Frequently Asked Questions Regarding COVID-19
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FAQ Last Updated: February 12, 2021
What health and safety precautions is Southern taking this semester?
You can find these details by visiting southern.edu/coronavirus.
Where can I get tested?
Any Southern student or employee in the greater Chattanooga area who wishes to be tested can make an appointment at the University Health Center for a free test. Priority will be given to students who are sick or who have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19.
The Hamilton County testing facility also offers free tests. When testing at the Hamilton County Health Department, please take your Southern ID card and use it to inform them that you are a Southern student. Provide them with your address at Southern as well.
NEW: How does Southern plan to address the more contagious COVID-19 variants?
Because the new variants spread in the same basic way as the original, the same safety measures (masks, physical distance, quarantine/isolation, washing your hands, etc.) work to prevent its spread. However, it is that much more important that everyone on campus cooperate with these measures in order to contain the disease.
NEW: Does Southern anticipate requiring the COVID-19 vaccine once it is readily available?
We do not expect to require the vaccine. However, we do encourage anyone who is eligible to be vaccinated to consider doing so as soon as possible.
Will Southern offer the COVID-19 vaccination?
The University Health Center does not currently have any COVID-19 vaccines, as we are not an approved site for emergency distribution. The State of Tennessee is making vaccinations available in a phased program; students participating in clinical activities are eligible and can obtain a letter from their clinical department coordinator as proof. The Hamilton County Health Department is giving the vaccines on certain days of the week for qualifying individuals. For more information, please visit their COVID-19 Vaccine website.
Will students be routinely tested for COVID-19?
The University Health Center is currently evaluating how best to provide routine COVID-19 testing in certain circumstances. Additionally, any student or employee who wishes to be tested can make an appointment at the University Health Center for a free test. Priority will be given to students who are sick or who have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19.
What happens if someone tests positive for COVID-19?
Our goal is to keep everyone healthy and coronavirus-free! However, when anyone in our campus community becomes infected with COVID-19, we are prepared to offer the care and support that is needed. Here are a few highlights from our quarantine/isolation plan; you can read the full plan in the COVID-19 Policies and Procedures.
- If you have any potential COVID-19 symptoms, DO NOT GO TO CLASS OR WORK. Call the University Health Center at 423.236.2713 for assessment and direction specific to your case. When deemed necessary, the University Health Center offers free COVID-19 testing for students and employees.
- A section of each residence hall has been set aside for quarantine, which is where students who have had close contact with an infected individual or who are waiting on test results will stay.
- Any student who tests positive will be transferred to isolation in the Upper Stateside Apartments. The University Health Center will work with the infected student and the local health department to identify anyone with whom the student may have had close contact.
- Every student in both quarantine and isolation will have meals delivered and receive regular medical visits. The Chaplain’s Office, Counseling Services, Student Success Team, and Residence Life will also provide support through virtual platforms.
How long does quarantine or isolation last?
If you are quarantining because you have symptoms (such as a fever or cough) and/or are waiting on COVID-19 test results, it may be very short. For many people, it takes a few days for us to get their test results and, if negative, identify if there is a different cause for their symptoms (such as allergies or another infection) or if a re-test is necessary.
If you are in quarantine because of close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, the default quarantine period is 14 days from the time of exposure. However, if you don't have or develop any symptoms, you will be given the option to test seven to nine days from when you were exposed and if negative, shorten your quarantine period to 10 days. Anyone who refuses a COVID-19 test will need to quarantine for the full 14 days. (See the COVID-19 Policies and Procedures for a definition of “close contact.”)
If you tested positive for COVID-19, you will need be in isolation for at least 10 days after you developed symptoms so we can be sure you are no longer infectious.
How do I avoid having to quarantine?
To reduce your chance of needing to quarantine, here are some steps you can take:
- Limit the number of people coming into your room and don’t spend time in others’ rooms. If you want to visit with your friends, choose outdoor locations where you can physically distance. Consider doing group projects by Zoom or other online platforms.
- Drive by yourself. If one person in a car is infected, everyone else in the car is exposed and would need to quarantine.
- Practice physical distancing (at least 6 feet) whenever possible to limit chances of being exposed and needing to quarantine.
Additionally, continue with good hygiene practices such as washing your hands frequently, wearing a face mask correctly, and not touching your face.
I think I might be getting sick, but maybe it is just allergies. I don’t usually have allergies. What should I do?
Many people only have “allergy” symptoms with COVID-19; if you have new symptoms, call the University Health Center (423.236.2713) right away so that they can find out more about your specific case. In the meantime, don’t go to class, dorm worship, the Dining Hall, or anywhere else because you might get others sick. The medical personnel will help you decide if you need to be tested for COVID-19 and/or enter quarantine.
Does a negative test result get me out of quarantine?
Potentially. If you are in quarantine because of a close contact, the default quarantine period is 14 days from the time of exposure. However, if you don't have or develop any symptoms, you will be given the option to test seven to nine days from when you were exposed and if negative, shorten your quarantine period to 10 days.
My roommate was around someone who tested positive for COVID-19; do I need to quarantine or get tested, too?
You don’t necessarily need to be quarantined or tested even if your roommate was exposed, but if you have any questions or concerns about your situation, please call the University Health Center (423.236.2713). Whenever the health center personnel learn of a positive case on campus, they work with that individual to identify and contact anyone who may have been exposed. That means if the University Health Center finds out that your roommate or another close contact has tested positive for COVID-19, you will be contacted about being quarantined.
I have already had COVID-19. Do I need to quarantine when the University Health Center calls me about an exposure?
Depending on your situation, you may not need to quarantine. Please tell the University Health Center personnel that you have already had COVID-19 so they can review your records.
My friend’s roommate has COVID-19, but my friend is still going to class. What should I do?
If your friend has had COVID-19 in the last three months, he or she may have been excused from quarantining again. However, if you think you have been exposed to COVID-19, please call the University Health Center (423.236.2713) immediately for instructions.
I had a COVID-19 test done at a walk-in clinic. What do I do now?
You are required to call the University Health Center (423.236.2713) immediately for instructions about quarantine or isolation.
I don’t have any symptoms of illness, but I’m still concerned and want to get a COVID-19 test. Can I come to the University Health Center to get tested?
Yes, any Southern student who wishes to be tested can make an appointment at the University Health Center for a free test. Priority will be given to students who are sick or who have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19.
What happens if I get flagged during a daily health assessment?
If an individual does not pass the daily health assessment, he or she will be referred to the University Health Center for further evaluation. If deemed necessary by the medical personnel, the individual will be tested for COVID-19 and immediately moved to quarantine to await results. However, if the evaluation does not reveal cause to be tested, the University Health Center personnel will either clear the individual to receive a wristband for the day or, if other illness or health concern is suspected, the individual may be treated or sent back to their residence to recuperate.
What should I do if I am not feeling well or have potential COVID-19 symptoms?
If you feel unwell, DO NOT GO TO CLASS OR WORK. Call the University Health Center at 423.236.2713 for assessment and direction specific to your case.
What qualifies as an appropriate face mask?
You are welcome to wear any face covering that follows these guidelines:
- be fabric (washed daily) or a surgical mask (use a new, unaltered mask daily) or a ClearMaskTM (use a new, unaltered mask daily and only use in the classroom).
- fit comfortably tight on your face
- cover both your nose and mouth
- not have an exhalation valve or vent
- be in good taste and should not contradict the university’s values
- be clean and presentable
- not be shared from one individual to another
If I run/walk/bike to campus, will it affect my temperature at the health screening?
Helmets will not interfere with temperature taking. For those worried about elevated temperature readings due to physical activity, please consider allowing more time for a cool-down period.
I am young and healthy. Why do I have to participate in these precautions?
While you may be at low risk, there are two important considerations. 1) There have been cases where young people with no known risk factors have become severely ill or died from COVID-19. 2) Others around you may be at high risk without your knowledge. As Christians, God calls us to demonstrate a level of love for each other that is impossible through human effort alone, one that puts others above our own desires and interests. As a campus, we are committed to living out that kind of love, and one way we can do that is by taking these safety precautions to heart and protecting each other through our actions. We’re all in this together!
I am in a higher-risk group for COVID-19. What should I do?
We care about our students, so if the CDC guidelines indicate that you may be at higher risk for serious complications from COVID-19, please communicate with your professors and housing dean to see what accommodations might be made.
NEW: Since the technology exists for online learning, why has Southern decided to hold classes primarily in person?
The purpose of Southern, as expressed in the university's mission statement, is to "equip students to embrace biblical truth, embody academic and professional excellence, and pursue Spirit-filled lives of service." Experience has shown that this is most effectively accomplished through personal relationships developed both in and out of the classroom. Feedback from students and parents confirms that as long as it can be done safely, the preference is for students to remain on campus and in person. So far, the classroom setting at Southern has not been linked to transmission of the disease, and as long as everyone follows the safety precautions, our in-person classes are considered safe.
NEW: Is there a specific number of cases that would lead to Southern transitioning to distance learning?
Our goal is to complete the semester on campus, in person. Because it is a complex situation with numerous variables, there is not one specific number that would trigger our contingency plans to go into effect. That said, please know that transitioning to distance learning would be a last resort—one we are confident that we can avoid if everyone works together and conscientiously follows the safety protocols.
NEW: If Southern did transition to distance learning at some point, who would be allowed to stay on campus, and what would happen with graduation?
In the unlikely event that Southern were to transition to distance learning, every effort would be made to accommodate students doing clinicals, taking classes with special equipment and software needs, and engaged in other hands-on learning. International students and graduating seniors would most likely also have the option to stay on campus. The current expectation is that graduation would be held in-person, with multiple ceremonies and other safety measures in place. It is important to keep in mind that our goal is to avoid the necessity of a transition to distance learning, and we are confident that continuing to learn in person is possible if everyone works together to following the safety protocols.
NEW: Would Southern consider a campus-wide, on-campus quarantine for two weeks rather than making the decision to send students home for the rest of the semester?
Yes, that is one of the contingency plans that we would consider if on-campus cases reached a critical level. However, our goal is to avoid needing to take drastic measures by all of us working together to follow the safety protocols, hold each other accountable, and prevent the spread of illness.
What updates have been made to the Winter 2021 calendar?
Key dates for Winter 2021 include:
January 17 - Enrollment activities for new students
January 19 - Classes begin
March 18-19 - Midterm break
May 9 - Graduation and end of semester
For more details, view the academic calendar here.
If I have to miss classes for health reasons, will my absences be excused?
Any student who feels unwell, has symptoms, or is experiencing anxiety can call the University Health Center (UHC) at 423.236.2713. After evaluating the situation, the UHC may provide a letter excusing the student from class that day. The student must send the letter to his or her professors within 24 hours, and that absence will be excused. Those in quarantine and isolation are also excused and must notify their professors.
See this chart for clarity.
NEW: If the University Health Center gives me a letter approving an excused absence from class, am I also excused from my on-campus job for the day?
Yes, if the University Health Center excuses you from class, you should not go to work that day. However, it is your responsibility to communicate with your work supervisor in a timely fashion and provide the letter from the University Health Center.
Are there any changes to the Christian Service requirements?
The academic credit requirements have not changed; however, service projects will need to comply with health and safety guidelines set by local officials, partner organizations, and Southern.
Will Southern transition to distance learning in the middle of the semester?
No, Southern does not currently plan to convert to distance learning this semester. Southern’s University Health Center is working with local public health officials to diagnose and safely care for students who test positive for COVID-19. However, if regulations change or circumstances arise that make it infeasible or unsafe to continue offering face-to-face classes at some point during the semester, then all options will be considered to successfully complete the semester and protect and support students.
NEW: Where can I find the links to events eligible for enrichment credit?
These links are emailed to your Southern email account; most can be found in the Weekender email that you receive every Thursday.
What should I do if someone is out of compliance regarding COVID-19 policies and procedures?
Every member of our campus community has the responsibility to hold each other accountable. This is outlined in the COVID-19 Policies and Procedures beginning on page 7. If you see a student, professor, staff member, or visitor who is not following Southern’s safety policies, kindly bring this to the individual’s attention. When this personal approach is not possible, then report to the appropriate person:
- Students should report situations involving students or employees to Lisa Hall, dean of students
- Employees should report situations involving students to Lisa Hall and those involving other employees with their own supervisors
Our goal is to work together to have a safe semester on campus. We take this seriously. Continued failure to cooperate may result in dismissal for both students and employees.
What precautions are the residence halls taking? Will we be able to get overnight leaves?
The residence halls are implementing precautions such as more frequent cleaning in common areas, limiting the number of individuals in shared spaces, and not allowing guests inside the residence halls. More details can be found in the complete COVID-19 Policies and Precautions document. The overnight leave system remains unchanged from previous years.
How has the Enrichment Credit program changed for this semester?
Your participation in spiritual, cultural, and educational programming outside the classroom is an important part of your well-rounded experience at Southern. Because of this, a modified Enrichment Credit program will resume this semester. Due to COVID-19, the following adjustments have been put in place:
- Required credits have been reduced.
- You may receive credit for participating in certain events online.
- No “Cultural Credits” will be required.
For more details and the current schedule, visit the Student Development website.
What kind of experience will this semester offer considering all of the safety measures being put in place?
Our goal is for this to be an amazing, fun semester! Yes, we will need to have certain precautions in place, such as holding Vespers outdoors in a big tent and wearing masks in situations where we need to protect those around us, but we will still be able to get together to learn, worship, and have fun. We plan to continue holding intramurals, your favorite on-campus eateries will still be providing a wide selection of food—now with off-site ordering capabilities—and the Student Association is still planning entertaining activities.
What is happening with mission trips this semester?
- Student Missions: We recognize the increased risks brought on by the novel coronavirus, not only to health but to travel. As such, we are partnering with a reduced number of organizations until the pandemic has subsided. For more details about precautions being taken, visit southern.edu/studentmissions.
- Short-Term Trips: The short term Humanitarian Engagement (formerly uQuest) and Evangelistic Resource Center 2021 mission trips will continue to recruit, vet, and prepare students to serve, but administration will re-evaluate the safety and feasibility at least two weeks before each trip.