Now, with a smaller on-campus population, university leaders say the school is ready to restart in-person classes Oct. 5. The university has increased the number of quarantine beds for sick students and will limit classroom occupancy to 50 people, according to a message sent to the campus from President Jonathan Alger, as well as Tim Miller, vice president for student affairs, and Heather Coltman, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs.
JMU will also start surveillance testing, which will include 300 asymptomatic students on the Harrisonburg, Va., campus each week, officials said. As flu season approaches, the university’s health center is preparing to host flu shot clinics.
The university has observed a decrease in positive cases — from a seven-day average of 29 daily cases Sept. 1, the day officials announced they would pause in-person classes, to an average of six daily cases Sunday, most recent data show.
The campus’s health center has reported more than 600 positive test results among students and faculty since July 1. An additional 821 faculty and students who were not tested on campus have reported contracting the coronavirus.
While the number of positive cases is declining, student behavior remains a concern, officials said. The campus is reviewing more than 250 compliance violations, including complaints about large events.
But “student compliance to covid-19 rules have been strong, with the overwhelming majority making positive, responsible decisions,” officials said.
The university shared other plans designed to limit the spread of the coronavirus, including the cancellation of fall break. The two-day break, planned for late October, will instead be added to the end of the semester and exams will start two days sooner than originally planned, officials said.
The semester will also transition online after Thanksgiving break, a strategy dozens of universities have adopted to reduce student travel around the holiday.
Alger, Miller and Coltman acknowledged the volatile nature of the pandemic, which has already triggered hundreds of changes during the first several weeks of school on campuses throughout the country.
“We are thankful to our community for their enduring support as we navigate these trying times together,” officials said.