Auburn's combined commencement ceremonies postponed indefinitely

By Austin Phillips

Published: Jul 27, 2020 4:13:00 PM

COVID-19 COVID-19

UPDATE July 27:

Planned August celebrations to recognize Auburn University spring and summer 2020 graduates have been indefinitely postponed due to recent interstate travel restrictions and large in-person event concerns associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite the university’s efforts to coordinate ceremonies that promoted numerous safety protocols and aligned with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state guidelines, the decision to postpone the Aug. 1 and Aug. 8 ceremonies was made out of growing concerns over graduates’ and guests’ ability to travel to and from other states and attend large in-person gatherings.

In the absence of planned ceremonies, Auburn is still prepared to welcome and celebrate graduates and guests who have already planned to travel to Auburn for the Aug. 8 weekend.

Throughout Saturday, Aug. 8, campus buildings will be open and academic deans will be available to greet graduates and families. Colleges and schools will communicate specific times to their graduates. From 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., graduates and families will have the opportunity to visit Jordan-Hare Stadium. Once inside, graduates can wear their regalia, scan their name card and have their name displayed on the video board where Auburn University Photographic Services will be available to shoot official photos. Other campus venues, including the Auburn Arena, Auburn University Bookstore, Student Center and Samford Hall, will be open to visitors.

More than 4,000 spring 2020 graduates were initially scheduled to participate in commencement ceremonies on May 2-4; however, due to state-mandated limits on event sizes, plans were made to combine the spring and summer ceremonies on Aug. 8 at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Separate ceremonies had been planned for Aug. 1 for the College of Veterinary Medicine and Harrison School of Pharmacy at Auburn Arena.

All spring 2020 graduates have received their Auburn diploma and were given a commemorative gift box that included a copy of The Auburn Creed, an alumni pin, copies of the commencement program, a gameday button and mortarboard and tassel. Diplomas will be mailed to summer graduates in August, and summer graduates will be sent a gift box with similar items.

Required safety protocols will be enforced throughout the Aug. 8 weekend as part of the university’s fall reentry plan, A Healthier U. In addition to required face coverings and appropriate physical distancing for all graduates and guests, A Healthier U outlines the university’s goals of safely facilitating academicstudent and institutional operations.

While plans to honor spring and summer graduates have been delayed, the university hopes to recognize spring and summer graduates at a future event or allow them to participate in future graduation exercises. A decision for the university’s December 2020 commencement is contingent on pending health and safety protocols, with an announcement to be made by mid-fall. The university regrets any inconvenience the postponed ceremonies have caused graduates, their families and friends.

For questions regarding Auburn’s commencement, please visit the commencement website or email commencement@auburn.edu.

 

UPDATE July 20:

As we prepare for the return of students in a few short weeks, we ask faculty and staff to stay informed on all procedures designed to maintain a healthy campus and ensure that we continue Auburn’s exceptional academic and student life programs.

Please know that Auburn leadership remains focused on the health and safety of the campus community. All procedures and guidance align with recommendations from state and federal health officials and best practices of our peers around the nation. 

Auburn recently released A Healthier U, a comprehensive plan focused on minimizing the risk of transmitting COVID-19 so we can have an uninterrupted fall semester. The more you know about the plan, the more you will be able to help protect the health of everyone on campus while fulfilling your role.

We are extending much of the previously announced operational modifications through Oct. 10. Following are key points:

  • Every campus office and unit must remain open and staffed to maintain operational effectiveness, including but not limited to assisting visitors, responding to telephone calls and fulfilling basic functions. Supervisors should develop plans, which may include staggered or rotating shifts, to meet this requirement while ensuring physical distancing and other safety protocols.
  • Staff may work remotely when not required in the workplace as directed by their supervisor.
  • While on campus, faculty and staff must comply with all related university policies and guidance, including but not limited to those on physical distancing, face coverings, events and entry and exit procedures.
  • Faculty and staff are required to watch and acknowledge a safety video.
  • Faculty and staff who cannot perform their job duties due to a COVID-19 related issue, such as an underlying health condition or childcare, should consult guidelines for the three categories of leave announced earlier this year and contact their supervisor.
  • Supervisors should seek guidance from Risk Management and Safety for questions about COVID-19 workplace safety and health and Facilities Management to request services such as occupancy assessments, office configurations and cleaning.
  • Supervisors should consult the supervisors guidance material from Human Resources about how to handle COVID-19 situations that may arise.
  • The Auburn Medical Clinic is dedicated for students, faculty and staff. Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should not come to campus but immediately call 334-844-9825 prior to traveling to the clinic. Faculty and staff are expected to communicate with supervisors and seek approval of any absences for which they are unavailable for work.
  • All university travel will continue to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Essential travel will be permitted at the discretion of the executive vice president or provost.

Our procedures and guidance will evolve as conditions or circumstances with the pandemic change. We will provide guidance no later than the end of September for university operations after Oct. 10 through the end of the semester. We encourage all employees to closely monitor university communications for further updates.

 

UPDATE July 16:

Auburn will conduct COVID-19 screening tests for all students who will be on campus this fall as part of the university’s comprehensive plans for a safe and healthy semester. 

Auburn joins the state’s other public higher education institutions as a participant in Gov. Kay Ivey’s “Testing for Alabama” initiative. Testing will be led by the Alabama Department of Public Health and the University of Alabama at Birmingham, with costs covered by CARES Act funding made available by the State of Alabama. 

“Testing students gives us a more complete picture of the health of our campus, which will in turn help us preserve the safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff,” said Auburn President Jay Gogue. “The data collected will inform health strategies in our community and give our state’s public health officials information to help effectively combat the virus.”

Testing sites will be available throughout the state beginning July 25, with Beard-Eaves Coliseum as Auburn’s designated testing location. Students must be tested within 14 days prior to their return to campus. All testing outcomes are confidential, and the identity of those testing positive will not be made public. 

In addition to required student reentry testing, voluntary random COVID-19 testing will be conducted weekly for Auburn students, faculty and staff, enabling local and state public health officials to identify ongoing campus and community trends and target potential problem scenarios. 

Auburn’s testing efforts are a key element of “A Healthier U,” the university’s recently announced fall plans for returning to normal operations. The plan details new health and safety guidelines, campus modifications to promote physical distancing and strategic adjustments to the fall 2020 academic calendar. Additional steps to ensure campus health include reserved isolation housing for students living on-campus who test positive for the coronavirus; students living off-campus who test positive will be asked to self-quarantine until the threat of virus transmission has passed.

Protocols for test administration are still being developed, and Auburn will provide more specific information and detailed guidance, including testing locations, in the coming weeks.

UPDATE June 22:

As part of preparations for the upcoming fall 2020 semester, Auburn University on Monday issued a modified fall academic calendar, prioritizing the health of the campus community and mitigating the spread of COVID-19.

The modified calendar reflects the potential impact of the coronavirus during the late fall months, should a possible peak occur. Auburn will begin the semester on Monday, Aug. 17, and end regular instruction on Tuesday, Nov. 24. Final exams will be administered remotely so that students do not have to return to campus after Nov. 24.

“We know that the coming academic year will be unlike any other in Auburn University's history," said Provost Bill Hardgrave. "To prepare for the return of our faculty and students, we have worked diligently to identify strategies that support new safety measures, offer diverse instructional methods and incorporate changes to our academic calendar that uphold the integrity of our academic mission.”

To reduce travel and potential exposure to COVID-19, the calendar replaces fall break (Oct. 8-9) and the first two days of the Thanksgiving week with class days, ending all instruction on Nov. 24. With the addition of two reading days for students on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, the university will administer final exams remotely Dec. 2-8. Contingent on existing health and safety guidelines, fall commencement ceremonies will be held Dec. 12.

Key dates for the semester include:

  • Aug. 17: Classes begin

  • Oct. 8-9: Fall break is suspended; classes will meet 

  • Nov. 23-24: Classes will meet on these two days of Thanksgiving week; students do not have to return to campus after Nov. 24

  • Nov. 25-27: Thanksgiving break 

  • Nov. 30 to Dec. 1: Student reading days

  • Dec. 2-8: Final exams delivered remotely

“Although the fall semester will be different, our modified calendar presents new opportunities for our campus to demonstrate its instructional innovation and commitment to our mission as we prepare for the known and the unknown challenges,” said Hardgrave.

The calendar adjustments are part of a comprehensive strategy the university is developing to facilitate a successful and uninterrupted academic year for students, faculty and staff. Additional health protocols and campus operations will be implemented in the fall, following ongoing consultation with public health officials and guidance from university administrators. The university will announce additional fall semester information and plans, including operations, student affairs and academics, as details are finalized in the coming weeks.

The complete, modified fall 2020 academic calendar is posted on the Office of the Registrar's website.

UPDATE June 19:

To ensure a healthy and safe return to campus, Auburn is requiring face coverings inside university buildings, including classrooms and laboratories, beginning Monday, June 22. This requirement applies to everyone on campus and also extends to those attending university events in non-university buildings.

Auburn is also strongly encouraging the use of protective face coverings in outdoor spaces on campus when appropriate physical distancing is not possible. Face coverings are not required when alone in a private office or alone or with a roommate in a residence hall room.

Wearing face coverings greatly reduces the chances of COVID-19 transmission, protecting those around us. By taking individual responsibility for the health of the entire campus, we are working together toward a safe and uninterrupted fall semester.

The policy aligns with guidance from public health officials and input from campus governance groups and is subject to reevaluation based on the most current recommendations.

More information on protective face coverings, including how to wear and care for them, can be found here. Additional details on the policy will be shared soon.

 

UPDATE June 16:

Auburn University’s spring and summer graduates will be recognized in two ceremonies to be held in Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 8, contingent on current health and safety guidelines and weather. 

“From the beginning, we have worked to balance three important goals when planning our graduation ceremonies,” said Auburn President Jay Gogue. “Beginning with measures to support the safety of our graduates and guests, we have also strived to uphold the tradition of our ceremonies while engaging input from our students.” 

In early June, a survey was sent to a sample of spring and summer graduates asking for feedback on various commencement scenarios. Among the responses, holding ceremonies in Jordan-Hare Stadium that allowed attendance by family and friends was overwhelmingly selected by students over the other scenarios presented. 

“It’s so important for our spring graduates to participate in August commencement and have this symbolic experience that we could not have in May due to the pandemic,” said former Student Government Association President and spring 2020 graduate Mary Margaret Turton. “Although our class was unable to share in the unique traditions that are associated with spring graduation, the opportunity to come back to Auburn and walk across the stage in Jordan-Hare Stadium is something we will never forget.”

To take advantage of milder temperatures, the university will host two ceremonies on Aug. 8, one in the early morning and a second in the early evening. Beginning at 7 a.m., the first ceremony will celebrate graduates from the Harbert College of Business; Samuel Ginn College of Engineering; College of Architecture, Design and Construction; School of Nursing; and School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences. 

The evening ceremony, scheduled to begin at 7 p.m., will include the College of Agriculture; College of Education; College of Human Sciences; College of Liberal Arts; and College of Sciences and Mathematics. 

Face coverings will be required for all graduates, who will be physically distanced in chairs on the field. Families and groups also will be required to physically distance in the stands and are encouraged to wear face coverings. Students will be permitted to remove their face coverings as they cross the stage for photographs and will be handed a copy of The Auburn Creed from President Gogue instead of the traditional handshake. Hand sanitizer will be available and easily accessible for students and guests, and stadium surfaces will be disinfected between ceremonies.

By taking advantage of the stadium’s expanded capacity, the university is consolidating its traditional five spring ceremonies into two, using the field to seat graduates apart from one another and allowing groups of family members to distance themselves in the stands. Both ceremonies will be livestreamed for guests unable to attend or who have health concerns.

While the university anticipates hosting the ceremonies outdoors, contingency plans have been developed in the event of changes to existing COVID-19 regulations or severe weather. These plans include transitioning both ceremonies to Auburn Arena and livestreaming them without guests.

To offset high summer temperatures, bottled water will be provided to graduates on the field, and concessions will be available for guests. Students should wear comfortable shoes for walking on the grass and guests are encouraged to dress appropriately for warmer temperatures.  

Summer graduates who need to order keepsake regalia can place an order through the Auburn University Bookstore. Additional information is available on the commencement website

Separate ceremonies will be held on Aug. 1 for the College of Veterinary Medicine and Harrison School of Pharmacy at Auburn Arena. For questions regarding commencement, please contact aucommencement@auburn.edu.

 

UPDATE May 29:

Following months of careful preparation, Auburn has announced plans for its second summer mini-term that include a variety of instructional delivery methods, among them, on-campus instruction.

The decision follows Gov. Kay Ivey's recently amended orders to further open the state of Alabama by permitting increased access to educational institutions beginning June 1, 2020. In March, the university announced its decision to suspend on-campus instruction for the full 10-week summer session and the first of two summer five-week mini-terms following guidance from public health officials due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Beginning June 29, the university plans to offer multiple course sections during the second summer five-week mini-term through a variety of instructional delivery methods. Consistent with the updated state provisions, the options incorporate important measures designed to protect students, faculty, staff and the broader campus community.

"Following the Governor's guidelines, Auburn is preparing to start re-opening our campus to students slowly," said Provost Bill Hardgrave. "While the pandemic has not affected our ability to offer quality instruction, it did restrict our options for delivering instruction. With the new guidance from the  state, we can utilize instructional delivery modalities that will enable our campus to implement important protocols as we prepare for the broader re-entry of students this fall."

In addition to the face-to-face and online options Auburn traditionally offers, the university will also offer blended and Hyflex courses. With blended courses, students benefit from both face-to-face instruction and remote learning. Hyflex courses provide a structure that gives students the flexibility of attending sessions in the classroom, participating online or doing both through synchronous delivery. As the university prepares to implement physical distancing guidelines across campus, both blended and Hyflex options will enable students to experience some face-to-face  instruction while remaining flexible to accommodate the institution's safety protocols.

More than 3,000 students are currently registered for courses in the second summer mini-term, with almost 150 faculty slated to teach. By working with their colleges and schools, faculty can select which of the four modalities best align with the learning outcomes for their courses to deliver instruction. The type of delivery method will be published so students can make informed choices when building their course schedule.

Opening academic buildings and offering face-to-face instruction during the latter part of the summer will allow the university to begin implementing several new protocols developed for students preparing to return in the fall. Among these, the university will employ a mobile COVID-19 health check for all students and faculty, and safe social distancing will be followed in classrooms. Following the university's transition to remote teaching this spring, going forward, all faculty are being asked to create a "syllabus B" in the event of a resurgence of the coronavirus that requires the institution to once again transition to full remote instruction.

"The second summer mini-term will allow us to glean important information for the fall," said Hardgrave. "The current plan is to implement some key elements for summer that we see as necessary for fall and prepare to welcome our students, faculty and staff back to learning environments that support the well-being of our campus."

 

UPDATE May 29:

With the summer academic term underway, the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff continues to be our top priority. With that guiding principle, we are working toward returning operations to as normal as possible by the fall.

Here are a few decisions that have been made as part of that effort:

  • The second summer mini-term will include four options for instructional delivery, including on-campus classes. New protocols for students and faculty based on the most up-to-date guidance from public health officials will be in place. Students, your academic advisor will be able to answer questions and provide needed support.
  • The bookstore brick-and-mortar will re-open on June 15, and other campus buildings will open on June 29.
  • Employees who are able to work from home should continue to do so through Aug. 8, subject to guidance from supervisors. More information will be provided soon from Human Resources.

As we make our gradual return to campus over the coming weeks, it is important to remember that the well-being of our campus is a shared responsibility. By facing this challenge together, we will be able to confidently welcome students to a vibrant Auburn campus in August.

 

UPDATE April 27:

Auburn University leaders continue to follow state and federal guidelines regarding COVID-19 and recommendations to protect the health and safety of our community.

After careful evaluation, all operational modifications previously assigned a tentative May 9 end date have been extended through June 30, 2020.

Current employees will be paid through May 9 at their regular rate of pay, even if they are unable to perform their normal job responsibilities.  Beginning on May 10:

  • All Auburn employees who have been approved to perform their job responsibilities from a remote location should continue to do so through June 30.

  • Employees who cannot perform their job duties from home and who have not been reporting to campus should work with their chain of command prior to May 9 to determine when and under what guidelines they report back to campus.

  • Employees who cannot perform their job duties due to a COVID-19 related issue (including, but not limited to childcare, personal symptoms, etc.) should consult the attached leave guidelines.

  • All non-COVID-19 related leave requests (annual or sick) will be handled in accordance with standard University policy, including requiring supervisor approval.

Supervisors with questions about the new guidelines may participate in an online session with Human Resources representatives. An announcement with information on a Zoom call will be sent later this week.

Remote delivery of instruction will continue through Summer 2020 Sessions 1 and 2. A decision regarding course delivery for Session 3 (remotely or on-campus) will be made by June 1, 2020. 

All university events are canceled through June 30.

The university medical clinic remains open. Those exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms should not come to work and should immediately call the Auburn Medical Clinic at 334-844-9825 before visiting the clinic. Employees are expected to communicate with supervisors and seek approval of any absences during which they will not be available for work.

This alternate operations model is currently intended to be in place through June 30. The university will communicate any necessary modifications as circumstances change. Please monitor the university’s COVID-19 site for the latest information and to sign up for daily email updates.

If you have additional questions about this communication, please visit this website that was created by Human Resources, or email univhr@auburn.edu.

 

UPDATE April 14:

As part of Auburn's ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the university will suspend student services fees for the summer 2020 semester. The suspension will result in a savings of up to $838 for students. The student services fees are typically assessed each semester to provide for student activities that include organizations, on-campus programs, recreation, transportation, student governance and various other student-related projects. 

Auburn's summer semester consists of three sessions: Session 1: 10-week session (May 20 – July 31); Session 2: 5-week session (May 20 – June 23); and Session 3: 5-week session (June 29 – July 31). Courses offered during Sessions 1 and 2 will be delivered remotely. A decision regarding course delivery for Session 3 (remotely or on-campus) will be made by June 1, 2020. 

Summer registration for current Auburn students is open now through May 20.

 

UPDATE April 9:

Auburn University has canceled all campus events, including camps, through June 30 amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Initially, the university had canceled events through early May, but that timeframe has now been extended in consultation with state and federal health officials.

 

UPDATE April 3:

As a result of the governor’s stay-at-home order this afternoon, all Auburn University buildings, with the exception of Samford Hall, will be locked with access restricted to those authorized for entry. Faculty and staff who previously performed their duties remotely should continue to do so to the greatest extent possible. Employees who need entry should contact their department heads or supervisors to ensure they can gain access. If after hours, faculty and staff may contact Campus Safety at 334-844-8888. There are no other changes to university operations beyond building access.

 

UPDATE March 27:

Following the postponement of Auburn’s spring commencement ceremonies due to the COVID-19 outbreak, spring graduates will have the opportunity to participate in summer commencement when the university combines its spring and summer ceremonies on August 8-9, 2020. While the university plans to host summer commencement, final event decisions are contingent on public health circumstances surrounding the global pandemic.

The announcement follows the university’s recent decision to transition all spring on-campus instruction to remote delivery and cancel campus events through the end of the semester. In a letter to campus last week, President Jay Gogue indicated the university would assess alternate commencement plans while still conferring degrees to those students who meet graduation eligibility.

“Although our spring graduates will already have their degrees conferred, we know how important this Auburn tradition is to our students,” said President Jay Gogue. “There is no academic ceremony more symbolic than commencement, and we understand what walking across the stage means to our students and their families.”

Traditionally, Auburn’s summer commencement program recognizes 1,500 graduates across two ceremonies. By combining spring and summer exercises, the university will extend the event to multiple ceremonies across two days, provided the COVID-19 pandemic has subsided.

In preparation for the combined spring and summer ceremonies, all spring graduates will receive an email next week requesting their intention to participate in the ceremony. Those students who ordered regalia for the spring commencement and plan to attend the combined ceremony will not need to contact the Auburn University Bookstore. Any student who ordered regalia for the spring commencement and does not plan to attend the combined ceremony may request a refund.

Students, families, and friends unable to attend the combined commencement will be able to view the ceremonies via live stream. For information on specific ceremony dates and times, please visit Auburn University’s Commencement Website.

 


Consistent with current guidance provided by public health officials, Auburn University will suspend on-campus instruction for Summer 2020 Sessions 1 and 2.

Auburn's summer semester consists of three sessions: Session 1: 10-week session (May 20 – July 31); Session 2: 5-week session (May 20 – June 23); and Session 3: 5-week session (June 29 – July 31). Courses offered during Sessions 1 and 2 will be delivered remotely. A decision regarding course delivery for Session 3 (remotely or on-campus) will be made by June 1, 2020. Registration for the summer semester opens on Monday, April 6, 2020, and continues through the start of each the three sessions.

The decision comes as Auburn continues to observe policies and practices aimed at mitigating public health concerns related to COVID-19. As students prepare to make fall and summer registration decisions, the university will continue to support programs and offer coursework designed to support students' continuous academic progress. Students enrolling in remote summer courses can order course materials and supplies from the Auburn University Bookstore with free shipping. Course materials for classes in the “All Access” program will be available on the first day of class. For more information on the All Access program, visit the All Access website.

The university has also canceled all study abroad programs for summer 2020 due to risks associated with international and domestic travel during the COVID-19 outbreak. The decision reflects Auburn's response to recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control recommending higher education institutions cancel abroad programs due to global concerns over the growing outbreak. These concerns highlight the unpredictable circumstances students could face while abroad, such as travel restrictions, challenges in returning to the U.S., or accessing health care. This decision also aligns with the U.S. State Department's current elevation of the global health advisory level to a 4 (Do Not Travel). 

The Office of International Programs is working with students to refund any program fees paid for spring and summer semesters. Students who had planned to study abroad should work with their academic advisors to identify potential summer course alternatives where possible.

"While I am hopeful that the risks associated with COVID-19 will lessen in the coming weeks and months, Auburn must continue to do its part to decrease the chances of transmitting the virus and protect the health of others," said President Jay Gogue. "I know this decision is disappointing for our students and faculty who had planned to study abroad this summer. However, I am confident that limiting travel and continuing remote instruction for the foreseeable future is the best way that Auburn can actively help to slow the transmission of the virus."

 

UPDATE March 26:

Auburn University leadership continues to engage with state and federal authorities regarding COVID-19 and recommendations to protect the health and safety of our community. When the university initially transitioned to alternate operations in a variety of areas, such as remote delivery of instruction and remote work assignments, initial guidance stated that all operational modifications would continue through April 10 with reassessment in late March. 

After careful evaluation, all operational modifications previously assigned a tentative April 10 end date have been extended through May 9, 2020.

As previously announced, remote delivery of instruction will continue through the end of the spring term. Spring commencement is postponed, and information will be announced soon on its rescheduling as well as the delivery of summer courses. All university domestic and international travel is suspended through May 9.

All university events are canceled through May 9. With respect to athletics, the Southeastern Conference has announced that all regular season conference and non-conference competitions are cancelled, including SEC championship events, through the spring sport seasons.

The university medical clinic remains open. Those exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms should not come to work and should immediately call the Auburn Medical Clinic at 334-844-9825 before visiting the clinic. 

All Auburn employees who have been approved to perform their job responsibilities from a remote location should plan to continue to do so through May 9. Additional guidance will be provided regarding university operations during the final week of April. Determinations regarding assigned work locations for employees (remote or job site) will continue to be made by supervisors based on the employee’s assigned job responsibilities and the need to maintain full university operations.

Where remote work is not operationally feasible, supervisors are encouraged to work with employees to establish flexible schedules that may allow those employees to come to work for all or part of their regular work hours.

Employees are not required to submit annual (vacation) or sick leave during this period. However, employees are expected to communicate with supervisors and seek approval of any absences during which they will not be available for work.

Current employees will be paid through May 9 at their regular rate of pay, even if they are unable to perform their normal job responsibilities. This applies to all current administrative and professional employees, university staff, graduate assistants, temporary service workers, post-doctoral students, visiting scholars and graduate/undergraduate student workers who are scheduled to work between now and May 9. All faculty will be paid in accordance with their contracts. Pay methodology beyond these dates will be determined as operational status decisions are made closer to that date. 

This alternate operations model is currently intended to be in place through May 9. As we all know, however, new information becomes available daily. The university will communicate any necessary modifications as circumstances change. Please monitor the university’s COVID-19 site for the latest information and to sign up for daily email updates.

 

UPDATE March 24:

As students prepare to make fall and summer registration decisions, it is important to note that Auburn University will offer summer courses in the typical 10-week summer semester and two 5-week mini-semesters. Decisions regarding the manner in which courses will be offered (on-campus or remotely) will be made in the near future. Students are encouraged to work with their academic advisors to develop appropriate plans that support academic progression.

 

UPDATE March 23:

The Samuel Ginn College of Engineering has put together a comprehensive resource page for all our students, faculty and staff who are working remotely during this coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. We encourage you to visit this page for any questions or concerns regarding distance learning this semester.

For more information, visit aub.ie/coronavirus2020.

 

UPDATE March 20:

Dear Auburn Family,

Together, as a nation and as members of the Auburn Family, we are facing a time of considerable uncertainty. The coronavirus pandemic continues to bring rapid changes to the way we live and interact with others. The unprecedented interruptions and immediate impact of this pandemic occur at a critical time for our campus as we traditionally prepare for final exams and celebrate the academic and personal accomplishments of our students as a lead up to spring commencement.

The decision to transition all instruction to remote delivery was made to uphold the safety for all and support our students as they continue their academic journey. With this in mind, we have made the decision that Auburn will not resume on-campus classes but will continue to deliver instruction remotely through the remainder of the spring semester. By reducing the number of individuals on campus, Auburn continues to promote as much social distancing as possible to help slow the spread of the virus. The university is working on a plan to provide prorated refunds for on-campus housing and dining plans. Those students who need to retrieve belongings from campus residence halls will be contacted by University Housing. No students should return to campus until they receive additional information.

Of course, the decision to suspend on-campus activities, coupled with the restrictions on event sizes announced by state and federal officials, has resulted in the university’s decision to postpone our May commencement ceremonies. This was a very difficult decision made with careful thought and input from faculty, staff, and, most importantly, our students. Spring graduates will receive additional information about alternate commencement plans in the coming days. Degrees will be conferred to students who meet graduation eligibility and will be mailed as usual. Graduation is one of the most important events in the lives of our students, and I look forward to celebrating their accomplishments at a future date.

Understanding the need for flexibility, particularly with our academic policies, the Provost has authorized several changes to support students during this time. These include extending the withdrawal date for students to April 24, allowing more flexible use of Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (also known as Pass/Fail) grading, and providing faculty who choose to administer final exams with appropriate online proctoring resources. Students should consult their academic advisors to understand the potential impacts of these changes on their academic progression.

Many members of our campus community have asked about the university’s plans for summer. Final decisions regarding summer classes, programs and events will be made and communicated soon.

I encourage you to subscribe to email updates on the university’s COVID-19 information page and by following university social media accounts.

The response of our campus community this week has been remarkable. Our students and faculty are embracing new approaches to teaching and learning while our staff is adjusting to a new form of work-life. One of the most extraordinary characteristics of the Auburn Family is our solidarity in times of crisis and need. I am confident we will emerge from these trying times even stronger.

Warmest regards,

Jay Gogue

 

UPDATE March 19:

Auburn University’s leadership continues to receive frequent updates in consultation with state and federal authorities as to best practices and recommendations regarding COVID-19 concerns. Meanwhile, the university remains on remote instruction, and the university is providing assistance to faculty and students as virtual classes are successfully underway. Arrangements have been provided for students without access to needed technology for remote instruction, and answers are being made available to many frequently asked questions as this situation evolves. As Auburn assesses these ever-changing circumstances, the Auburn Family is asked to keep up to date on the latest developments involving Auburn’s response to COVID-19 by frequently visiting the university’s COVID-19 website. Any major updates will also be emailed to this list of those who signed up to receive ongoing communications.

 

UPDATE March 17:

As already communicated, Auburn University has transitioned to an alternate operating model.  At this time, the University continues to conduct full university operations.  Supervisors are encouraged to be as flexible as possible to help minimize the spread of illness.  Where possible, remote working is encouraged.  Where remote work is not operationally feasible, supervisors are encouraged to work with employees to establish flexible schedules that may allow those employees to come to work for all or part of their regular work hours.

As communicated by Dr. Gogue, all current employees will continue to be paid at their regular rate of pay through the spring term, even if they are unable to perform their normal job responsibilities.  Please see below for guidance, which is relevant while we are in alternate operating mode. 

Administrative/Professional (A&P) and Faculty (Exempt) Employees

Full-time A&P and Faculty employees will be paid 40 hours per week.

Part-time A&P and Faculty employees will be paid based on their FTE, as they are today.

University Staff (Non-Exempt) Employees

Full-time Staff employees will be ensured payment of 40 hours per week, and any additional appropriate compensation for hours worked over 40 in the workweek.   All Staff employees who are working will continue to clock in using Kronos, whether working on campus or remotely, to ensure proper payment of overtime and any relevant differential pay (shift differential, lead pay, etc.).  

Part-time Staff employees will be ensured payment of the average of hours that were worked for biweekly pay periods 2-5 (January 5 – February 29, 2020).   All Staff employees who are working will continue to clock in using Kronos, whether working on campus or remotely, to ensure proper payment of overtime and any relevant differential pay (shift differential, lead pay, etc.).

Temporary Employment Services Employees (TES) and Student Employees

All TES and Student employees will be ensured payment during this time, and will be paid an average of hours that were worked for biweekly pay periods 2-5 (January 5 – February 29, 2020).   All TES and student employees who are working will continue to clock in using Kronos, whether working on campus or remotely, to ensure proper payment of overtime and any relevant differential pay (shift differential, lead pay, etc.).  

Guidance for clocking in from home will be communicated shortly.  Additionally timekeepers will receive guidance about payroll processing responsibilities in the coming days.

Note that this guidance may change as we consider the University’s response to this pandemic.  We will evaluate employment options beyond spring term based on information at that time.  Please subscribe to daily email updates to stay informed on the latest developments. It's easy to sign up from our COVID-19 information page.

 

UPDATE March 16:

The situation with COVID-19, the coronavirus, is changing, it seems, almost by the hour. In this uncertain atmosphere, there are two important messages.

First and foremost, Auburn leadership is solely focused on the safety and well-being of the students and the rest of the campus community. No one likes being away from the university we love and our friends. Everything is being done to help ensure that your academic progress is uninterrupted and that university operations can return to normal as quickly as it is safe to do so. With this in mind, we ask that no students come to campus during this time, including congregating on Samford Lawn and other green spaces on campus.

Second, to help stop the spread of the virus, it is essential that we all practice good hygiene (hand-washing, disinfecting our phones and more), avoid large crowds and keep our distance. Whether back home, in your Auburn apartment or somewhere else during this period of remote instruction, a 6-foot distance from those around you is a good rule of thumb. We realize "social distancing" is a major departure for most of us, but health and medical officials are unanimous on its effectiveness in stopping its spread.

The university has an online site with safety tips and the latest information. There is also an option to sign up for regular email updates, and I encourage you to do so.

 

UPDATE March 15:

University leadership is in constant communication with state and federal officials as it continues to monitor developments related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Auburn remains committed to doing our part in ensuring the safety and health of the university community and takes seriously our responsibility to the broader local, state and national community.

Based on the latest COVID-19 developments and best practices recommended by state and federal authorities, Auburn will transition to an alternate operations model starting Monday, March 16, to be fully implemented by close of business Monday. All Auburn employees who can perform their job responsibilities from a remote location should begin doing so as soon as possible but no later than close of business Monday, March 16.

Determinations regarding assigned work locations for employees (remote or job site) will be made by supervisors based on the employee’s assigned job responsibilities and the need to maintain full university operations. Supervisors should communicate as soon as possible with employees in their units regarding implementation of this directive.

This alternate operations model is currently intended to be in place until April 10. As we all know, however, new information is becoming available daily. The university will communicate any necessary modifications to this operations model as circumstances change. Please monitor the university’s COVID-19 site for regular updates.

 

March 12:

Auburn University will transition from on-campus instruction to remote delivery beginning Monday, March 16 and continue through April 10 in response to concerns about the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

University officials ask that students refrain from returning to campus after spring break. University officials will subsequently determine if students will return to campus for the remaining weeks of the spring semester. Auburn faculty will contact students on steps they should take to continue their academic coursework.

The university will continue normal operations, although departments and units should utilize remote work and “social distancing” as appropriate.

“The Auburn Family faces many unknowns about this virus,” said Auburn University President Jay Gogue. “We are taking these unprecedented steps based on our utmost concern for the health and well-being of Auburn students, faculty and staff. In the meantime, we continue working with public health and emergency preparedness officials to make decisions in the best interest of the campus community and to help stop the spread of COVID-19.”

Other university actions:

  • All university events, including sporting events, are canceled through April 10, ensuring appropriate “social distancing” and helping prevent the potential spread of the virus.

  • All university domestic and international travel is suspended through April 10.

  • Dining facilities, libraries and residence halls will be closed through April 10. University officials will make arrangements for international students and others who are unable to return home. Students who have specific questions should contact the Division of Student Affairs at 334-844-1304.

  • Decisions have not yet been made on spring commencement, summer study abroad programs or other events and activities beyond April 10.

  • The university medical clinic remains open. Those exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms should immediately call the Auburn Medical Clinic at 334-844-9825 before visiting the clinic. 

  • University officials will make arrangements for students who do not have access to the technology needed for remote instruction. 

Students who live on campus and believe it necessary to return to campus to collect personal items should first contact the Office of University Housing at housing@auburn.edu.

Auburn officials urge the following safety precautions:

- Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds

- Cover your cough and sneeze with a tissue or your sleeve

- Don’t touch your face, especially your eyes, mouth and nose

- Disinfect commonly touched surfaces, including mobile devices

Auburn’s COVID-19 information page will be updated daily. Auburn University at Montgomery will issue a separate announcement regarding its operations.

Media Contact: Austin Phillips, austinp@auburn.edu, 334-844-2444

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