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A Letter from the President
Welcome to Aurora University’s new family newsletter. The articles that follow were developed with you in mind. Though we often encourage students to share regular updates with families, we know that this doesn’t always happen. And so the university is stepping in to provide ongoing updates.
I hope you know that we are doing the same with students. All receive regular emailed messages, including twice-a-month letters from their academic deans and the athletic director. Students in campus housing receive special residential mailings. And I often share ideas or updates in informal messages.
The COVID-19 section on our website provides the latest safety information. You may learn also about weather emergencies on our homepage. In this extraordinary time, we want to do even more to share information in a timely and transparent way.
As you skim this newsletter, you will note that I am going to schedule regular opportunities to talk directly with parents during 2021–2022. Sign up for one (or more) of these Zoom conversations and we will stay in touch with each other throughout the nine months ahead.
The optimism of late spring has given way to the realities of late summer. Recently I heard one commentator observe that we are “watching real science in real time.” Each day brings new data and new information. We monitor closely and now feel comfortable sharing definitive safety information about the fall.
Keep reading and watch for each edition of the newsletter. Attend a Zoom Q&A session or drop me a message at email@example.com. A phone call will be welcomed too (630-844-5475). I look forward to the year ahead and all of the good conversations we will have together.
Rebecca L. Sherrick, PhD
Fall 2021 safety priorities
During 2021–2022, AU will balance the same priorities that have guided decision-making for the past 18 months:
- First, our goal is to create and maintain a safe and healthy living, learning, and working environment on our campuses in Illinois and Wisconsin.
- Second, we will continue to emphasize the distinctive brand of face-to-face learning that is a hallmark of the AU experience. For students who prefer to take classes fully online, we provide a robust array of online educational options through AU Online.
Expectations: Vaccinations, testing, and quarantine/isolation
Here is what you need to know in preparation for being together again:
- The university will require COVID-19 vaccinations for all students, faculty, and staff. Only those who seek and receive exemptions for medical, religious, or personal reasons will not be required to provide proof of vaccination. Students must submit proof of vaccination by sending a copy of their vaccination card to firstname.lastname@example.org or completing and submitting an exemption request form.
- The university will require unvaccinated members of its campus communities to comply with surveillance testing requirements. Individuals will be notified in advance of testing times and will be expected to participate willingly.
- The university will continue to hold free vaccination clinics on the main AU campus. These will be open to students, faculty, staff, and families. Tests and vaccinations are also readily available at area pharmacies.
- Residential students who contract the virus will be expected to return home to recover or to quarantine/isolate in university-provided facilities. Unvaccinated individuals will be billed for room and food delivery charges incurred at the local hotel used for this purpose.
Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker recently announced a school mask mandate. For this reason, the university will require all to wear face coverings indoors. Faculty will not wear masks while teaching, but will maintain safe distances from students throughout class time.
COVID contact information
Our website remains the best single source for current COVID-19 information, though periodic newsletters, postings, and emailed messages also are provided. These additional resources are available:
COVID-19 Health Service Hotline: 630-844-7500 (M–F/8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.)
COVID-19 Questions: email@example.com
Proof of Vaccination/Exemption Request: firstname.lastname@example.org
Welcome Weekend for first-year students
We look forward to welcoming first-year students to campus beginning Thursday, August 19, with residence hall check-in from 8 a.m.–noon for those living on campus. Commuter student check-in will be from 12:30–2:30 p.m. Check-ins will take place in the University Banquet Hall, located on the south side of Alumni Hall.
Welcome Weekend activities will begin at 2 p.m. Residential students will participate in a hall "meet and greet" and then gather with everyone on Vago Field for the official start of Welcome Weekend.
Welcome Weekend is mandatory for first-year students. For details and a schedule of events, visit aurora.edu/welcomeweekend.
Facts about FERPA
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that protects students’ privacy. It may surprise parents that when their student turns 18 years old, or enters a postsecondary institution at any age, he or she has complete control over who can access their education information — regardless of who is paying tuition.
However, students do have the option to identify individuals to whom they wish to grant access to their records, including their financial information. Basically, this means students must inform the university who can have access to their information.
For example, if a parent contacts AU about the status of a student’s bill, he or she will be asked to provide their student’s FERPA code before anything can be shared. Students can also designate authorized users through the Online Student Account Center (OSAC). It’s important to note that authorized users can only access information available in the OSAC. So, if you are calling an AU office for other information, the staff would still need your student’s FERPA code or your ID if you are visiting in person. For those who want the latest billing communications and information, be sure that your student designates you as an authorized user through the OSAC.
Students set up a FERPA code and authorized user(s) during their advising appointments through the WebAdvisor online platform. If they need to update their code/authorized user(s) they can do so by clicking on "FERPA Authorization to release information" within the Students menu in WebAdvisor.
Students receive cash grants
Good news! Aurora University is distributing American Rescue Plan emergency cash grants to all students enrolled during the 2021 summer and/or 2021 fall semesters. These grant dollars are awarded to students for the purpose of providing COVID-19 emergency aid, which may be used to pay for tuition or any other component of a student’s cost of attendance, such as housing, dining, or textbooks. Students may also use these dollars for emergency costs that arose due to coronavirus, such as food, housing, healthcare (including mental healthcare), or childcare.
The funds will be awarded this week as follows:
- Students enrolled during the 2021 summer and/or fall semesters for 12 or more undergraduate credit hours will receive $1,000.
- Students enrolled during the 2021 summer and/or fall semesters for fewer than 12 undergraduate credit hours will receive $500.
A total of 6,138 students have received the emergency cash grants amounting to $5,325,500. Distributions are being paid by check unless a student has signed up for electronic deposit refunds through the Online Student Account Center. If you have any questions concerning the award delivery method, please contact Student Accounts at email@example.com or 630-844-5470.
We’re here for you
Communication with faculty and staff is so important as students and parents begin to participate in the college experience. To ensure your questions and concerns about the upcoming year are addressed, AU is hosting a number of meetings with key administrators and staff. We hope you will join us for these conversations over the next several days.
Face-to-Face Q&A Sessions: Meet with AU Staff During Student Drop-off
Thursday, August 19 | 10–11 a.m. CST | Tapper Recital Hall in the Hill Welcome Center
Thursday, August 19 | 11 a.m.–noon CST | Tapper Recital Hall in the Hill Welcome Center
Thursday, August 19 | noon–1 p.m. CST | Tapper Recital Hall in the Hill Welcome Center
Registration is not required for these sessions.
The Parent-University Partnership: Zoom Conversations with President Sherrick and Executive Vice President de Lacey
Wednesday, August 11 | 9 a.m. CST
Wednesday, August 11 | 4 p.m. CST
Thursday, August 12 | 9 a.m. CST
Thursday, August 12 | 4 p.m. CST
You must click on the Zoom link to register in advance of the session you’d like to attend. You will then receive a confirmation email with the Zoom link for the meeting.
Zoom Office Hours with President Sherrick
Monday, August 16 | 4–5 p.m. CST
Tuesday, August 17 | 4–5 p.m. CST
Please email Becca Flaminio at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to participate in these sessions.