With winter break coming to a close and students coming back to campus later this month, James Madison University sent out a notice saying “it is essential for all students living on campus to be tested to help us identify any positive cases …”

This is great news, seeing that when it initially had students come back to campus to start the school year, JMU opted to not pre-screen.

But, alas, we have to wonder about the thousands of students who live off campus. Why are they not going to be required to test before returning to our city? That’s also a big problem.

Harrisonburg COVID-19 cases spiked to record levels around the time JMU began in-person classes in the fall. On Sept. 1, the school announced it would be moving most classes online due to a “sharp uptick” in students contracting the virus and a dwindling ability for JMU to provide beds for students to isolate.

Do we need a repeat of this? Do those who are most susceptible to this deadly virus need to be inundated with thousands of students not forced to test, simply because they live off campus?

The answers are no and no.

In total, Virginia has seen 403,386 cases of COVID-19, with 19,182 total hospitalizations and 5,393 deaths. As of Monday, Harrisonburg has seen 4,833 cases, according to the Virginia Department of Health, and 47 deaths. Rockingham County has dealt with 4,638 cases and 48 deaths, according to the same data.

We ask again: Why not all students?

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