JMU prepares for students’ return to class on Oct. 5

JMU prepares for students’ return to class on Oct. 5
James Madison University (Source: WHSV)

HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - On Oct. 5, James Madison University plans to welcome students back to the classroom after transitioning to online classes earlier this month.

Despite classes moving online, Caitlyn Read, a university spokesperson, said over 16,000 students remained in Harrisonburg.

As the university prepares to go back to in-person classes, more precautions were added, most notably, a surveillance COVID-19 testing program.

In addition to students getting tested at the University Health Center, JMU has partnered with a third-party testing company that will assist in testing 300 non-symptomatic students per week. The university will choose students who have not tested positive for COVID-19 yet.

Initially, testing will be focused on on-campus students. The university hopes this will help them get ahead of any potential outbreaks.

A major factor in the decision to transition to online courses was the depletion of isolation dorms on campus.

Now, Read said the university has quadrupled those rooms and also determined that if some students get sick, they can quarantine where they are.

“We have identified more than 1,000 students who live on campus where it makes medical sense to quarantine them in place,” Read said. “They either don’t have a roommate or they have a situation where it’s safe for them to stay where they are and ride out their quarantine period, so that will also be new this fall.”

Read said a new advisory team made up of individuals with scientific or public health backgrounds from around the country will provide JMU with research and health guidance updates.

There will be stricter enforcement of mask-wearing and social distancing in the university’s dining halls. Read said those facilities will now have a lower capacity and extended operation hours.

Lastly, the university has canceled JMU’s fall break, originally slated for Oct. 22-23, to reduce student travel.

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