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?

The Information Centre will be able to either answer your questions directly, or connect you with a team member who can.

Our team members are working from home due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, so the phone number to reach the Information Centre is unavailable until further notice.

To reach the Information Centre, please first visit AskAU (https://www.athabascau.ca/contact/askau/) to see if your question has already been answered. If it hasn’t, you can use the web-contact form found at the bottom of the page to ask a question, and a team member from the Information Centre will respond as quickly as possible.

You can also use the online chat function by clicking the blue tab at the bottom-right of the screen when you visit AskAU (https://www.athabascau.ca/contact/askau/).

Visit the Help & Support page for information on how to connect with an AU service team for assistance.

For your convenience, here are some of the most frequently requested email addresses:

For all inquiries, please include your full name and student ID number.

Will AU reopen its facilities as part of the Government of Alberta's plan to relaunch the economy?

Athabasca University will not be reopening any of its facilities to the public at this time. This includes the AU exam centres in Athabasca, Calgary, and Edmonton.

We will continue to support our learners through this situation in any way we can, including providing accommodations and alternatives for in-person class components such as labs and paper-based exams. To discuss accommodations for your course, please contact your tutor directly or reach out to your Course Coordinator.

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. Although we are not reopening our facilities, our university will remain open to ensure that our learners get the supports they need as classes continue as usual.

What’s the best way to contact AU?

While our university remains open to support you and classes will continue as usual, we have adjusted to help keep our AU team members safe and, wherever possible, working from home. Our phone lines will remain closed but you can still reach us by email. Email contacts are listed in the Quick Reference section at the top of the page and in the questions answered below. 

You can also reach out to us on our website for help and there are a number of self-service web form inside myAU to get in touch with us. It is also the best way to register for online exams.

Please use this format when emailing us, 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: 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 know that inbound phone services for learners is a critical need and we know our learners are frustratedWith more than two dozen contact points into the university, which operate independently using a variety of tools, turning on our inbound phone lines for AU team members who are working from home has taken a considerable amount of planning and preparation, including acquiring dedicated phone equipment. We are in the final stretch of this planning and expect to have the phone lines on soon. 

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 hand-washing, 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 24-hours a day.

Please reach out when you need to. Isolation is a risk factor, so please stay socially connected with family, friends, colleagues, and your community however you can: through phone, text, video chat, or social media.

Text4Hope is another free resource that may help to provide encouragement and supportive content. Text COVID19HOPE to 393939 to subscribe.

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

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?

During the initial stages of the COVID-19 global pandemic, AU supported undergraduate learners by waiving the fees for two-month extensions for their undergraduate individualized-study courses.

This was an immediate support we put in place to help give students more time to re-arrange exams, book alternative assessments, wrap up their courses, and adjust to the disruption in their lives. We provided more than 13,000 of these extensions to support learners.

While we are no longer offering extensions with waived fees, to allow for more flexibility, until further notice AU will allow learners to purchase an extension right up until the last day of their contract. At this time AU is allowing learners to purchase an additional extension beyond the normal maximum of three. You can request an extension online via myAU. Under manage your courses, select apply for course extension and complete the online form.

Graduate learners must contact their faculty directly for all inquiries, including requests for extensions, exam deferrals, and alternative assessments.

Learners currently receiving student financial aid, or who will be for an upcoming semester, should consult with their AU Financial Aid Advisor (sfa@athabascau.ca) to discuss ANY potential changes to their studies. Extensions and other accommodations may not be available as their funding eligibility may be affected.

How will my student financial aid and/or course load be affected?

All funded students need to work with an AU Financial Aid Advisor (sfa@athabascau.ca) to discuss ANY potential changes to their studies. These students are working with a four-month term and active study plans that include future semester registrations. Extensions and accommodations may not be available as student funding may 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 AU is offering. As we receive more details from government agencies, we will be in a better position to share those with you.

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. Our university will remain open to ensure that our learners get the supports they need as classes continue as usual.

Are Convocation events being rescheduled?

Athabasca University will host a virtual Convocation on Oct. 2, 2020. 

Celebrating your academic achievement is important to us at AU, and we want to ensure that you can celebrate your accomplishments with those who have supported you throughout this journey. 

Convocation 2020 will be hosted on a virtual platform that will integrate both live and recorded elements. It will blend traditional elements with new and interactive experiences. We’re planning virtual tours of the Athabasca campus grounds, faculty and program-specific live forums and exhibits, virtual networking opportunities, entertainment, and meet and greets with some of AU’s leadership team. 

We know you will have questions and we have answers. All the information you will need to know is posted on the Convocation 2020 website. 

Questions about exams

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

If you’d like to move forward with your exam and it is available online, you’ll have to set up an account through ProctorU and then book exam invigilation at least 20 calendar days prior to when you’d like to write your exam. Login to myAU and request your exam for the same date you’ve booked through ProctorU.

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 rebooking fees. 

You also have the option to have your online exams invigilated by any third-party invigilators who are already approved as part of AU’s Exam Invigilation Network, in addition to ProctorU.

AU encourages learners to use ProctorU whenever possible, but we understand this service may not be accessible to all learners and some may prefer other options.

If you already booked your exam with ProctorU, we are asking that you please do not rebook with another invigilator.

These invigilators’ services are subject to change, so learners are responsible to confirm an invigilators’ ability to accommodate their exam prior to booking.

Third-party invigilators will be able to offer in-person invigilation for online exams only; AU will not issue any paper-based exams until further notice.

I booked my online exam at an external invigilator, but have just found out they are closed. What should I do?

If you are still within your course contract you may use the Exam Request form in MyAU and rebook your exam using ProctorU as an invigilator. AU is waiving rebooking fees and late exam fees at this time, but you will need to provide 20 days notice so that we can process your change of invigilation. When requesting your exam, you can declare a write date occurring up to 30 days after the course end date.

If you are unable to use ProctorU, please contact your faculty for alternative arrangements:

If your course contract has already expired you can contact the Exam Unit at examunit@athbascau.ca for assistance rebooking your exam.

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

Unless you have been informed otherwise, an online exam through ProctorU is your first option where one is available. You can check availability and schedule your online exam via myAU. 

To book the online exam option please follow these steps: 

  1. Set up an account through ProctorU. 
  2. Book exam invigilation at least 20 calendar days prior to when you’d like to write your exam
  3. Login to myAU and request your exam for the same date you’ve booked through ProctorU. Use invigilation identification number of 3278826. 

Please email examunit@athabascau.ca if you are unable to request your exam through myAU or need assistance. If you are able to rebook your exam through ProctorU, you don’t need to email us to let us know that you’ve rebooked. 

If you have already scheduled an exam at an external invigilation site and need to rebook your exam with ProctorU, AU will waive all internal exam-rebooking fees. 

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: 

I've been advised my external exam invigilation site has re-opened. What should I do?

Undergraduate learners can now book their online exams invigilated by any third-party invigilators who are already approved as part of AU’s Exam Invigilation Network, in addition to ProctorU.

AU encourages learners to use ProctorU whenever possible, but we understand this service may not be accessible to all learners and some may prefer other options.

If you already booked your exam with ProctorU, we are asking that you please do not rebook with another invigilator.

Learners may book exams ONLY with approved invigilators. This includes invigilators listed as part of the Exam Invigilation Network and also unlisted invigilators learners have been approved to use in the past. AU is not able to approve additional invigilators at this time.

These invigilators’ services are subject to change, so learners are responsible to confirm an invigilators’ ability to accommodate their exam prior to booking.

Third-party invigilators will be able to offer in-person invigilation for online exams only; AU will not issue any paper-based exams until further notice.

The AU Exam Centres in Athabasca, Edmonton, and Calgary remain closed until further notice as a precaution due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Process for booking exam:

The process to book an online exam will remain the same.

Learners must first confirm with their invigilator that the invigilator will be able to accommodate the student’s exam request. Learners will be responsible to confirm the invigilator will comply with all public-health orders in their jurisdiction, and students must also adhere to any additional protocols those third-party invigilators may put in place.

Learners must then book an exam through their invigilator of choice at least 20 calendar days prior to when they would like to take an exam. Once that step is completed, learners should log in to myAU and request their exam for the same date they have booked with their invigilator.

If they are unable to request their exam through myAU or if they need assistance, they should reach out to the Info Centre via the Contact Us form.Where an online exam is not available, or where their personal circumstances mean that sitting an online exam will be difficult, we are still asking students to contact their faculty for alternative arrangements:

ProctorU still preferred first choice where possible

We recommend, where possible that learners use ProctorU, which will allow students to take their exams from the comfort of their own homes while maintaining appropriate social distance.

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

Unless you have been informed otherwise, an online exam through ProctorU is your first option where one is available. You can check availability and schedule your online exam via myAU. 

To book the online exam option please follow these steps: 

  1. Set up an account through ProctorU. 
  2. Book exam invigilation at least 20 calendar days prior to when you’d like to write your exam. We also created this page to help you navigate ProctorU during COVID-19.
  3. Login to myAU and request your exam for the same date you’ve booked through ProctorU. Use invigilation identification number of 3278826. 

Please email examunit@athabascau.ca if you are unable to request your exam through myAU or need assistance. If you are able to rebook your exam through ProctorU, you don’t need to email us to let us know that you’ve rebooked. 

If you have already scheduled an exam at an external invigilation site and need to rebook your exam with ProctorU, AU will waive all internal exam-rebooking fees. 

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: 

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. 

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: 

We are also working hard to digitize many paperbased exams; please check your course website for updates.  

Unless you have been informed otherwise, an online exam through ProctorU is your first option where one is available. You can check availability and schedule your online exam via myAU. 

To book the online exam option please follow these steps: 

  1. Set up an account through ProctorU. 
  2. Book exam invigilation at least 20 calendar days prior to when you’d like to write your exam
  3. Login to myAU and request your exam for the same date you’ve booked through ProctorU. Use invigilation identification number of 3278826. 

Please email examunit@athabascau.ca if you are unable to request your exam through myAU or need assistance. If you are able to rebook your exam through ProctorU, you don’t need to email us to let us know that you’ve rebooked. 

If you have already scheduled an exam at an external invigilation site and need to rebook your exam with ProctorU, AU will waive all internal exam-rebooking fees. 

How much notice is needed to book an online exam?

All online exam requests require 20 days 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?

Once an online exam has been issued by AU, it may be written in advance of the learner’s declared write date, if desired. 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. This service allows students to take their exams from the safety of their home on a schedule that works for them. 

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 or utilize their services, you can contact your course coordinator to discuss potential alternative assessment options.

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 AU. 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?

Unless you have been informed otherwise, an online exam through ProctorU 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: 

Questions about learning resources

How will access to physical learning resources (e.g. print textbooks) be affected?

The global response to COVID-19 has disrupted the distribution channels that AU relies on to ship resources to our learners. To remain flexible and to continue AU’s mission to remove barriers to post-secondary education even in these unprecedented times, we are taking steps to replace physical resources with digital version wherever possible.

This transition will begin immediately and is expected to take several weeks to complete. Over the coming weeks, you may see one or more of the following changes in your courses:

  • Digital copies of mandatory course resources, including resources from publishers and other third-party providers, will be purchased by the Library and be made available in your courses.
  • Some print textbooks will be replaced by eTexts accessible through VitalSource or directly from publishers

Will AU ship me my book once the COVID-19 crisis is over?

If the mandatory resource is replaced by a VitalSource eText or a Library eBook, then you will not receive a physical copy of that resource.

How can I access the eText?

A link to the eText will be available in your course’s site. Learn more about accessing your eText.

Questions about transcripts

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

We will continue to accept incoming official transcripts from other institutions sent by mail, and will also 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 are issuing transcripts by email. We have temporarily suspended our priority transcript service (courier and fax options) until further notice. Requests for Athabasca University transcripts can be made online through myAU.

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.

Because of the immediate nature of email submission, it is important that you preview a copy before sending. If there are any problems with the transcript, you must first contact the Office of the Registrar at acrec@athabascau.ca to resolve any concerns prior to sending.

In cases where students need transcripts to go to institutions that are not accepting email or if you need to send supporting documentation, we can also send a copy via mail. First, complete the Transcript Request Form, then email acrec@athabascau.ca with your name, student ID number, and the mailing address that you need this sent to and we can send it that way. Please note that this request may take up to 10 business days to be processed.

Quick Reference—Who should I contact?

The Information Centre will be able to either answer your questions directly, or connect you with a team member who can.

Our team members are working from home due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, so the phone number to reach the Information Centre is unavailable until further notice.

To reach the Information Centre, please first visit AskAU (https://www.athabascau.ca/contact/askau/) to see if your question has already been answered. If it hasn’t, you can use the web-contact form found at the bottom of the page to ask a question, and a team member from the Information Centre will respond as quickly as possible.

You can also use the online chat function by clicking the blue tab at the bottom-right of the screen when you visit AskAU (https://www.athabascau.ca/contact/askau/).

Visit the Help & Support page for information on how to connect with an AU service team for assistance.

For your convenience, here are some of the most frequently requested email addresses:

For all inquiries, please include your full name and student ID number.

Published:
  • October 22, 2020