Frequently Asked Questions Regarding COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

Coronavirus Updates

Review the latest updates from Southern Adventist University about the Coronavirus

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FAQ Last Updated: July 16, 2020


NEW: What is the plan for December 2020 graduation?

Those planning to graduate in December have two options. There will be an in-person ceremony held on campus December 13. Alternatively, they can opt to march in the May 2021 ceremony OR participate in a virtual graduation ceremony.

Where can I find more details about the August 9 graduation (rescheduled from May 10)?

Details have been emailed to graduates and posted to There will be multiple ceremonies, with tickets required. Each graduate will need to register for whichever ceremony they would like to attend and may bring up to four guests.

If I get sick and miss classes, will my absences be excused?

As every professor’s attendance policy is different, you will need to reach out to your professors to work through your individual situation.

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 return to distance learning in the middle of the semester again if someone on campus is diagnosed with COVID-19?

No, Southern does not currently plan to convert to distance learning prior to Thanksgiving Break. Southern’s University Health Center is working with local public health officials to prepare to diagnose and safely care for students who test positive for COVID-19. However, if 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.

How are summer sessions being handled?

This year, most summer classes are being offered in online format.

Where can I find out more about Southern's updated Winter 2020 grading policy?

The new policy, which includes a Pass/Fail option, and more details can be found at

Campus Life

NEW: What precautions are the residence halls taking? Will we be able to have roommates or 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 Communication Archive in an email sent on July 13. Yes, by default, residence hall students will have roommates. The overnight leave system remains unchanged from previous years.

NEW: How has the Enrichment Credit program changed for this semester?

All Thursday convocations have been canceled for the Fall 2020 semester and the number of required enrichment credits has been reduced to reflect this change (more details available here). In place of convocations, we will host a series of voluntary Critical Conversations on topics such as mental wellness, race, and COVID-19 preparedness. These will be held in Thatcher Hall Chapel during the 11 a.m. Thursday time slot, and attendees will earn enrichment credit.

UPDATED: When does campus reopen to visitors?

Campus is now open. As we resume welcoming visitors, please be aware that everyone arriving on campus is required to answer a quick symptom survey and have their temperature taken. More information about assessment locations and times can be found

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 and Gym-Masters, 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.

How is student housing being handled over the summer?

Student housing during the summer will continue to be handled as it was during the conclusion of the Winter 2020 semester. Students who need to stay in on-campus housing due to special circumstances can request permission by emailing

What Food Service options are available?

Food Service is currently limited to the Village Market Deli, which is open during the week.


NEW: Will students be tested for COVID-19 when we return to campus?

No, but we will do diligent testing based on symptom surveys and temperature checks once people are on campus. The state, the county, and many other experts discourage initial testing upon return to campus but encourage the steps we have put in place.

NEW: What is Southern’s plan if someone tests positive for COVID-19?

Our goal is to keep everyone healthy and coronavirus-free this fall! However, we realize that given the current pandemic, there is potential for some in our campus community to become infected with COVID-19. If that happens, 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 here

  • If you have any potential cold, flu, or 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. The University Health Center will be offering free COVID-19 testing for all students and employees. 
  • A section of each residence hall has been set aside for quarantine, which is where someone has had close contact with an infected individual or who is waiting on test results will stay.
  • Anyone who tests positive will be transferred to isolation in the Upper Stateside Apartments. His or her roommate/housemates will automatically be quarantined. 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.
  • Everyone in both quarantine and isolation will have meals delivered and receive regular medical visits. The Chaplain’s Office, Counseling Services, and Residential Life will also provide support via Zoom and other virtual platforms.
  • Because of HIPAA regulations, students in quarantine and isolation will be responsible for contacting their professors to receive accommodation while they are unable to attend classes.
  • Anyone traveling from outside of the country will need to quarantine for two weeks before entering routine life on campus. International students should contact Arleny Weddle ( with any questions. Residents of the United States who travel internationally should contact the University Health Center (423.236.2713) for instructions.

NEW: I know Southern is providing two masks per student, but if I have access to better masks than what is supplied, is it OK to wear those masks?

You are welcome to wear any face covering that covers your nose and mouth, can be washed or thrown away after each day's use, and is visually in keeping with Southern's values.

NEW: For those who have coughs due to allergies, how do we reply to the question on the symptom survey: “do you have a cough?”

Particularly in this region, many individuals struggle with allergies. The vital question is whether or not your cough is out of the ordinary. If it is not consistent with your normal allergic reactions and/or is not accompanied by other allergy symptoms, you should select "Yes" to the question.

NEW: 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 you plan to attend classes on campus during the Fall 2020 semester and 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.

What should I do if I am not feeling well or have potential cold, flu, or 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.


NEW: What updates have been made to the Fall 2020 calendar?

Key dates for Fall 2020 include:

August 24 - Classes begin
November 20 - Last day of in-person classes
November 23-29 - Thanksgiving Break
November 30 - Distance coursework resumes
December 11 - Last day of the Fall 2020 semester
December 13 - In-person graduation ceremony on campus
December 14 to January 10 - Christmas Break

Please note that there will not be a mid-term break or a scheduled finals week. For more details, view the academic calendar here.

UPDATED: When should I arrive on campus for the Fall 2020 semester?

  • Classes will begin August 24.
  • New students should plan to arrive on August 14 or 16 and participate in the Main Event. Arrival times are by appointment only this year in order to limit gathering sizes. Visit for more details.
  • Returning students who will be living in Thatcher Hall, Thatcher South, or Talge Hall should plan to move in by appointment only Tuesday, August 18, through Sunday, August 23 (no check-ins will be available during the Sabbath hours). To schedule a check-in appointment, log in to, click “Move-In Appointment,” and choose your two-hour block of time.
  • International students who are traveling to Southern from outside of the United States will need to arrive two weeks early to quarantine. Contact Arleny Weddle at for more details.


UPDATED: What is happening with Student Missions, uQuest, and Adventist Colleges Abroad this semester?

  • Student Missions: After prayerful consideration, Southern has decided to reduce Student Missions operations during the Fall 2020 semester. We recognize the increased risks brought on by the novel coronavirus, not only to health but to travel. As such, we will be partnering with a reduced number of organizations until the pandemic has subsided. For more details about precautions being taken, visit
  • uQuest: The uQuest Missions program will continue taking sign-ups for students interested in going on a spring mission trip. A final determination regarding international spring mission trips will be made by December 15. If they are cancelled, any deposits made will be fully refundable.
  • Adventist Colleges Abroad (ACA): Most ACA locations will be hosting in-person programs this year. The deadline to apply is July 15. For more details, including safety precautions being taken, visit

When can student workers resume working on campus?

Departments seeking to utilize student employees should work with their respective vice presidents to see what is possible for the summer. If you have questions, please contact Janice Cosme in Human Resources (


Center for Disease Control and Prevention – Coronavirus Disease 2019 
 How it Spreads
 Prevention and Treatment
 Frequently Asked Questions 
TN Department of Health

If you have questions that are not answered here, please use this form to have them answered by the appropriate department.