Frequently Asked Questions Regarding COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

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FAQ Last Updated: October 12, 2020


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, you will need to be in quarantine until 14 days after you were exposed so we can see if you will develop an infection. (See the quarantine and isolation policy 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:

  1. 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.
  2. Drive by yourself. If one person in a car is infected, everyone else in the car is exposed and would need to quarantine.
  3. 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 your friends 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?

Not necessarily. If you are in quarantine because of a close contact, a negative test will not clear you because you could become positive at any time within the 14-day quarantine period. If you have symptoms and they continue beyond the initial test, our medical providers may determine that you need to stay in quarantine and potentially consider re-testing. However, if you had symptoms but they have resolved, a negative test result may clear the way for you to return to your normal residence.

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.

NEW: 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.

NEW: 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 hear that other universities are testing everyone; why didn’t we get tested before coming to campus?

The State of Tennessee and the Centers for Disease Control have recommended that we not test everyone because these tests are not very helpful in people who do not have symptoms. An individual could have a negative test result on one day and then become infectious the very next day.

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?

If you have reason to think you were exposed to someone who has COVID-19, please call us so we can make arrangements to test you.

If you do not think you have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19 and you have no symptoms but would like to get tested, we would recommend that you go to the county testing site, where they are equipped to test a higher volume of people each day.

What happens if I don't pass the 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.

Will students be routinely tested for COVID-19?

No, but the University Health Center will evaluate any student or employee who has symptoms or thinks they have had close contact with a positive COVID-19 case and perform a free test if deemed necessary. Asymptamatic individuals who have not had close contact but would like to be tested are encouraged to visit one of the free Hamilton County Health Department testing sites.

What happens if someone tests positive for COVID-19?

Our goal is to keep everyone healthy and coronavirus-free this fall! 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 here

  • 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. 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.
  • 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.

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: 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.

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.

If I have to miss classes for health reasons such as quarantine, 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 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.

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.

Campus Life

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 Fall 2020 Policies and Precautions document. Yes, the overnight leave system remains unchanged from previous years.

How has the Enrichment Credit program changed for this semester?

The enrichment credit requirement has been removed for the fall semester. Events such as Friday night Vespers will continue with voluntary attendance. Please note that attendance will still be taken at in-person events to assist with contact tracing.

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.


What is happening with Student Missions and uQuest 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.


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.