Important Updates to Spring Semester

JMU News

The following communication was sent to JMU students, parents, faculty and staff at 4 p.m. on March 11, 2019.

Dear Students, Parents, Faculty and Staff, 

James Madison University officials have been closely monitoring the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, partnering with the Virginia Department of Health and public health experts here on campus to adjust university operations at home and abroad. Our primary goal is to protect the health and safety of our faculty and staff, students and the greater Harrisonburg community. In recent weeks, we have called students home from JMU study-abroad programs, activated emergency response teams and strengthened contingency plans. 

While there are no COVID-19 cases in the JMU community at this time, it has become necessary for the university to take further steps to support public safety. The level of operational change outlined below is unprecedented in our history. We are deeply thankful to our faculty and staff who continue to work tirelessly during these challenging times to support our students and make the changes necessary to protect our community’s well-being. We also deeply appreciate the resilience of our students and their families as they navigate these uncharted waters with us. 

Campus Operations
While the university will remain open and continue to offer services to students (e.g. Counseling Center and University Health Center), JMU will not hold in-person classes the week of March 16. Beginning March 23, most JMU classes will move online until at least April 5. A communication will be issued by March 27 regarding the delivery of course content after April 5. Please note that the university will be closed on Friday, March 13, as this is a planned holiday for faculty and staff. 

Faculty, staff and graduate assistants are expected to report to work as regularly scheduled, fulfilling their normal duties and working to transition course content, assignments and activities online. JMU Libraries has a number of resources available to assist with this. University leadership is evaluating labs, clinical, experiential, studio, performance and other learning situations where online or electronic learning poses unique challenges. 

Deans will be reaching out to faculty in the coming days with additional information. Students should expect to hear from faculty on next steps, and be in touch with faculty with any questions about course work. The continuity of student and faculty research is an important consideration; for more information, contact

Residence and Dining Halls
While residence halls will reopen on March 15, students are encouraged not to return to JMU (including on-campus and off-campus housing) until at least April 5. We recognize students will need to gather personal belongings. We also acknowledge that some students may not have an alternative housing option, or need to be based on campus to maintain involvement in athletic, employment or lab-based learning engagements. We ask that those students check in with their residential staff once they return to JMU. Dining facilities will continue to operate; more information can be found on Dining Service’s website.

Meetings and Events
In the interest of being a good public citizen, the university will be canceling or postponing all events hosted at JMU’s facilities, including the Forbes Center, between Monday, March 16, and at least Sunday, April 5. This includes events hosted by the university, and community and student organizations. Departments at JMU planning to host events essential to academic progress and university operations prior to April 5 can petition their deans or division vice presidents to hold such events. 

There are no changes to the university’s athletics schedule at this time. The university will continue to communicate with the NCAA and Colonial Athletic Association regarding athletics operations. Updates to athletics will be posted to

In-person meetings, including staff meetings in university spaces, may continue.

Student Employment
Undergraduate student employees of the university should contact their supervisors for more information. 

Travel for University Employees
University-sponsored travel to countries carrying a Level 3 Travel Notice from the Centers for Disease Control is prohibited. All other university-sponsored domestic and international travel must be approved by individuals’ deans or division vice presidents. Travel decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis and those responsible for approving travel will be kept up to date on the most recent travel notices and considerations. Employees who have canceled or postponed university-sponsored travel should work with their supervisor, as those expenses may be reimbursed on a case-by-case basis. 

For information, including operating hours, on individual student services, such as the University Health Center, UREC and dining services, please visit their webpages. Please also continue to check for the most up-to-date information and contact with questions. 

At JMU, we are a community that educates both the head and heart. In these challenging times, I know we will come together and support one another in the finest tradition of JMU. Thank you all for your understanding, patience and willingness to work together.

With deep appreciation,

Jonathan R. Alger
President, James Madison University

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Published: Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Last Updated: Wednesday, November 1, 2023

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