The plan for Spring 2021 reopening can be found here

A. Repopulation of the Campus

1.  COVID-19 Coordinator and Campus Team

The COVID-19 Campus Team was charged to monitor the COVID-19 situation at JMU when reopening occurs with the goal of maximizing health and safety across campus. This team monitors the presence of the disease within the campus community, working with public health and local hospital officials to minimize outbreaks and the associated effect on the local health care system. Disease prevalence, COVID-19 testing and test positivity rates, isolation and quarantine bed status, and the capability of the local health care system to provide quality care will be watched. This group will work with the President’s Cabinet to minimize risk to the health and safety of students, faculty and staff.

The team is co-chaired by Marsha Mays-Bernard, Associate Vice President for Wellness, Orientation and Multicultural Engagement, and Dr. Kristina Blyer, Interim Director of the University Health Center (UHC) for Medical Services. It includes university-wide representation as well as community partners from the Central Shenandoah Health District and Sentara-RMH Medical Center.

2.  Contact Information

JMU maintains regular and direct contact with the local health department and has an established procedure for reaching the Virginia Department of Health (VDH). The UHC Patient Care Coordinator, Rose Horner, R.N., oversees contact with the Central Shenandoah Health District of the VDH. JMU’s primary contact for VDH is Meg Tiernan, R.N., who can be reached at (540) 290-6776. The VDH Local Health Director is Dr. Laura Kornegay, available at (540) 332-7830, ext. 341. The VDH after hours emergency number is (866) 531-3068.

We also have three VDH staff members on our weekly COVID-19 Response Team meetings.

Students who test positive for COVID-19 at the University Health Center will be reported to the VDH through the electronic Confidential Morbidity Report.

3.  Students Initial Return to Campus

Academic Calendar Changes

  • Expanded Winter Sessions: There will be three winter sessions with primarily online options:
    • Winter Session One: January 4-January 8 (one week)
    • Winter Session Two: January 4-January 15 (two weeks)
    • Winter Session Three: January 11-January 15 (one week)

Dorms are not open, and limited campus services are available during this period.

  • Spring Semester Classes Start Date: Spring semester will begin one week later than originally planned, with classes starting on Tuesday, Jan. 19. Classes will begin virtually and be offered online through Jan. 29. On Feb. 1, all courses will be offered according to the delivery mode, which may include in person or hybrid, currently shown in MyMadison.
  • Spring Semester Offices Start Date: Administrative offices at the university will open as scheduled on Jan. 4 and will be operating with appropriate safety measures in place. As previously communicated in the email from Human Resources on December 11, JMU faculty and staff are encouraged to work remotely to fulfill their job duties without being physically present on campus. 
  • Spring Break Changes: To help curb the spread of COVID-19 caused by travel, and as recommended by medical professionals, there will not be a week-long Spring Break in March. Instead, there will be two days within the semester on which classes will not meet but university offices will remain open. In addition, the university will be closed as originally planned on Friday, March 12. There will be no classes on:
    • February 17, Wednesday (University offices open)
    • March 12, Friday (University Holiday, offices closed)
    • April 8, Thursday (University offices open)
  • Exam Schedule: The semester will end as planned, with April 29 as the last day of classes. Exams remain scheduled for April 30-May 6.
  • Spring Commencement: Spring graduation activities will remain May 6-8, pending any necessary changes that become apparent as we approach that date.
  • View the updated academic calendar here.

Returning to the Residence Halls

Students will complete entry testing prior to moving into their residence halls. 

Students living on campus will move into their residence halls between Jan. 29 and Jan. 31. Students with concerns about moving in that weekend should contact the Office of Residence Life at Students that were previously approved to return to campus early will be contacted by Residence Life to confirm possible new dates and arrival times. 

COVID-19 Entry Testing

Students will be expected to complete entry testing before moving into their residence halls. Entry testing dates have shifted to Jan. 29-Jan. 31 and will be conducted at the University Convocation Center. Students will receive additional information the week of Jan. 4. This update will include dates, hours and sign-up information. In the meantime, more details on entry testing are available online. 

Ongoing Screenings

In addition, prior to returning to campus, students are expected to complete health screening questions on the LiveSafe Mobile App. This software application pushes a screening survey to users when they enter campus through geo-fencing or through a computer logon. The user responds to questions related to body temperature, COVID-19 symptoms and any instructions they have received to self-isolate by another agency or medical professional. If students receive a response that indicates they have no symptoms, they are permitted to proceed to campus.

If students do not successfully pass the health screening on the LiveSafe App, they will see a red “X” and receive a message on their phone directing them to the UHC website for further instructions. Students will be directed to schedule a telehealth appointment with a healthcare provider who will discuss their symptoms and required actions.

JMU officials have the right to ask students for proof of screening completion when they are entering spaces, i.e. classrooms, offices, libraries, etc. It is expected that, when asked, students will provide proof of successful completion of the daily health screening.

Students who refuse to show proof of successful screening completion when asked will be asked to leave campus. This requirement is being communicated to students through mandatory trainings. If students refuse to leave after being asked to do so, JMU public safety officers may be called to remove students.

If it becomes evident that specific students do not complete the health screening or other safety expectations as required, users can provide a “tip” through the LiveSafe app describing the students’ failure to follow protocol. Tips will be sent to the Office of Student Accountability and Restorative Practices in Student Affairs, who will follow-up with those students, address their behavior and ensure they are aware of the protocols and community expectations.

Until further notice, students are expected to complete the LiveSafe app self-monitoring each day before they leave their residence halls or otherwise come to campus.

Flu Shots

We strongly encourage all students who have not yet gotten their flu shot this year to do so before returning to campus. Influenza activity is at its peak during the winter, and the flu shot is an effective way to protect yourself and others in our community.

4.  Education and Training of Students


A variety of educational resources and trainings designed to keep the JMU community safe are planned for students. These trainings, developed by a team including members from Student Affairs, the UHC, Talent Development and Communications, include online opportunities for learning that students can access prior to campus reopening, in-person education that will be peer-delivered during orientation and an ongoing marketing campaign reminding the JMU community to practice behaviors that ensure our safety as much as possible and mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Education that is currently available online includes:

  • Mask Usage: This training video addresses the appropriate use of masks, with content informed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Also available is a handout that can be posted in residence halls and other campus buildings.
  • Anti-stigma Training: This eLearning module focuses on avoiding stigma associated with COVID-19, with content informed by the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). Also available is a handout that can be distributed or posted.

Additional trainings, in online and in-person format, are in development for areas where students will need supplemental education. This will include maintaining physical distancing, handwashing, holding others mutually accountable for following health guidelines, and caring for others.

Stop the Spread Agreement

All students will need to sign the Stop the Spread agreement prior to coming to campus. The university reserves the right to place a hold on a student’s account for noncompliance.

5.  Physical Distancing

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.

a.    In Classrooms and Learning Environments


Some students returning to campus will need to arrange online accommodations for an in-person course based on an Office of Disability Services-approved Access Plan or for required periods of COVID-related quarantine or isolation. Instructors should work with these students to determine a reasonable accommodation that enables the student to proceed in the course. For more information about Access Plans, contact the Office of Disability Services online or at 568-6705.

Course Meetings - In Person
  • Everyone must wear a mask at all times in all buildings while in the presence of others. If an individual is alone in their office with the door closed, they do not have to wear a mask.
  • Faculty must wear masks at all times while teaching, even when behind plexiglass barriers.
  • When classes resume in person, meetings will be limited to 50 students or fewer. No class meeting will have more than 50 students in a single room. A class may maintain a higher enrollment if there are detailed plans to prevent 50+ students from gathering in person at once.
  • Extra desks in many classrooms have been removed to improve navigation between seats and increase physical distancing.
Class Schedule

JMU analyzed classroom capacity, then created a course schedule that adjusted meeting times to allow for increased time during the day to move among classes, lowering the density in hallways and stairwells. The modifications maintain the traditional MWF/TT structure but shifts time periods to allow extra time between courses, with regular, intensive cleanings done in the evenings.

Movement within Academic Buildings

With fewer students attending classes at once due to the new schedule and limitation to the number of students in a classroom or academic space, there are fewer people in hallways and stairwells, allowing for greater distancing. Individual responsibility will be needed, as well as the mandatory use of masks while in the presence of others, to assist in maintaining health and safety standards. 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.

b.   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 received fundamental training on COVID-19 and required behaviors prior to reopening in the fall, which is still relevant for spring semester. 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.

Expectations of Students

Student are expected to limit 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 events for students that will proceed with modified formats in the interest of health and safety.

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.

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

If these meetings are held in-person, we will require masks for all participants, and hand sanitizer will be used prior to beginning each meeting. 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 all gatherings off-campus.

c.    Restricted Occupancy and Staggered Use of Communal Spaces

Employee Spaces

JMU’s online Return to the Workplace guidelines reflect the current 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, which are required at all times while indoors and outdoors when in the presence of others.

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.

The Union

General reminders about physical distancing will be posted throughout The Union.

In Taylor Down Under, lounge seating was arranged with seating back to back and six feet clearance in front; every other chair was removed for table seating. The Recliner Lounge is usable as is by maintaining even spacing; billiards play is acceptable while students are wearing masks as required while indoors.

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 was arranged back to back with six feet physical distance in front. In the 2nd Floor Lounge, chairs were arranged back to back with six feet of clearance in front.

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

Outdoor Spaces

Sponsors of activities are required to emphasize physical distancing and the requirement to wear masks in outdoor spaces while in the presence of others in areas such as the Warner Commons, Festival Lawn and UREC Fields.

Student Success Center (SSC)

As of now, building hours for Spring 2021 are scheduled to remain in place; however, we are prepared to re-evaluate. If the number of cases in Harrisonburg spike, we will adjust building hours. All faculty and staff assigned to the building have card swipe access and may enter as needed. Other personnel who do not have card swipe access can enter during normal building hours.

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

University Recreation Center (UREC)

UREC created a registration process to manage entry into the building, and only those pre-registered and properly wearing a mask are admitted. Signage warns students against entry if they are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, and all students, faculty and staff must show the LiveSafe green check for their health self-assessment. Students swipe or scan their JACards, using a new reader station at the welcome center. Participants must pre-register for activities or a facility entry time that allow for social distancing and eliminate any lines at the door or to enter programs/spaces to ensure proper capacities are maintained.

Staff created new, marked pathways marked showing traffic patterns that minimize congestion at doors and corridors. All students and UREC staff will wear masks at all times while supervising spaces and performing services. Only those swimming, on cardio equipment or in select group exercise classes are permitted to remove their masks while in UREC. 

Sneeze guards have been installed to protect staff and participants at the main service desks where staff are stationed. 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.

Cleaning is completed three times a day on high-touch areas, and disinfection using an electrostatic sprayer will be performed daily in fitness and climbing areas during spring semesters. 

All areas have hand sanitizer to be used at entry and exit of activity spaces. We also encourage hand washing at certain activity areas. Physical distancing is monitored in spaces where there may be a line, and floor stickers have been added to designate waiting spaces. Maximum capacities, adjusted for COVID-19, were created for all areas. 

The large fitness area is divided into zones with physical distancing handled by zone to remain below the mandated capacity. Some classes are operated live in the large gym spaces or outdoors in the east courtyard, which allows for physical distancing. 

In the Adventure and Climbing Center, top rope climbing will be permitted with masks only during the spring semester. Routes have been distanced from each other, and the wall is disinfected daily. Bouldering is permitted within marked spaces to minimize climber interaction. Rental and checkout of equipment for adventures is available. Outdoor Adventure trips are limited due to transportation concerns, and self-transportation options have been added. Equipment checkout occurs at the exterior access only. The bike shop continues to operate on a drop-off/pick-up model. 

Locker rooms are open for swimmers to change and shower at a reduced capacity. Signage informs swimmers of appropriate use of showers and lockers. The sauna and spa are closed in keeping with the Governor’s guidelines. Fitness channels and open areas are separated, and capacities have been adjusted. Lap swimmers are limited to two per lane with alternate-side lane loading.

University Park will offer use of outdoor spaces for drop-in use only, weather permitting. Free weights and other fitness equipment will be available for use on the event lawn. 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 (low and high teambuilding) course will be open by reservation only. 

American Red Cross classes will resume in the spring semester with the ARC safety guidelines utilized. This includes one person per manikin and use of masks. 

Cardio equipment is placed throughout the building to maintain physical distancing during exercise. Some plate-loaded weight equipment has been moved to the outdoor pavilion at University Park (weather permitting). 

Sports utilizing a net that separates teams will be permitted, and equipment will be checked out and disinfected between each use. Team sports, such as basketball and soccer, will be permitted in a reduced format. No open pickup games are permitted, and equipment is 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 were removed. Intramural sports have been limited to tournaments individual sports. There will be no Sport Club travel or competitions this spring through March 12, unless current guidelines change.


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. In addition to this requirement, we are following the 10 person expectation for all events that we are hosting on campus in all of our non-athletic facilities.

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 continue to work with our student organizations in planning their events, meetings and all gatherings to ensure they stay in line with current guidelines and expectations. There have been shifts in managing and providing interactions in recreation, intramurals, club sports and other recreational activities. They are identified and explained further under UREC in section A.5.b. of this document.


Convening in groups increases the risk of viral transmission. Meetings will be hosted virtually whenever possible and as a first priority.

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 and should not exceed 10 people (whichever is smaller), assuming individuals can still maintain appropriate physical distancing requirements. Departments have removed or rearranged chairs and tables or added 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 has been 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 is using a range of available collaboration tools (e.g. Zoom, WebEx, Microsoft Teams, Jabber, Slack, etc.).

d. Food and Dining Services

Winter Sessions

Limited dining operations will be open for sales using cash, credit, dining dollars, dining dollars gold and flex beginning Jan. 4. Operation hours can be found online at

Spring Semester

JMU Dining will begin opening locations for spring semester on Jan. 15, and the hours of operation will be available online beginning Jan. 11.

COVID-19 policies will still be in effect, including mandatory masks in all locations except while actively eating or drinking. Anyone socializing in any dining locations and not actively eating or drinking must wear a mask. Entrants are also be required to show their LiveSafe verification checks at highly populated dining locations.

Dining Services will be operational on days that classes are cancelled.

6.  Hygiene Practices

In keeping with JMU’s focus on health and safety for our community, the Contingency Planning Task Force worked with Facilities Management to establish the following cleaning practices and protocols for all areas of campus.

a.    Cleaning and Disinfecting Protocols

Housekeepers will not be assigned to individual buildings as they have in the past; going forward, they will work in teams. Their priority will be the disinfecting of public spaces, restrooms and classrooms.

Classrooms and labs will be cleaned after classes have ended, prior to the next day. A cleaning schedule verification sheet will be maintained on the back of each classroom and lab door. Housekeepers will sign the cleaning schedule and include the time and date of last cleaning.

Cleaning supplies will be available in each classroom for individuals to clean their work/study area between formal housekeeping services.

Housekeepers will clean and sanitize all high-touch surfaces such as stairwell handrails, water fountains, door entrance and exit handles, elevators, vending machines, and all other general high-touch surfaces. Public restrooms will be cleaned twice a day.

Housekeeping will clean individual offices and assigned spaces designated for personal/ professional use twice a week instead of daily to allow for more time spent cleaning high-use, public areas. Cleaning supplies will be available for each office so individuals can clean their work/study area between formal housekeeping services.

Outdoor benches, tables and bus stops will be cleaned twice daily.

The Harrisonburg Department of Public Transportation (HDPT) has implemented the multiple elements to their service given current events in order to protect the health and safety of both operators and passengers onboard our vehicles, including:

  • Masks will be required to ride HDPT Transit routes.
  • An 18-passenger limit will be in effect for HDPT transit buses. Designated seating will encourage physical distancing.
  • Hand sanitizer stations and dispensers were installed onboard HDPT transit vehicles, and two sanitation breaks per day for all buses have been established.

b.   Hand Sanitizer/Hand-Washing Stations

Hand sanitizer is available at the entrance to each building and in every classroom and lab.

Quart bottles of hand sanitizer are available for order from Facilities Management for employees to use at their workstations.

c.    Shared Objects and Adequate Supplies

Cleaning supplies will be available in each computer lab for individuals to clean their workstations between formal housekeeping services.

7.  Housing

Residence Life will continue to enforce the policies implemented in the fall. These include wearing masks while outside of personal dorm rooms except when brushing teeth and showering, having no outside guests and adjusting capacity in gathering spaces. All residence hall rooms and spaces have occupancy signage.

8.  Consideration of Vulnerable Individuals

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 community members. We are committed to making the campus environment as safe as possible for all audiences.

a.    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 frequently updated online 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 complies 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

The Classroom Technology Services department of JMU Libraries has provided synchronous web conferencing and asynchronous lecture recording capability in every Technology Classroom, as well as other teaching and learning spaces on campus.

JMU Libraries pursued 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 previously equipped, we installed over 100 new HoverCams during fall semester, 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 installed 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.

b.   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 class 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 classes and share those policies with their students. In the Spring 2021 semester, faculty are encouraged to be flexible with their expectations and should urge students who are ill to not attend face-to-face classes.

c.    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 10 days with a negative PCR or antigen test performed on or after Day 5.

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

9.  International Student Considerations

JMU’s Center for Global Engagement is working with new international students (F and J visa holders) coming to Harrisonburg from abroad to make arrival plans and attend the international student orientation program. As the health and safety of all students returning to campus is a top priority, these students are urged to check the UHC website for the latest COVID updates and recommendations for quarantine.  

In March 2020, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) removed the limit on the number of online courses F-1 and J-1 visa holders were allowed to take toward their full course of study due to COVID-19. As of early December, this remains in effect for Spring 2021, allowing continuing students to take an unlimited number of online courses for the spring semester, while new international students arriving in the U.S. are expected to have at least one in-person/hybrid course for the spring semester. For the most recent updates, review the ISSS website.

10.      Local Stakeholders

Local stakeholders related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the JMU community include the Central Shenandoah Health District and Sentara-Rockingham Memorial Hospital. Both of these entities have at least one member on the JMU COVID-19 Campus Team to provide insight and information exchange.

Other key stakeholders in the community are local school systems. JMU has been in close contact with superintendents from area schools and a representative from the President’s Office is serving on the task force with city and county schools discussing reopening and schedules.

11.      Face Coverings

a.    Teaching and Reinforcing the Use of Face Coverings

Faculty, staff and students are required to wear face masks which cover the nose and mouth at all times when in indoors in classrooms, labs and other public settings and outdoors when in the presence of others. JMU has provided five masks per employee; students are required to provide their own masks, though there will be disposable masks available in classrooms and cloth masks for sale in the bookstore.

Students, faculty and staff who have a religious belief or medical condition that prevents them from wearing a face covering will be exempt from this requirement. There might be other physical distancing strategies that can be put in place. Faculty and staff should confer with their supervisor, then, if necessary, contact their departmental Human Resources Consultant to handle any needed exceptions.

JMU has obtained N95 masks for faculty and staff over the age of 65 or those with certain conditions who might have a higher risk for COVID-19 infection. These masks are available by request from Academic Affairs or Facilities Management.

Online training regarding the use and requirement of masks is available for students, staff and faculty.

Students who do not wear masks in the classroom will be dealt in accordance with Academic Affairs Policy #12, Disruption of Class, which outlines the progressive discipline for student misbehavior and has been updated to include responses to COVID-19.

Employees who do not wear masks should be reported to their supervisors. Penalties will depend on the infraction.

b.   Face Coverings in the Classroom

Faculty are required to wear cloth face mask coverings while in any learning space, unless they have a religious or health exception. In the case of an exception, a faculty member may use an alternate face covering (i.e., shield). Instructors remaining behind Plexiglass barriers are required to wear a face covering. Each faculty member was provided with five cloth face masks. Faculty teaching students who are hearing impaired were provided with face shields.

In addition, plexiglass shields have been installed in front of all classroom podiums. Disposable masks will be available in classrooms in case they are needed.

c.    Face Coverings for Students

Students, as well as faculty and staff, are required to wear face masks which cover the nose and mouth at all times when in indoors in classrooms, labs and other public settings and outdoors when in the presence of others. In the case of a religious or medical exception, students may use an alternate face covering. If a student refuses to comply with this requirement, campus police may be contacted for support, as needed, and the case will be referred to the Office of Student Accountability and Restorative Practices.

d.   Face Coverings in Public Areas

All JMU community members are required to wear a face mask indoors and outdoors in the presence of others or, if an accommodation is needed, another approved face covering. While in their private offices, not in the presence of others, employees may remove their face masks.

Where feasible, visitors should be provided a face covering when they do not have their own. JMU will provide one box of disposable masks for each office suite. If a customer refuses to wear a face covering, departments should ask the customer to return at another time or determine if assistance can be provided while maintaining physical distancing.

Contractors are also required to wear face coverings. Staff, faculty, student and visitor safety are the first priority in considering how to handle the situation.

12.      Student Health Services

University Health Center

The University Health Center will continue to provide limited services on the weekends with the primary goal of following up on COVID-19 test results to identify students who need to be in isolation or quarantine. Weekend testing capability will be determined based on need, which will be dependent on the nature of viral spread within the JMU community.

a.    Provision of Medical-Grade PPE for Health Services Staff

The University Health Center is currently well stocked with both disposable and reusable PPE. We calculate that we have supplies to last for at least six months. We are monitoring the supplies regularly and have advance orders in place.

The most difficult PPE to obtain are gowns, masks and face shields. We have purchased reusable gowns, which will be laundered here at the UHC, and we have reusable face shields. Our mask and glove supply should last through the spring semester. We will reorder earlier than usual and anticipate being able to restock as needed.

b.   Maintenance of Typical (non-COVID-19) Health Services

Typical non-COVID-19 health care will operate as it did prior to COVID-19. However, we have added a telehealth option and online self-scheduling by students will be limited.

We are also modifying services amenable to virtual visits or brief encounters so that we may continue to provide services while limiting physical interactions within the Health Center.

c.    Mental Health services

JMU’s Counseling Center is committed to prioritizing rapid access to mental health services and meet the growing mental health needs of students. As a result of COVID-19, with the exception of circumstances in which an individual student’s needs might require an accommodation (e.g., significant levels of risk), the CC will be exclusively providing services via telehealth after initial intake.

The Counseling Center (CC) will maintain its daily walk-in hours for initial appointments while taking appropriate safety measures. For example, to eliminate contact with surfaces, the main door will be propped open and the majority of waiting room seating will be removed, with the remaining furniture being arranged to support physical distancing. The CC’s front desk will be ensconced in plexiglass to ensure the safety of the staff fulfilling reception responsibilities, and floor markings will be employed to encourage physical distancing for those waiting in line.

Students will be screened by reception staff for COVID-19 symptoms, and if they report being asymptomatic, they will be directed to one of five rooms that have been arranged specifically for intake processes. Students will then complete their initial paperwork on the intake room computer, and the student will remain in that room during their telehealth appointment with a clinician. Each of the five intake rooms is large enough to allow for appropriate physical distancing in the event that the clinician needs to be in the room with the client, most commonly in a crisis situation.

In most cases, the client will not be present at the CC during their telehealth sessions, but exceptions can be made for students who have difficulty finding a private place to meet with their clinician. Similarly, group counseling and treatment program services will be provided through a telehealth modality, and outreach programming will also be virtual. The CC’s two self-care spaces will be closed until further notice.

d.   SHS Facility Considerations

UHC medical providers have identified medical complaints and reasons for visits that are amenable to electronic interactions and those requiring a face-to-face interaction. Telehealth or telemedicine interactions will be offered to students if applicable. Face-to-face visits will be used when medically required or appropriate for the patient. A specific clinical waiting and evaluation area for respiratory illnesses has been established. Phone triage protocols as well as patient screening protocols are in place.

IT changes include the addition of Telehealth to minimize the need to come to the health center. Mobile check-in has been added to avoid the use public computers and to decrease overall time in the waiting area and in the clinic itself. UHC staff will minimize the time patients spend in any waiting area by quickly moving patients to private exam rooms. History shows that, in general, our patients spend less than five minutes in the waiting rooms.

Due to the addition of new in-house laboratory testing for COVID-19, the UHC will initiate insurance billing for specific lab tests in order to minimize out-of-pocket expense to the student. Fee schedules have been set to make tests affordable for the uninsured and underinsured. No other changes to our fees have been made.

UHC undergoes regular environmental cleaning of all clinical areas, with a focus on appropriate sanitation of areas with higher risk of COVID-19 patients. Signs relating to face mask use and hand hygiene are in place, and fabric face masks will be available and required for every visit to the UHC.

e.    SHS Administrative and Staff Considerations

The UHC is able to provide all needed PPE and other materials needed by UHC staff as detailed in section A.12.E. In addition, UHC routinely provides yearly training; this year’s training will focus on COVID-19. Ongoing training will also be provided regarding the clinical, personal health, public health and financial aspects of COVID-19.

To ensure their health and safety, all UHC employees engaged in clinical care will receive daily health screenings.

13.      Large Events

The university wants to help students build connections and community in the safest ways possible. An important part of the JMU experience happens when students can meet each other and build lasting relationships. We will support gathering when it can be done safely, as detailed below.

On and off-campus social gatherings where students are not social distancing or wearing masks have been the main spreader of this virus. The spread is further exacerbated when these gatherings are held indoors. The established 10 person rule for social gatherings is designed to limit these types of events and their impacts on individuals and our community.

Gatherings should be limited to the same individuals, including those students who live together, across all social gatherings on and off campus rather than a rotating group of individuals. The virus will spread easily through a community of students if they are gathering in groups without masks and are not physically distancing. See Social Bubbles for information about forming your group.

Student organizations should continue to work with the Student Life staff to answer any questions about their planned meetings and events. Organizations must receive approval before hosting anything. Additional guidance on hosting approved meetings and events is below.

On-Campus Meeting and Event Guidance

To reduce the risk of the potential spread of COVID-19, meetings and events will be conducted virtually whenever possible. When meetings and events need to be in person, it is important that all guests wear a mask, maintain appropriate physical distance and follow all public health protocols. There are also capacity and attendance limits that apply that are specific to the type and location of the gathering.

On-Campus Indoor Meetings and Events

In-person meetings and events on campus will be limited according to the restrictions of the Governor’s latest Executive Order. Meetings and events on campus, not including residents’ rooms, will not exceed 50% of a room’s capacity or up to 10 people (whichever is less). Residential rooms should be limited to the residents of that room or residents of the suite. No guests from outside the residence hall are allowed into the building or residents’ rooms.

On-Campus Outdoor Meetings and Events

Outdoor meetings and events on campus should not exceed 10 people. Outdoor events are preferred because research has shown the virus is harder to spread outside, especially when attendees are physically distancing and wearing masks. Events that are traditionally hosted indoors will be transitioned to outdoor spaces or virtually whenever possible.

Social Bubbles

Students should identify a small group of individuals (9 people or fewer) to spend time with while at JMU. This group should be committed to maintaining each other’s health. Group members should be guided by trust, good communication, and expectations that individuals in the group remain consistent in their approach to avoiding the virus. Every member should practice good physical distancing, mask wearing, and hand washing when they are around each other and other people, during group interaction and when members engage outside of the group.

Establishing - and encouraging students to establish - a social bubble will allow them to build community, contributing positively to the mental health of all students. However, it is important that students engage in their social bubbles safely and maintain proper safety precautions when interacting with others as the virus can spread even in these small groups.

Guests to Campus

Students are discouraged from bringing guests to campus during the spring semester. We know students have friends who want to visit, but we ask that those visits not happen this spring. We are also discouraging students from travelling outside of Harrisonburg as much as possible. A reason for the cancellation of spring break is to limit student travel out of the area and returning to potentially negatively impact the JMU community.

14.      Communications Strategy

University Communications and Marketing and JMU Public Safety have an established protocol for emergency communications that employs a constellation of platforms. This includes the website-wide emergency notification space (currently activated as the home for all COVID-19-related communications from the university about operations and public health), emergency push notifications via text and mass emails. JMU has also implemented use of the third-party mobile app LiveSafe.

In addition, annual training programs from the UHC will be elevated to university-level communication channels.

15.      Orientation and Education/Training

A variety of educational resources and trainings designed to keep the JMU community safe are available for students. These trainings, developed by a team including members from Student Affairs, the UHC, Talent Development and Communications, include online opportunities for learning that students can access prior to campus reopening, in-person education that will be peer-delivered and an ongoing marketing campaign reminding the JMU community to practice behaviors that ensure our safety as much as possible and mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Currently available training online includes:

  • Mask Usage: This training video addresses the appropriate use of masks, with content informed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Also available is a handout that can be posted in residence halls and other campus buildings.
  • Anti-stigma Training: This eLearning module focuses on avoiding stigma associated with COVID-19, with content informed by the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). Also available is a handout that can be distributed or posted.

B. Monitoring Health Conditions to Detect Infection

1. Daily Health Screenings

Prior to returning to campus, employees are expected to complete health screening questions on the LiveSafe Mobile App. This software application pushes a screening survey to users when they enter campus through geo-fencing or through a computer logon. The user responds to questions related to body temperature, COVID-19 symptoms, and any instructions they have received to self-isolate by another agency or medical professional. If the employee receives a response that indicates they have no symptoms, they are permitted to proceed to campus.

If employees do not successfully pass the health screening on the LiveSafe App, they will see a red “X” and receive a message on their phone that will provide them with further instructions. Employees will be expected to contact their supervisor, stay home and contact their physician. Employees will also be provided with contact information for the occupational health nurse at the University Health Center, who will be available to discuss their symptoms and required actions.

JMU officials may ask faculty and staff for proof of screening completion when they are entering spaces, i.e. classrooms, offices, libraries, etc. It is expected that, when asked, these community members will provide proof of successful completion of the daily health screening.

Employees who refuse to show proof of successful screening completion when asked will be reminded of the requirement and will be refused entry until proof of screening completion can be provided. If it becomes evident that community members, including faculty and staff, did not complete the health screening as required, the user can provide a “tip” through the LiveSafe app describing the failure to follow protocol. Tips will be sent to designated individuals in various university divisions, who will follow-up with those faculty and staff members, where possible, to ensure they are aware of the protocols and community expectations. Employees who do not follow the screening protocol may be subject to disciplinary action.


The University Health Center is able to conduct over 100 tests every weekday for members of the JMU community. These include rapid antigen and PCR tests (as clinically indicated) and specimens for PCR analysis from our reference lab.

2. Campus-level Syndromic Surveillance

Data tracked from the LiveSafe app provides an overall picture of health for the campus. The data also provides an assessment of the prevalence of upper respiratory illness in the JMU population, even that which is not COVID-19 specific.

The UHC monitors visits and phone calls to provide another source of upper respiratory illness prevalence. The university uses Tableau to create a dashboard with information from the electronic health record (EHR) system, the daily symptoms checker and other pertinent data to act as a surveillance system for the campus community.

3. Establishment of a Testing Strategy

Surveillance Testing

Surveillance testing will continue in the spring semester. This testing program is for students living on campus. We will test groups of individuals who are assumed to be healthy in order to make predictions of the COVID-19 spread within our community. Detailed information is online.

We will continue to test 300 students per week. Students will be chosen for testing days using random stratified testing methodology. This is the same as the fall semester testing strategy. This testing is not intended for individuals who are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 or have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 90 days. Students may be randomly selected for testing more than once throughout the semester. Notifications will include instructions for scheduling testing appointments, a list of potential reasons for exemption and day-of-test information.

Full compliance is expected. Response and participation in the Surveillance Testing Program is included in the Spring 2021 Stop the Spread Agreement. The university reserves the right to place a hold on a student’s account for noncompliance. Holds will be removed after the student submits proof of a positive COVID-19 test or a positive COVID-19 Antibody test or requests removal due to an approved exemption.

Spring 2021 testing procedures will mirror the Fall 2020 protocol. FAQs and more information are available online. Testing dates and notifications for Spring 2021 are being communicated to students through email and online prior to the beginning of the semester.

Entry Testing

Upon return to campus in January, all students living on campus will be tested. We will communicate directly to students so they can sign up for a testing window on the day they plan to arrive on campus and move in. Full compliance is expected. Participation in the Entry Testing Program will be included in the Spring 2021 Stop the Spread Agreement.

Symptom Tracking and Contact Tracing Apps

All members of the community must complete the self-monitoring on the LiveSafe app daily before they leave their residence hall or enter campus. All JMU offices, dining halls, libraries, facilities and UREC will regularly ask students to show their green check mark illustrating that they are symptom-free. In addition, faculty members will ask students to show their green check mark as part of on-campus classes, where possible and appropriate. Detailed information on the LiveSafe app is available online.

In addition, all members of the community should download the COVIDWISE app to assist in contact tracing. This app is more effective if large numbers of our community have it downloaded and active on their phones so it can better track any contacts individuals have with those who have tested positive. 

C. Containment to Prevent Spread of the Disease

1.  Partnership With VDH for Contact Tracing

JMU collaborates closely with the Central Shenandoah Health District of VDH to discuss how we will interact related to contact tracing. In addition, the UHC is developing a methodology to perform contact tracing related to students seen at and/or reported to the UHC for COVID-19.

2.  Quarantine and Isolation Protocols

JMU identified several on-campus residence halls and other properties to maximize quarantine and isolation space. The university is planning to have isolation and quarantine beds equal to 10% of our on-campus population.

Student Quarantine Protocols

Student Isolation Protocols

3.  Campus Outbreak Management

If an outbreak occurs on campus, the University Health Center (UHC) will consult with and depend upon the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) for input and direction.

Based on the input and or direction received from VDH, the Infectious Disease Response Team will identify the specific degree of response required. The degree of response will be based on the level of community transmission:

  1. When there is no community transmission (preparedness phase),
  2. When there is minimal to moderate community transmission, and
  3. When there is substantial community transmission.

4.  Partnerships to Assure Care

Level 1: No Community Transmission

This is our current level of operation, which has included updating of emergency operations plans, deep information sharing with key partners including local officials, reinforcement of hygiene practices, intensification of cleaning and disinfecting efforts, monitoring and planning for absenteeism, assessment of the need for group gatherings, self-directed health screenings with instructions, clinic prep for COVID-19, creation of communications plans and reviews of Centers for Disease Control guidance to inform planning documents.

Level 2: Minimal to Moderate Community Transmission

In this stage, we will continue to coordinate with local public health officials. JMU will implement multiple advanced physical distancing strategies including cancellation of larger group gatherings and adapting class meetings as needed. We will increase distancing between furnishings, further de-densify highly populated areas and consider scaling back dining options. In addition, we will identify additional ways to accommodate the needs of higher risk students, ensure continuity of safe housing and remind community members of their anti-stigma training and personal responsibility to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Level 3: Substantial Community Transmission

While continuing to coordinate with local public health officials, during this phase JMU will suspend in-person classes and consider sending residential students home to attend class remotely.

Employees will be encouraged not to report to campus and work remotely where possible. For those who must report to the campus, heightened safety precautions designed to prevent employee-to-employee contact will be enacted, including alternative work shifts and locations, hybrid remote and on-campus work, enhanced frequency of disinfection and the mandatory use of additional layers of protection from the virus.

University Communications, in collaboration with relevant university divisions and the JMU COVID-19 Campus Team, will create and disseminate correspondence to all community member types including students, staff, faculty, affiliates and the surrounding community with updates on JMU plans and responses. At this level, JMU will rely heavily on the decisions made during previous semesters when courses were moved online and most work was handled remotely.

D. Shutdown Considerations

1.  Criteria and Process for Dismissals or Shutdowns

JMU is prepared for a partial or total campus closure at any point during the semester. If classes can no longer be held safely on campus, we plan to pivot to remote and online instruction, as we did successfully in both spring and fall of 2020.

Decisions regarding dismissals and shutdowns will be made in consultation with local and state public health officials. The university will communicate these decisions to the campus community as outlined in the established University Crisis Communications Plan, which was developed in collaboration with the Office of Public Safety and is detailed in Section D.4.

2.  Reduced Campus Activity

JMU is prepared to tighten or change restrictions as needed to comply with severe conditions and public health guidance. All students and employees will be reminded that we may need to make adaptations quickly during the upcoming academic year in order to address changing circumstances.

3.  Health and Safety on Campus v. Returning Home

The considerations in determining student health and safety on campus versus going home are complicated and influenced by a variety of factors. In terms of reopening, the CDC developed criteria of risk. Based on these criteria, JMU’s plans for reopening fall into the ‘more risk’ category for the general settings and ‘high’ risk for on-campus housing. These criteria have informed the JMU reopening plans as we attempt to minimize risk.

If an outbreak occurs, the factors that affect student health and safety by remaining on campus versus returning home are as follows:

  • Students needing isolation or quarantine will be strongly encouraged to return home, which we believe will optimize the physical and mental well-being of those students. In addition, it will decrease the risk of these students breaking isolation or quarantine and thereby being a source of infection to others.
  • If an outbreak occurs, students with underlying medical conditions making them vulnerable should consider returning home to minimize their risk of becoming ill.
  • Some categories of students should remain on campus for quarantine or isolation to maximize either their safety or the safety of others. These include international students or U.S. students who do not have a home in the U.S. to return to; those with a vulnerable individual at home; those who require public transportation to return or those who are unable to physically quarantine or isolate.
  • There are external concerns that affect whether the student would be safest on campus versus at home. If there is an outbreak at home with a disease prevalence higher than that at JMU, it will be safest for the student to remain on campus. If there is an individual at home with COVID-19, it will be safer for the student to remain at JMU.

Spring Break Changes

To help curb the spread of COVID-19 caused by travel, and as recommended by medical professionals, there will not be a week-long Spring Break in March. Instead, there will be two days within the semester on which classes will not meet but university offices will remain open. In addition, the university will be closed as originally planned on Friday, March 12.

7.  Communications Plan for Dismissals/Shutdowns

The University Crisis Communications Plan contains detailed guidance in close collaboration with the Office of Public Safety on how emergency messaging is delivered to the campus community in a timely manner. The plan contains three phases:

  • Response
  • Reassurance
  • Recovery

Typically, the first two phases are over in a matter of hours or days. With the COVID-19 pandemic, the university will not shift into the Recovery phase until a vaccine is widely available. Consequently, the crisis communications plan will remain in place as necessary.

Responses from surveys of parents and students in May revealed that the crisis communications response by the university beginning in March and continuing through the spring semester was widely viewed as effective.


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