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JMU announces it will move classes online

Published: Sep. 1, 2020 at 6:37 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — James Madison University in Harrisonburg announced it is moving classes online.

On Tuesday, the school made the decision to switch instruction virtually.

According to a press release from the university, JMU will transition to primarily online learning, with some hybrid instruction for accreditation and licensure requirements, graduate research and specialized upper-class courses requiring equipment and space, through the month of September.

Classes will take place as scheduled for the remainder of the week unless students are otherwise notified by their instructors. In-person classes will transition to online no later than Monday, Sept. 7. The release also says that residents will be asked to return home by Sept. 7 unless they seek an exemption to stay.

Over the next month, JMU says that university officials will monitor health trends and will be in touch with the campus community by Sept. 25 regarding the possibility of returning to in-person instruction on or after Oct. 5.

While courses will move primarily online during the four-week period, JMU says the university will remain open and continue to offer on-campus amenities.

Decisions about refunds have not yet been made.

According to the university’s Stop The Spread COVID-19 public dashboard on Tuesday, there have been 513 active cases of COVID-19 since July 1. At least 15 students have recovered.

“This virus spread very quickly throughout our community and while we had some anticipated some spread, this was a very rapid spread,” Caitlyn Read, the university’s spokesperson, said. “This coupled with our increasing concern about isolation and quarantine capacity was what ultimately motivated the decision. It was no one factor. It was those two things coupled together.”

Since August 17, 372 students have self-reported positive COVID-19 results along with four staff and faculty members. Out of 143 isolation and quarantine beds available, JMU has 79 available.

A student told WHSV News on Tuesday at least one of his classrooms was packed with fellow classmates.

“The main thing I’ve been feeling is some parts of JMU are doing a really good job at enforcing social distancing, but it’s not consistent,” said Jacob Seefride, a first-year student at JMU. “There are other parts where they could be doing a better job and helping to prevent the spread even more.”

The Virginia Department of Health will be offering free COVID-19 testing on Wednesday, Sept. 2 from 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. According to the University’s Health Center, preference will be given to those with symptoms or close contact of a known COVID-19 case. General COVID-19 questions can be answered by calling 877-275-8343.

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