The COVID-19 pandemic has caused havoc for many, and students and faculty at James Madison University are no different.

Due to a spike in positive cases as soon as students returned or moved in for the fall semester at the end of August, students were sent home for about a month between mid-September and mid-October. Now that students have returned, they are being randomly tested, with about 300 students a week being tested despite not being symptomatic.

But the upheaval has caused many to decide whether they want to continue at JMU during these pandemic times. Friday was the last day for students to get a refund for this semester’s tuition and room and board.

As of Monday morning 1,798 students had decided to discontinue at JMU. That includes undergraduate, graduate and continuing education students. Mary-Hope Vass, spokeswoman for the university, said she expects that number to change slightly as data are finalized.

That number is up from 1,063 students during the fall semester last year.

In addition, 250 students decided to defer their enrollment, up from 81 in 2019. These are mostly freshmen, Vass said.

Because JMU is a public university, it receives funding from the state based on enrollment. In addition to the loss in tuition, it is still to be determined how much this increase in students discontinuing and deferring will cost the university.

“We will not fully know the impact from these numbers until we have more information on what the state budget will be,” Vass said. “Enrollment is one factor, and we will have a more complete picture with the budget piece.”

Fall enrollment at JMU this year was 19,943 undergraduate students and 1,946 graduate students.

As of Tuesday evening, there were 32 active COVID-19 cases at JMU and 1,522 recovered cases. There are 336 pending test results to do random, surveillance testing.

Contact Megan Williams at 574-6272 or Follow Megan on Twitter @DNR_Learn

(1) comment


The title is awkward. Why not “JMU sees a sizable decrease in students continuing “?

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