After consulting with multiple sources and reviewing the latest guidance, JMU employed a wide variety of methods to establish and ensure physical distancing on campus. The university followed guidelines issued by the CDC, specifically CDC guidelines for IHEs, and the Virginia Department of Health.

The Contingency Planning Task Force (CPTF), which was co-chaired by the vice presidents for Finance & Administration and Academic Affairs and included university-wide representation, was charged to assess and address all aspects of campus life in order to initiate change and/or develop new procedures with the goal to maximize safety for students, faculty and staff.

Physical Distancing in Classrooms and Learning Environments

Planning for a safe return to classrooms, labs, studios and other learning environments was led by the Classroom Configurations and Scheduling Working Group, a subset of the CPTF, which developed “plans, strategies and guidance for managing on-campus (in-person and/ or in-person & online [hybrid]) classroom configurations and scheduling in preparation for COVID-19 and related safety precautions.” The group established the following procedures:

  • Require face masks at all times in classrooms or face shields at all times in labs or studios. Note: The Office of Disability Services was involved in these conversations to address necessary accommodations for students and faculty.
  • Equip all classrooms with two boxes of extra disposable face masks.
  • Install a Plexiglass shield in front of each podium in all classrooms.
  • Allow individual departments to determine their own meeting schedules for labs and specialty classes, like art and music studios, and allow them to set their spaces up appropriately, using the provided guidance.
  • Provide each building coordinator with a distance thermometer for use if an individualfeels ill and wants to take their temperature.

Additional significant changes related to classrooms, labs, studios and other learning environments included the following.

Class Schedule

JMU analyzed classroom capacity, then created a course schedule that adjusted meeting times to allow for increased cleaning during the day. This design helped ensure access to in-person courses for faculty and students, while protecting those with health concerns. The modifications maintain the traditional MWF/TT structure but shift time periods to insert two 60-minute cleaning blocks during the day. Courses scheduled outside of the regular time periods on MW, WF or MF were also shifted to account for the 60-minute cleaning block, and its timing will vary based on classroom usage.


Classroom Capacity Meeting

In order to provide increased safety and well-being, we shifted some campus spaces, including campus ballrooms, large auditoriums, and other spaces, to be used as classrooms and support physical distancing for class meetings. We then moved classes to larger spaces, maintaining the current class enrollment while increasing the physical distance between students. As a result, courses with fewer students were moved into the now-vacated larger classrooms. This system allows us to maximize campus spaces while maintaining the appropriate physical distance.

Movement within Academic Buildings

With fewer students attending classes at once due to the new schedule, there are fewer people in hallways and stairwells, which allows for greater physical distancing. Individual responsibility will be needed, as well as the mandatory use of masks, to ensure that appropriate distancing is maintained. Students who are physically able to do so will be encouraged to use the stairwells, as opposed to elevators, when moving among floors.

Building coordinators have established single lane traffic, or other patterns, in the way that is most appropriate for their buildings; consistent signage was provided.

Social Distancing Outside the Classroom

Another subset of the CPTF, the Facilities Configurations and Scheduling Working Group, was charged to “develop plans, strategies and guidance, with a focus on sanitation and security, for managing all configuration and scheduling issues for facilities outside of the classroom, including residence halls, unions, public spaces, office buildings, buses and athletic events, in preparation for COVID-19 and related safety precautions.” This group

worked closely with Student Affairs administration to establish procedures for social distancing outside of the classroom.


All students will receive fundamental training on COVID-19 and required behaviors prior to reopening. An ongoing marketing campaign will keep reminding our community members to practice behaviors that will ensure our safety as much as possible and mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

In addition, training will be provided by peers during 1787 Orientation and by the RAs and FROGS (First Year Orientation Guides), as these students will model the expected behavior.

Expectations of Students

Student are expected to eliminate physical contact with others, such as handshakes and embraces. Students should avoid anyone who appears to be sick, is coughing or is sneezing. In addition, students should avoid touching surfaces that are touched by others as much as possible.

Extracurricular Activities

JMU offers multiple annual events for students that will proceed with modified formats in the interest of health and safety. For example, the UPB Crazy Commons will not be serving food in order to maximize mask usage and has switched to digital handbills instead of print ones that are passed out.

A popular event every fall is Student Organization Night, the traditional involvement fair where recognized organizations, campus departments and Harrisonburg community partners are available to talk with JMU students wanting to be involved in their community. Because of the importance and popularity of this occasion, we have developed four potential options based on the phase of the Commonwealth. These options range from a traditional in-person format with required masks, appropriate physical distancing, and temperature checks at entry points to a virtual option in which organizations and students interact through an online platform like Campus Labs or Flipgrid.

Movies shown at Grafton Stovall Theater will be reduced to one showing per night to allow time for disinfecting. Face masks are required, and popcorn will not be served in order to maximize mask usage. Alternating rows of seating will blocked off, and individuals must maintain two vacant seats between them to ensure social distancing.

Fraternity & Sorority Activities

To avoid violating health and safety protocols, we will use a hybrid process for fraternity and sorority recruitment. Virtual meetings will be in place for larger, early rounds and move to shorter rounds with increased number of rounds to reduce the number of people present at any given time. No food or drink will be served, and there will be extended breaks between each round to sanitize high-touch surfaces. Any in-person recruitment events must be held on campus to confirm proper safety protocols are being followed. Bid Day will also use a virtual format.

Social Events: 
JMU will not hold in-person full chapter and new member events due to physical distancing requirements. University administration will work with chapters and national headquarters to establish guidelines for any social events, which will meet all requirements.

Panhellenic & Interfraternity Council Executive Council Meetings:
These in-person meetings require masks for all participants, and hand sanitizer will be used prior to beginning each meetings. No food or drinks will be available during meetings, and rooms will be set-up to encourage physical distancing requirements.

Off-Campus Gatherings

We believe that these types of activities pose the greatest risk to our students’ health and well-being, and we need our students to make good decisions about hosting and attending events off-campus. The university will provide significant guidance and direction to students in regard to gathering off-campus through online training and videos to engage with the students. In addition, we will use the student voice to model expected behavior and help encourage students to limit their large gatherings off-campus.

Restricted Occupancy and Staggered Use of Communal Spaces

Employee Spaces

JMU’s online Return to the Workplace guidelines reflect the existing Governor’s Executive Order and will continuously be updated as needed.

Student Spaces

All students and employees are required to wear a face mask per state and university policies while on campus. Signage will promote the continual use of masks.

Facilities Management issued departmental suites door stops to prop doors open to reduce the chances of contamination. If a door opens into hallway and impedes egress, then it cannot be propped open. Also, no fire-rated doorways, i.e. stairwells, may be propped open.

In the Cave at the Festival, bean bags will be removed, and seating will be arranged so that chairs are back to back with six feet of clearance in front. In the Festival Lounges, seating will also be arranged back to back with six feet of clearance in front. The Festival Study Lounges are being temporarily loaned to Alumni Relations for use as offices to facilitate physical distancing.

Madison Union:
General reminders about physical distancing will be posted throughout Madison Union. In Taylor Down Under, lounge seating will be arranged with seating back to back and six feet clearance in front; every other chair will be removed for table seating. The Recliner Lounge will be usable as is by maintaining even spacing; billiards play is acceptable while students are wearing masks.

In the 3rd Floor Lounge, seating at study carrels is usable by adding height to the existing faceguards. Recliners are usable by maintaining even spacing. Upholstered seating will be arranged back to back with six feet physical distance in front. In the 2nd Floor Lounge, chairs will be arranged back to back with six feet of clearance in front.

The Post Office queuing will be set up for proper spacing using signage.

Outdoor Spaces:
Sponsors of activities will be reminded to emphasize physical distancing and wear masks in outdoor spaces like the Warner Commons, Festival Lawn and UREC Fields.

Student Success Center (SSC):
As of now, building hours for Fall 2020 are scheduled to remain in place; however, we are prepared to re-evaluate. If the number of cases in Harrisonburg spike, we will shorten building hours on the weekend and close the facility at 9 p.m. during the week. All faculty and staff assigned to the building have card swipe access and may enter and leave as needed. Other personnel who do not have card swipe access can enter through unlocked doors during normal building hours.

Seating throughout SSC has been modified to allow for and encourage physical distancing. Within the Atrium, the Dunkin Donuts area has been reconfigured to allow two chairs per table and the purple atrium chairs have been reconfigured allow two chairs per coffee table. High-top tables now allow one chair per table. Only every other seat is available on the serpentine couches and at zig-zag tables. Benches and tables have been reconfigured to allow fewer seats in booths.

University Recreation Center (UREC):
UREC staff began training student employees on reopening procedures the week of July 6. Throughout the rest of July, we will evaluate three different operating models to determine the best option for JMU for our planned August 29 opening.

Regardless of the final operating model, masks will be required for entry and in all corridor spaces. Masks may be removed prior exercising. Signage will warn students against entry if they are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19. Students will swipe their own JMU ID cards, using a new reader station at the welcome center.

New pathways have been created and marked to show traffic patterns that minimize congestion at doors and corridors. All student and UREC staff will wear masks at all timeswhile supervising spaces and performing services. Only those actively engaged in exercise will be permitted to remove their masks during the activity.

All service desks in the building where staff is stationed will have sneeze guards installed to protect staff and participants. A touchless, wall mounted temperature station is provided for students who do not have their own thermometer to use to voluntary monitor their own body temperature prior to exercise.

All spaces will have hand sanitizer at the entrance, to be used at entry and exit of all activity spaces. We also will encourage hand washing at certain activity areas where this is prudent. Physical distancing will be monitored in spaces where there may be a line. Maximum capacities, adjusted for COVID-19, have been created for all areas.

New traffic patterns will minimize interactions between people entering and exiting, as well as in social spaces that interact with walkways and corridors.

Cleaning will be done three times a day on high-touch areas, and disinfection using an electrostatic sprayer will be performed every two hours in fitness and climbing areas.

Cardio equipment that does not require electricity will be moved to the large gym space and set up at appropriate social distance. Remaining equipment will be spaced out to maintain physical distancing during exercise. Some plate-loaded weight equipment will be moved to the pavilion at University Park.

The large fitness area will be divided into zones, and physical distancing and capacities will be handled by zone to maintain the mandated capacity. Most group fitness classes will remain online, utilizing recorded classes and some new virtual classes. Some classes intended for new users will be operated live in the large gym space or outdoors in the east courtyard, weather permitting, that allows for physical distancing.

In the Adventure and Climbing Center, top rope climbing will be suspended. Bouldering will be permitted within marked spaces to minimize interaction between climbers. Rental and checkout of equipment for adventures will be available, but trips will largely be limited due to transportation concerns. Equipment checkout will occur at the exterior access only. The bike shop will continue to operate by appointment only.

Locker rooms will be open for swimmers to change and shower at a reduced capacity to maintain physical distancing. Signage will inform swimmers of appropriate use of showers and lockers. The sauna and spa will be closed in keeping with the Governor’s guidelines. Fitness channels and open areas will be separated and capacities adjusted. Lap swimmers will be limited to two per lane with alternate-side lane loading
American Red Cross classes will resume with the ARC safety guidelines utilized. This includes one person per manikin and use of masks.

Sports utilizing a net (volleyball, pickleball, table tennis, etc.) that separates teams will be permitted, and equipment will be checked out for these sports and disinfected between each use. Team sports, such as basketball and soccer, will be permitted in a reduced format by sign-up only, between known groups. No open pickup games will be permitted, and equipment will be checked out and disinfected between uses.

Racquetball courts may be used by no more than two persons at a time, by reservation only. Boxing bags and battle ropes will be removed. Intramural sports will be suspended indefinitely. Tournaments may still be held in individual sports. There will be no Sport Club travel or competitions this fall.

University Park will offer use of outdoor spaces for drop-in use only. Free weights will be available under the pavilion to people who prefer to workout outdoors in the fall semester.Other fitness equipment will be available to use on the event lawn in good weather to promote individual functional fitness. The synthetic turf fields will be available for skill practice and small team use by reservation. The archery range may be used with proper physical distancing, and coaches will be required to wear masks unless they are shooting
and/or distanced from all athletes.

Tennis, basketball and volleyball courts can be utilized with no more than 2 on 2 for tennis, 3 on 3 for basketball and 4 on 4 for volleyball. Equipment will be checked out and disinfected after each use. The disc golf course will be open for drop-in use, and equipment may be checked out at the gatehouse.

Walking and jogging trails may also be used with proper social distancing, but all races and group events will be suspended. The TEAM course will be open by reservation only.


Signage in and around all restrooms will remind individuals to:

  • Wash their hands thoroughly using proper hand washing techniques to reduce the
  • potential transmission of the virus.
  • Occupy alternate urinals and restroom stalls to maintain physical separation.
  • Avoid congregating in the restroom.
  • Avoid touching doorknobs, faucets, paper towel dispensers, etc. with clean, bare hands to the extent possible.

Public restrooms will be cleaned twice a day.

Gathering Sizes and Physical Distancing

The university will follow and work to enforce limitations on size of gatherings based on current and updated guidance from CDC and VDH officials. All on-campus events will strictly follow the Governor’s Executive Orders and will be in line with the current phase within the Commonwealth of Virginia. At the time of this writing, the Commonwealth is in Phase 3 which will allow 250 people to gather in a space. Within these guidelines of a 250 person gathering, we will still ensure appropriate spacing and other safety measures including masks for indoor gatherings and hand sanitizer. We will adjust our plans to the specific phase the Commonwealth is in at the time and remain focused on the overall health and safety of the community.

The vast majority of large student life events (Student Organization Night, Sorority Recruitment and Fraternity Rush, etc.) will be hosted mostly in a virtual manner to support social distancing while also allowing students to engage and connect with their community.

We will also work with our student organizations in the planning of their events, meetings, and all gatherings to ensure they stay in line with current guidelines and expectations. There will also be shifts in how we manage and provide interactions in recreation, intramurals, club sports and other recreational activities. This is identified and explained further under UREC in section A.5.b. of this document.


Convening in groups increases the risk of viral transmission. Where feasible, meetings will be held in whole or in part using the extensive range of available virtual collaboration tools (e.g. Zoom, Webex, Microsoft Teams, telephone, etc.).

In-person meetings shall be limited to the restrictions of the Governor’s Executive Order. The order states that meetings should not exceed 50% of a room’s capacity, assuming individuals can still maintain six feet of separation for physical distancing requirements. Departments should remove or rearrange chairs and tables or add visual cue marks in meeting rooms to support physical distancing practices between attendees.

Furniture in lounges, waiting rooms, break rooms and other indoor communal spaces will be moved or blocked to ensure that users maintain physical distancing. Masks will still be required in these communal indoor spaces.

While at work, staff and faculty are encouraged to communicate with colleagues and supervisors as needed by email, instant message, telephone or other available technology rather than face-to-face. JMU will also use a range of available collaboration tools (e.g. Zoom, Webex, Microsoft Teams, Jabber, Slack, etc.).

Food and Dining Services

Food Service: Administrative

Each operating location or unit, including catering and concessions, will have an approved opening and operating plan based on these principles:

  • Catering will look to improving individualized options (i.e., hot and cold box meals) in
    addition to other refinements
  • Concessions will operate under staff guidelines whether workers are regular staff, temp
    workers or NPOs

Each operating location or unit will ensure continuous stocking of masks, PPE and singleuse sanitizer wipes for guest use. We will work with Aramark and VDH on specific PPE requirements for staff including the appropriate type of face mask, potential eye protection, etc.

Dining Services will conduct detailed training of all staff regarding proper use of PPE and social distancing, as well as refresh training for everyone on the importance of hand washing and frequency. All Dining staff will complete return-to-work training including COVID-19-specific safety training prior to returning to work for Fall 2020 semester.

Dining Services will be prepared to accommodate any outside groups or guests that arrive
on campus that might not be prepared for the requirement of masks or PPE.

As needed, Dining Services will follow the approved quarantine and iIsolation plans as appropriate for exposed students.

Overall, Dining Services will drive the adoption and use of technology to create less physical contact, including promotion of the Starship robot delivery program at all available retail operations to provide contactless food delivery; increased use of Mobile IDs; encouragement of cashless, card-less transactions and investigation of kiosk order placement.

Staff and location redundancy will be built into operating plans to allow for staff illness or potential short-term location closure. Operating locations and hours will be based on enrollment and use figures, and they will be subject to revision throughout the semester as these numbers change.

Dining Services will ensure that all promotions and special events adhere to these principles and individual location plans as appropriate. All use of guest-provided reusable beverage containers has been suspended and will
continue to be suspended until further notice. The use of reusable food containers (green clam shells) is currently suspended but will be reintroduced in the fall, where it can be done so safely.

In terms of student communication, Dining Services will implement a peace-of-mind social media campaign, provided by Aramark. All communication channels will be updated with appropriate safety messaging to reinforce new behaviors, to be completed by the JMU Dining Marketing Team. The JMU dining website will be updated with consumer facing messaging regarding COVID-19 preparation and safety measures in dining to reflect JMU’s
focus on understanding safety measures.

Food Service: Entrances

All processes, staffing and policies focus on achieving objectives without holding guests in lines any more than necessary for both safety and convenience.Dining Services will provide face shields for cashiers and other entrance employees where plexiglass shields are not practical or available.

We have also designated entrances separate from designated exits to increase physical separation of entrances and exits to the largest extent possible. Designated entrance areas such as vestibules are prepared to accommodate weather/temperature variations.

Prior to entrance, guests will be checked for an appropriate mask. If guest does not have a mask, we will be prepared to provide one at cost. In addition, there will be sanitizer stations in the entrance area, with added portable guest-facing hand-washing stations where possible.Doors will be propped if possible to lessen amount of surfaces to be repeatedly touched.

Guest will have access to sanitizer wipes throughout the facility to allow for additional cleaning of the dining table and chair. No reusable mugs or cups will be allowed in any dining facility.

Food Service: Cashier Areas

When possible, we will require the use of the mobile JACard app to lessen amount of handto-hand interaction. If cash must be used, there will be a small tray for customers to place tender in the tray and pass the tray to cashier; the cashier will sanitize the tray after each use. Customers will be able to use side cars to complete credit card transactions, which will be sanitized after each use.

Cashiers will also sanitize cashier stands and surrounding area/components at set intervals of the shift. Plexiglass will be added as needed to minimize the unavoidable interpersonal interaction during the payment process.

Food Service: Stations

All staff will put on masks prior to entry to the building and during service. Where possible, stations will use stanchions and floor markings to provide in-line guidance for queuing following physical distancing protocol. All stations will be served by staff; there will be no self-serve food other than prepackaged items.

Some locations with plexiglass already in place that might have a gap in sneeze guard will be reinforced. Stations will also have reminder markings regarding CDC recommended physical distancing.

Beverage and other machines where no guest-to-food contact is possible (condiment pumps, soft-serve ice cream, etc.) will be reviewed regularly for safe and sensible operation. All other self-service items such as silverware, napkins, etc. will be housed at stations around the dining area, with staff attending closely to prevent cross contamination from self-service.

Any food contaminated or thought to be contaminated through guest touching, sneezing or coughing will be pulled from service immediately. Food shall be weighed and recorded as COVID-19 waste and disposed.

Food Service: Dining Areas/Seating 

We have reduce the amount of indoor seating by 30% in each facility to allow for compliance with recommended distancing between tables.Extraneous seating was sent to D-Hub to create an expanded study area. The space for remaining tables and chairs is marked appropriately using a floor plan that is easily reset to ensure proper spacing

Dining Services has increased sanitization staff and added deep sanitation times to ensure tables are sanitized between guests. Sanitation wipes will be provided throughout the facility to wipe down tables and chairs prior to sitting as well. Reminders (napkin inserts, buttons, signage) have been placed throughout dining area as reminder to physically distance and replace masks as soon as possible when in the dining halls.

Food Service: Preparation Areas

Dining Services will continue to follow current standards for food preparation as required by ServSafe certification including:

  • Focusing on hand washing and social distancing
  • Increasing sanitation times and procedures in all food storage and preparation areas (already in place)
  • Reviewing, by Aramark supply chain, supplier processes to ensure the food arriving at
    facilities is safe
  • Using CDC-approved sanitation chemicals. All staff will be trained on any new chemicals

The Recieving team will continue to follow the rigorous receiving policies and procedures that are already in place. All delivery personnel will follow same entry requirements and wear masks on entry to any dining facility. Sanitizer station will be set up in all receiving areas that are separate from general operating areas, especially where there is no hand sink immediately available.

Food Service: Staffing 

Dining services is planning a strong focus on recruiting staff 45 days prior to opening, as well as launching a peace-of-mind campaign to reinforce that the workplace is safe. We will also continue our policy of granting up to 21 additional sick days for any active associate diagnosed with COVID-19 after exhausting current sick leave.

Dining Services role regarding guest PPE is to inform and educate, not to police. Staff will be trained to not intervene in guest safety measures unless they are posing a direct risk to staff or other guests. In the case where a guest is posing a direct risk to staff and other guests, Public Safety will respond to requests for assistance.

Washable masks and any other necessary PPE will be issued to each associate in the appropriate quantity. Associates will be responsible keeping track of and laundering their own masks. Leadership will be flexible regarding non-uniform masks driven by employee preference if they can be shown to be effective and non-offensive. We will also provide the option of clear full face shields for jobs where masks and social distancing might not be adequate protection.

All staff will enter at one designated entrance. Following clocking in but prior to assuming any duties, dining service employees will be checked for an appropriate mask, have their temperature taken with infrared thermometer and asked appropriate health questions related to exposure exchanged. If staff temperature indicates a fever (100.4F or higher), we will follow JMU recommendations and UHC protocols. Staff who leave the building on break will use the required entrance but will be screened only for required PPE when reentering the building on the same shift.

Appropriate measures will be deployed to ensure physical distancing of employees is achieved as much as possible, such as staggered scheduling of employees to avoid crowding at the time clock, additional time clocks, marked zones in shops as reminder of distance to co-worker stations, etc.

Staff exposed to COVID-19 will be removed from campus and asked to self-isolate for 14 days. If they are symptom free after 14 days, they should contact their HR Manager to be cleared. If they are showing symptoms, they will require testing to be cleared before contacting HR Manager. Staff diagnosed with COVID-19 will be removed from campus for seven days post-infection and cleared by their medical professional before contacting HR Manager to be cleared for schedule. JMU/Aramark/VDH notification processes and policies will be followed precisely to protect the individual as well as the community.

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