American University and Georgetown University join other universities in delaying in-person classes

Two additional D.C. universities will delay in-person instruction with the start the spring semester virtually due to the growing number of COVID-19 cases in the D.C. region.

Both American and Georgetown universities, in separate statements, cited the increasing number of cases, along with the possibility of more infections during the winter months, as reasons to start the new semesters online.



The universities said the decision was made to increase safety for students and staff while continuing to provide classes without delays.

For American University, students will work virtually starting Jan. 10 through Jan. 30. In-person classes will begin on Jan. 31. Arrangements will be made for some science labs and arts courses with a “unique in-person requirement,” a school release said. All students and staff are already required to get a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot by Feb. 10, a month after the start of the spring semester.

Upon returning to campus, students and faculty/staff are required to get tested for COVID-19 within 48 hours of being on American’s campus. On-site testing will resume on Jan. 3 and dining services will be modified with grab-and-go options. All campus events will be online and no visitors will be allowed, the university said.

“While we sought to avoid another move to online classes, this is not a return to the situation we faced in spring 2020,” American official said in a statement. “Rather, it is a short-term, prudent approach to the current situation and risk factors.”

When Georgetown University students start the spring semester on Jan. 12, classes will start virtually, with staff encouraged to telework as much as possible. In-person instruction will resume on Jan. 31.

Undergraduate students can start moving into their on-campus residences, starting Jan. 11, unless approved to arrive earlier. Because classes will begin virtually, residential students can move in later in the month.

An arrival testing framework will be in place and required for all students and staff,  President John J. DeGioia said in a statement. All testing protocols and spring semester guidelines will be posted on the university’s Public Health and University Operations webpage.

“As we continue to monitor the trajectory of the pandemic, we will share any further updates to our plans as soon as they become available,” DeGioia said.

Several area universities have also delayed the return to in-person classes due to the surge of COVID-19 cases. George Washington University said last week it would start the spring semester virtually in January, and on Monday, Howard University announced it would delay its spring semester by eight days.

Marymount University students will start their spring semester classes virtually, the school said Wednesday. Students and faculty will have to submit a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours of returning to campus.


More Coronavirus News

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

Jose Umana

José Umaña is a digital editor for WTOP. He’s been working as a journalist for almost a decade, covering local news, education and sports. His work has appeared in The Prince George’s Sentinel, The Montgomery Sentinel, Orlando Sentinel, PressBox and The Diamondback.

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