Taking Care of our People in a Time of Covid-19

March 13, 2020

Dear Members of the AUC Community,

The Covid-19 Response Task Force has continued over the rainstorm emergency weekend to assess developments both globally and among our students, faculty, and staff regarding the pandemic. The good news upfront:  so far, we have no confirmed cases among our community;  the handful of those with flu-like symptoms over the past week quickly left campus, were examined or tested, and have proven uninfected with the novel coronavirus. 

Nevertheless, the pandemic is spreading rapidly and globally. We must redouble our efforts both to prevent the spread of the virus and to slow it down if and when it does appear among us on either of our two campuses.  

Hence, we are taking three immediate additional steps, beyond those previously announced (including increased cleaning and disinfection of indoor spaces and vehicles; canceling and restricting travel and public events),  to comply with the WHO,  Government of Egypt, US Government  and other authoritative international recommendations to lessen close physical contact among large groups of people:

·      First, we will move up our regularly scheduled spring break to begin Sunday, March 15, instead of Sunday, April 12.

·      Second, we will use that week-long academic spring break for two purposes:

o    to hone our preparations to shift all possible instruction to online formats,

o    and to develop policies, technologies, and procedures to test new remote work arrangements for selected administrative staff.

·      Third, we will begin a two-week test of online instruction when classes recommence on Sunday, March 22.  

Let me emphasize that AUC will remain open and fully operational during these several weeks. Provost Ehab Abdel-Rahman will communicate full details of the shift in the academic operation. Meanwhile, next week managers will work in collaboration with HR to develop remote work guidelines for administrative staff, where appropriate.

Many faculty and staff colleagues at all levels are deeply engaged in sustaining our University’s operations at our normal high standards not only for our core mission of research-based teaching and learning, but also for our community health, safety, and security,  even under the unfolding circumstances of the global emergency.  I’m especially proud to serve with our fine students, faculty, and staff at such challenging moments, and commend all for their commitment and confidence as we race to the finish of our centennial year’s Spring term.

Francis J. Ricciardone