Looking for Answers?

Faculty can find answers to their questions about academic issues here. For more information, refer to the university's main Stop the Spread page. 

Refer to the academic calendar to view the winter session and spring semester schedules. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Course Information

 Will withdrawal, add or drop dates be changed?

No changes are being made to Add/Drop date for courses.


 How do students know the modality in which courses will be offered?

The official mode of delivery for your class must match the mode shown in MyMadison.

Permanent changes to the mode of delivery are not allowed at this time without AUH and dean approval.

If an instructor is under quarantine or isolation, their class may move to virtual delivery for a limited time with the permission of the AUH. In this case, the instructor must notify the students immediately of the change, explain the new mode of delivery and provide the temporary dates the class will meet virtually. The instructor is not required to explain the reason for the short-term change to mode of delivery to students.


 Do I have to update my syllabus?

You must update your syllabus if any of these elements of your class have changed:

  • Goals of the course
  • Nature of the course content
  • Requirements of the course
  • Methods of evaluation

In light of COVID-19, it is recommended that you update your syllabus to include language on addressing disruptive behavior in online classes. For more details, see the syllabus site. Also consider addressing inclement weather for online classes in your syllabus.

If you are recording your class for students to view online, you must also include information in your syllabus notifying students that the course is being recorded and how the recording will be used. See the Recording Courses and Student Privacy section for more details.

Online Delivery

 Where can I find resources for online teaching?

JMU Libraries is the best place to start! From their Teaching, Learning and Research site, you'll find information on everything from adjusting your pedagogy to adapting to technology to renting equipment. 

Be sure to review the  Online Teaching, Scholarship, and Career Planning Resources page created by CFI.

There are also a Teaching Toolkit and Online Teaching Resources for Faculty, full of information compiled by your peers, available from this site.

 Are all faculty expected to live stream all classes?

Synchronous video sharing is not mandated. Faculty should work with their AUHs to ensure student access and provide course content in ways that are pedagogically appropriate.

It is also important that all video sharing of live lectures be conducted using Canvas and adhere to FERPA regulations. Libraries workshops and resources are provided to assist faculty with video recording and streaming. Faculty are encouraged to view a quick video tour of the classroom and familiarize themselves with the new classroom technology in advance of the first day of classes. 

Faculty should communicate with students to keep time zones in mind when planning for synchronous delivery, time-specific exercises and exams. It is possible that some online students will be as much as 12 hours out of alignment with Harrisonburg time.

Face-to-Face Delivery

 Do I have to wear a mask when I'm teaching in the classroom if I'm behind plexiglass?

In most locations, everyone is required to wear a mask in indoor spaces while on owned or leased university property when in the presence of others. Speakers may remove their mask while speaking behind plexiglass to an audience in these physical spaces:

  • Atlantic Union Bank Center
  • Festival Ballroom
  • Grafton-Stovall Theatre
  • Hall of Presidents
  • Wilson Auditorium

If possible, speakers in these spaces are recommended to also present from behind a lectern or from an elevated stage distanced from the audience.

 Will I be notified of my students’ absences due to COVID-19?

Notifying you regarding absences is the responsibility of the student.

Students may contact you directly if they are going to be absent, and they may choose to share with you the reason for their absence. Faculty may not require students to submit notes or other documentation of illness from the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) or the University Health Center (UHC).

Students may choose to work with the Dean of Students for extended absences.

 What should I do if students notify me that they have tested positive for COVID-19?

If a student reports an illness to you, you must tell the student to contact the University Health Center via the UHC reporting website. Students taking online courses, including those that are not in Harrisonburg, must contact the health center to work with the DoS office.

 How do my students get a note from the Dean of Students Office?

To work with the Dean of Students (DoS) office, students who have been exposed to or tested positive for COVID-19 must self-report through the University Health Center (UHC) website. Students taking online courses, including those that are not in Harrisonburg, must contact the University Health Center to work with the DoS Office

The UHC will notify the Dean of Students (DoS) Office of students’ reporting. Only then will the DoS Office provide documentation of a student’s absence, based on the student’s request. The DoS will only generate a letter if the student does requests that they do so.

After receiving notice from the UHC and the student’s request, the DoS will email the student a secure link to access a personalized letter documenting their absence. It is the student’s responsibility to provide you with that letter if they choose to do so. The DoS will not send the letter directly to instructors for the student. Note that this process is only for COVID-related absences. For all other types of extended absences for which the student is working with the Dean of Students, the DoS will send a letter directly to the instructor.

The DoS does not excuse students from classes or assignments, and it is up to the student to communicate directly with their instructors to determine how absences and assignments will be handled upon their return.

 If a student in my class tests positive, does the whole class need to quarantine?

Entire classes do not need to quarantine if a student tests positive.

When a student recieves a positive result, the UHC or VDH will determine if there is a need to quarantine and contact individual students, faculty or staff directly.

To protect student privacy, you should not tell the entire class of possible exposure or positive test results.


 Am I required to have a seating chart in my face-to-face class?

Seating charts aren’t required. However, establishing a seating chart that is shared with students could help with contract tracing if one of your students is exposed to COVID-19. Alternatively, you could advise students to sit in the same location, as tends to be the pattern for most students anyway, and get to know the students they sit near.

 Should I open the windows in my classroom?

In general, do not open the windows in any classrooms or offices. The HVAC systems and window units have been calibrated for the optimum mixture of inside and outside airflow. If windows are opened for ventilation humidity will be uncontrolled and may create conditions that would lead to other issues including the inability to maintain temperature within a comfortable zone and microbial growth because of excessive humidity.

Mandatory mask usage coupled with continual disinfection within the classrooms and common areas will dramatically reduce the amount of infectious material that could potentially be released.  These actions along with our ongoing disinfections of classrooms and reduced occupancy rates should create a safer working environment than many will encounter elsewhere in their daily travels.

More details on HVAC systems and ventilation are available on the Academic Space Health and Safety page (https://www.jmu.edu/academic-affairs/covid/healthsafety.shtml).

 A student with an ODS-approved Access Plan has asked to complete my in-person class online. What do I do?

When they have ODS-authorized accommodations, instructors should work with students to determine a reasonable accommodation that enables the student to proceed in the course.

 I have students in quarantine and isolation that are requesting online delivery of my in-person course. Do I have to provide a virtual option?

Instructors should work with students that are in quarantine and isolation to determine a reasonable accommodation that enables the student to proceed in the course. This may be an online accommodation, but that is not required.

 Do faculty have to check students’ LiveSafe app status?

Faculty members should ask students to show their green check mark as part of on-campus classes, where possible and appropriate.

Recording Courses and Student Privacy

 Where can I find information about student privacy?

The Registrar’s website has comprehensive information on FERPA and student privacy. Faculty can also find specifics related to their responsibilities online. You’ll also find guidance in the Privacy Considerations section of the Libraries’ Guide to Hybrid & Online Teaching.

The Department of Education has also provided information on FERPA during COVID-19.

 Can I record my classes so students can watch them later?

To record classes, you must be in compliance with Academic Affairs policy #15. Class Session Recordings and Distribution.  

You can record your courses for later playback, but you must let your students know that the class is being recorded. Instructors must be mindful of the recording’s content, having documented consent from students, knowing how the recording is protected when posted, communicating their policies to students, and meeting their overall FERPA obligations. 

You must post any recordings through a university-supported source for playback to protect student privacy and avoid violating FERPA regulations.

 Do I have to tell my students if I’m recording a class?

Yes. Faculty must clearly communicate in their course syllabus when and how recording, streaming and photography are permitted in the course. Regardless of the individual course policy, recorded classes may not be used in any way that denigrates and/or decontextualizes the instructor or any student whose class remarks are recorded.

More details are available in Academic Affairs policy #15. Class Session Recordings and Distribution.  

 Do students have to agree to be recorded?

Yes. Instructors must clearly state in the syllabus that classes will or may be recorded, as well as communicating at the start of class that a class session will be recorded. You should not tell a class that by virtue of attending the online class today you consent to being recorded.

You should encourage students to bring their concerns about recording to you privately.

 Can I require that my students turn their webcams on during my class?

You can establish in your syllabus that a requirement for “attending” class is having your webcam on, but you must allow students to request exemptions. Those recordings, to the extent they capture student images, become part of the students’ educational records and must be treated the same way as other student records.

Note: There may be exceptions for certain courses that have clinical components during which instructors must observe skills.


 Where can I access resources for myself?

Make use of the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) if you are dealing with problems related to anxiety, depression and other possible concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. All health plans offered to state employees and their dependents have EAPs. You’ll find more information here: https://www.jmu.edu/humanresources/balanced-dukes/employee-assistance-program.shtml 

 I have questions about academic policies related to COVID-19 that aren't addressed here. Who should I talk to?

Academic Affairs established a Response Team of representatives from each college to address the evolving issues raised in our response to the pandemic. Chaired by Fletcher Linder, the group meets online weekly to discuss student and faculty concerns. Feel free to reach out to any member of the group with questions or suggestions.



Marcus Davis



Scott Gallagher



Chris Arndt



Dara Hall



Doug Hochstetler



Wren Stevens



Bob Kolvoord


Grad School

John Burgess



Brad Newcomer



Nick Swartz



Aaron Noland



Taryn Roberts



Dietrich Maune



Keston Fulcher



Dena Pastor



Carolyn Strong



Michele White


Univ Studies

Fletcher Linder



Meg Mulrooney


Faculty Senate

Val Larsen


Learning Centers

Laura Schubert



Herb Amato


Academic Policy

Cynthia Bauerle



Paula Maxwell



Ed Brantmeier



 Kristi Shackelford


Summer School

Catherine Crummett


 How was faculty input considered when making university decisions regarding COVID-19?

JMU’s strong faculty governance model has been crucial in incorporating faculty feedback. Each academic unit has a Faculty Senate representative who has the responsibility of sharing with the larger faculty what is happening at JMU. These representatives are asked to go back to the units and update you with the most recent information. Your faculty senate representative serves as the voice of your academic unit and is responsible for sharing your ideas, opinions and concerns.

The provost typically meets monthly with just the deans and most weeks with Academic Council to consider an array of issues. This summer, those meetings have nearly doubled so we can deal with pandemic-related issues as soon as they come Keeping everyone involved was challenging because decisions needed to be made quickly, and this was occurring largely during the summer when most faculty were off-contract. We increased our communication by setting up the COVID website with FAQs and updates and we sent multiple surveys to faculty. Faculty were at the forefront of our planning.

During our response to COVID-19, the president created numerous committees to gather information from everyone at the university, including faculty. It was imperative that faculty served on these committees. As an example, Fletcher Linder chaired the Academic Affairs Infectious Disease Response Team and the Provost worked with the Faculty Senate Chair to make sure there were representatives from Faculty Senate on that committee. The same applied to the Contingency Planning Task Force, which included AA administrators and faculty.

Anyone who feels their voice hasn’t been heard can reach out to their senate representative, their AUH, their dean or Provost Coltman.

Student Support

 My students seem to be having trouble adapting to online courses. Are there resources for them?

The Libraries have excellent resources for students participating in online and hybrid learning. They can also get Online Learning Strategies from fellow students.

 Where can I refer students who are struggling with their mental health?

If you are concerned about a student in distress, you can speak with a Counseling Center clinician by calling the Counseling Center at (540) 568-6552, Monday–Thursday, 8:00 a.m.– 5:00 p.m., and Friday, 8:00 a.m.– 12:00 p.m. The clinician will help you develop a plan to respond to the situation and connect you with the appropriate resources. You may also find it helpful to review the section of the Counseling Center’s website that was specifically designed to assist faculty in your efforts to support students of concern.

If you are concerned about a student, please consider sending a Madison Cares referral. Madison Cares is a centralized program for departments, students, parents, and community members to refer or consult about students of concern. We operate as an extended arm to students experiencing varying levels of social, emotional, academic, or mental-health stressors.

Students, university personnel, community members, or family members can submit a referral online about a student they are concerned about through the Madison Cares program. We will respond and address any concerns by providing care outreach, university resources, and direct support.

You may also contact the Dean of Students directly at (540) 568-6468 or email.

 My student has a question about an accommodation. Where should they go?

The Office of Disability Services is the best resource for students needing any type of accommodation, related to COVID-19 or not.

 How can JMU provide consistency to create a sense of security for students?

Stability and consistency are provided through the ongoing delivery of student support services (e.g., Learning Centers, Help Desk and Library services); continuing to provide access to on-campus spaces (e.g., labs, creative spaces, UREC, Libraries, dining), and continuing to enable student relationships with faculty, advisers, staff and fellow students.

 Have there been any efforts to ascertain how the constant course format changes have on student health? If so, what can be done to assist the students?

Students have reported that it is difficult for them to stay engaged with the material depending on the mode of delivery, which is the reason engagement with your students is so important. A large majority of students report struggling with online courses, particularly with those delivered in an asynchronous format. The asynchronous format, for these particular students visiting the Counseling Center, seems to exacerbate challenges with time management and understanding course material, and it leads to negative evaluations about the value of their education.

Students have also reported having a sense of isolation, and some are doubting their own ability to finish the semester. To combat these issues, students have reported that the most helpful tools are belonging to a community, having a support system in place, and taking advantage of numerous student resources (e.g., counseling services, tutoring, access to their adviser, etc.).

Vaccines, Testing and Notifications

 Can I get the vaccine at JMU?

To see updated information, including local distribution phase status and up-to-date vaccination efforts, visit the Central Shenandoah Health District website.

 What should I do if I am exposed to COVID-19?

If you are exposed to COVID-19, follow these procedures.

Instructional faculty should immediately talk with their AUH regarding course delivery.

 What do I do if a student in my in-person class reports that they have tested positive?

If the student was tested at the University Health Center, the UHC will guide the necessary processes and protocols and you, as the instructor, do not need to take any action.

If you are aware that a student was tested off-campus, you should remind the student that they need to contact the UHC to report their positive test result. Student can fill out a Self-Report Positive COVID test form from their MyJMUChart portal.

The experience gained from last semester revealed that the likelihood of viral transmission is extremely low in academic settings where when face mask use is enforced. 

 If I test positive for COVID-19, what should I do?

Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 should follow these UHC guidelines.

 Will I be notified if one of my students tests positive?

Due to privacy issues related to HIPAA and FERPA, you will not be notified by the university if a student in your class tests positive for COVID-19 unless you are identified as a close contact. A student may choose to contact you directly.

Students who are ill must contact the University Health Center, who will notify the Dean of Students (DoS) Office. The DoS will inform instructors of students' absence due to illness.


Masks and PPE

 What if a student in my class isn't wearing a mask?

You should ask any student in your class to wear a mask if they are not wearing one. A box of disposable masks will be available in each classroom, lab and studio to offer students. 

If a student refuses to wear a mask, you should ask the student to leave the classroom and/or building. If a student declines to leave, you should warn the student that such behavior may result in disciplinary actions through the Office of Student Accountability and Restorative Practices (OSARP). Faculty or staff may call Public Safety (568-6912) to escort students who refuse to wear a mask from the classroom or building.

More information on masks in the classroom is on the Academic Spaces Health and Safety page.

 Is there sample mask policy language for syllabi?

Faculty may customize their syllabus as they choose. Here is some sample language that you can use or adapt for your syllabus.

JMU requires that all community members wear fabric face masks that cover the mouth and nose while indoors or while outdoors in the presence of others. Students who do not wear masks in the classroom will be subject to Academic Affairs Policy #12, Disruption of Class, which outlines the progressive discipline for student misbehavior and has been updated to include responses to COVID-19. 

Also review the OSARP messaging regarding face coverings.

The Office of Disability Services will notify faculty of those students with an ODS accommodation to not wear masks.

 What can or should we do if faculty or staff aren’t wearing masks where necessary?

All faculty and staff are encouraged to speak up when someone is not wearing a mask. If the faculty or staff member is not comfortable speaking directly to the person not wearing a mask, they should report the employee’s behavior to their supervisor(s). Penalties will depend on the infraction. 

 If I teach behind plexiglass, do I have to wear a mask?

In most locations, everyone is required to wear a mask in indoor spaces while on owned or leased university property when in the presence of others. This includes in the classroom. Instructors may remove their mask while speaking behind plexiglass in these physical spaces:

  • Atlantic Union Bank Center
  • Festival Ballroom
  • Grafton-Stovall Theatre
  • Hall of Presidents
  • Wilson Auditorium

If possible, people in these spaces are recommended to also present from behind a lectern or from an elevated stage distanced from the audience.

 Do people working behind plexiglass or in cubicles need masks?

Faculty and staff at JMU are required to wear face masks which cover the nose and mouth at all times on university leased or owned property when in the presence of others. With supervisor approval, some employees who remain behind plexiglass barriers and are alone when working may not be required to wear a face mask. They are still encouraged to wear a face mask.  

It is not necessary to wear a face covering when working alone in a private office regardless of whether the door is open or closed. If another person enters the office, both parties should wear a mask.

Cubicle workspaces are different than private offices. They do not have a door or ceiling height walls. To prevent the spread of COVID-19, employees who work in cubicle workspaces are required to wear a face mask at all times.

 Do faculty have to use the LiveSafe app?

Use of the LiveSafe app is not required for Fall 2021.

 Do I have to wear a mask in the classroom if I’m behind plexiglass?

Everyone must wear a mask at all times in all university owned or leased properties while in the presence of others. If you are alone in your office, you do not have to wear a mask. .

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