Last Updated: October 23, 2020

Announcement of university plans for Spring 2021 semester.

Please visit the Spring 2021 Return to Campus Plan to learn more about the academic calendar and other important information about measures for a safe return to campus.

Resumption to in-person classes announcement.

On Friday, September 18, President Alger announced the university is finalizing plans for students to resume in-person learning on October 5th. View the full message.

Are there new steps being taken to Stop the Spread since the announcement moving to temporary on-line instruction?

Yes. The university is launching a mandatory surveillance testing program. In addition to the University Health Center’s existing testing capacity, JMU has contracted with a third-party testing company to test 300 non-symptomatic students per week who have not yet tested positive for COVID-19 to identify and get ahead of potential outbreaks of the virus. Testing will be initially focused on on-campus students.

How serious are the cases of COVID-19 seen by the University Health Center?

The Health Center is seeing students who are asymptomatic or have mild illness. The large majority of students require no medical care other than a COVID test. Students have been able to identify where they caught the virus, and from whom, with great clarity, allowing us to contact those who may have been exposed. The outbreak in our population has not affected our local hospital’s capacity to treat COVID-19 patients, and the small number of faculty and staff who have contracted the virus believe they likely contracted it off campus, not from on-campus interactions. We have not seen spread between students and faculty or staff, and there is no evidence that the virus was passed in any of our classroom settings. The vast majority of transfer was through on- and off-campus social gatherings.

Are there changes in dining facilites to further enhance safety?

Across all campus dining options, we are expanding hours and further lowering capacity. Dining service managers will more actively enforce mask wearing while students are not eating or drinking. Students also will be required to show their Livesafe app daily self-attestation result upon swiping their JAC card while entering all dining facilities. To-Go options will be increased at the all-you-can-eat dining halls, along with changed flow to allow for more queuing space and physical distancing.

Are there changes to the Fall academic calendar?

Yes. The university has canceled fall break, originally slated for Oct. 22-23, in an attempt to reduce student travel. The two break days will be added to the end of the semester, and exams will start two days sooner than originally planned. After Thanksgiving break, all courses and exams will move online for the remainder of the semester, and all exams will be online. Campus will remain open for students who choose to return to JMU, but this will not be mandatory.

Did a change in student behavior contribute to the decision to resume in-person learning?

Yes. While student compliance to COVID-19 rules have been strong, with the overwhelming majority making positive, responsible decisions, we did observe some problematic behavior leading up to the start of classes, including students participating in social gatherings. While there continues to be some concerning gatherings of students, most students have changed their behavior significantly, and if they are still gathering, it has tended to be in small groups. The Office of Student Accountability and Restorative Practices is currently reviewing over 250 cases ranging from simple compliance concerns to hosting large events to determine what sanctions those students may be subject to.

Stop the Spread!

JMU has developed detailed guidelines and procedures for preventing the spread of COVID-19.  All members of the JMU Graduate Community should carefully read these guidelines and conform to expectations that are designed to keep us all safe.  Stop the Spread Guidelines.

Are The Graduate School offices open?

As the fall semester begins, the office of the Graduate School will be open during normal office hours, Monday through Friday, 8 am to noon and 1 to 5 pm, except during campus holidays.  Most staff members meet with visitors by appointment only, so we recommend that all visitors contact the office or the staff member you would like to meet (staff webpage) prior to visiting. If you are uncertain who to contact, please send us an email (, telephone (540-568-7860) or text (540 269-1986 [US only]).  Tell us the nature of your request and provide contact information.  We will have the appropriate staff member contact you shortly.

What should you do if you believe you have been exposed to COVID-19?

If you have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, or if you have recently traveled overseas, you need to take steps to protect your friends, family and the community from additional possible exposure. Information about self-quarantine is on the Health Center website.  Contact your faculty by e-mail and inform them of your situation.  More information.

What should you do if you test positive for COVID-19 or if you become sick?

To protect our community, if you test positive for COVID-19, at a minimum, you must immediately self-isolate, even if you are symptom free.  If you feel sick you must self-isolate.  It is vital that we all look after each other and prevent the spread!  Seek medical assistance when appropriate. Contact your faculty by e-mail and inform them of your situation. More information.

Where can I find information specific to my program? 

TGS will share information on this webpage as we are made aware of specific program information.
The School of Music has released information for students and faculty and can be found on the School of Music webpage.

Will my classes be offered in person?

While the university is open and holding many in-person classes and activities, some fall semester classes will be held online or in a hybrid (mixed in-person and online) mode.  Check with your individual course instructors, your academic advisor, or program director for more information about the requirements for the classes in which you are enrolled.

Will my classes have an on-line option?

Many fall classes, while conducted in person for most students, will have an on-line option for students who cannot participate in person.  Discuss your situation with your course instructor or program director if, for any reason, you need to participate in your class from a distance.

I have a question about my graduate assistantship, who do I contact?

A list of frequently asked questions has been created to provide a faster response to inquiries during this pandemic, and it will continue to be updated as other questions come up during our new academic year 2020-2021. For those current students who currently hold an assistantship, please make sure that you work directly with your supervisor on specific guidelines and expectations in your respective work environment. Please know that you can contact the Graduate School or Boris Escalona Berbetty  for guidance and support as well. We look forward to serving you in the new academic year and wish you the best of luck in your academic and professional endeavors.

International Students

Students with F-1 visas who were present in the U.S. attending classes on March 9, 2020 can continue to complete their program of study 100% online without violating the conditions of their visas.

All new students who plan to enter the U.S. to complete a graduate program must have at least one in-person or hybrid course for the fall semester to comply with the terms of their visas. New international students cannot enter the U.S. to complete a 100% online program. Students whose courses are all online should discuss their circumstances with the program director. Students may begin their 100% online program from home or may ask that their admission be deferred to a future term when in-person classes resume. More information.
 More information.

Graduate  School Temporary Policies

The Graduate Council has adopted some temporary policies that will help students and faculty address many of the challenges you are facing as a result of the outbreak of COVID-19.   Click here to view the Graduate School Temporary Policies  Note that grading policies that have been developed for undergraduate students do not apply to graduate students. 

Do the deadlines for submitting my thesis, dissertation, or other documents still apply?

The Graduate School recognizes that the recent developments related to COVID-19 may cause delays in the completion of coursework by the stated submission deadlines.  Please consult with your Graduate Program Director (GPD) regarding your particular situation, and have your GPD contact The Graduate School to request extensions on your behalf. The Graduate School will make every effort to accommodate all reasonable requests. These concerns are addressed in the Graduate School Temporary Policies.

What is going to happen with my student teaching, or my clinical rotation if I am not able to participate as planned?

Please consult with your instructor, advisor or Graduate Program Director regarding this issue. All programs may not handle these situations in exactly the same way.  Some options are included in the Graduate School Temporary Policies.

Do I have more time to complete my class, or my degree?

Please consult with your Graduate Program Director if you have questions regarding extended class or degree completion time, grades, and enrollment issues.  These concerns are addressed in the Graduate School Temporary Policies.

Will the cost of graduate courses be reduced during 2020?

The JMU Board of Visitors, the university’s governing body, voted not to increase JMU’s standard rate for graduate tuition for the 2020-21 academic year. (Some programs with special rates increased slightly.)

If my fall classes are now mostly online do I need to relocate to Harrisonburg?

The answer to this question depends on your individual situation.  Have a conversation with your advisor, program director or each of your instructors to make a personal decision about the need to relocate to complete your program.

What academic support services remain available?

The Learning Centers are here to support you! We are continuing to offer online tutoring, consultations and study sessions. Please visit any of the follow programs' websites to access assistance online:

JMU Libraries:

What online resources are available to graduate students to assist in courses now taught online?

JMU Libraries has a webpage specifically to meet the needs of our graduate students during the COVID-19 situation which can be found at .

I am self-quarantining or I don’t want to use public transportation.  How can I get food, , prescriptions, and other necessities?

Grocery delivery services are available in Harrisonburg.  For example, consider:


Delivery (or curbside pickup) may be available from local stores including:

Walmart on Port Republic:

Kroger on 1790 E. Market St:

Food Lion:

Shenandoah Produce:

For restaurant delivery consider:




Dukes to Go:

Uber Eats:

Note also that many restaurants, including pizza and Asian restaurants offer home delivery services.  Call your favorite restaurant to inquire.

How can I access the "emergency aid" dollars I've heard about in response to the COVID-19 situation?

As of 6/3/20, the $6,040,329 JMU received in CARES Act funds has all been awarded. At this time, JMU is not accepting any requests tor this assistance. 

What additional support services are available?



Content updates:

September 21, 2020
September 2, 2020
August 24, 2020
August 10, 2020
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June 2, 2020
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