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Coronavirus

March 23, 2020

The health and well-being of our students and all members of our community is King’s priority as we continually monitor the rapidly evolving information regarding the COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak. This page is intended to provide information about Coronavirus, precautions and preventive measures to take, and details specifically related to the impact this virus may have on the University.

King has established a university response team that is meeting daily to share information and updates, discuss planning and preparation details, and coordinate resources in response to the virus.  We continue to monitor reports and communicate with local and regional government officials and experts, as well as relevant educational partners and oversight agencies to best address the needs of the members of our University community.

We encourage everyone to seek the most reliable and up-to-date information about the COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak. Such sources include the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, the Tennessee Department of Health, and the Virginia Department of Health. Particularly with the spring and summer travel seasons forthcoming, please consult resources for travelers, such as the CDC’s travel notices.

The Latest News

March 24, 2020

Earlier today, President Whitaker sent the following communication to King students, faculty, and staff regarding the Spring 2020 semester being finished remotely and the postponement of Commencement.

Dear King Students, Faculty, and Staff:

Despite all best efforts and intentions to return to face-to-face instruction in April, I regret that this will not be possible. There have been, as you know, many changes in the Coronavirus situation since Spring Break began. These include not only the explosion of cases, but also increasingly stringent direction with respect to the size of gatherings, what businesses and facilities should or should not remain open, and what mitigation measures are required. Since then, also, NCAA and Conference Carolinas have cancelled spring-semester championships and competition. We are also seeing other colleges in our state and region now having to deal with actual Coronavirus cases on their campuses (not simply potential ones). Good fortune and King’s early actions have contributed to our not so far having had any cases, but as the virus spreads, it is unlikely to spare any college or university. For the health of all the King community, it remains prudent for us to keep our on-campus populations as small as possible, so to minimize transmission risk.

Accordingly, we will finish our semester in a distance mode. Faculty will discuss with students the specifics of this in the days ahead, including how final examinations will be administered.

There will be further information for those few students remaining in the residence halls from the Student Affairs Office. Likewise, Student Affairs will communicate with those who have belongings in their residence hall rooms how those items can be retrieved over the remainder of the semester.

Sadly, for many of these same reasons, we will postpone our Baccalaureate and Commencement. Even if the virus situation were to have a dramatic improvement, it is highly unlikely that a gathering of thousands on the Oval would be safe. This is not a cancellation, but a delay. I will write seniors separately later and we will ask preferences for when Commencement should be rescheduled. This delay will not affect the conferral date of degrees, which will be May 15 for students who have completed requirements. It remains my intention to give each student a diploma on the Oval when that becomes feasible.

There is much uncertainty in our world and nation today. This is not something most of us have ever dealt with. There are many life lessons for us in these days. Among them is a reminder of what is truly important (and truly unimportant), how good it is to be part of a community such as King’s, and the necessity of looking beyond ourselves for support even as we aim to support others. It is my hope that when, by God’s grace, we emerge on the other side of this, we will all be better people, more attuned and responsive to those around us and more grateful for the many blessings we too often in better times take for granted.

I do ask you to remain close to your King friends and colleagues. Call them, text them, and stay connected with them on social media. Some already have family members affected by the Coronavirus in a very direct way. Given our numbers, that is likely to increase. In these days of isolation, take an extra effort to communicate with those you cannot be near right now and to pray for them.

Stay strong, stay focused on your studies, keep your sense of humor and positive attitude, and be healthy. A virus cannot stop a Tornado.

Sincerely,

Alexander Whitaker
President

 

Recent Updates

Attention All Federal Work-Study, King Institutional Work-Study, and Graduate Assistants

Work-study paychecks have not been affected for the pay period from February 17th to March 16th. They will be distributed as normal on March 31st. This notice addresses work after our scheduled spring break for Spring 2020.

As you are aware, King University has transitioned all traditional students to an online format and has closed all residence halls to students—with some limited exceptions. King University has done this to comply with the limited social gathering guidelines provided by the federal government. We understand that this has caused many concerns, including whether or not you will be able to continue working or to get paid for hours you would have normally worked.

As a result, the Department of Education has issued guidance for schools that have closed their residence halls due to the Coronavirus. In accordance with this guidance, enrolled students unable to work during the Spring 2020 semester that had a federal work-study position prior to the closure of their school’s residence halls “may” get paid for their scheduled hours. The Department of Education has not made this suggestion mandatory, and it is up to the individual school to choose to pay federal work-study students or not.

This guidance also states that students able to work—and are offered work from their institution—must work. If a student is offered work from their institution and declines that work, they are ineligible for payment.

King University has chosen to follow this guidance for both federal work-study and King institutional work-study students alike. In order to continue providing essential services, King will be using a limited number of students in specific positions during the Spring 2020 semester.

Here are some examples of how this policy will work.

  1. You are a student from Texas and had a federal work-study or King University work-study position in the Library prior to King moving to an online format and are still enrolled—completing the Spring semester online at home. In this scenario, you are eligible to be paid as you can no longer perform your duties in the Library.
  2. You are a student that, by special exception, has been allowed to remain on campus. If King offers you a work-study position—and you are able to perform your duties as required—you must work to be paid. If you decline to perform duties that you are able to do, you are not eligible to be paid.
  3. You live locally and you want to work. (Please note that you can only work on-campus if requested by King.) As part of the Covid-19 response plan, you will not be able to work if your job doesn’t comply with social distancing standards. If a Work-Study Supervisor requests for you to work, you must work to get paid.
  4. You live in California and had a position as a tutor for the Math Department. We request that you continue working as a tutor in an online format. If you decline this request, you are not eligible to receive work-study payment. Remember: If you are offered work-study, you must work to be paid.
  5. You are a GA (Graduate Assistant). All GAs are required to continue working with their teams.

Please note: King University is working to determine how scheduled hours will be managed.

The NCAA has made the decision to cancel all remaining winter and spring championships. These include all winter NCAA Division II competitions in which Conference Carolinas institutions are presently competing. Additionally, Conference Carolinas has decided to suspend all athletics competition until further notice. Further details can be found on the Conference Carolinas website. King coaches informed teams of this decision over the weekend.

The public health threat of COVID-19 Coronavirus continues to develop, and there continues to be no confirmed or suspected cases at King. Our faculty and staff are working to make every effort to help ‘flatten the curve’ (slowing the rate at which the virus spreads) and to operate in the best interest of our students and all members of the University community.

King has announced its next steps in response to COVID-19: These measures are intended to substantially diminish the risk of disease transmission on the campus and contribute to preserving the health of students, faculty, staff, and the larger community.

  • King will extend Spring Break for traditional students by one week.
  • AGS and online students will follow their academic calendar as published but with modifications in delivery method. Those details are being provided to students.
  • Residential students who are currently not on campus have been told not to return to campus (but were provided means to obtain items from their residence hall rooms).
  • Students currently in the residence halls for Spring Break are being asked to return home the week of March 16th (with some exceptions where that is not feasible).
  • During this same week, faculty will fulfill duties related to Advising Week (at a distance) and to prepare each class for a transition to a distance education mode suitable for the class.
  • All traditional classes converted to distance mode will begin Monday, March 23rd.
  • At this time, King seeks to resume face-to-face instruction on campus April 20th, to allow time for reviews, exams, etc., and, for graduates, Baccalaureate and Commencement to follow. These plans are certainly fluid in relation to developments related to COVID-19.
  • There are exceptions to the foregoing for certain programs with clinical components.
  • The campus will remain open for King personnel despite significantly decreased activity.

There will be more information forthcoming about King Athletics. Athletes not on campus should not return to campus until told to do so by their coaches. Conference Carolinas presidents are meeting today to discuss the conference’s response to the situation. We expect more details to follow in the coming days.

Although there continue to be no confirmed cases at King, Sullivan County has reported its first confirmed case. Follow local news outlets for more details:


(Ballad Health Update)

Following the announcement on Tuesday of the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the region, Ballad Health has taken several steps to expand its preparedness efforts:

  • “Ballad Health has established a call center for individuals to contact if they are experiencing mild symptoms and wish to speak with a health care professional. If you believe you are experiencing mild symptoms, please stay at home and self-isolate, and call Ballad Health’s Nurse Connect at 1-833-822-5523. A Ballad Health team member will provide a screening over the telephone. The phone line is active 24 hours per day, and the service is free.
  • Anticipating the need for more COVID-19 testing in the region, Ballad Health is in the process of establishing multiple access points for testing if indicated. More details will be announced in the coming days.
  • Ballad Health will be implementing restricted entrances to its hospitals, with screenings for those who enter the facilities. These measures are intended to ensure the protection and sustainability of the health care workforce. The restrictions will go into effect in the coming days.”

For more information about these efforts, visit: https://www.balladhealth.org/news/expanding-covid19-response-efforts

Some people are at greater risk for developing more serious disease if they become infected with the coronavirus, even though the overall risk for infection remains low in most areas.

Those with underlying chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, COPD, diabetes, cancer, and immunosuppression are at greater risk for more serious symptoms with any infection. Also, the coronavirus has been more serious in those over age 65.

Some simple preventative measures for those at higher risk include:

  • Wash hands often
  • Avoid crowds, especially in poorly ventilated spaces
  • Avoid being in the company of someone who appears ill or has traveled from an area where there is community spread of coronavirus
  • Avoid touching face, nose, eyes, and mouth
  • Avoid high touch surfaces with fingers and hands in public places, such as handrails, doorknobs, public computer keyboards, elevator buttons (use your sleeve or a tissue to cover your finger or hand if you must touch a high-touch surface)
  • Try to maintain a distance of at least six feet from anyone showing signs of a respiratory illness – coughing, sneezing, blowing nose
  • Avoid handshakes

For more information for those at greater risk for more serious disease, visit the CDC page at:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/high-risk-complications.html#take-everyday-precautions

In preparation for the potential spread of the Coronavirus in the U.S., King’s academic leadership is developing resources and contingency plans for the continuation of instruction, particularly in light of potential closure should the situation escalate.  Similar discussions and planning are in process regarding the remainder of the University’s functional units and departments.

The administration is evaluating academic travel on a case-by-case basis:

  • The current study abroad trip to Israel has been truncated with the group returning home earlier than scheduled.
  • The planned study abroad trip to Italy this spring has been canceled.
  • The planned mission trip to Camden, New Jersey, has been canceled

Additionally, Cabinet members are reviewing and evaluating upcoming King-related travel of respective employees for approval.

We continue to gather information from students and employees regarding recent and planned travel, particularly with Spring Break forthcoming, to monitor the level of exposure to this virus and to identify appropriate actions to take.

Currently the CDC website does not list Tennessee as having a confirmed case, but the Tennessee Department of Health web site has reported Tennessee as having its first confirmed cases of Coronavirus. Additionally, several news outlets are reporting the first case in Tennessee:

Please note that we will not be posting news of all Tennessee-related cases to this web page, but we will post those items considered to be significant developments in the evolving situation concerning Coronavirus.

***Additionally, please take note of the following information***

If you are experiencing mild symptoms of a viral illness, stay home. These symptoms are commonly the same experienced with a common cold or flu. Do not go to class, concerts, sporting events, or any setting where you are in contact with other people. Please stay home. If you live in a campus residence hall, contact a staff member in residence life immediately and minimize contact with others – particularly if you have a roommate – until you receive further guidance.

If symptoms include a fever of more than 100.4 associated with cough and shortness of breath, and you think you need to seek medical attention, call the public health department at 423.279.2777 before seeking care at a local urgent care, medical office, or hospital. If you have traveled to an area with known cases of coronavirus, be sure to report this to the public health department and to the medical care provider.

A Message to the King University Community

Like many others around the nation and world, we are watching the development and the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Transmission of infectious diseases have particular concerns for areas where large groups gather and reside. Consequently, to care for our students, faculty and staff, we are carefully evaluating available information, taking what precautions we can, and making preparations in the event that cases become common in our home region.

It is important to note that at this time, there have been no confirmed cases of this virus in Tennessee or Virginia. In the last 48 hours, Georgia and North Carolina have reported cases of COVID-19. Since experts caution that community spread will eventually affect many areas of the nation, we are sharing the following guidelines so that our students and families can be informed and aware.

Remain calm and informed.

Of course, any virus that spreads so effectively and quickly is cause for concern. However, according to information provided by the Tennessee Department of Health, many people who have contracted COVID-19 experienced mild symptoms similar to the cold or the flu (typically fever, cough, and shortness of breath). Others who have tested positive have been completely free of symptoms. The virus does appear to have more substantial impact on those who are older or have compromised immune systems, but the vast majority of those who have contracted the virus have recovered.

In China, where the most cases have been reported, more than 80 percent of those testing positive for the virus experienced mild to moderate symptoms not requiring hospitalization.

Help prevent the spread.

Personal consideration and cleanliness go a long way toward limiting the spread of any cold or flu-like illness. It’s best to:

  • Wash your hands often (including between fingers and up onto wrists, scrubbing with soap and water for about 20 seconds, long enough to sing “Happy Birthday”).
  • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.
  • If you have to cough or sneeze, do so into your elbow instead of your hands, and if you cough/sneeze into a tissue, throw the tissue into a waste bin. Don’t keep it in your pocket.
  • Droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze are a main source of transmission. Because all of us touch door handles, key pads, counters and more, be sure to wipe down communal surfaces — and remember to keep your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth, as much as you can.
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who is sick.

If you have recently traveled overseas or even domestically, or you plan to do so in the coming weeks, please let us know.

Many areas overseas are reporting a rapid and intense spread of COVID-19. Understanding our community’s level of exposure to this virus will help us understand how best to care for students, faculty, and staff. If you have been out of the country in the past several weeks or plan to travel abroad soon, please email studentaffairs@king.edu with the subject line “International Travel,” and include the dates of travel and the countries you have visited or plan to visit.

Additionally, if you plan to travel to affected areas in the United States where cases of COVID-19 have been reported, such as California or Washington state, please let us know this information as well.  The CDC web site maintains current information on states that have reported cases of COVID-19.  As testing for COVID-19 increases in this country, we will likely see an upsurge in the number of reported cases.  Please stay informed about this information, particularly as you make plans for travel.

If you are planning to travel, stay informed.

Countries around the globe are responding to this outbreak in a variety of ways. If you plan to travel in the coming weeks, be aware that you may be subject to additional screening procedures and scrutiny, whether in the U.S. or beyond.

Internationally, some travelers who have been exposed to the virus have been placed in an extended quarantine. Some countries have closed their borders altogether, preventing entry and complicating return to the U.S. for those already present.

Travel advisories are in effect for areas where there is widespread or sustained community transmission of the virus. Before you travel, stay up-to-date on these advisories by visiting the Centers for Disease Control’s traveler information page, available here.

Again, if you plan to travel outside the U.S. or domestically to affected areas, please email studentaffairs@king.edu and include the dates of travel and the states or countries you have visited or plan to visit.

If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms, call your doctor or health care provider.

According to information provided by the Tennessee Department of Health, most people who contract COVID-19 show symptoms very similar to the flu — fever, coughing, and / or shortness of breath. Any members of the University community who experience these issues (to the degree you feel you require medical attention) should call your doctor or health care provider.

For more information about COVID-19, along with resources from multiple health organizations and agencies including state resources for Tennessee and Virginia and travel information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), visit Ballad Health’s page on COVID-19 AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES HERE.

Direct links to key organizations with vital resources include:

The nearest urgent care facilities to the Bristol campus are:

  • Ballad Health Medical Associates Urgent Care locations
    • 2686 West State Street
      Bristol, TN
      (3.9 miles from campus)
      423.844.0026
    • 1220 Volunteer Parkway
      Bristol, TN
      (4.2 miles from campus)
      423.274.6610
  • Sapling Grove Urgent Care (Holston Medical Group)
    • 240 Medical Park Blvd, Suite 1700
      Bristol, TN
      (5.9 miles from campus)
      423.990.2466

The nearest urgent care facilities to the Kingsport campus are:

  • HMG Urgent Care Center at Medical Plaza
    • 105 W. Stone Drive
      Suite 1F
      Kingsport, TN 37660
      (2.3 miles from campus)
      423.230.2420
  • Ballad Health Medical Associates Urgent Care
    • 111 West Stone Drive
      Ste. 110
      Kingsport, TN 37660
      (2.5 miles from campus)
      423.224.3701

The nearest urgent care facilities to the Knoxville campus are:

  • Hardin Valley Internal Medicine
    • 10689 Hardin Valley Road
      Knoxville, TN 37932
      (1.1 miles from campus)
      865.692.1220