UNIVERSITY RESPONSE TO COVID-19

Last Updated: April 7, 2:40 p.m.
Text in red has been added or edited within the last 12 hours.

James Madison University officials have been closely monitoring the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, partnering with the Virginia Department of Health and public health experts here on campus to adjust university operations at home and abroad. Our primary goal is to protect the health and safety of our faculty and staff, students and the greater Harrisonburg community. In recent weeks we have moved classes online through the spring semester, encouraged telecommuting for employees when possible and canceled or postponed all on-campus events through May 15. This includes postponing commencement ceremonies.

This level of operational change is unprecedented in our history. We are deeply thankful to our faculty and staff who continue to work tirelessly during these challenging times to support our students and make the changes necessary to protect our community’s well-being. To our students, we are deeply sorry for these incredible disruptions in your lives, but we also know that Dukes are caring, resilient, and capable of working together to meet any challenge.

We will continue to update this website as more information becomes available. Please email covid19@jmu.edu with questions.

A SPECIAL MESSAGE FROM PRESIDENT ALGER


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COMMUNICATIONS TO DATE


  • April 7: Update on summer online class fees, fall registration dates — to students, parents. Link
  • April 1: Update on refunds — to students, parents. Link
  • March 31: Update on working from remote locations — to faculty, staff. Link
  • March 31: Students urged to heed stay home order — to students. Link
  • March 27: A lot to be proud of this week — to students, families and employees. Link
  • March 24: Update on grading, final exams and withdrawing from courses — to students. Link
  • March 19: Confirmed Case of COVID-19 in the JMU Community. Link
  • March 19: Update on working from remote locations — to faculty, staff. Link
  • March 19: Update on remainder of spring semester — to families. Link
  • March 18: Update on remainder of spring semester — to alumni. Link
  • March 18: Update on remainder of spring semester — to students. Link
  • March 16: Information on Public Health Emergency Leave and telework — to employees. Link
  • March 15: Update on remote work and leave policies — to employees. Link
  • March 13: Update on alternate work arrangements for Monday, March 16 — to employees. Link
  • March 13: Update on clarifications, expectations for the spring semester — to students. Link
  • March 12: Update on student organization events — to student organization leaders. Link
  • March 12: Update on decisions for conducting classes — to faculty. Link
  • March 11: Update on campus operations during the spring semester — to students, parents, faculty and staff. Link
  • March 10: Update on monitoring the evolving COVID-19 situation — to academic affairs faculty and staff. Link
  • March 3: Update on monitoring the evolving COVID-19 situation — to academic affairs faculty and staff. Link
  • March 2: Tips on safety, security while away for spring break — to students. Link
  • Feb. 29: Update on operation of international programs — to students, parents, faculty and staff. Link
  • Feb. 28: Study abroad coronavirus FAQ — to all JMU audiences. Link
  • Feb. 25: Update on students in Italy — to students and faculty in Italy. Link
  • Jan. 31: Update on novel coronavirus — to all JMU audiences. Link
  • Jan. 24: Update on monitoring the coronavirus situation — to all JMU audiences. Link

COVID-19 FAQs


For Students

Special Information for Graduate Students

Financial Aid

For Faculty and Staff

International Programs

General Information

Media Resources



For Students

What is happening with classes?

JMU will continue online classes through the remainder of the spring semester.
JMU has suspended all scholarly activities that require presence at university facilities, inclusive of faculty, staff, and student activities in all JMU offices, studios, laboratories, clinics, and other creative spaces.

We also recognize students are participating in external placements in local healthcare, educational and other settings. Students should be in touch with their faculty regarding these programs as they’ll be evaluated on a case-by-case basis and in partnership with the external agencies.

For summer sessions, JMU will be offering primarily online courses except for required clinical and experiential activities, which are still under review. Registration for summer classes has been delayed two weeks to April 6 and additional information on this is forthcoming.

The continuity of student and faculty research is also an important consideration; for more information contact research@jmu.edu

Is JMU offering a credit/no-credit grading option?

James Madison University is providing students with expanded access to the credit/no-credit grading options for the Spring 2020 semester due to the transition from in-person to online course delivery.

Undergraduate Students

If undergraduate students choose to take a course as credit/no credit, they receive credits for successfully completing the course with a “C” or above and receive no credit or penalty for completing the course with a lower grade. At some universities, this option is called pass/fail.

Current credit/no-credit policies are suspended for the Spring 2020 semester only and will be replaced with the following:

  • Students may change any course in which they are enrolled to credit/no-credit, except those being taken with a Repeat Credit or Repeat/Forgiveness option that were previously taken for a letter grade.
  • There will be no limit to the number of Spring 2020 courses or credit hours that may be taken as credit/no-credit.
  • Spring 2020 courses graded as credit/no-credit may satisfy general education, major, minor, degree and/or elective requirements.
  • If students select the credit/no-credit option, grades of “A” through “C” will change to “CR” and will earn the number of credit hours designated for the course. These grade equivalents for “CR” align with current JMU policy and parallel practices at many other universities.
  • If students select the credit/no-credit option, grades of “C-“ through “F” will change to “NC” and no credits will be earned for the course. These grade equivalents for “NC” align with current JMU policy and parallel practices at many other universities.
  • Grades of “CR” and “NC” will not affect students’ grade point average.
    All students should review the Important Considerations for Credit/No-credit Option section below before making any decision.

Important Considerations for Credit/No-credit Option

A student’s decision to switch to credit/no-credit is irreversible.

  • Before deciding to choose the credit/no-credit option, students should discuss the changes with their academic advisers to ensure there are no unforeseen consequences of switching to credit/no-credit, such as accreditation requirements within the major or minor, or future application to graduate or professional schools. Students should consult MyMadison should they need to be reminded of the names of their advisers.
  • Course prerequisites that require a certain letter grade will not be satisfied with a “CR” grade. In those instances, students must request overrides from their academic unit heads to enroll in those particular courses in future semesters. Students should consult their major advisers with questions regarding prerequisites.
  • If a course counts as part of a group of courses required for admission to a major in which grades are averaged, “CR” will not be included in the GPA calculation. Students should consult with the appropriate major and other advisers prior to changing their grading option.
  • Courses earning a grade of “CR” will count toward credits to graduate, but courses earning a grade of “NC” do not earn credits.

Instructions for Changing Courses to Credit/No-credit

  • Students should identify the courses to be changed to the credit/no-credit grading option. An
    electronic form will be available on the Office of the Registrar website Tuesday, April 7, for students to
    request a grading option change to credit/no-credit.
  • Students must submit the form no later than 5:00 p.m. Monday, May 18. Late requests will not be
    processed.
    JMU has chosen May 18 as the deadline to change grading options to provide maximum flexibility to students. Students will be able to make the decision to choose the credit/no-credit option after receiving their final grades.

Graduate Students

For graduate students, The Graduate School will be distributing detailed information on options as soon as it is available.

Have registration dates changed?

Note the following changes to registration:
Advanced registration for Summer 2020 begins Monday, April 6.

Registration for Fall 2020 semester will begin on April 20 for graduate students, doctoral students and seniors; April 21 for juniors; April 22 for sophomores; and April 23 for freshmen. Beginning April 8, students can check MyMadison to view their updated Fall 2020 enrollment appointment. 

Is commencement happening as planned?

Spring commencement ceremonies have been postponed. For all of you who are graduating, we recognize that these commencement ceremonies mark important milestones in your lives. Given the large scale of these events, we have made the difficult decision to postpone graduate and undergraduate commencement ceremonies (originally planned for May 7-9) to a later date. While we don’t have a new date yet, know that we are eager and excited to celebrate your accomplishments and years of hard work. 

While these in-person ceremonies will be delayed, please be assured that your degrees will be conferred on time in May, once final grades are received. Diplomas will be mailed this summer, in accordance to the standard university process. We will be back in touch soon with further information on commencement ceremonies for the Class of 2020.

When are final exams?

Final exam week will remain as originally scheduled, May 1-7. As exam week approaches, faculty will communicate with students regarding course-specific plans for finals.

How will I know how my courses will proceed online?

If a student feels like they may be missing important information about their classes, this may be due to students having opted out of the notifications function within Canvas, the university's online learning platform. Instructions on how to turn notifications back on are here

We also recommend students contact faculty via email if they have questions.

Have dates for withdrawal from courses or the university been extended?

Withdrawal from Individual Courses in Spring 2020

Due to the impact of COVID-19 on university operations, JMU is extending the Spring 2020 course withdrawal deadline to April 24 for semester-long and Second Block (7W2) courses. This additional time will give students five weeks in which to acclimate to the new online course delivery method and assess their ability or desire to continue in the course.

Students who decide to withdraw from individual Spring 2020 courses may do so via MyMadison through 11:59 p.m. on April 24. Withdrawal from a course will not reduce tuition charges. Course withdrawal will result in the assignment of a grade of “W” and has no bearing on students’ GPA. Students are strongly advised to consult with their advisers and course professors before withdrawing from a course.

Withdrawal from the University in Spring 2020

Students who have dropped all Spring 2020 courses, or who find themselves in the unfortunate situation of needing to withdraw from all Spring 2020 courses, will find the information below helpful. Students who decide to withdraw from all courses for the semester are withdrawing from the university.

The deadline for dropping all Spring 2020 courses and receiving a tuition reimbursement was January 21, 2020. Students who withdraw from all Spring 2020 courses after January 21 do not receive a tuition refund.

Students who decide to withdraw from all courses must contact the Office of the Dean of Students at 540-568- 6468 or deanofstudents@jmu.edu to begin the steps required to complete an official withdrawal.

Undergraduate Students
Undergraduate students who officially withdraw from the university and plan to return for Summer or Fall 2020 must apply for re-entry as soon as possible. This online process can be accessed from the Registrar’s website at https://www.jmu.edu/registrar/students/intent-to-enroll.shtml.

Students currently in good standing will be automatically approved and provided access to registration appointments for the Summer and/or Fall semesters based on the number of credit hours they have completed. Applications for re-entry must be entered prior to the beginning of registration. Summer registration will begin on April 6; Registration for Fall 2020 semester will begin on April 20 for graduate students, doctoral students and seniors; April 21 for juniors; April 22 for sophomores; and April 23 for freshmen. Beginning April 8, students can check MyMadison to view their updated Fall 2020 enrollment appointment.

Students who are not in academic good standing must contact the Office of Academic Student Services at acadconcerns@jmu.edu for help with the re-entry application.

Graduate Students
Graduate students who officially withdraw from the university and who wish to return for Summer or Fall 2020 should contact The Graduate School as soon as possible at grad@jmu.edu or 540-568-6131.

Will refunds be distributed?

The university will offer refunds for housing and unused dining plans. Students will receive a refund for housing and/or dining. Information on these refunds and/or credits can be found here.

Are residence halls closing?

In light of the national and statewide emergency declarations, residence halls will be closing for the remainder of the spring semester. Only students who have applied for and received housing exceptions will be permitted to stay. If you cannot go home, you must submit the exception form by March 20 at 5 p.m. Decisions will be communicated starting Thursday, March 19.

Can students come collect things from their residence halls?

Based on guidance from the Virginia Department of Health, the CDC and the Governor of Virginia, travel back to JMU is STRONGLY DISCOURAGED.

Your items are secure in your room on campus. At this time of unprecedented crisis, we must all make a good faith effort to comply with the guidelines and recommendations of those charged with managing the situation. We ask for your cooperation.

As of Sunday, March 29, all residence halls have been locked and residents no longer have access via their JACard. If you have not already moved out we will work with each of you individually to schedule a date and time in the future for you to return to your room and gather your belongings when it is safe. An email was sent to the @Dukes account of every resident student on Friday, March 27 with a link that allows you to request a move-out appointment. Please use that link to schedule a move-out with ORL.

Is the university closed?

In-person access to university facilities and services is extremely limited. UREC and JMU Libraries are closed until further notice, and JMU Dining Services is operating on a limited schedule. Please check the individual webpages for each facility.

Should I return to my off-campus housing?

Students are urged not to return to live in off-campus housing at this time. For students considering returning to live in off-campus housing in Harrisonburg, please note that in-person access to university facilities and services is extremely limited. UREC and JMU Libraries are closed until further notice, and JMU Dining Services is operating on a limited schedule. Remember that in the unfortunate situation that you are asked to self-isolate or quarantine, you are, in most instances, likely better off doing so at home with family who can assist and support you.

Stay home if possible, and if you do need to return to JMU, do not engage in mass gatherings or events. Public health depends on social distancing, and it is critical not to congregate in large crowds. While we are in the middle of a global pandemic, students need to make responsible decisions and not put themselves and others in harm’s way for the sake of a party. We applaud every student who has done their part in being a responsible member of our greater Harrisonburg community, and ask each of you personally to set an example for others around you by not engaging in dangerous and disruptive behaviors.

The office of Off-Campus Life has provided additional information here: https://info.jmu.edu/ocl/faqs/.

Can I break my lease or get a refund on rent for my off campus housing?

All off-campus housing is privately owned and operated. All questions pertaining to leasing agreements and rental payments should be directed to your housing manager or landlord. Remember that your lease is a legally binding document, and you are responsible for making rental payments for the duration of your rental period to avoid legal consequences.

Should we still fill out the 2020 Census?

Yes! If you’re a student who typically lives away at college in off-campus housing but are not there due to COVID-19 responses, use your school address where you typically would have been. Coordinate with your roommates and designate one of you to complete the form for ALL of you. https://my2020census.gov/

How can rented textbooks be returned?

Over the next few weeks, students who have rented textbooks from the JMU Bookstore will receive an email from Follett with a shipping label to return the books free of charge. Students may want to periodically check their spam folder for the email. Students can call (540)-568-6121 for more information.

What about the MREST for May and August 2020 graduates?

Students who have not yet completed the MREST (Madison Research Essentials Test), and who have applied to graduate in May or August 2020, will not need to complete the MREST. Due to COVID-19 testing center closures, a waiver has been granted to these students.

What about MREST for continuing students?

  • Registration holds have been deferred for first-year students who did not pass the MREST by the original deadline.
  • Registration holds for other current students and discontinued students (e.g. students on academic suspension) have been lifted.
  • These temporary adjustments to regular MREST practices should allow students to register for summer and fall and make changes to their schedule in the months to come. Registration holds will be reinstated in the future, after normal on-campus functions resume.

What academic support services remain available?

The Learning Centers and Libraries are here to support you for the rest of the semester! The Learning Centers are continuing to offer online tutoring, consultations and study sessions. Likewise, JMU Libraries continues to offer students help with finding information for assignments and projects, as well as providing support for moving to online learning.

Learning Centers:

JMU Libraries:

What additional support services remain available?

Special Information for Graduate Students

Where can current or prospective graduate students find more information?

The Graduate School is here to assist however they can. While your program faculty should be your first point of contact, please reach out to Graduate School staff directly on issues that you are facing. Visit https://www.jmu.edu/grad/contact.shtml or email them at grad@jmu.edu. You can also text at 540.269.1986 (US only). E-mail and text messaging may only be monitored during regular university business hours. 

The Graduate School has developed a series of FAQs specific to graduate students, found here, and will be updating them regularly.

Financial Aid

Will there be any impact on financial aid for the spring term now that classes have been moved on-line?

As long as you complete all of your coursework, your aid for the spring term will not be negatively impacted by the change from in-person to on-line classes.  The fact that classes moved on-line is not an issue.

What happens if I decide to withdraw from all of my spring classes?

If you decide to withdraw from all of your classes, then you might end up having to repay part of the aid you received for the term.  This is because the aid you received was for a full term’s enrollment, and if you do not complete the full term, regulations may require that some of it be returned. 

You can learn more about this in Section 12: Effects of Dropping and Withdrawing from Classes of our Financial Aid: Terms and Conditions – Consumer Information document on our website.

When JMU determines how to refund housing and unused dining plans, will that refund create any problems with my existing financial aid?

The U.S. Department of Education has provided guidance that schools do not need to count any refund for these prorated charges as part of a student’s financial aid package, or reduce the Cost of Attendance that was used to determine your eligibility.  Pending any change in that guidance, this means a refund for prorated charges would not negatively impact your spring term financial aid.

I’m a Federal Work Study student and lost my job due to COVID-19. Do I have any options for being paid in response to this?

Based on the changes JMU has made in response to COVID-19, we realize there are many FWS students who may have lost their ability to continue their employment this year.  Fortunately, federal regulations may allow JMU to continue paying certain FWS employees who are no longer working.

The following must be true in order to be considered for continued pay:

  • Student must be displaced from their FWS job due to COVID-19.
  • Student must have already been working in a FWS position prior to being displaced.  This flexibility to continue paying students who are not working does not apply to Institutional Employment (IE) positions, or FWS employees hired after changes were made to the JMU calendar (March 11, 2020) in response to COVID-19.
  • If you have already met your maximum FWS award amount you will not be eligible to receive continued pay.  Once you reach your maximum eligibility your payments will end.
  • Your supervisor must be able to work with you to either find additional work you can do remotely (in place of your regular duties), or document the hours you would have worked during the pay period had it not been for the COVID-19 situation.

It should be noted that this is only allowed for employment through the end of the Spring 2020 term, and does not carry forward into subsequent periods of enrollment.

If you feel you qualify for this consideration, please contact your FWS supervisor for instructions on how to proceed.  Please do not contact the Office of Financial Aid & Scholarships or Student Employment, as we are unable to assist you with this.  You must work directly with your supervisor, or his/her designee, if you feel consideration of continued pay is warranted.

Has the COVID-19 situation changed anything regarding applying for summer school financial aid?

At this time, the only change this has created is that the JMU Summer School Financial Aid Application will be available later than planned, as the date summer school registration will open has been postponed.  The financial aid application goes live that same date. In the meantime, please visit our website to learn more about Summer School Financial Aid.

What is the best way to submit documents to the Financial Aid Office for my 2020-21 financial aid?

If we have requested documentation from you to complete the financial aid review process for the 2020-21 school year, the best way to get them to us is by mail or fax.  To be respectful of social distancing, we do not recommend visiting our office.  

Our mailing address is:

JMU Office of Financial Aid & Scholarships
Student Success Center
MSC 3519
738 S. Mason St.
Harrisonburg, Virginia 22807 

Our fax number is 540-568-7994

My parents have experienced a reduction in income due to a job loss as a result of COVID-19. This will create some challenges in paying for my school next year. Is there anything you can do to help?

We understand there may be some students, and parents, experiencing a financial hardship as a result of COVID-19.  Our hope is the hardship will resolve itself before the 2020-21 school year begins, but if not, we are happy to review the situation and determine if there is anything we can do to help with the educational expenses. 

You may visit the Financial Aid Appeals (PJ) section of our website to learn more about how to submit information for us to review.  If the appeal is being submitted due to a job loss or reduction of income, please wait 90 calendar days after the event occurred to submit the appeal.  If at that point the income situation has not resolved itself, then please reach out so we can review your situation and determine if we can provide any additional assistance.

I have a private educational loan and I’m not sure how I will make the payments as a result of financial challenges I’m experiencing in response to COVID-19. What should I do?

We recommend that you contact your private educational loan lender directly and explain your situation. While each lender may respond differently, we have heard from several lenders that they may be willing to help their borrowers through this period.  The type of help offered will vary by lender.

What is the impact on my Spring 2020 financial aid if I change my spring classes from letter grades to CR/NC?

Financial aid for the Spring 2020 term will not be impacted by changing from letter grades to CR/NC. 

What is the impact on my Summer 2020, Fall 2020, and Spring 2021 financial aid if I change my spring classes from letter grades to CR/NC?

As you review this section, please keep in mind the financial aid Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) standards being discussed are not the same as academic progression standards required to be enrolled at JMU.  The information we are presenting here only addresses financial aid eligibility. Please review the Registrar’s website if you have questions about the general academic standing requirements.

There are three areas of SAP where CR/NC grades can have an impact. These are the progression standards, grade point average standard and situations where students are receiving financial aid now on a probationary status.

Progression Standards (Pace and Maximum Time)

CR Grades:

  • Count as attempted credits
  • Count as earned credits

NC Grades:

  • Count as attempted credits
  • Do not count as earned credits (they are unearned by SAP standards)

What this means is CR grades will help you progress toward meeting your degree requirements, whereas NC grades will not. This has implications on whether you are meeting the Pace or Maximum Time SAP requirements to receive financial aid in the 2020-21 school year. Here is an example of what this looks like in a Pace situation:

  • The SAP policy requires students to earn credit that progresses them toward degree completion in 80% of their total classes attempted
  • Student attempted 24 credit hours in Year 1 (2018-19) and earned passing grades in 20 credit hours, for a completion percentage of 83.3%
  • In Fall 2019, student attempted 12 more credit hours and passed all of them, which brings the total attempted to 36 and earned to 32
    • Attempted credit hours = 24 from 2018-19 + 12 from Fall 2019
    • Earned credit hours = 20 from 2018-19 + 12 from Fall 2019
  • In Spring 2020, student attempted 12 credits and had grades of NC in all of them, which brings the total attempted to 48 and earned to 32
    • Attempted credit hours = 24 from 2018-19 + 12 from Fall 2019 + 12 from Spring 2020
    • Earned credit hours = 20 from 2018-19 + 12 from Fall 2019 + 0 from Spring 2020
  • The student’s completion percentage at the end of the 2019-20 school year is now 66.7%
    • 32 credit hours earned / 48 credit hours attempted
  • The student will fail SAP for the 2020-21 based on not having earned passing grades toward his program study in at least 80% of the courses attempted

 

Grade Point Average (GPA)

CR/NC grades are not included in your GPA, which has the potential to create challenges for some students. For example, according to the Financial Aid SAP Policy, an undergraduate who has attempted 90 – 104 credit hours must have a cumulative GPA of 1.994 to meet the minimum SAP requirements. Here is an example of one scenario that could occur:

  • End of Fall 2019 a student who has attempted 80 credit hours has a cumulative GPA of 1.90
  • The student takes all CR/NC grades for his 12 credits in Spring 2020, meaning he now has attempted a total of 92 credit hours in his school career
  • When the SAP process runs for 2020-21, it will look to see if he has a minimum cumulative GPA of 1.994
  • The student will fail SAP for the 2020-21 school year since his cumulative GPA will only be 1.90
  • Had the student received letter grades in the Spring 2020 term, it may have been possible for his cumulative GPA to be at the 1.994 threshold

 

SAP Probation and Academic Plans

Students who are currently receiving financial aid on a SAP Probationary basis and associated Academic Plan should review their plan to determine if changing their grades to CR/NC will create a situation where they cannot meet the terms of that plan.

SAP Appeals and Information

When a student fails to meet the minimum SAP standards they are given the opportunity to appeal the denial. All of this will be explained in the SAP denial notice the student will be sent once the process runs. We will begin running the SAP process for the 2020-21 after Spring 2020 grades are posted.

You may view the Satisfactory Academic Progress section of our website for more details. 

Please e-mail the Office of Financial Aid & Scholarships at finaid_sap@jmu.edu if you have specific questions related to SAP.

What is the impact on my scholarship renewal if I change my spring classes from letter grades to CR/NC?

Since CR/NC grades do not count in the grade point average (GPA) calculation, this could present problems for some students. Here is an example of one problem scenario that could occur if a student has a renewable scholarship that requires a cumulative GPA of 3.0 at the end of each school year:

  • End of Fall 2019 student has a cumulative GPA of 2.90
  • The student takes all CR/NC grades for his 12 credits in Spring 2020 and has no GPA points for the spring term
  • This means the student’s cumulative GPA at the end of the 2019-20 school year will be 2.90, which is less than the 3.0 needed to retain the scholarship in 2020-21
  • Had the student received letter grades in the Spring 2020 term, it may have been possible for his cumulative GPA to be at the 3.0 threshold

At this stage, we are evaluating whether there is flexibility to work with students who are not meeting the renewal GPA requirements as a result of changing classes to CR/NC.  Since many of the scholarships awarded are done so based on formal (legal) gift agreements between JMU and the donor, the answer is not clear at this time.  However, we will continue to research available options for addressing situations where students may not meet the renewal GPA criteria due to COVID-19.

Please e-mail Office of Financial Aid & Scholarships at scholarships@jmu.edu if you have specific questions related to scholarships.

How can I access the “emergency aid” dollars I’ve heard about in response to the COVID-19 situation?

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was recently passed into law. As you may have read, a component of this bill created “emergency aid” for students impacted by COVID-19. Now that the law is passed, it will be up to the Department of Education (ED) to regulate and implement the provisions. Since this is so new, we have not received guidance from ED about how this will work. However, we are actively engaged in conversations about this and are anxiously awaiting guidance from ED on how this will be implemented.

I understand there was some Federal Direct Loan relief provided in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. How do I determine if it applies to me?

As part of the CARES Act signed into law on March 27, Congress mandated the Department of Education (ED) suspend federal direct loan payments and the accrual of interest on those loans until September 30, 2020. In order for federal loan servicers to implement this mandate, they needed to receive guidance from ED on how to do that. ED provided that guidance to them on April 1 and stated they need to implement the six-month loan forbearance and interest waiver by April 10.

It is our understanding that based on the instructions Federal Direct Loan servicers received from ED, President Trump's announcement to waive interest starting March 13 includes loans for borrowers in school and in their grace period. This means students entering repayment following their graduation in May 2020 should also have their interest waived through September 30, 2020.

ED has updated its website at https://studentaid.gov/announcements-events/coronavirus with information about this provision of the CARES Act and will continue to update the site as more details unfold. If you have Federal Direct Loans, we recommend you review ED’s site for the most up-to-date information.

For Faculty and Staff

Should employees report to work?

Faculty and staff should work remotely to the extent possible. In an effort to ensure the health and well-being of all faculty and staff only "designated" employees should continue to work on campus. Supervisors now have the authority to identify those who should report and those who should work remotely.

We urge all supervisors, managers, and unit heads to be as flexible as possible to ensure the safety of employees working on campus. JMU already has university policies in place that may aid in social distancing. Please review Alternate Work Schedules policy and the Flexible Work Arrangements policy to see if any of the options available could help you keep your employees safe. Supervisors may seek additional guidance from their HR consultant.

Faculty and staff may return to campus intermittently to complete their work or to collect items necessary to work remotely. While on campus, employees are required to practice social distancing and proper hygiene.

 

How is the university supporting faculty in offering online instruction?

JMU Libraries has a number of resources available to assist with this.

Who can employees contact with questions about COVID-19?

Given the unprecedented changes in the JMU community related to the coronavirus pandemic, the JMU University Health Center (UHC) has agreed to take calls from employees who have questions about COVID-19.

If you have questions about COVID-19, such as how to protect yourself and your family, what is social distancing, should you self-isolate, etc., we encourage you to first visit the UHC website for information and links to many helpful sites. If you still have questions regarding work operations or employee health related to COVID-19, you may call UHC at 540-568-6178. A member of the UHC team will receive your question, return your call, and respond to any questions you have. They will not be screening patients, conducting remote examinations, diagnosing illnesses, or writing prescriptions. The best time to call is 9 am to 4:30 pm, Monday – Friday.

What about university-sponsored travel for employees?

In adherence to Governor Ralph Northam’s ban on state employee travel, the university is prohibiting any university-sponsored travel outside of Virginia. Additional guidance is forthcoming and the Commonwealth of Virginia will revisit these guidelines after 30 days.

What resources are available to faculty who are feeling stressed?

The Center for Faculty Innovation has a number of roundtable discussions addressing self-care. For more details and to register, visit the CFI home page.

International Programs

What international programs has JMU closed or cancelled?

JMU has closed all four of our Spring 2020 semester-long study abroad programs. Students have returned from Italy, Belgium, the United Kingdom, and Spain. In total, JMU has recalled 109 students back to the United States, plus a handful of faculty and staff. Students, faculty and staff have been asked to adhere to the latest guidance from the CDC for travelers returning home.  

We also made the decision to close all short-term summer study abroad programs, as well as our summer semester-long programs in London, Antwerp, Salamanca, Florence and Edinburgh. Global engagement continues to be at the heart of JMU’s mission to be a university engaged with the ideas of the world. We will be working with students affected by these closures to identify alternative summer course options and future study abroad opportunities.

How is JMU supporting students whose international programs have been closed?

We have ensured that any students whose study abroad experience was cut short will have a means to complete their coursework and to earn those associated credits. Students will also be as financially supported as possible. JMU is paying for students’ change fee or airfare back to the U.S., as we recognize changing travel plans will be a financial hardship for some. The university will also work with students to provide pro-rated reimbursement of program fees and room and board based on the number of remaining weeks in the semester.

What factors does the university consider in its decision-making process for closing programs abroad?

Closing or canceling an international program is not a decision that is made lightly. The university considers a number of factors including academic impact and the free movement of students, but paramount in the decision-making process is protecting the safety of our community.

What should travelers returning from abroad do?

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.

General Information

Who should I contact at JMU with questions?

Contact covid19@jmu.edu with questions. Media should contact Caitlyn Read, readcl@jmu.edu, or 540-568-5325.

Have events on campus been cancelled?

Based on guidance issued by the White House and the Governor of Virginia not to gather in groups of more than 10 people, all events on JMU’s campus, regardless of size, are canceled through May 15. These restrictions include events at JMU that are not university-sponsored, including conferences and social gatherings. 

This includes on-campus CHOICES Admitted Student Open House events scheduled for April 3 and April 6, 2020. A live and recorded virtual CHOICES Open House will take place. Check jmu.edu/choices for more information.

Professional and Continuing Education Youth Summer Programs: We fully anticipate carrying on summer programming as scheduled. If factors make that impossible, we will adjust accordingly and announce any changes and/or cancellations. Registration is open at j.mu/youth. If JMU PCE Youth Programs need to cancel any program, fees will be refunded. Refunds will also be made to participants who are unable to attend programs due to COVID-19. Updates for summer 2020 youth programs will be posted on j.mu/youth and the PCE Facebook page. While JMU offices will remain open, we will only be in the offices intermittently, but can be reached via email at youthprograms@jmu.edu, or by phone at 540-568-4226 and 540-568-4224. 

What will happen if someone in the JMU community is suspected of having COVID-19?

If a case was suspected in the JMU community, JMU would partner with the Virginia Department of Health, and adhere to available guidance from federal, state and local officials. If the suspected case is a student, the university is prepared to support that student should self-isolation or quarantine become necessary, providing access to housing, food, laundry, entertainment and Wifi. JMU would communicate the situation broadly with the university community, without releasing individuals’ identities per state and federal privacy laws. 

What has JMU been doing to prepare?

On campus, we have convened the Infectious Disease Response Team (IDRT), a committee comprised of leadership from across campus, to review emergency operations plans, ensure compliance with CDC and VDH guidance, and implement practices to best protect the community. As part of this work, groups across campus continue to conduct contingency planning focused on isolation and quarantine, moving courses online, supporting employees in telecommuting, and preparing for other possible action that may become necessary. We have also taken a number of precautions to protect the health of our community including increasing the frequency of cleaning, which includes the use of disinfectants in residence halls and shared spaces on campus, and working with our food service providers from Aramark to increase protections in the dining facilities.

What can I do to protect myself from COVID-19?

Take standard precautions that prevent the spread of all communicable diseases. Focus on good hygiene to prevent viral illnesses, including covering coughs and sneezes, avoiding sharing cups and utensils, washing hands regularly, avoiding others if you or they are ill, and getting plenty of sleep. More information from the CDC on how to protect yourself is available here.

What should I do if I feel sick?

To protect the health and well-being of everyone in the JMU community, the university has advised anyone exhibiting symptoms of a communicable disease to remain out of class, away from work, and avoid others for the duration of the illness and for 24 hours after symptoms abate. Students can contact the University Health Center at healthctr@jmu.edu or 540-568-6178. If a case of COVID-19 is suspected, the university is prepared to support students by providing housing, food and other supports required for isolation or quarantine.

What if I’m feeling fear and anxiety about COVID-19?

We recognize that public health emergencies are stressful times for communities. Fear and anxiety about a disease can lead to social stigma toward people and places, for example, associating COVID-19 with a population or nationality, or with people who have traveled. Stigma hurts everyone by creating fear and anger toward others. The reality is that diseases can make anyone sick regardless of their race or ethnicity. (Adapted from the CDC’s webpage on Stigma and Resilience.)  

We ask all members of the community to model the JMU way, that Dukes take care of Dukes. If you are a student or employee and have experienced stigma, please contact JMU’s Office of Equal Opportunity at oeo@jmu.edu. If you are a student in need of mental health services, contact the JMU Counseling Center through their Outreach Request Form.

 

Where can I find more information?

How can I help?

COVID-19 has affected many families in the Madison community and will undoubtedly necessitate emergency student scholarship support. Social distancing, while necessary, has caused market losses, unemployment and food insecurity. In response, our alumni, parents and friends around the world are asking how they can help students who need immediate assistance and support the university they love. They understand this pandemic is unprecedented for all of us. We are making hard decisions we have never had to make before, both as a nation and as a university. The financial impact will be significant. If you are in a position to help, you can provide critical support to these students and JMU with a gift today.

Media Resources

As a reporter, who do I contact with an inquiry?

Caitlyn Read, Director of Communications, readcl@jmu.edu

Who are the JMU faculty experts to speak on the impact of COVID-19?

A list of faculty who can speak on various topics related to COVID-19 can be found here.

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