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. 

Course Information 
Recordings & Student Privacy
Online Delivery
 Student Support
 Research and Scholarship
Testing and Notifications 
Face-to-Face Delivery
Masks and PPE

Frequently Asked Questions


Recording Courses and Student Privacy


Online Delivery


Student Support

Research and Scholarship

Testing and Notifications

Face-to-Face Delivery

Masks and PPE


Will withdrawal, add or drop dates be changed?

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

We have extended dates for withdrawal from the university. A student who withdraws completely from the university by 9/26/20 will receive a full tuition refund; W grades apply.

A student who withdraws completely from the university between 9/27/20 and 10/10/20 will receive a 75% tuition refund; W grades apply.

When will I know if my courses will be offered in-person?

Between September 7–October 5, there will only be two modes of course delivery: in person and online. As a result, MyMadison will only indicate if your course is held in person. All other courses will be delivered online.

All but a short list of courses JMU courses have moved to online delivery. 

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

For more details, see the syllabus site.

If you are recording your class for students to view online, you must also include information in your syllabus notifying students about the how the recording will be used.

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?

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, knowoing how the recording is protected when posted, communicating their policies to students, and meeting their overall FERPA obligations. 

It is recommended that you provide students with options other than being recorded, especially if the recording will be posted to a class website. For example, you may allow them to use an audio option instead of a webcam; have no requirement to speak during class; or give an option to provide discussion or responses in an alternative manner

You must post any recordings through Canvas 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.

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.


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

Notifying you is the responsiblity 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).


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 (UHC) 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.

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.

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, availble 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.

If we need to switch to all online instruction in the fall, will faculty be encouraged or allowed to pursue synchronous (live) instruction?

Faculty were encouraged to consider asynchronous or lower-tech modes in Spring 2020 because many students lacked adequate equipment and reliable home Internet. These issues remain concerns and we recommend best practices to address them.

However, both faculty and students have had more time to prepare for interactive online learning for this fall. You are encouraged to engage in synchronous online learning or hybrid instruction with synchronous components. Faculty should keep open lines of communication with their students and approach synchronous teaching with access concerns in mind.

What if students have an online class and then an in-person classes 15 minutes later?

Students don't have to be off-campus to take an online course. Academic Affairs has set up multiple spaces on campus where students can safetly study or participate in online courses. 

There will be a Faculty Guide for Classrooms in each classroom, lab, studio and other academic spaces that has a QR code leading to the study spaces website. Please share this information with your students. 


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



Bethany Nowviskie



Taryn Roberts



Dietrich Maune



Keston Fulcher



Dena Pastor



Carolyn Strong


Univ Advising

Mark Taylor



Michele White


Univ Studies

Fletcher Linder



Meg Mulrooney



David Daniel


Faculty Senate

Val Larsen


Learning Centers

Laura Schubert



Herb Amato


Academic Policy

Kristi Shackleford



Paula Maxwell



Ed Brantmeier


Summer School

Catherine Crummett


How was hiring affected by COVID-19?

During the last academic year, we initiated searches for 87 positions. From these searches, we’ve made 74 successful hires. There were six failed searches, six others were cancelled due to COVID-19 hiring freezes, and one search is still underway. Within Academic Affairs, 55 searches were not initiated to address pandemic-related budget concerns.

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 accomodation, related to COVID-19 or not.

Research and Scholarship

How are research and scholarship being handled?

The Office of Research and Scholarship (R&S) is working closely with the colleges to administer Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for continuing field and on-campus research activities. Contact your college dean to discuss the process for approval in your respective college. R&S will work closely with the Institutional Review Board for all research involving human subjects.

Testing and Notifications

How are we handling testing on campus?

We are currently using diagnostic testing of symptomatic individuals. The UHC has the ability to test 1000 people right now; all tests will go a reference lab we contract with. Based on information we have received from the reference lab, the testing availability will be more than what we need. The University Health Center hopes to change to in-house testing versus using a reference lab later in the semester.
We want to have as quick of turnaround as possible for testing: Optimal is 24 hours and no later than 72 hours from time of collection.

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

If you are exposed to COVID-19, follow these procedures from the University Health Center.

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

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

What is the university monitoring to determine if JMU should continue to offer face-to-face classes?

The COVID-19 Response Team is monitoring four main metrics:

  • JMU/Local Positivity rates
  • Hospital Capacity
  • Quarantine/Isolation Capacity
  • Testing Capacity

By watching these indicators in combination, rather than a single parameter, we are able to assist in flattening the curve, prevent overwhelming the medical system, and protect our vulnerable populations.

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. If students give permission, the DoS may share a student's diagnosis. Academic Affairs worked with the Office of the Dean of Students Office to develop a series of FAQs for students regarding absences and notification of faculty. 


When are students isolated or quarantined?

When students are tested, they will be told to bring an overnight bag with them. If test is negative, they will be released from quarantine.

All isolated and quarantined students will get follow-up phone calls and electronic communications from staff to complete a form to use for contact tracing.

When a student tests positive, their close contacts (those they have had 15 minutes or more of exposure to while within six feet) will need to quarantine for 14 days. This will take 2-3 days after exposure due to the testing timeframe. We will supplement with contact tracing to minimize time delays.

More details on the isolation and quarantine evaluation and process are available through the Return to Campus plan. 

Can faculty be tested for COVID-19 on campus?

The University Health Center will have the ability to test faculty and staff. The reference lab can bill individuals.

In addition, Human Resources has partnered with the University Health Center to provide an occupational health nurse. This nurse will specifically work and communicate with faculty and staff on COVID-19-related concerns and medical needs.

For faculty and staff who test positive, VDH will strongly recommend that they notify the university of a positive test. If they refuse, VDH will notify JMU of a positive test result without identifying the faculty or staff member by name.

Face-to-Face Delivery

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.

Are there any required university-wide attendance policies I must include in my syllabus?

No, attendance of class, labs, studios and other academic activities are matters between the student and the faculty member. However, instructors must provide their attendance policy for each course. The attendance policy must state any mandatory, unrepeatable components of the course, and the expected procedure for requesting and obtaining approval for scheduled absences.

Refer to this document for things to take into consideration related to attendance for Fall 2020.

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).

Are there any concerns about teaching outside?

Remember that physical distancing and mask use are important – and required – both indoors and outdoors. 

Instructors must keep these important considerations in mind when using outdoor spaces: Maintaining building access; preserving pedestrian safety (e.g., occupying steps often reduces egress and poses safety concerns for pedestrians); considering access broadly (e.g., outside ambient noise can make hearing more difficult; some outdoor spaces are not physically accessible to all students); and monitoring safety concerns about weather.

Also, remember that wireless bandwidth is not readily available in all outdoor locations.


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.

Guidance for talking with students about wearing masks from OSARP is available here.

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

Are face shields and no masks allowable in cases where students need to read lips?

Physical distancing is important to maintain when someone is wearing a face shield without a mask underneath. Clear masks are also an option. For more information on face coverings, see the Return to Campus plan. Also, review the ODS Mask and Accessibility Guidance.

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. Individuals may wear a face shield if they have a valid accommodation verified by a medical or mental health practitioner or if the academic or employment activity they are involved in cannot occur with a face mask. 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. 

You may also want to 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. For more information, see the Return to Campus plan.

Do I have to wear a mask when teaching from behind a plexiglass barrier? Do I have to remain behind the plexiglass while teaching?

Faculty who remain behind a Plexiglass barrier when teaching are not required, but are encouraged, to wear a face mask or face shield. Knowing that faculty are likely to move from behind the barrier, wearing a face covering will accommodate instruction that happens beyond the protective footprint of the podium and exemplify virus prevention best practice for our students.

Do people working behind plexiglass need masks?

With supervisor approval, employees who remain behind some types of plexiglass barriers and thoroughly distanced from others when working may not be required to wear a face mask. They are still encouraged to wear a face mask or face shield. Remember, due to the configuration of some plexiglass barriers face coverings may need to be worn while working behind them, and if physical distancing is not possible when multiple people are working behind a barrier, face masks must be worn. 

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