Chattanooga State, Southern Adventist, other universities move classes online in wake of coronavirus concerns

Chattanooga State Community College campus sign / Staff file photo

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More area colleges and universities are suspending classes or moving them online in the wake of increased concerns about the COVID-19 virus.

Southern Adventist University in Collegedale has suspended all in-person classes and will move them online for the remainder of the semester. Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee has suspended in-person classes until March 30.

Bryan College in Dayton and Chattanooga State Community College each will resume classes online on March 23 after the schools' spring breaks.

"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," according to a news release from the school.

Southern's spring break, which began on March 12, is being extended an additional week and classes are expected to resume online on Monday, March 30.

"It was important that we notified students today as they began spring break so they knew they needed to take things with them and plan for being away from campus for an extended period of time," said Janell Hullquist, spokesperson for Southern.

Students who live on campus at Southern are expected to move out of residential housing by March 20, according to the release.

More than 67% - or at least 2,000 students - of the university's approximately 3,000 students live on campus, Hullquist said.


— Bryan College: Classes to resume online as of March 23, residence halls will close on March 15 and all co-curricular international and domestic spring break trips, athletic competitions and on-campus events are canceled from March 15-22— Chattanooga State Community College: Spring break extended, classes to resume online on March 23-31. Campus offices remain open, but all on-campus events canceled through March 31.- Covenant College: Spring break extended, classes to move online through the rest of the semester, students must move out of on-campus housing by March 18- Cleveland State Community College: Spring break extended through March 17, courses to resume online beginning March 18 through March 27, if not further— Lee University: In-person classes and on-campus activities suspended until March 30, online classes will resume on March 17, university offices, dorms, and dining services remain open— Southern Adventist University: Spring break extended through March 30, classes will move online as of March 30 and remain online through the remainder of the semester, students are expected to move out of university housing by March 20— Tennessee Tech: Spring break extended with no classes for students from March 16 through March 27, university offices operating regular hours, faculty and staff report to work as usual, classes to begin moving online March 30— University of Tennessee at Chattanooga: Classes move online on March 23 through March 30, all non-essential, domestic, university-related business travel suspended indefinitely, students are asked not to return to campus from March 16 to 30 and residence halls will re-open on March 28

Southern has set up a process for students, such as international students who are unable to return home, to petition the dean of students to be allowed to stay in residential housing on campus.

Bryan College will close its residence halls starting on Sunday, March 15, according to a news release.

"The residence halls will be closed for all students ... until such a time as officials believe it is safe for students to return. As students leave for Spring Break, they are instructed to take essential items they will need for several weeks away from campus," according to the news release.

Also starting on March 15, all of Bryan's co-curricular international and domestic spring break trips and athletic competitions will be canceled through March 22.

"My concern is for our students to stay healthy and to be able to return safely from spring break to participate in all that our college offers. With that in mind, I believe it is best to take some precautions regarding the next few weeks until we can see where this virus is headed," Bryan College President Stephan Livesay said in a statement.

Southern also canceled all international trips and all on-campus events and activities for the remainder of the semester.

There have been no confirmed COVID-19 cases on any local campuses or in Southeast Tennessee, but the number of confirmed cases across Tennessee doubled Thursday to 18. The schools' announcements came after Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee declared a state of emergency Thursday to help the state address the spread of the new coronavirus.

Several local colleges and universities have announced the move to online classes, but are still exploring how that will look for faculty and students.

Hullquist also said that the Southern already has a robust e-learning system and many traditional classes already incorporate online learning. The university is exploring using Zoom, an online teleconference system, for class meetings, but many of those plans are still being developed.

Chattanooga State officials announced the school is extending its spring break until March 23 to "allow faculty time to prepare remote instructional delivery."

Classes will resume online on March 23 and remote delivery will continue through the end of the month.

"We are finalizing plans related to online learning and will be communicating those options to you within the coming days. Please check this page regularly for updates," Chattanooga State officials told students in a statement Thursday. "If you are a student without access to internet or a digital device, Chattanooga State will have available options for you."

Lee University, which initially announced Wednesday that the school's spring break would be extended an additional day, with classes resuming on Tuesday, March 17, changed course Thursday and said classes on campus were suspended until March 30.

"The nature and scope of the coronavirus emergency is changing, and as it does, we here at Lee are constantly re-evaluating our path forward," said Lee University President Paul Conn in an email to students.

Instead instruction will be delivered online using Zoom, similar to Southern's plan. Lee faculty will be attending an all-day training on Monday, March 16, according to Conn.

"We will be ready to roll out these virtual classes by Thursday, March 19. Instruction will continue by this method until we are able to come back together, God willing, on March 30," Conn said.

Lee offices, dorms and dining services will remain open during that time, but the university will not hold any classes, chapels, group meetings or other gatherings.

All of Lee's mini-courses associated with its Encore program have also been suspended for the rest of the semester, according to a news release.

According to Director of Community Relations Bethany McCoy, once on-campus courses resume at Lee, each Encore professor will have the option to continue their scheduled course. The decision to continue a course will be made on a case-by-case basis, and students will only be notified if the professor chooses to resume the previously scheduled mini-course, the release states.

On Wednesday, Interim UT System President Randy Boyd announced that most UT System campuses will be moving classes online, including the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Contact Meghan Mangrum at or 423-757-6592. Follow her on Twitter @memangrum.