Welcome to a new semester


Dear Fellow Dukes,

I hope this message finds all of you safe and enjoying your Winter Break. I miss having you all here on campus and I look forward to seeing all of you soon. We have been working hard to prepare for the Spring semester and we have made many changes to prepare for you. Please take the time to read through this entire message and reach out to us if you have any questions or concerns at

The Provost and I will be hosting a town hall to hear from you all and discuss the spring semester on Thursday, Jan. 14 from 6 - 7 p.m. You can view this town hall on JMU Youtube with this Virtual Town Hall: Spring 2021 Semester Lookahead.

We will have our moderator monitoring the conversation to provide in-time questions to us. The topics will be:

  • The “why” behind the virtual start
  • Testing
  • Vaccines and quarantine
  • Maintaining connections
  • Resources
  • Open for questions

If you have specific questions that would be helpful for us to cover in the session, please submit them here.

In addition to the town hall, here is more information that you may find helpful:

January Programming

We are excited to have you back, and in the meantime departments and individuals from all across campus have arranged a series of Winter Webinars that vary in topic and timeframe.

Also, all students are invited to engage in our Spring Weeks of Welcome. It is a great way to make connections, engage with campus, and learn more about all that JMU has to offer. All sessions prior to Feb. 1 will be held in virtual methods. After that, programming and events will be held virtually, in-person and hybrid. Download Guidebook and continue to check the app to see updated and new programming.

To kick us off the Center for Multicultural Student Services is hosting their annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Week. This year’s theme is “Living by the Words of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This year’s events will be virtual, and we invite you to participate in these events across campus.

COVID-19 Update

As things continue to evolve concerning COVID-19, we understand you probably have many questions. As we prepare for this semester, we will continue to keep the JMU community updated.

The Virginia Department of Health is responsible for distributing vaccines in Virginia and we are working closely with them to assist in vaccinations here at JMU. For a better understanding of the distribution phases, see the VDH guidance explained here. Exact timing is not known at this time, but the vaccine is expected to be available to any community residents who wish to receive it by late spring. Community members will be notified when vaccine clinic appointments are available. Read about COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs here.

Preventative measures
Until national herd immunity is reached, preventing COVID-19 spread is critical and depends on everyone to do their part. Face masks and physical distancing will continue to be the primary factors that minimize spread of COVID-19. This is important even for those previously infected or who have had the vaccine. People who have been infected in the past can be re-infected and while they may not become ill due to some immunity, they may still be able to spread the virus. Similarly, while the vaccine appears to be very good, an individual will not know if they fall within the 95% who responded to the vaccine or the 5% who did not. Based upon clinical studies, the vaccine appears to be extremely effective at protecting recipients from contracting COVID-19, but more research is needed to determine whether vaccinated people can spread the virus to others. The incidence of influenza is very low this year, which shows the effectiveness of face mask use and physical distancing in preventing the spread of illness.

Quarantine duration
The UHC has incorporated the new CDC options related to duration of quarantine. Please note there are various levels of risk to be considered when determining the appropriate duration of quarantine. Students living on campus are at greater risk for spreading the virus due to the congregate living situation. Depending on the risk determined by the UHC, quarantine in asymptomatic contacts will end after 10 days in most cases.

If you have tested positive somewhere other than UHC, please go to MyJMUChart and upload a copy of your positive test result. This will become part of your Medical Record. You can upload copies of test results for viral tests and antibody tests.

Stop the Spread Agreement
Just a reminder that all students are required to sign an updated Stop the Spread Agreement through MyMadison. Read the agreement carefully and complete it before returning to campus or by Jan. 15, whichever comes first. Please note that the agreement requires all students to quarantine eight days before arriving to campus.

All members of the community, including students, will still need to complete the self-monitoring on the LiveSafe App daily before they leave their residence hall or enter campus. More information can be found here.

For the latest updates, be sure to visit the Stop the Spread page.

Finally, please remember that we control how this semester goes. We know that unsafe social gatherings led to the spread of the virus in the Fall. We can’t afford to have that happen again and indoor events in the winter will be even more dangerous and likely to spread the virus. If we can all sacrifice for a little while longer, I am hopeful that we can enjoy this community more fully very soon. Thank you for everything you all are doing and all of your sacrifices for the JMU, Harrisonburg and Rockingham communities.

Take care, and Go Dukes!

Dr. Tim Miller

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Published: Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Last Updated: Friday, May 21, 2021

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