JMU student returns home with COVID-19 and stories of what he witnessed on campus

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POWHATAN COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — James Madison University students are heading back home now after hundreds of students tested positive for COVID-19. A student who recently tested positive for the virus reached out to 8News to say the school should have done more to prevent the spread.

According to the JMU dashboard, which shows COVID-19 cases at the university, 650 active cases of COVID 19 were reported when it was last updated on September 3.

Unlike Virginia Commonwealth University, who’s still holding in person classes after more than 150 students tested positive for the virus at one time, students at JMU were told to pack their bags and head back home. Classes will pick up virtually instead.

Jacob Boykin is now back in Powhatan County, isolating himself in his family’s home. He tested positive for the virus after leaving campus last week. Boykin told 8News he took measures to avoid getting the virus but said university administration and fellow students could have done more to prevent the massive outbreak.

“Young people need to not take advantage of the fact that we’re young and we have healthy lungs.” 

Boykin said thankfully right now, his symptoms are mild. “People that go to big parties, people that host big parties, why are they not getting suspended? Why are they not getting some sort of academic discipline?” 

JMU officials say gatherings of 10 or more people are not allowed. Boykin said sanitizing stations are scattered around campus and masks are widely worn. However, he says the problem is the lack of enforcement on the rules. Boykin recalled several examples of parties near his dorm room. He said he hasn’t heard of anyone getting anything more than a “warning”. 8News is waiting for a reply from JMU officials about how they are enforcing their own guidelines. 

“There’s all of these people that are following the rules that are having to suffer because the people that don’t want to follow the rules are so ignorant and they only care about themselves. There are so many people, not just at JMU, but at home, that are going to suffer from that,” Boykin said. 

Students won’t be back on campus until at least October. According to JMU’s website, that’s when the university will re-evaluate their situation. “That is just ridiculous,” Boykin said. 

He said at least the rest of the semester should be virtual. “In my opinion we need to just do whatever we have to do so we can get over this pandemic.”

Boykin also said students were constantly failing to social distance in common areas like dining halls. That’s actually where he thinks he got the virus. 


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