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Return to in-person learning


 
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Dear JMU Community,

As we communicated last Friday, Sept. 18, the university plans to return to a mix of in-person, hybrid and online learning on Oct. 5. De-densifying campus and moving to virtual instruction in early September created the intended outcome of a marked decrease in the spread of COVID-19 on campus as evidenced by the decline in positive test results in the University Health Center. We’ve also seen a decrease in cases among our off-campus population and in the seven-day average of positive tests for the Central Shenandoah Health District, which at 7.5% is down sharply from its peak in late August. 

During the pause of in-person instruction, we made extensive operational enhancements including: 

  • Launching a surveillance testing program 
  • More than quadrupling our quarantine and isolation space
  • Capping capacity for all classroom spaces at 50 people
  • Providing additional guidance for on-campus meetings and events
  • Requiring students to show their LiveSafe Green Check to enter facilities
  • Adjusting operations in dining facilities
  • Canceling fall break
  • Switching to virtual learning after Thanksgiving, while allowing students to remain on campus through the end of the semester if they choose

Further details of these changes can be found on the Stop the Spread site in the October Return Plan. 

With all of these enhancements, we must emphasize how critically important it will be for everyone to follow public health guidance on masks, hand washing and physical distancing, and refraining from hosting and/or attending gatherings. All students are still under the obligations of the Stop the Spread Agreement, and we will not tolerate violations of that agreement. If you choose to host or attend social gatherings with more than 10 people, to not use the LiveSafe App, to not wear a face covering, or to not practice physical distancing, you are choosing to accept consequences for those actions, which may include suspension or expulsion from JMU.

Yesterday’s daily COVID-19 update email quoted Dr. Gonzalo Bearman, hospital epidemiologist at Virginia Commonwealth University and a member of the JMU Scientific & Public Health Advisory Team (SPHAT). He said of the addition of surveillance testing at JMU, “Social distancing, hand hygiene and face masks are highly effective for reducing COVID-19 transmission. Testing of asymptomatic individuals can further decrease risk through isolation and contact tracing. These measures will make the university campus experience safe and feasible during the current pandemic.” None of the operational enhancements or public health guidance elements alone can assure a safe remainder of the fall semester. They are all tightly integrated, and they require our active involvement to work. 

Please remember that the best way for us to all stay safe during COVID-19 is solidarity.

 

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Published: Friday, September 25, 2020

Last Updated: Friday, September 25, 2020

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