Clarifications and Expectations for Spring Semester


The following communications was sent to students and parents from JMU's VP of Student Affairs, Dr. Tim Miller on March 13. 

Dear Fellow Dukes,

I hope all of you are doing well and that you enjoyed a well-deserved break this week.  I know that none of us expected the Spring semester to go the way it is going right now and I feel for our Seniors the most.  So many of us have faced disruptions to our lives and anxiety and concern for ourselves as well as our friends and loved ones.  Despite these challenges, I have high hopes for the resilience of this community and know that we will come through this situation as a stronger JMU.  I am proud and honored to serve this community every day and I appreciate what each of you are doing to serve each other in big and small ways every single day.    

In unprecedented times in the history of our JMU community, we are all facing many unknowns surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19). I want to reiterate information that has already been sent and address many of the questions we have received.

Summary of Previous Communications

I hope you read the announcement from March 11 about the changes at JMU for the next few weeks.  Here are the highlights from the message:

  • Classes that typically meet face-to-face are canceled the week of March 16. This means that in-person classes will not meet and assignments, readings, tests and activities for all such classes will not be due the week of March 16. Students will not need to return to campus next week (March 15-22) to take classes.
  • Most of the courses will move to an online or distance learning format from March 23 to April 5. Your professors will be in communication with you about the details of the adaptations to your classwork.
  • Any courses already underway that are online and slated to start in the second 8-week block of spring term, will proceed as regularly scheduled on March 16.
  • For internships, external healthcare placements, specialized labs, student teaching, etc. we ask for students to communicate directly with their faculty member and the supervisor of the external organization.
  • JMU faculty and staff will be taking the next week to convert course content.

It is our strong recommendation that students not return to JMU or off-campus housing until April 5. We recognize some students may need to return to their residence halls or off-campus housing in Harrisonburg because they have no other housing option, but again, we urge all students to remain at home with their families. Were an unfortunate situation to occur where a student was forced to self-isolate or quarantine, eliminating all contact with others, we believe it is better for the student and their families, that they are in a position to do that at home, instead of in a residence hall or off-campus residence.Returning to JMU and Harrisonburg

It is especially important for students who have traveled home from abroad, or fromareas of the United States that are currently facing a large number of infections not return to campus. Per the CDC’s guidance, travelers returning home from countries carrying a Level 3 travel notice, “must stay home for 14 days after returning from travel, monitor their health, and practice social distancing.” Level 3 countries are listed here, and currently include Iran, South Korea, China and a number of countries in Europe.

We are aware of conversations surrounding social gatherings off campus and a “Frog Week 2” next week. While we are in the middle of a global pandemic, I need students to make responsible decisions and not put themselves and other students in harm’s way for the sake of a party.  I personally ask you to do your part in being a responsible member of our greater Harrisonburg community and set an example for others around you. Please stay home if possible, and if you do need to return to JMU please do not engage in these types of dangerous and disruptive behaviors.  

Changes to City Policy

Additionally, the City of Harrisonburg has recently announced changes to their permitting process for social gatherings and I want to make you are aware of these changes.

In conjunction with James Madison University’s decision to cancel events and mass gatherings on campus until April 5 in light of COVID-19, the City of Harrisonburg is acting to revoke permits for mass outdoor social gatherings for the same duration of time.

As such, any mass outdoor social gathering permits issued from the City for events scheduled between today’s date and April 5 will be revoked, and no new permits will be issued at this time. The City will reassess this decision after April 5 pending further discussions with James Madison University officials.

Changes to University Facilities

There are a number of changes to university facilities for the week of March 16-20 and I wanted to make you all aware of what will be accessible if you are on campus.  We want to support a philosophy of social distancing and minimizing large group gatherings while still providing essential services.  Please see the list of facilities and their hours below.

  • UREC: Closed
  • Madison Union: Students will be able to access Commonwealth One and the Post Office from 9am - 5pm (public spaces are closed)
  • Festival: Students can access the Food Pantry through the external doors to the Highlands Room (public spaces are closed)
  • Student Success Center: 7am - 5pm (public spaces are closed)
  • Rose and Carrier Libraries: 9am - 5pm with limited services for book check-out and instructional and academic support (public spaces closed)
  • ETMC: Faculty Access Only
  • Music Library: 9am - 12pm

Dining Services

  • Chips C-Store: 8am - 2pm
  • D-Hall Chick-fil-A: 9am - 1:30 p.m.
  • D-Hall Residential Dining, 2nd Floor: Brunch - 10am - 2pm, Dinner - 4:30pm - 8pm

COVID-19 is continuously evolving and we are working to adjust as needed. These efforts are for the health and safety of our entire JMU community and beyond and in an effort to not continue the spread of COVID-19. We ask for your patience and support of one another and what’s best for all Dukes as we manage this continually changing situation.

Take care of yourselves, do what you need to in order to be safe, and know that we are doing the best we can during this challenging time to provide you with the best JMU education we can while ensuring your safety.  

Be safe and take care,
Dr. Tim Miller
Vice President for Student Affairs

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Published: Friday, March 13, 2020

Last Updated: Wednesday, June 17, 2020

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