JMU News

Update on JMU International Programs


The following communication was sent to the JMU community on Feb. 29, 2020.

To students, parents, faculty and staff:

James Madison University continues to closely monitor the outbreak of COVID-19 caused by coronavirus. Our primary concern is the health and well-being of members of the JMU community at home and abroad. JMU currently has students, faculty and staff participating in JMU semester abroad programs, external and exchange programs, and international internship and volunteer activities.

Based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. State Department and foreign governments, as well as input from our faculty and staff located at our programs internationally, the university has made a number of changes to our programs operating abroad. These decisions were not made lightly. The university considered a number of factors including academic impact and the free movement of students, but paramount in the decision-making process was protecting the safety of our community.

The following is a list of updates to our operations abroad available at this time:

  • JMU has closed all Spring 2020 semester study abroad programs in Italy. The CDC and the U.S. Department of State have issued Level 3 travel advisories to Italy, recommending that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to the country due to COVID-19. With this development, and in adherence to guidance from public health officials, JMU has cancelled its Spring 2020 Semester in Florence and European Union Policy Studies master’s programs in Florence. We are working to support our 44 students and a small number of faculty and staff in Italy in returning back to the United States as expeditiously as possible. Arrangements are being made for students to complete their classes and earn the associated credits online after they return home. At this time, the CDC is not recommending self-isolation for those traveling to the United States from Italy.
  • After consultation with a travel company that the university partners with to provide travel to students, JMU cancelled a spring break program to Japan for MBA students.
  • JMU has canceled two short-term Summer 2020 programs to China.  

At this point, JMU’s study abroad programs operating in nations deemed low risk (Watch Level 1) by the CDC in the United Kingdom, Belgium, and Spain are still operating. International spring break programs, with the exception of one program to Japan outlined above, are also moving forward as planned. We are proactively considering contingencies for each of these programs, and recognize plans may need to change in the best interest of protecting the well-being of all involved. The university will continue to monitor the development of this situation and will communicate to the JMU community when and if any further changes are made to other Summer 2020 programs. We are thankful for your patience as this situation continues to evolve.

Back at home in Harrisonburg, there are no restrictions on academic, operational, or extracurricular activities in place. University leadership has been in communication with the JMU community, urging everyone to take the standard precautions that prevent the spread of all communicable diseases. The university continues to ask that everyone focuses on good hygiene to prevent viral illnesses, including covering coughs and sneezes, avoiding sharing cups and utensils, washing hands regularly, avoiding others if you or they are ill, and getting plenty of sleep. Anyone exhibiting symptoms of a communicable disease is advised to remain out of class, away from work, and avoid others for the duration of the illness and for 24 hours after symptoms abate.

Those with questions regarding the university’s international programs should contact JMU’s Center for Global Engagement at General questions about health and wellness related to COVID-19 can be directed to the University Health Center at The university will communicate as additional information becomes available, and we will continue to work together to protect the health of our community.

Jonathan R. Alger
President, James Madison University

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Published: Saturday, February 29, 2020

Last Updated: Thursday, January 13, 2022

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