This story was updated at 5:39 p.m. on Wednesday, April 8, 2020, with more information.
Lee University is in "shutdown mode" on campus as employees and students remain home amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to an email to alumni from university President Paul Conn Wednesday.
In the email, Conn acknowledged that Lee has had more confirmed cases of COVID-19 since it reported its first case on March 25 and said the school's health clinic is administering tests daily.
Three Lee University students and one staff member have tested positive for COVID-19, including the first case reported on March 25, according to a spokesperson for the university. An additional individual is currently awaiting test results.
"We have one test pending results right now, but we can't conjecture on what the result will be," the spokesperson said in an email. "Like many others, we are committed to being ready for the worst, while hoping for the best."
None of the cases are believed to be related to each other, despite the first case having stayed in a Lee University residence hall prior to being tested.
The first confirmed case, a female student, was screened by Lee University's health clinic on Tuesday, March 17 and was referred for testing. She was also moved in off-campus housing for quarantine, though she had stayed in a residence hall and "might have interacted with residents and others," according to the original release. The student was thought to have contracted the coronavirus while on a personal trip within the United States and returned to campus after the trip, according to university officials.
None of those who were were quarantined on campus, according to university officials, and each case was reported to the Bradley County Department of Health, which Lee coordinated their care.
"To our knowledge no one has been hospitalized, and so far only mild symptoms have been reported. Our Health Clinic is open and doing testing every day," Conn said in the email Wednesday.
More than 90% of employees are staying home and conducting meetings and classes online. The school initially extended its spring break last month and moved classes online through April 13, but on March 26, Conn announced that classes would continue online through the end of the semester.
"I am sorry to announce we are not going to be able come back on April 13, as we hoped might be possible. So until the end of the semester, we will stay in the mode we are in now." Conn said in a statement at the time.. "We need you to stay home, stay healthy, and stay connected with us through social media. ...Restarting campus activities and bringing students back to campus in mid-April is just too early. We're eager to see you again, but sadly, it won't be this semester."
Conn told alumni in Wednesday's email that the school campus in Cleveland, Tennessee felt like a "ghost town."
"I walked over all of it earlier today, and it is so quiet and empty. Eerie, actually. Buildings are locked, the ped mall is silent. It's a beautiful spring morning, and I'm so sorry students aren't here to enjoy it," he said.
Most colleges and universities were some of the first institutions to shutter this spring as the coronavirus began to spread across the country.
Lee has postponed its spring commencement ceremony, originally planned for May 9, until August, just like the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC), which announced the new schedule for multiple ceremonies in August last week.
Like UTC, Lee is also committed to refunding students for unused portions of student housing and meal plans.
Currently, about 55 students are still living in on-campus dormitories, according to Conn's Wednesday email.
Bradley County has 28 confirmed cases as of Wednesday, April 9, according to the Tennessee Department of Health. More than 277 tests have been conducted in Bradley County, including four on-campus. Lee's health clinic does have test kits and is outsourcing the test results to a private lab, according to university officials.
Contact Meghan Mangrum at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6592. Follow her on Twitter @memangrum.