JMU suspends all study abroad programs for spring semester
James Madison University has closed all four of its Spring 2020 semester-long study abroad programs as concerns over the spread of the coronavirus continue.
Last week, about 40 students returned from Italy, and now, other students will return home from Belgium, Spain, and the United Kingdom.
In total, JMU has recalled 109 students back to the U.S., plus a handful of faculty and staff.
In accordance with CDC guidelines, only students returning from Italy were asked to stay away from campus and off-campus housing for two weeks. Each of those students has been isolating themselves at home.
At least one of the students who returned from a study abroad trip in Italy
she was not screened by government officials for the virus anywhere along her way home from Italy, passing through customs and airport security without a hitch.
The entire country of Italy has since been placed under travel restrictions, with people inside the nation only allowed to travel out in exceptional circumstances. More than 10,000 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed there.
In the past few days, dozens of U.S. colleges have canceled "in-person" classes and announced classes will be held online; however, James Madison said classes will resume as normal after Spring Break.
"We recognize that we will have travelers returning from destinations abroad and domestic," said Caitlyn Read, spokesperson for JMU. "We have been working with senior leadership and our infectious disease response team to conduct contingency planning and emergency operations planning."
According to the
, JMU is preparing to support faculty if they individually choose to cancel "in-person" classes. Faculty has been asked to make reasonable accommodations to allow sick students to stay out of contact with others.
You can learn more about JMU's plans in connection coronavirus at their dedicated page
Below is the letter issued by Dr. Heather Coltman, JMU Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, to faculty and staff on March 10: