JMU leadership updates community on the return to campus

jmuFaculty and staff at James Madison University have been working tirelessly to prepare for the return of students beginning Aug. 21, when the first wave of freshmen arrive for move-in.

Move in, much like the rest of the semester, will look and feel different but is necessary in JMU’s efforts to make student return safe for all.

“Public health and safety of the JMU and local communities continue to be our top priorities, and we remain resolute in our pursuit of maintaining academic progress for our student body,” said JMU President Jonathan Alger.

There are certain requirements of students to consent to the COVID-19 Stop the Spread Agreement. Students have also been asked to have candid conversations with their families about these requirements as the expectations of student conduct have been set high.

If the University does have to adjust the current plans because of the pandemic’s continued advance, several factors will inform the decision-making process, including:

  • Changes in any orders from the Governor of Virginia;
  • Local hospital capacity;
  • Testing resources at the University Health Center;
  • An increase in positive COVID-19 cases within our community; and/or
  • Our on-campus and local isolation and quarantine capacity.

Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) recommended against testing asymptomatic individuals who have no concerning contact history. Testing materials continue to be a limited resource and lab turnaround times are significantly delayed when more tests need to be processed. JMU believes in appropriate stewardship of supplies and preserving testing capabilities. It was an intentional decision as to why JMU elected not to require students to test for COVID-19 prior to returning to campus; however, students are required to self-isolate for eight days before arriving on campus.

“We have been and will continue partnering with city and county leaders to stay abreast of what is happening within our community,” Alger added. “My deepest gratitude goes to the faculty, staff and community for entrusting JMU to handle this situation safely. I am grateful for the teamwork and thoughtfulness of everyone.”

A series of videos have been released on JMU’s social media channels and Dr. Tim Miller, vice president for Student Affairs, proclaims that “at JMU, wearing masks is the new holding doors.” In a profoundly important way, this sentiment rings true right now. While JMU remains open this fall, to make this semester safe and successful for all of us within the Harrisonburg and Rockingham County communities, it truly will take a collective team effort.

Additional information on JMU’s Stop the Spread campaign can be found here.


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