'I have been hearing about off campus parties': JMU students predicted COVID-19 outbreak

Posted at 3:54 PM, Sep 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-02 21:45:51-04

HARRISONBURG, Va.— James Madison University is ditching in-person learning to get a handle on a sharp rise in positive COVID-19 cases, the university announced Tuesday.

Now students are speaking out about what they say went wrong within the first week of classes starting.

“We all knew it was a matter of time before we did get sent home,” said Freshman Nicole Gray.

Gray and another JMU freshman, Baylee Howell say the they saw a majority of people on campus were wearing masks but say off campus parties were still taking place despite the university’s ban of gathering of 10 or more people.

“I have been hearing about off campus parties, but from on campus, everything I’ve seen, we’ve all been wearing masks and social distancing,” said Gray.

Most students like Howell are being told to pack up their dorms and head home by Monday for at least the next couple of weeks after the Harrisonburg college reported 600 active cases in the past two months.

Gray says she is applying for an exemption to stay on campus for her family’s safety.

“My grandpa who is 82 lives with us, and he has pre-existing health conditions that If I did come home could seriously put him in danger.”

This comes after at least 3,000 college students across North Carolina tested positive for the coronavirus since schools reopened in early August.

“I think a lot of the students were disappointed about how JMU kind of handled this from the beginning with not keeping classes online to begin with,” said Gray.

The university started the year with a mix of mix of in-person, hybrid, and online classes and says it will monitor cases and consider returning to in-person instruction around early October.

“I’m looking forward to when things can go back to normal and I can have a semblance of a normal college experience whether that be in the spring or in two years for my junior year, said Howell.