This fall, it’ll take all of us


The following communication was sent to students, parents and families, and university employees on July 31, 2020. 

Dear JMU Students,

We are actively planning for your return to campus in a few short weeks. I can’t wait to have you back and see you on campus and around Harrisonburg after so many months apart. To make our in-person experience possible this fall, it will take every single one of us working together, making good decisions and looking out for each other. While the Fall 2020 semester will be different, we believe that the power and impact of the JMU experience will still be there for all of our students.

I want you to know that we are doing everything we can to help ensure your safety. All campus spaces will be set up for physical distancing, all members of our community will be wearing masks, all shared spaces will be cleaned and sanitized throughout the day and hand sanitizer will be available everywhere. These steps, along with a number of other measures, are outlined in our University Health Center plan, which was certified and approved by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia on July 23.

What is critical to our ability to open—and stay open— is an unwavering commitment to take actions that will help curb the spread of COVID-19 and avoid an outbreak that could cause the university to transition to entirely online learning. A number of things will be asked of you, both prior to your return and every day after returning to campus.

It is essential that each of us wears a mask, practices physical distancing, completes daily health screenings and contacts the University Health Center if they have COVID-19 symptoms. These, and other measures outlined below, are not meant to be punitive, but will instead give us a higher likelihood of a successful and safe in-person semester.

Students are expected to do the following prior to coming to campus:

  • Isolate for eight days prior to returning to campus. All students should isolate to the greatest extent possible for a full eight days prior to returning to on-campus or off-campus housing.

  • Complete online eLearning and pass the quiz. This eLearning will outline what is expected of students in additional detail, share the safeguards that the university is implementing, inform students how to seek support should they need it and test students’ knowledge. The deadline to complete the training within Canvas is August 14. The Canvas course is titled, “JMU Students Return to Campus 2020.” The course is available now.

  • Agree to the COVID-19 Stop the Spread Agreement. Each student is required to agree to the agreement as part of the Fall 2020 check-in process or they will have a hold placed on their record that will prevent class registration. The agreement spells out expectations and noncompliance with these commitments that could result in a referral to the Office of Student Accountability and Restorative Practices. The deadline to sign the agreement within MyMadison is August 14.

  • Complete health screening questions each day. Prior to returning to campus, and each day thereafter, students are expected to complete health screening questions related to body temperature and COVID-19 symptoms on the LiveSafe mobile app. Students can download the LiveSafe on an iPhone or Android. Information on how to access LiveSafe on desktop and laptop computers is coming soon. 

Once on campus, students are expected to:

  • Wear a mask. Students will need to bring their own masks from home, and are expected to wear them at all times when in the presence of others. This includes in the residence halls when you are outside of your room. Students should also bring with them a thermometer, plenty of hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes.

  • Practice physical distancing and avoid large gatherings. Physical distancing should be observed to the fullest extent possible both indoors and outdoors. Additionally, no student is to host or attend any off-campus social gathering of more than 10 people.

  • Follow prescribed protocols if you are part of a student organization. Each student organization will pledge to host meetings virtually whenever feasible. When meetings must be held in person, they are to be held on campus and organizations need to adhere to space capacity, masking and distancing protocols. A virtual option must also be offered. Off-campus events and activities will not be allowed and travel for student organizations is prohibited, which includes, but is not limited to regional or national meetings or competitions. These policies will be strictly enforced with penalties up to and including revoking university recognition of the organization.

More information on the aforementioned mandatory training, student agreement and symptom checking through the LiveSafe app is forthcoming, so please be on the lookout. I can’t stress enough that it is no one individual’s job to keep campus safe and healthy this fall. It is everyone’s job. And while this fall will look different than the past, we are working hard to offer as much normalcy as possible for all of our students. 

Even in uncertain times, what we know to be true about JMU is that it’s the people that make this place special. The way we choose to treat each other this fall, the caution we choose to exercise and the actions we take will impact us as individuals and as a community.  

Thank you for your help to stop the spread and I look forward to seeing you in a few short weeks. Go Dukes!

Dr. Tim Miller (’96, ’00M)
Vice President for Student Affairs

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Published: Friday, July 31, 2020

Last Updated: Thursday, May 2, 2024

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