JMU’s policies and protocols for responding to COVID-19 are predicated by our desire to protect the safety and the well-being of our staff, faculty, students, and the community members with whom we interact. We are committed to making the campus environment as safe as possible for all audiences.

Mitigating Exposure Risk

JMU has developed or expanded multiple policy options to support those who are at a higher risk for severe illness to mitigate their exposure to COVID-19.

In the Workplace

Through the publicly available Return to the Workplace Guidelines, members of at-risk groups, as defined by the CDC, are encouraged to self-identify with their supervisor. Employees are encouraged to disclose to their supervisor that they are over 65 or have an underlying health condition; however, it is not necessary for the employee to share
their specific age or health condition unless they choose to do so. Disclosure allows any employee’s work unit to take particular care to reduce the risk of exposure while making sure important work continues.

At-risk faculty and staff who have been instructed to return to work on site and have concerns about doing so due to a medical condition that places them in a higher risk group or those who wish to seek ADA reasonable accommodations should contact their HR Benefits Specialist. Specific information about health conditions might be required when speaking to a benefits specialist. All health-related information is kept strictly confidential. JMU will comply with all relevant laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Age Discrimination Employment Act.

Supervisors of vulnerable or at-risk faculty and staff who wish to return to work will implement increased safety measures as needed to protect them when working on site. These additions may include isolated workstations, additional personal protective equipment, plexiglass-style shields, modified schedules, alternate working arrangements including telework, etc.

Academic unit heads for each program, in collaboration with faculty, determine if any given course can be successfully taught remotely. The supervisors of instructional faculty were given additional flexibility in determining which faculty members could teach online with the following guidance:

  • If faculty choose to reveal they are 65 or older, try to find a solution that will allow them to feel safer or work remotely, if possible. If no solution can be found, refer those faculty to HR.
  • If faculty choose to reveal an underlying medical condition, work to find a solution that will allow them to feel safer or work remotely, if possible. If no solution can be found, refer those faculty to HR.
  • If faculty choose to reveal an underlying medical condition of someone they care for and/or live with, work to find a solution that will allow them to feel safer or work remotely, if possible. If no solution can be found, refer those faculty to HR.
  • If faculty have childcare issues due to day care and school closings, AUHs are asked to consider these requests carefully and be as flexible as possible in considering alternate/flexible work arrangements that could include working remotely for part or all of the time.

In the Classroom

In preparation for the fall 2020 semester, the Classroom Technology Services department of JMU Libraries is working to provide synchronous web conferencing and asynchronous lecture recording capability in every Technology Classroom, as well as other teaching and learning spaces on campus.

JMU Libraries is pursuing a digital-first strategy for content, using e-books where possible over print purchases and digitized content over physical course reserves, as well as participating in a VIVA OER textbook pilot that will support free digital editions of a large number of high-use textbooks for our students.

In additional to the 100+ Technology Classrooms already equipped, we are installing over 100 new HoverCams, which allow the filming and streaming of both lectures and things like instructors writing equations or showing passages from books while at the podium in other classrooms. We have also purchased more than 50 wide-angle Panasonic cameras to outfit classrooms that can benefit from more sophisticated live-streaming and recording of
instruction. Faculty also have the use of new ceiling-array microphones for classrooms and other types of mobile mics.

All hardware and software investments are designed to support both asynchronous (recorded for later playback) delivery and synchronous (live-streaming via web conferencing) delivery of classroom instruction, to support situations where the instructor may want to split the class for social distancing reasons or if we have students self-quarantining, etc. The Libraries is supporting software for storing and accessing recordings, integrated with
our basic Canvas LMS.

The Office of Disability Services (ODS) is reviewing requests for accommodations from students with reasons as to why they should not be in the classroom. ODS will handle these issues as they do all other accommodation requests and work with each student to ensure equal access to course content. In addition, ODS was involved in discussions regarding classroom scheduling and meetings to address necessary accommodations for students
and faculty.

Flexible Sick Leave Policies and Practices

Work Attendance

JMU urges supervisors to maintain flexibility as the state of emergency continues. Telework and alternative/flexible work arrangement policies are in place and have been shared with faculty and staff through the Return to the Workplace guidelines, which are updated as needed.

When faculty or staff have been exposed to COVID-19 or have been diagnosed, they become eligible for Public Health Emergency Leave (PHEL) and may also be eligible for the Federal Government’s Emergency Sick Leave (ESL).

Class Attendance

JMU does not have a university-wide policy on attendance, as presence is tied so closely to a faculty member’s teaching methods and the discipline. At the same time, all faculty are required to develop their own policies for their courses and share those policies with their students. In the Fall 2020 semester specifically, faculty are encouraged to be flexible with their expectations and should urge students who are ill to not attend face-to-face classes.

Return to Class or Work after COVID-19 Illness

Faculty, Staff and Students

Any JMU community member who tests positive for COVID-19 must stay in isolation for at least 10 days from the onset of illness. In addition, their fever must be gone for at least three days (72 hours) without the use of fever-reducing medications and until any other symptoms are improving or resolved.

Community members exposed to COVID-19 must quarantine for 14 days from the date of the interaction of concern with a COVID-19 positive patient.

Upon return to work or class, faculty, staff and students must follow all COVID-19 related guidelines.

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