The Hub COVID-19 Questions and Answers for Learners

COVID-19 Questions and Answers for Learners

We understand Athabasca University (AU) learners may have questions specific to AU arising as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic. 

This page includes answers to frequently asked questions we have received from our undergraduate learners. 

For graduate learners, please contact your faculty for all inquiries, including requests for extensions, exam deferrals, and alternative assessments. 

Quick Reference—Who should I contact if....

 If you have additional questions related specifically to Athabasca University, that are not already answered below, please contact covid@athabascau.ca and we will answer your questions as quickly as possible. 

Athabasca University will be transitioning our team members to work from home. During this time, we will be moving to email as our primary method of handling inquiries. This will help to ensure there is no disruption in service for our learners. For all inquiries, please include your full name and student ID number. 

What’s the best way to contact AU?

While our university remains open to support you and classes will continue as usual, we are adjusting to help keep our AU team members safe and, wherever possible, working from home. As of Monday, March 30, we will be closing our telephone option of communication with frontline service teams to ensure they can all work safely from home.

This means that reaching us by email is the most efficient method for the foreseeable future. Email contacts are listed in the Quick Reference section at the top of the page and in the questions answered below. 

Please use this format, so we can get back to you with the right information more quickly.

Subject: LAST NAME, FIRST NAME: A brief description of what you’re looking for or why you’re emailing
Example: FREUD, SIGMUND: Course extension for PSYC 200
Body: Please begin the body of your email with your Student ID number

Please know that while we are dealing with a high volume of requests and inquiries from our learners, we are working as quickly as we can to respond. Please do not send multiple emails about the same topic, as that may slow our response time. 

We appreciate your ongoing patience and understanding. 

Taking care of yourself

What precautions should I take to stay healthy?

The safety of our learners and team members is a top priority. We encourage learners and team members to take precautions and follow any instructions provided by the relevant public health authority in your area. 

To protect against respiratory illnesses such as coronavirus, Alberta Health Services recommends using good hygiene practices such as social distancing, frequent handwashing, and staying at home if you are feeling ill. More information about coronavirus can be found on the Alberta Health Services website. 

The Government of Alberta webpage has information about recommended precautions and public health orders regarding mandatory isolation periods and restrictions on mass gatherings. 

The Government of Canada website and the World Health Organization website provide additional information and guidance about the current outbreak.

I am struggling with my mental health. What supports are available?

If you are feeling overwhelmed or need additional support, please know that help is available. As an AU learner, you have access to wellness support through Homewood Health.   

If you still have questions and you’re not sure who to contact, please send a message to learnersupport@athabascau.ca.   

Just like you, we are doing the best that we can to navigate these uncertain times as they continue to evolve, while ensuring our learners, AU team members, and their families also remain safe. 

What can I do if I am too sick to study, or cannot study because I’m caring for someone who is sick?

If you are too sick to study, or if you are caring for someone who is ill and you are unable to study, please contact us at learnersupport@athabascau.ca so we can assist you. We understand that these circumstances are beyond your control. 

I have received a suspicious email. How can I protect myself from phishing attacks?

It may be a phone call trying to scam you or a phishing attack that may try to get you to click on malicious links or open infected email attachments. While this list is not exhaustive and the message could be an email, pop-up, or even a phone call, be on the lookout for these suspicious asks: 

  • Any message that communicates a tremendous sense of urgency. The attackers are trying to rush you and cause you to make a mistake. 
  • Any message that promotes miracle cures, such as vaccines or medicine that will protect you. The best information on COVID-19 will be on official websites, see links to those from our Information on COVID-19 page on The Hub. 
  • Be very suspicious of any phone call or message that pretends to be an official or government organization urging you to take immediate action. 

Your best defense against phishing is vigilance, please be alert. When you encounter any phishing or other malicious e-mails simply delete them without responding, and without clicking any links or attachments. After you delete the e-mail you can also empty your trash to remove it completely from your account. If it’s a phone call, hang up immediately. 

AU has resources available here (you’ll have to sign in with your MyAU credentials) and please contact the IT HelpDesk to report any cybersecurity threats. 

Questions about courses and extensions

What can I do if I need an extension? Will you waive the fees?

If you have been affected by COVID-19 and your course is nearing completion or you are unable to study due to caring for others and work commitments and need additional time to help you complete your course, AU will allow for a two-month extension for undergraduate courses and will waive processing fees. 

Please email enrol@athabascau.ca, include your student ID number and the course(s) for which you need an extension, and a team member will reach out with next steps. 

I am on student financial aid or will be in an upcoming semester. Will my student loan and/or full time (or part time) course load be affected?

Course extensions, examination delays, and withdrawals will all likely have an effect in some manner. There are factors to consider, such as the possible exceptions your provincial or territorial funding agency may put in place to account for the accommodations that Athabasca University is prepared to extend to you at this time. We encourage you to contact your funding agency directly to discuss the specifics of your situation. As we receive more details from government agencies, we will be in a better position to share those with you. We also encourage you to consider your short- and long-term plan for success: please refer to this post, Planning for Academic Success. 

If you are a funded student requiring additional time for your studies or need to discuss cancelling or withdrawing from your funded semester (current or upcoming), send your request to sfa@athabascau.ca. 

The federal government is placing a six-month interest-free moratorium on the repayment of Canada Student Loans for all individuals currently in the process of repaying these loans. 

Alberta Student Loan repayments will be paused for six months, beginning March 30, 2020. 

Are courses being cancelled?

No, AU is not cancelling any online courses. We are here to assist learners through this situation in any way we can. Some courses will require accommodations and we are working on what those will look like. 

Due to recommendations from public health officials, we will be pausing all face-to-face course components until further notice. 

As a digital university, Athabasca University is fortunate to have the infrastructure in place to help learners complete their studies from home at their own pace. We are working with anyone who needs additional time or resources, but our university will remain open to ensure that our learners get the supports they need as classes continue as usual.

Are Convocation events being cancelled or rescheduled?

At this time, we have not cancelled our Convocation 2020 events in Athabasca or Toronto. However, the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve so we are monitoring the advice from public health officials in both Alberta and Ontario.

If the COVID-19 situation requires us to cancel or reschedule our Convocation events, that information will be posted to our Information on COVID-19 page on The Hub, as well as on the Athabasca University Convocation website.

Questions about exams

I have an exam scheduled at one of AU's exam centres. What should I do?

All in-person exams scheduled from March 16 until at least April 15, 2020 have been cancelled. This is inclusive of any in-person invigilated exam regardless of location. Rebooking fees will also be waived.  More information on how and when to rebook exams will be available soon. We would encourage you to monitor your email and to check back here and The Hub’s Information on COVID-19 for updates.

I've been advised an external exam invigilation site is closed. What should I do?

To facilitate rebooking, Athabasca University is allowing your invigilator to keep the exam for 60 days after they re-open to help you reschedule your exam at a later date. AU will allow you to write your exam at a later date. If it is an online exam you can reschedule this with ProctorU. 

If you are scheduled to write an exam with an external invigilator and you need to reschedule for any reason, please email examunit@athabascau.ca. A team member will respond with next steps. 

I've been advised to self-isolate and I need to reschedule an exam, who can I contact?

If you were scheduled to write your exam at AU Edmonton or AU Calgary, please email examservices@athabascau.ca and identify that you are required to self-isolate and need to reschedule your exam. A team member will respond with the next steps.     

If your exam is an online exam, we recommend that you consider using ProctorU to write from your home or other preferred location. More information about using ProctorU is available on the Office of the Registrar’s page 

We will waive Athabasca University exam fees as appropriate to change your invigilator to ProctorU. You will be responsible for payment to ProctorU for their services.  

If you are writing with an external invigilator, please email examunit@athabascau.ca and identify that you are required to self-isolate and need to reschedule your exam.  A team member will respond with the next steps. 

What can I do if I want to book an exam?

If your exam is provided in an online format, you can login to MyAU and complete an Exam Request Form using ProctorU as your invigilator.   

You can find more information about ProctorU and FAQ page on ProctorU 

Please do not request new paper-based exams.   

At this time, we are pausing the processing of any new paper-based exams. We are prioritizing learners with online exams and working towards alternative assessment options. AU will allow learners to reschedule exams at a later date and will waive any re-booking fees. More information on how and when to re-book exams will be available as this situation evolves. 

What can I do if my class requires a paper-based exam?

For undergraduate paper-based exams, alternative assessment arrangements are being put into place:

  • Unless you have been informed otherwise, an online exam is your first option where one is available. You can check availability and schedule your online exam via MyAU.
  • Where an online exam is not available, or where your personal circumstances mean that sitting an online exam will be difficult, contact your faculty for alternative arrangements:
    • Faculty of Business: Contact the Student Support Centre by email at business-support@athabascau.ca.
    • Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences: Contact your Course Coordinator
    • Faculty of Health Disciplines: Contact your Course Coordinator
    • Faculty of Science and Technology: Contact your Course Coordinator

How much notice is needed to book an online exam?

Due to the rapidly evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, we cannot currently guarantee a timeline for online exam fulfilment. Our team members are working diligently to process all online exam rebookings and new online exam requests in the order in which they were received. Our online exam request form is, as of March 24, 2020, requiring 20 days of notice (subject to change) before a learner’s desired exam-writing date for the exam request to be processed. Once an online exam has been issued by AU, it may be written in advance of the learner’s declared write date, if desired. 

Can I write an exam sooner with ProctorU? What does it cost?

To write an AU exam with ProctorU, flex scheduling allows a learner to make an invigilation appointment at least 72 hours before the desired start time. At an additional cost, a learner may choose the “Take it Soon” or “Take it Now” options. The “Take it Soon” option allows a test to be scheduled within 72 hours of the chosen start time. The “Take it Now” option allows a learner to take a test on-demand, with no appointment needed. ProctorU fee information can be found on our Office of the Registrar website. All ProctorU fees are in US dollars. 

Why is AU not waiving the invigilation fee charged by ProctorU?

ProctorU is a third-party service that AU has partnered with to host online invigilation services. ProctorU collects their service fees directly from students. AU has waived all internal fees associated with re-booking or rescheduling exams to try to remove some financial burden. If you are unable to pay the ProctorU fee, please consider requesting a course extension (at no charge), to provide additional time for in-person invigilation to resume. 

Is there a way to include these additional costs on the Tuition and Enrolment Certificate (T2202) issued by Athabasca University?

Unfortunately, this is not possible as learners pay their exam invigilator directly for their services. Those costs cannot be included on a tax form issued by Athabasca University. We advise learners to keep their receipts for any invigilation fees and claim them if appropriate when they file their 2020 tax returns. 

What can I do if I have a deadline to graduate/get a final mark for another institution, but cannot write a paper-based exam required to complete my course?

We understand that for learners in this position, a course extension won’t resolve your issue. 

The Athabasca University Office of the Registrar and all faculties are currently working through a process to provide alternative assessment methods for learners in this situation so that their ability to graduate on time is not affected. 

Once a process has been established, we will post that information to this web page, which we will update daily as needed. We understand this may be a stressful time and ask for your continued patience as we finalize these arrangements. 

Questions about transcripts

What can I do if I need to send transcripts from another institution to AU?

We will accept incoming official transcripts from other institutions via email to enrol@athabascau.ca. These must come directly from the institution. We will not accept transcripts sent directly from learners. 

What can I do if I need AU to send transcripts to another institution?

At this time we will continue to issue transcripts, but we have temporarily suspended our priority transcript service (courier and fax options) until further notice. We are also unable to email transcripts to recipients. We will continue to print and send out transcripts. If this situation changes, we will update our COVID-19 webpage. 

Requests for Athabasca University transcripts can be made online through myAU or by submitting a Transcript Request Form to the Academic Records unit of the Office of the Registrar. 

To request a transcript online, log into myAU and then select the “Request Transcripts” option under Student Record in the left-hand navigation menu. This service allows you to preview and print your transcript before it gets sent to the destination that you have specified. If you need a copy immediately, you can download a copy from the preview and send it to your institution to have until the official transcript arrives. 

For more information about your transcript, please send an email to the Academic Records unit at acrec@athabascau.ca. 

  • April 3, 2020