Back to Campus

Updates for JBU's Return to Campus

Dear JBU Students,

I trust you have had a good summer. We are looking forward to seeing you on campus in just a few weeks. I am writing to update you on JBU’s COVID-19 plans for the fall, especially since two important things have changed since we were together in the spring.

First, everyone in the JBU community has been eligible to immunize against COVID-19, and we believe most vulnerable people have received a vaccine. To the best of our knowledge, 66% of faculty and staff are vaccinated, and 35% of students. The vaccines have proven safe and very effective against the most severe consequences of the disease, including against the Delta variant. That is good news.

Second, the Delta variant has proven to be far more contagious than earlier versions of the coronavirus. As a result, it has caused a significant spike in positive cases, hospitalizations and deaths, almost exclusively among unvaccinated people. These trends put pressure on hospital capacities, not just for COVID-19 cases but also for people with other serious illnesses. Last Thursday, Governor Hutchinson again declared a public health emergency in Arkansas. In response to these national trends, the CDC changed its recommendations and encouraged all people, vaccinated and non-vaccinated, to wear masks in “indoor public spaces” in regions of high transmission.

JBU is modifying its expectations for the fall with both of those realities in mind. We will loosen these restrictions when Benton county sustains a “moderate” transmission level.

COVID-19 Vaccinations

  1. No requirement. JBU will not require the COVID-19 vaccine at this time because we respect each individual’s right to make their own health decision.
  2. Strongly recommended. JBU strongly recommends that students receive a vaccination to immunize themselves against COVID-19 and protect others.
  3. More information to respond to legitimate questions. People have legitimate questions about the COVID-19 vaccine (myocarditis, fertility, the process of vaccine development, FDA final approval, etc.). If you are interested in learning more about responses to these questions, please let us know by signing up at this link. JBU is working with local health care providers and other educational institutions to host a virtual town hall to respond to these questions.
  4. Vaccinated students have a better chance for an uninterrupted semester. In keeping with CDC guidance, if you are fully vaccinated, you are less likely to get sick and have to go home for isolation for 10-14 days; you will not be deemed “close contacts” and have to go home for quarantine for 7-10 days, and you will not need to test for COVID-19 unless you show symptoms.


  1. Unvaccinated students must get COVID-19 testing before school starts. Unless you have had COVID-19 within 90 days of school starting or are fully vaccinated, you must receive a negative COVID-19 test three days or less before returning to campus. If you can’t get a test, JBU will provide students with a quick, simple COVID-19 self-swab test when they arrive on campus. However, if you test positive when you arrive, you will have to isolate for 10-14 days before moving to campus. Therefore, especially if you live further from campus, we highly recommend getting a test before traveling.


  1. Masks policy. In keeping with CDC guidance, JBU recommends, in general, that students wear masks in “public indoor spaces” and trust students to implement that policy appropriately. However, JBU will specifically require masks in classrooms, chapel, and when groups of more than 12 people are meeting indoors. To facilitate student learning, faculty will not be required to wear masks in classrooms as long as six-foot distancing is maintained.

Physical Distancing

  1. Three-feet distancing in classrooms and dining facilities. JBU has adapted CDC guidance for K-12 schools and established three-feet distancing in all classrooms and dining facilities. We can accommodate at least 95% of our classes in their standard rooms, and we will move the remaining 5% to larger spaces, primarily in Simmons Great Hall. The rectangle tables in Kresge will now accommodate three people, and the round tables in Simmons will accommodate four diners. We still have outside dining options, including a new picnic area.
  2. Chapel in Cathedral and Berry Performing Arts Center. We plan to have chapel inside this semester but with at least two locations to reduce the density in each place. We will have live worship in each venue, and a live speaker in the Cathedral streamed into BPAC. Students will have options to sign up with friends for chapel sections that will rotate between the two locations. The Gathering will be in the Cathedral on Sunday evenings.
  3. General Policy. We will trust students to manage their physical distancing outside and in groups of 12 and fewer inside buildings.

COVID-19 Addendum to the Community Covenant. Again, we will ask all students to sign an addendum to the community covenant, agreeing to cooperate with JBU’s protocols and acknowledge the risk involved in participating in campus life in this transitional time as we come out of the pandemic.

Student Activities, Athletics and Residential Life. We will seek to have as many of our normal student activities, athletics, and residential life experiences as possible (intramurals, athletics, SEA events) in keeping with these guidelines.

If you have questions about these adjustments, please visit the FAQs. If your question is not answered in the FAQ, fill out the “Ask a Question” form.

Also, please remember that the application for the latest round of government higher education emergency relief funds for JBU students is open until Oct. 1. More information is available on our website, as well as the request form.

We are looking forward to your return and anticipate a great fall semester. We may have a few bumps along the way, but the JBU community has proven to be resilient over the last 18 months. I am deeply grateful for your patient cooperation and God’s faithful protection of our community. See you soon.

All God’s blessings,