JMU News

Proceeding in a Dynamic Situation


Dear JMU Family,

We hope that you enjoyed a safe, healthy and rejuvenating winter break. If you took Winter Session classes, we hope you found your studies stimulating. We look forward to the start of the Spring 2021 semester and seeing you back on campus soon. After our initial outbreak in early September and return to campus in October, you did an excellent job following the Stop the Spread guidance. As a result, JMU had one of the lowest active case counts for the remainder of Fall 2020 among all the big Virginia public universities. We must proceed into the spring semester with the same vigilance and caution because there have been significant increases in the viral spread, and positive COVID cases are at an all-time high nationally.

Spring Semester Schedule
As we communicated with you on Dec. 21, all classes will begin virtually as scheduled on Jan. 19 and continue online through Jan. 29. On Feb. 1, all courses will be offered according to the delivery mode currently shown in MyMadison.

The ongoing post-holiday spread of the virus creates many uncertainties, and this is a reality we all must understand. If public health conditions suddenly deteriorate or new orders from the Governor of Virginia’s office warrant, the university might have to modify plans for the spring semester on campus. Of course, if a change comes with short notice, we will work with students to the best of our ability to accommodate any special needs or circumstances.

As communicated previously, here are our current plans:

  • Students living on campus will move into their residence halls between Jan. 29 and Jan. 31. Please quarantine for at least 8 days before returning to campus.
  • As previously announced, students living on campus will be expected to complete COVID-19 entry testing before moving into their residence halls.
  • The university will resume weekly surveillance testing for all students living on campus. Testing for any symptomatic students at the University Health Center will also continue this semester.
  • All students living on campus will receive a two-week credit for their spring housing and dining. The credit amount will depend on the plan the student has selected. The refund for the meal plan is for the meal portion only. It does not include Dining Dollars. Refunds will be processed as a credit to the student’s account or applied toward any outstanding balance owed.
  • All students must sign The Stop the Spread Agreement through the MyMadison check-in process and was due on Jan. 13. Failure to complete may result in a hold on the student’s account.

Resource Options
The Stop the Spread HELPline (888-886-3131) is open for phone calls. The top question we’re hearing this week is about the Stop the Spread Agreement students must sign in their MyMadison account. If the student logs on to MyMadison after Jan. 8 and chooses the Student Center, the MyMadison Check-in Process automatically pops up. Students must complete this process before returning to the Student Center page. In most cases, if the process does not appear when the student chooses Student Center, they have already completed it.

Other questions can be sent via email to The Stop the Spread webpage also has many resources for your questions.

Update on Vaccines
No single national blueprint for vaccine distribution currently exists. Instead, state vaccine programs are following guidance from the federal government, state executives and health authorities. In Virginia, the Virginia Department of Health is charged with distributing vaccines, and follows the vaccination priorities as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and adopted by Virginia Disaster Medical Advisory Committee and the Vaccine Advisory Workgroup. Under those guidelines, groups at greatest risk of contracting COVID-19 or suffering serious cases of it have been given top priority.

VDH has announced its rankings for vaccine distribution, identifying three priority groups, denoted as 1A, 1B and 1C. Its full guidance can be found here.

Virginia has already started phase 1A of the vaccination program. In fact, JMU medical staff received their first vaccinations on Jan. 14. The Central Shenandoah Health District, our local office of VDH, has led this program for the region. That program focuses on vaccinating health care personnel and residents of long-term care facilities first.

Phase 1B includes frontline essential workers, including those in child care, K-12 teachers and staff, people aged 65 years and older, and those living in certain congregate settings. Faculty and staff from higher education institutions will be part of the third phase, known as 1C. Other than students who work in a health care setting as trainees, it is not yet known which phase will include the general student population.

Per the Central Shenandoah Health District, our area will see the rollout of Phase 1b by the end of January. An exact timeline for the rollout of phase 1b is still unknown. We continue to work very closely with our local VDH officials, as well as local and regional leaders, to prepare for the vaccine rollout. As new information becomes available on this process, we will be quick to communicate with you.

This note from Dr. Miller on Dec. 21 contains lots of important details and dates for the spring semester. You can see the university’s full spring reopening plan here. And don’t forget, if you live on campus and have not yet scheduled your entry test, click here for more details. Please stay safe and healthy.

With warm regards,

Jonathan R. Alger, President
Heather Coltman, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs
Donna Harper (’77, ’81M, ’86Ed.S.), Vice President for Access and Enrollment Management
Charlie King, Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration
Nick Langridge (’00, ’07M, ’14Ph.D.), Vice President for University Advancement
Tim Miller (’96, ’00M), Vice President for Student Affairs

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Published: Friday, January 15, 2021

Last Updated: Friday, January 15, 2021

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