Classes with larger enrollments will employ a variety of teaching methods. For instance, lecture content may be delivered via Zoom, while small discussion groups allow for the face-to-face attention AU students prefer. Our goal will be to provide the most engaging learning experience possible in the midst of the pandemic.

For undergraduates hesitant to return to the campus this fall, the university is offering the AU Advantage program. Like our specially designed summer 2020 courses, these fall and spring semester options will not require student presence on campus. Classes will be “synchronous.” This means that course participants will assemble for remote instruction via Zoom at established course times. AU will offer eight AU Advantage courses in the fall and another eight in the spring. The classes selected will meet general education requirements and will be tailored to the learning needs of freshmen and sophomores.

As a rule, the university does not encourage “traditional” undergraduates (ages 18–22) to enroll in its online program. We take this position because online courses are asynchronous. Students do not meet at an established class time. Rather they work at the independent pace that allows them to blend learning with busy life schedules. In such an environment, it can be easy to fall behind. Terms are shorter and course work piles up quickly if students don’t manage their time carefully. However, given the many pressures of the COVID-19 emergency, the university has opened enrollment in undergraduate online courses to students for the fall 2020 semester.

Currently, in addition to offering select general education classes through AU Online, the institution’s majors in business administration, criminal justice, and social work are available via this modality.

Students enrolled already in undergraduate and graduate programs through AU Online will not experience changes with one notable exception. The university will waive the technology fee for 2020–2021.

As you weigh the different possibilities for the 2020 fall semester, we suggest that you ask yourselves two questions. First, what kind of learning environment do you need to succeed academically? And second, do you have the kind of specific safety concerns, such as a health condition, that should cause you to select an alternative option during COVID-19? Decisions about plans for the fall must be discussed with your student success advisor to ensure that you are registered correctly.

Yes, students who select for off-campus options for the 2020 fall semester will have an opportunity to return to campus-based instruction in the spring and subsequent semesters. If such changes are made, merit and need-based scholarships will be reinstated.

Off-campus learning opportunities provide students with opportunities to hone their knowledge and skills in a wide range of work environments. Some accredited programs require a certain number and variety of field or clinical placements. In other cases, particular majors or programs feature required field or internship experiences. In anticipation of the 2020–2021 academic year, work is underway to ensure high-quality, off-campus student experiences. Information will be provided — throughout the 2020–2021 academic year — as plans are finalized with each off-campus entity. Please check your AU email for regular newsletter updates from the dean of your school. Individuals with specific questions should reach out to their dean.

A number of courses will continue to require integral laboratory-based experiences. The university will take appropriate precautions in labs to limit risk to students and faculty. In some instances, additional sections will be necessary to limit the size of enrollment. Laboratory facilities also will be modified to provide appropriate safeguards.

Throughout the 2020 fall semester, members of the faculty will be expected to offer extended office hours — in person and via Zoom — to meet student needs. This information will be published in syllabi distributed at the beginning of classes in August.

All of the university’s academic support facilities will be open with safeguards in place. This past spring, when the entire campus was closed in response to direction from state authorities, these vital services were delivered remotely. This fall, our students will have expanded opportunities for assistance face-to-face or via remote delivery if preferred.

Students and parents indicated that the effectiveness of the spring’s remote delivery option was compromised in some cases by the absence of appropriate equipment and access to the internet. The university is prepared to provide “loaner computers” this fall. In addition, facilities on campus, modified with appropriate safeguards, will provide ready access to Wi-Fi, software, and the internet.

Instructors are expected to suspend their attendance policies for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis, work with students who are unable to attend on-ground classes during the fall 2020 semester due to illness or fear of infection, and not penalize such students for missing classes.

Any changes to scheduled activities due to the coronavirus will be posted on the Campus Messages page of the AU website. We will send messages through the RAVE system, campus email, and social media to let you know that new information has been added.

COMMENCEMENT AND HOMECOMING

Spring 2020 commencement ceremonies will take place virtually, allowing us to honor our graduates in a special way that is also safe and compliant with public health guidance. These virtual ceremonies will be Friday 24 July at 6 p.m. for GWC graduates and Sunday 2 August at noon for AU graduates. For more information, please visit aurora.edu/commencement or gwc.aurora.edu/commencement.

Current plans call for holding the university’s mid-year Commencement ceremony on Saturday 12 December. Of course, the timing of this celebration is subject to change in the event that external authorities issue new executive orders. During Phase 4 of the paradigm established by Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, gatherings in excess of 50 people are prohibited. As of 1 July, as the state of Illinois is at the start of Phase 4, it appears likely that a virtual ceremony will be held.

RESIDENCE LIFE

As of 1 July, plans call for the university to rely upon its traditional housing configurations to accommodate planned enrollment levels in the fall. So if a room is designed for use as a double, there will be two students living in that space. Residents will be required to follow the Spartan Safety guidelines in the halls at GWC and in Aurora. Face coverings will be expected in all areas outside of assigned rooms. Likely there will be restrictions on the number of residents permitted in toilet and shower areas, study rooms, laundry rooms, and common areas. In the interest of safety, the university will not allow outside guests in the halls. Exceptions will be made during the move-in process.

Incoming freshmen can expect to receive their room assignments via their AU email by 4 July.

Singles rooms aren’t available in the residence halls, however, there may be an opportunity for a limited number of students to live in a single room off campus at a local hotel on a case-by-case basis. If you are interested in this option, please contact Lora de Lacey, executive vice president for student life, at ldelacey@aurora.edu. This option is not available to incoming freshmen.

We have extended the deadline for returning students to cancel their housing commitments. Returning students now have until 15 July to cancel without incurring a fee. After 15 July, students are subject to a cancellation penalty. (This is one of the very few fees that will be in effect during the 2020–2021 academic year.) Your commitment to your housing decision is vital to helping the university plan for the year ahead. Please let us know as soon as possible if you want to cancel your housing assignment for the fall semester.

The move-in process will be staggered in order to adhere to the current state of Illinois guidelines for social distancing and maximum number of people allowed for gatherings. Face masks will be required for everyone involved in the process. Specific move-in dates and times will be available later in July.

Life in the residence halls will be different than in the past. Students will be expected to follow the Spartan Safety guidelines. Face masks will need to be worn in all areas outside of your assigned room. We will restrict the number of residents allowed in the restrooms at one time and you can expect to have bathroom use schedules to allow for this. We will also be restricting the number of students in common areas and in laundry areas. And we will not allow any outside guests in the halls. We will implement increased cleaning for restrooms and all common areas. Students will also have cleaning supplies available for their own use.

The last two weeks of the semester will be delivered remotely. This means that residential students will need to leave campus on Wednesday 25 November, the day before Thanksgiving. (Your belongings can remain in your room.) Exceptions will be allowed on a case-by-case basis as needed.

It is possible that a student who lives on campus or in a nearby rental facility may be exposed to COVID-19 and may require isolation or quarantine. In order to meet the needs of individuals who have been exposed to the virus and are awaiting test results, the university will maintain isolation and quarantine facilities. In Aurora, the university has entered into a master lease with a local hotel to provide appropriate accommodations for such individuals (e.g., isolated bathroom facilities, appropriate personal protective equipment, etc.). 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. A transportation protocol also will be developed. The university will make every effort to abide by relevant FERPA and HIPAA requirements as these services are rendered safely. A student with a confirmed case of COVID-19 will be encouraged to return home to recuperate. If such a transition is not possible, individual arrangements will be implemented.

DINING

Aurora University recently entered into an agreement with Chartwells to provide campus dining services on both the Aurora and George Williams College campuses. We are very excited about the wide range of options the new company will offer to members of the AU community during this extraordinary period of time. The new firm will implement aggressive safety measures on both campuses. Employees will wear face coverings and gloves at all times while working and interacting with the public and will follow all relevant hygiene and health precautions. Chartwells employees will be accountable to high standards of safety, including daily wellness checks, continuous use of personal protective equipment (PPE), and frequent handwashing.

Dining options for the fall will be different as the size of gatherings will be limited and extraordinary precautions are taken. Over the summer, a respected professional firm deep cleaned all university kitchen and dining facilities and equipment. Going forward, new protocols have been put into place.

Dining facilities will be reconfigured to allow for appropriate social distancing, contactless checkout, traffic management, and continuous cleaning and sanitation. There will be controlled access to dining facilities in order to maintain control over the number of people using a facility at one time. Face coverings will be required and will be removed only for eating and drinking. Self-service will no longer be possible. Instead, pre-packaged portions or service by Chartwells associates will be the norm. An increased emphasis on take-out and delivery options also will be evident.

ATHLETICS AND RECREATIONAL SPORTS

As of 1 July, plans call for the 2020–2021 intercollegiate and club seasons to continue as planned. NCAA and conference officials continue to evaluate the viability of a fall season in light of recent outbreaks of the virus in pre-season Division I football campus. Though the goal is to play, it still is possible that this will not happen. At AU we recognize how stressful this is for our students, parents, and coaches. We will continue to communicate regularly through The Spartan Way newsletter and via messages from individual coaches.

FINANCES

We know that some families may be struggling to make tuition payments. We will work with you to arrange individualized plans and we will suspend all late fees, registration holds, and collection activities. If you have any questions or need help canceling auto-pay options, please contact Student Accounts at student.accts@aurora.edu or 630-844-5470 for individual assistance.

The Office of Financial Aid is currently processing award letters for the 2020–2021 academic year. Please continue to check WebAdvisor to see the list of items you may still need to provide. The sooner your materials are complete, the sooner your award letter is finalized. The staff is available to answer your questions at finaid@aurora.edu or 630-844-6190.

This summer AU established a new university emergency fund, the WeAreOneAU Fund. Trustees, faculty, staff, and alumni continue to make generous gifts to this important new emergency resource. Students, faculty, and staff all are eligible to receive a grant from the fund. Dollars are a gift, not a loan. If you need financial help right now, please prepare a simple email message and mail it to weareoneau@aurora.edu. A simple explanation will work. Once your request is received, a confidential team of university employees will review your request and allocate dollars.

  • Full-time undergraduate students who opt for campus-based instruction will pay tuition ($12,800) and be awarded all forms of financial aid (state, federal and institutional – both merit and need-based). Previously issued 2020–2021 financial aid awards will remain in place for those who decide to continue as full-time, campus-based undergraduate students.
  • All other undergraduate students will be charged a discounted $425/credit hour and will be eligible for state and federal financial aid.
  • AU is waiving many fees for the 2020 fall semester except those that AU collects and passes along to outside agencies in fields such as nursing and social work.
  • For AU Online classes, the university will waive the technology fee for 2020–2021.
SPARTAN SAFETY

At the heart of the university’s risk mitigation strategy are the eight simple measures set forth in the Spartan Safety requirements. These recommendations place special emphasis on non-pharmacologic interventions and incorporate sound public health practices. All members of the university community, including students, faculty, staff, alumni, and visitors, will be required to abide by the Spartan Safety expectations. The Spartan Safety requirements are foundational to realizing our goal of learning, living, and working within a safe campus environment and likely will remain in place until an effective vaccine is developed and administered widely or herd immunity is achieved. Compliance will be required with disciplinary consequences possible for those who fail to take responsibility through adherence. In short, the Spartan Safety precautions are our new normal, the foundation we will build upon in a number of additional ways as we return to our campuses and move forward together.

Aurora University follows Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for the protection of everyone on campus. Under our Spartan Safety policy, members of the AU community need to:

  • STAY AT LEAST 6 FEET (about 2 arms’ length) from other people.
  • WASH YOUR HANDS often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. HAND SANITIZER may be used as an alternative.
  • COVER YOUR COUGH OR SNEEZE with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.
  • When in public, WEAR A FACE COVERING over your nose and mouth.
  • DO NOT TOUCH your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • CLEAN AND DISINFECT frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • STAY HOME when you are sick, except to get medical care.
  • MONITOR FOR SYMPTOMS DAILY to include cough; shortness of breath or difficulty breathing; fever; chills; muscle pain; sore throat; loss of taste or smell; nausea; vomiting; and diarrhea

In compliance with CDC guidelines, all AU students, faculty, and staff will begin the process of self-monitoring and reporting for COVID-19 symptoms. All members of the AU campus communities will be required to complete and return a health questionnaire prior to coming to campus. Daily wellness checks will be the norm. In some instances, members of the campus community may be asked to respond to screening questions as they enter particular facilities. Enhanced screening protocols likely will be established in select programs where social distancing may be more difficult.

In collaboration with the Visiting Nurse Association (VNA), COVID-19 testing will be available — at university expense — to all members of the Aurora campus community who desire such diagnostics or those required by the institution to take tests. In the latter instance, symptoms will be vital to triggering a mandated test. VNA facilities are located near the Aurora campus. In addition, the association has agreed to bring its mobile unit to campus several days a week. Work continues to develop a comparable system in Woodstock and at GWC.

Throughout our campus environments, the university will employ a variety of physical distancing measures in order to comply with CDC recommendations on this subject. These strategies will be implemented throughout the summer of 2020. For example, plans call for reducing the capacity of many office, class, and meeting rooms by 50% in order to accommodate a 6-foot separation among occupants. Barriers, such as acrylic shields, will be used in areas where close contact may occur, such as handwashing stations and laboratories or areas where items are exchanged. Such barriers will serve in the place of the suggested 6 feet of separation. Where appropriate, floor markings also will be employed.

Face coverings must be worn by all members of the AU community and visitors in indoor public spaces. Masks also should be worn in outdoor settings where it is not possible to maintain the recommended 6 feet of social distance. Members of the AU community should own at least two masks that comfortably cover their mouth and nose. The university has secured a large inventory of masks and gloves for use when performing certain functions or if personal protective equipment (PPE) is forgotten.

Stations located strategically throughout our campuses will provide easy access to signage, as well as supplies of hand sanitizer, antibacterial wipes, and replacement masks. Enhanced cleaning procedures, consistent with CDC guidelines, will be employed throughout a 24-hour period.

It is possible that a student who lives on campus or in a nearby rental facility may be exposed to COVID-19 and may require isolation or quarantine. In order to meet the needs of individuals who have been exposed to the virus and are awaiting test results, the university will maintain isolation and quarantine facilities. In Aurora, the university has entered into a master lease with a local hotel to provide appropriate accommodations for such individuals (e.g., isolated bathroom facilities, appropriate personal protective equipment, etc.). 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. A transportation protocol also will be developed. The university will make every effort to abide by relevant FERPA and HIPAA requirements as these services are rendered safely. A student with a confirmed case of COVID-19 will be encouraged to return home to recuperate. If such a transition is not possible, individual arrangements will be implemented.

At Aurora University, we understand that individuals of all ages should take precautions regarding COVID-19. Moreover, some populations experience a heightened risk for serious complications from the virus. Employees and students with such higher risk conditions or who live with individuals with higher risks should consider working or learning remotely. In addition, they should avoid gatherings of 10 or more of activities that pose potential exposure.

According to the CDC, this population is defined as “people in nursing homes or long-term care facilities, older adults (generally aged 65 and older), and people of any age who are immune-compromised and/or have serious underlying medical conditions such as asthma, chronic lung disease, diabetes, liver disease, serious heart conditions, chronic kidney disease being treated with dialysis and severe obesity.”

Our hope is to make it possible for as many students as possible to continue their educations in the midst of an unprecedented emergency. As circumstances continue to change, it is possible AU will modify its thinking about the fall. We recognize that public authorities could mandate a return to fully remote instruction. Likewise, a serious outbreak on campus could prompt AU itself to reach such a decision. The fast pace of our society — and the relentless virus itself — require flexibility and resilience. We will continue to communicate often and to be transparent. Our ultimate goal is to move forward together as safely as possible.

STUDENT LIFE AND CAMPUS EVENTS

No events are scheduled at this time. Check back for more information.

At AU and GWC, we cherish our many special traditions, events, and celebrations. For instance, the Fall Harvest Dinner is a highlight of each fall’s schedule in Wisconsin. In Aurora, Homecoming is a special time — as are the many performances, productions and special events that make our lives together so rich and varied. Given limitations on the size of gatherings possible while the virus is active, these traditions likely will be modified during the 2020—2021 academic year.

TRAVEL

At present, university plans call for suspending study abroad and mission trip experiences for 2020–2021.

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)

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.

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.

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).

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.

PUBLIC HEALTH GUIDANCE

On 29 May 29, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed Executive Order 36 — Restoring IllinoisProtecting Our Communities — to safely and conscientiously resume activities that were paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Restore Illinois plan is a five-phase, multi-region plan designed to reopen the state’s economy.

The state of Illinois moved into Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois recovery plan on 26 June. This phase focuses on revitalization. The rate of infection among those surveillance tested and the number of patients admitted to the hospital continues to decline. Gatherings of 50 people or fewer are allowed, restaurants and bars reopen, travel resumes, and child care and schools reopen under guidance from the Illinois Department of Public Health. Face coverings and social distancing are the norm. There are five phases to the plan. The fifth and final phase will mark a return to normal and will occur once there is a vaccine or highly effective treatment widely available or the elimination of any new cases over a sustained period.

MORE QUESTIONS?

Email contactau@aurora.edu or call 630-844-3869.

If you are faculty, contact Frank Buscher, vice president for academic affairs, at fbuscher@aurora.edu or 630-844-5252. If you are staff, contact Mary Weis, vice president for human resources, at mweis@aurora.edu or 630-844-3866.