Coronavirus Update Archive

This archive documents some of the important messages that Southern has sent out to campus as the coronavirus situation evolves. While this page is not comprehensive, Southern continues to send announcements to students and employees as more information becomes available.

March 30, 2020 - Welcome Back and Video Message From the President

March 30, 2020

Dear Students,

I hope you are well and feeling refreshed after our extended Spring Break! As we embark together on this second half of the semester, I expect that you are facing many uncertainties. In addition to rapid changes all around us in society, what will it be like to have all of your classes online? How will we all stay connected, so far away from friends and professors? When can we get back to normal?

I don’t have all the answers, but let me make a clear commitment on behalf of our professors, the Online Campus staff, the student support team, and all the rest of us at Southern that we are here to help you through this new experience. I’ve seen some pretty amazing efforts already underway to make this a positive experience for you, and I have faith that with God’s help, this will be a wonderful semester, despite the challenges.

I encourage you to take a few minutes to watch this brief video message of encouragement as you begin this new chapter.

God bless,

David Smith

Message from David Smith

March 17, 2020 - Graduation Postponed (Not Canceled)

March 17, 2020

This message was sent yesterday to all of the students who we know plan to graduate in May. If you did not receive the message but plan to graduate at the end of the semester, please contact Karon Powell, director of Records and Advising, at to fill out a graduation contract.

Dear May graduation candidate,
You are nearing the completion of a major milestone in your life, and we know you have been counting down the weeks and days until graduation. We also recognize that due to COVID-19, the last months of your senior year now look very different than what we all anticipated. The changes Southern has implemented for the remainder of the semester will take some adjustment, and we expect you have many questions regarding the effect on your graduation.
First, let us assure you that once you have completed your academic requirements, you will receive your degree even without a ceremony. Once your financial obligations are met, we will mail your diploma to you, and you will be able to request an official transcript.
However, we also believe that getting together and participating in the long-standing traditions of caps and gowns, Pomp and Circumstance, and in general, celebrating together as a university are important. It is always a memorable time with faculty and staff, friends, parents, siblings, and children. We are working to reschedule the commencement ceremony and will send out an announcement when the details are finalized.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Karon Powell at
Completing your degree is a huge accomplishment, and we are proud of you for all the hard work you have put in up to this point. Hang in there and finish strong!
David Smith, president
Robert Young, senior vice president for Academic Administration

March 13, 2020 - Video Message From the President

March 13, 2020

The following video is a message from university president, David Smith, to students.

Message from David Smith

March 12, 2020 - Message From the President and FAQ

March 12, 2020

Dear Southern students,

I know that the decision to move classes online and close our residential facilities for the remainder of the semester came as a shock to many of you, and we want you to know that the decision was not made lightly. Your safety is of great importance, and we believe this is the best course of action given the current global and national situation.

Those of us who work in higher education do so because we love young people and learning together! We will deeply miss the presence of students on our campus over the next few months, and eagerly look forward to resuming normal campus life as soon as possible.

While we are closing the residential facilities and moving classes online, campus will remain operational. We will continue to be here, prioritizing your learning needs.

We have created a Frequently Asked Questions page where you can find the answers to many of the questions you probably have; this is a supplement to our COVID-19 page, Other details will be communicated in the days ahead, so continue to check your Southern email account regularly.

In all things, remember that we serve a God who is bigger than all of our challenges, who loves each one of us with an infinite love, and who knows the end from the beginning. Please join me in laying this situation at His feet and seeking His blessing and protection for each member of the Southern family during this challenging time.

David Smith, president

March 12, 2020 - Classes Moved Online

March 12, 2020

After careful consideration of the increasing spread of COVID-19 and out of concern for the wellbeing of our students, Southern Adventist University Administration has determined that we will move to online and/or video distance learning for the rest of the semester. Spring Break will be extended a week with classes resuming online on March 30, 2020.

As the University switches to distance delivery of its classes for the remainder of this semester, our residence halls and Southern Village are also being closed. Students are asked to completely move out by March 20 unless they receive prior permission to remain longer from the office of Residence Life.

As this is a rapidly changing situation, further information about online class delivery, campus services, and other considerations will be provided as available. Please continue to monitor for updates as well as your Southern email account.

Please join us in also praying for God’s leading as this situation continues to unfold. We continue to pray for each of you.

March 11, 2020 - Travel and Events Update


March 11, 2020

Southern Adventist University’s administration continues to work closely with the University Health Center’s medical staff to monitor the spread of COVID-19 in the United States. Currently we are not aware of any coronavirus cases on Southern’s campus or in the surrounding community. Southern Adventist University is also taking several preventative steps to minimize the risk of COVID-19 across campus.


  • Earlier today, all university-sponsored international mission trips and study tours over Spring Break were cancelled.
  • We anticipate classes continuing to operate as normal upon the return of our students from Spring Break.
  • Important: Students leaving campus for Spring Break should take textbooks and other course materials. While we do not anticipate closing campus, students should be prepared for the possibility of distance learning.
  • Any student or employee who has personal contact with or exposure to a known case of COVID-19 should self quarantine and contact the University Health Center before returning to campus.
  • Any student or employee who exhibits symptoms of COVID-19 during Spring Break should not return to campus until medically cleared. Documentation should be provided to University Health Center before returning to campus. Individuals on campus who exhibit symptoms should immediately call the University Health Center at 423.236.2713. (Do not visit the Health Center without first calling.)
  • Any student or employee who travels to a location that has a declared state of emergency due to COVID-19 (in the United States or overseas) should also contact the University Health Center to help Southern track possible exposure.
  • Absences due to illness, quarantine, or travel delays associated with COVID-19 will be accommodated. It is the student’s responsibility to communicate with their professors regarding making up coursework.


  • All public events on campus and gatherings of 50 or more have been cancelled through April 5. This includes concerts, vespers, residence hall worships, and convocations.
  • The previously scheduled Wind Symphony Orchestra at 4 p.m. on April 4 will instead be live streamed at
    Enrichment Credit requirements will be adjusted. (Click here for more Enrichment Credit details.)


  • Our Service Department’s cleaning routines have been increased as they disinfect and sanitize campus. High-use surfaces are regularly wiped down to protect campus health and minimize the risk of infection. Our cleaning supplies are rated to kill viruses, including the coronavirus.
  • Electrostatic sprayers have been deployed to augment these cleaning routines in classrooms, seating areas, and common areas. These sprayers are particularly effective in sanitizing difficult-to-reach areas.
  • Signs have been placed across campus in entryways, common areas, and bathrooms reminding the campus community to regularly wash their hands and practice good hygiene.


  • Continue to wash hands regularly, avoid close contact with people who are sick, and follow the CDC Guidelines to Prevent the Spread of Illness.
  • As you consider Spring Break travel, stay informed about developments and watch for official advisories that could impact when and where you can travel.
  • Monitor your university email and the university’s Coronavirus web page for updates.

Southern’s administration and the University Health Center medical staff will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as needed. Please join us in lifting up our campus in prayer as we seek God’s continued protection and guidance.

March 6, 2020 - Spring Break Travel Update


March 6, 2020 - Update on Spring Break and International Considerations

With Spring Break right around the corner, we know many of you have questions regarding the impact of the new coronavirus, COVID-19. Let me share an important update, particularly as it relates to travel plans. 

Southern Adventist University has enacted the following guidelines that utilize the Center for Disease Control travel alert levels (available here) with respect to COVID-19. Other factors regarding travel may be taken into consideration beyond these guidelines. 

Travel to CDC COVID-19 Warning Level 3 and Alert Level 2 countries
Southern Adventist University will not currently sponsor any study tours, mission trips, or other travel by Southern employees and students to the countries identified by the CDC at Warning Level 3 or Alert Level 2. 
Trip organizers will communicate directly to students and employees who are scheduled to travel to Warning Level 3 and Alert Level 2 countries to explore alternate plans.
Southern strongly discourages our students, faculty, and staff from personal travel to any Warning Level 3 and Alert Level 2 countries.

Returning to campus after travel to CDC Warning Level 3 and Alert Level 2 countries
Southern faculty and staff who travel to Warning Level 3 or Alert Level 2 countries, OR have airport transit through one of these countries, must email Human Resources.
Southern students who travel to Warning Level 3 or Alert Level 2 countries, OR have airport transit through one of these countries, must email Student Development.
These departments may refer individuals to the University Health Center to implement possible required protocols such as monitoring health indicators, social isolation, and/or quarantine.

Additional international study tour and mission trip information
If a student or employee scheduled to participate in university-sponsored international travel elects not to continue as a trip member due to personal concerns regarding COVID-19, they may work with trip organizers to receive the refundable portion of their trip expenses. (We cannot refund any tax-deductible donations made directly to the university on behalf of a student.)

Inviting international groups or individuals to campus
Employees who wish to bring any international groups or individuals to our campus should contact the senior vice president for Academic Administration before extending the invitation.
Any employee who has already invited a group or individual from a CDC Warning Level 3 or Alert Level 2 country should notify the senior vice president for Academic Administration.

At this point, a Spring Break mission trip to Haiti, a May mission trip to South Korea, and a summer European study tour have been canceled. All other scheduled trips are currently proceeding as planned. We are monitoring government health resources and will make appropriate decisions as necessary.

Everyone has a part in preventing the spread of disease, not only COVID-19 but also colds and flu. Please continue to wash your hands regularly, consider fist or elbow bumps instead of handshakes and hugs, don’t touch your face, avoid people if you are sick, and in general, follow the guidelines provided by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). I encourage you to regularly visit our COVID-19 page, where Southern will continue to post updates.

Please join us in praying for those affected by this virus around the world, the medical responders, and those researching better treatment. We also lift up each of you—our students and employees—in prayer, asking God for protection and guidance in every aspect of life.

David Smith, president

March 2, 2020 - Update on the Coronavirus

coronovirus instructions

Southern Adventist University Administration and Health Center continue to actively monitoring the information, protocols, and the recommendations being communicated by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Situation in U.S.

The CDC reports that imported cases of COVID-19 in travelers have been detected in the U.S. Person-to-person spread of COVID-19 also has been reported among close contacts of returned travelers from Wuhan. On February 25, CDC confirmed COVID-19 in a person who reportedly did not have relevant travel history or exposure to another known patient with COVID-19 (unknown exposure). At this time, this virus is NOT currently spreading in the community in the United States.
There are NO reports of confirmed cases involving Coronavirus disease COVID-19 in Tennessee.

Spring Break Travel

With Spring Break only a few weeks away, we are recommending that all students, faculty, and staff planning to travel outside of the country, monitor travel advisories from the CDC and the State Department International travel is more difficult than usual as a result of the COVID-19. Due to public health measures, travelers may encounter delays or other difficulties at the US port of entry of another country.
We understand that this situation may be troubling to many. The counseling center is available for students who are looking for support at this time. They can be reached at 423-236-2782.

This is a rapidly developing situation. We will continue to monitor the status and update the campus on any new developments. Please continue to take all recommended precautions.

February 12, 2020 - Campus Health Notice: Novel Coronavirus

Southern Adventist University health officials have been closely following an emerging public health situation regarding an outbreak of pneumonia caused by a novel strain of coronavirus, “2019 Novel Coronavirus” (2019-nCoV), in Wuhan, China.
There have been five confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV in the United States. All cases have stemmed from individuals who have traveled to Wuhan City, China in the recent past.
There have been NO cases in this state or region yet. There is NO known contact with symptomatic individuals in this area. The TN state department of health is monitoring the situation and keeping the medical staff informed. The staff are monitoring the State Dept., CDC, as well as other resources for frequent updates.
Travel Precautions
Currently, the only travel restriction from the State and CDC are to avoid travel to Wuhan City/Hubei Province and avoid unnecessary travel to China. There are currently no recommendations for evacuations of other world regions. Any student, faculty, or staff that is considering travel to Wuhan City, or other areas where there is an active outbreak of the 2019-nCoV virus, or any other destination in China are urged to follow the CDC recommendations.

Health Precautions
There are no current recommendations for quarantine.

  • Because it is cold and flu season, and the symptoms of the 2019-nCoV can be similar those of other common viruses, SAU wants our campus to be vigilant in trying to prevent the spread by following these precautions:
  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • If soap is not available, use an alcohol based hand sanitizer
  • Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands
  • Disinfect frequently touched surfaces regularly- especially your cell phone
  • Avoid close contact with someone who is sick
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with your elbow or a tissue, not your hands
  • Stay home if you are sick
    · Although facemasks are commonly worn in many countries, little evidence supports their use in a community setting. CDC does not currently recommend that the general public or travelers wear facemasks or respirators to prevent spread novel coronavirus if they are healthy. Notify the health center, dorm RN, or deans if history of travel to Wuhan (or known exposure to such travelers) AND fever AND cough/respiratory symptoms such as shortness of breath.
  • Please call the University Health Center with any questions or concerns at 423-236-2713.

For more information about the 2019-nCoV virus, see the links below:


FAQ for Southern Students

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