JMU to keep same COVID protocols for spring semester

Published: Dec. 28, 2021 at 6:19 PM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - As COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the country, both UVA and Virginia Tech will require students to get booster shots ahead of the spring semester, and a number of schools like Duke University will begin the semester online.

In Harrisonburg, James Madison University doesn’t plan to make any changes to its COVID-19 protocols ahead of the spring. The university will not require booster shots, but does encourage them and the plan is still to return to in-person learning January 18.

“We’ve got some time to make modifications if needed but as of now our plan is to remain in person with the same protocols we had in the fall in terms of masks, and regular testing and other protocols,” said Andy Perrine, JMU’s Associate Vice President of Communications and Marketing.

Those other protocols include the completion of an assumption of risk form and weekly COVID-19 tests for any students who are unvaccinated.

JMU’s senior leadership is closely monitoring the rise in COVID-19 cases across the country, but they remain confident their protocols will keep classrooms safe.

“The quality of instruction is far superior in person and we showed in the fall semester that with the proper protocols in place that you can conduct in-person learning without creating any serious spread,” said Perrine.

Nearly 94 percent of JMU students are fully vaccinated, and the school says it had the lowest number of COVID cases in the fall among all the large public universities in Virginia.

“We have zero evidence that there was any transmission in classrooms or work settings, it was mostly in social settings so we’re feeling strongly that the in-person option is where the spring semester is gonna begin,” said Perrine.

One option the university is exploring to address the spread of the omicron variant is increasing the amount of COVID testing on campus.

“They’re working hard to acquire more tests, obviously it’s highly competitive to get those tests but the team in our procurement staff seem to find a way even when it’s really a challenge,” said Perrine.

While the university currently has no plans to change the capacity for indoor sporting events or spring graduation, senior leadership says the pandemic has taught them to always be prepared to adapt.

“The pandemic has taught us that anything is possible and we’ve made such rapid changes with a moment’s notice, and we’re confident that we can change any of those plans accordingly,” said Perrine.

JMU students and their families will receive more details on the school’s spring plans in the days after the university offices reopen January 3.

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