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Johnson University has decided to move to remote instruction for the rest of the semester on both campuses. We are also canceling May commencement on both campuses. Following is a message from President Smith about this decision and links to details for TN and FL students and staff. Students, please review this information!
To the uncommon Johnson community:
As Debbie and I sat watching the Johnson University tennis team compete on that beautiful spring afternoon of Friday, March 13, nearly every conversation with students, faculty, and staff contained the sad realization that this might be the last event on our campuses for the semester. Nearly every day since, Debbie and I have walked the campus and often commented on how lonely we were without the energizing and encouraging presence of our students. We discussed all of the scenarios that might emerge during this most unusual time brought to us by the COVID-19 pandemic and confessed our feelings of helplessness in combating the spread of the virus.
In our administrative response to the COVID-19 threat, two driving forces have guided the frequent deliberations of the president and senior leadership team: first, we must ensure that the worthy and compelling mission of Johnson University persists into the future. My first priority as president is to guard, guide, and advance the mission. Therefore, we wanted to make sure that every decision we made regarding this situation supported both the short-term and long-term sustainability of the mission to educate students to extend the kingdom of God among all nations. Secondly, we must care deeply for the well-being of our students, faculty, and staff. The senior leadership team has thoroughly examined every aspect of our operations to protect the people on our campuses; the policies and procedures that have emerged fulfill our goal of doing what is best for the health of our community.
None of these decisions, policies, or procedures are perfect. We are confronted by circumstances that change daily (sometimes even hourly) and we make the best possible choices given the current information available. The preceding announcement reflects what we believe to be the best alternative at the time to advance our mission and support the well-being of our community.
We know this is a difficult time for all of our students, especially the seniors, and it is normal to feel a sense of loss, sadness, or even anger at how this pandemic has changed your school year. We are grieving along with you for the experiences we won’t share together this spring. But we do not “grieve without hope”! Even in these times, there is much to be thankful for and there are many ways to encourage each other. I hope you know that I, our faculty, and our staff are praying for you all. I hope you will commit to getting everything you can out of your classes the rest of this semester, that you will participate in the Livestream prayer times we have scheduled, and that you will pray for each other and for us as we continue to pray for each of you.
Grace and peace,
President, Johnson University
These are certainly uncommon times for our uncommon community and, as you know, the landscape continues to change day by day. The administration of Johnson University highly values the well-being of our students, faculty, and staff and the policies and procedures we have developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic clearly reflect that priority. We must be willing and able to change our approaches when necessary in light of the ever-changing difficulties associated with this situation. At this point, I have decided that we should reduce the risk of contracting the virus by reducing the number of people on our campus. The following information communicates how we will do this. We continue to pray for wisdom, courage, and persistence, as we trust God to sustain us.
Grace and peace,
President, Johnson University
It is time for the students remaining on campus to return home. We are asking students to leave both TN and FL campus by 5:00 p.m. on Saturday. We are still hoping that we will be able to resume face-to-face instruction on April 13 as previously communicated, so this is a temporary move.
TN students who are unable to return home should talk to their RD. FL students should talk to Micaela Cox.
There was no food service planned next week due to spring break. This temporary move for students means that food service in the Gally and in the FL Commons will end with dinner on Friday, March 20. Food Service in Tennessee will resume with dinner April 12th and will resume in Florida with brunch April 13th.
Students who purchased meal plans will be receiving a credit for meals not served 3/29 – 4/11 (the remote instruction period after spring break when food service was planned). This credit will appear on your student account on Thursday, March 19. If you wish to receive a refund check for the meal plan credit on Friday before leaving campus, please complete a Refund Request Form on the STUDENT FINANCES tab of the my.JohnsonU.edu portal by noon on Thursday, March 19. In Tennessee, refund checks will be available at the Receptionist Desk in the PW building (the Bubble) after 9 a.m. on Friday, March 20. In Florida, refund checks will be available at the Receptionist’s Desk in Chapman Center on Friday.
If you have already left campus and need this refund check sent to your home address, please complete the Refund Request Form and we will mail the check to your home address next week.
We still hope to restart face-to-face instruction on April 13. For this reason, we are not issuing housing refunds at this time. If we are unable to restart on campus at that time, we will offer additional refunds and communicate details at the time that decision is made.
The ARC on the Tennessee campus will be closed Friday at 5:00 p.m.
Students who can complete their work-study responsibilities remotely may do so with the approval of their supervisors. Students who cannot will have the opportunity to make up the hours when they return.
Do you have a need? From SGA
FL: The Florida SGA officers are working on ways to stay connected at this time. More will be communicated to students soon. If you have an immediate need, please contact Micaela Cox or Florida SGA.
TN: The TN SGA officers are working on some ways we can stay connected during this time, and they will be sharing more info on TN SGA social media this evening. During this time of uncertainty and fear, they know there will be various needs that arise. In order to keep the community active, they have created a spreadsheet to facilitate the fulfillment of different needs. Check your email for a link to this spreadsheet.
We encourage all those who can work remotely to do so until further notice. This may be for part or all of the day, depending on each person’s situation. Please talk to your supervisor about your plan.
Please forward your phone to your cell phone so we can properly route calls to you if you are not in your office. You have been sent instructions on how to do this.
I once heard President Emeritus David Eubanks define faith as “walking with God into the unknown.” That is certainly an appropriate description of the demands of faith in the current climate of fear and anxiety over the COVID-19 pandemic. The Senior Leadership Team of Johnson University continues to meet regularly to address a situation that is constantly changing—these are uncharted waters for our University. The following information is our best effort to respond to a number of concerns raised by the current plan. Please keep the University’s leadership in your prayers as we continue to trust God to guide and sustain us.
President, Johnson University
Guidelines for staff and students working on campus:
We understand that you are affected by this pandemic not only as a Johnson employee or student, but potentially also as a parent, a spouse, or a caregiver of an elderly parent. Each of us is grappling with the effect of school closures, business closures, event cancellations, travel bans, and social distancing practices.
At the same time, the many essential functions of Johnson University must continue. To that end, we have created some general policies to guide our work together during this uncertain time.
–The campuses are not closed. Not only are many students still on our campuses, but most of our staff are, as well. Remote instruction will resume March 30, and IT, human resources, accounts payable, financial aid, food service, admissions, donor relations, facilities services, housekeeping, donor relations, security, and many other functions are vital. This shift to temporary remote instruction should not be seen as a vacation from work or from classes. On the contrary, we encourage each team to use this time to get ahead, work on projects that have previously been delayed for lack of time, and think creatively about how to get work done well.
–At the same time, we realize our policy must take into account a certain degree of flexibility because each person’s situation and duties are different. Each senior leadership team member will work with his/her team to determine the needs of each person and to set expectations. If you have specific questions about your work hours or location, please talk with your supervisor.
–The CDC recommendations on group gatherings are growing more restrictive. Please continue to avoid large groups, both on and off campus, and practice social distancing. Students on campus, this is a great time to deep clean your rooms! Also, we realize that you want to be together and we love our community, but this is not the time to gather in groups for worship, sports, or games.
–For Tennessee students, ARC hours will be reduced later this week.
If you develop symptoms:
If you develop symptoms of COVID-19 (dry cough, fever, body aches, shortness of breath), please self-isolate. Do not come to work. Do not go to the Gally or the FL Commons. Students in Tennessee, please tell your RA or Weldon/Cana, who will tell Kealy. Staff/faculty, please tell your supervisor/provost and also let Kealy Mead know. Kealy is looking into options for getting people tested. Students in Florida, please tell Micaela Cox or Sandi Peppard, who will contact Kealy Mead. Staff/faculty, please tell Bruce Dusterhoft or Sandi Peppard.
Faith – Prayer – Work: thoughts from Dr. Wolf and Prayer Livestream
There is much uncertainty during this time, but our faith in God’s sovereign and gracious reign remains unshaken. Therefore, we will continue to pray, and pray together, as if everything depends upon our prayer. At 9:00 a.m. on March 31 and April 7, we will livestream a short time of prayer that is open to everyone on both campuses who wants to join the link and join in prayer. We’ll send more info and the link soon.
And though the rhythms and spaces of our work may have changed, we will continue our efforts—be they as students, faculty, or staff— for we know that we labor for more than degrees or paychecks. Hidden with Christ and prayerfully aligned with the Spirit, our work is ever and always aimed at God’s kingdom coming on earth as it is in heaven. Johnson University, though we may be geographically distanced from one another in an unprecedented way, we remain an uncommon community united in faith, prayer, and work.
Johnson University will be taking the following steps in light of the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. As of today there are no confirmed or suspected cases of the virus on either campus.
Week of March 16-20: Spring break begins early for on-ground students on both campuses. Limited food service and dorms open. Staff reports as usual subject to health department guidelines. (If you get sick, stay home!) No athletic games or practices. Online courses proceed on their established schedule.
March 23-27: Spring break as previously scheduled. No food service. Dorms open with limited staff. Staff reports as usual subject to health department guidelines. No athletic games or practices. Online courses proceed on their established schedule.
March 30-April 3: No face-to-face classes on either campus. Face-to-face classes will move to temporary remote instruction. Faculty will be communicating with students about assignments, due dates, and course expectations. Limited food service and dorms open. Staff reports as usual subject to health department guidelines. No athletic games or practices. Online courses proceed on their established schedule.
April 6-10: No face-to-face classes on either campus. Face-to-face classes will move to temporary remote instruction. Faculty will be communicating with students about assignments, due dates, and course expectations. Limited food service and dorms open. Staff reports as usual subject to health department guidelines. No athletic games or practices. Online courses proceed on their established schedule.
Right now we plan to resume face-to-face classes on April 13. We will adjust this plan if needed and we will communicate any changes to this plan as quickly as possible.
The following events have been canceled:
Dr. Reyes and Dr. Weatherly’s concert this Saturday at Johnson University Tennessee
Lunch and Learn with Steve Cuss (March 18)
The Stone-Campbell Journal Conference (March 20-21)
The Craddock Lectures (April 1)
Spring Retreat (April 3-5)
The JUFL Empowered to Connect Event (April 3-4)
JUTN Preview Day April 9
The April 5 senior banquet is postponed and may be rescheduled for a later date. We will share information about rescheduling some other events as plans are made.
We continue to pray with you for the health of our students, staff, and faculty and the families and communities they are part of, and we ask for your prayers as we navigate this situation to serve them well.
Johnson University is closely reviewing the outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the United States and in Tennessee and Florida. Cases have been confirmed in both states. As of March 9, there are no confirmed cases of Coronavirus at Johnson University Tennessee or Johnson University Florida.
We will share additional information and updates here as needed. We will also share information as appropriate on Johnson University TN Facebook/Twitter and Johnson University Florida Facebook/Twitter.
Visit the Centers for Disease Control website for the latest information on symptoms, prevention, spread of the virus, and travel information. You can also visit the Tennessee Department of Health and Florida Department of Health to learn more.
To keep our campus healthy year-round, Johnson University maintains hand sanitizing stations in classroom buildings, administrative buildings, and dining halls. As an added precaution during this time, we are regularly sanitizing and replacing serving utensils in the dining halls; requiring food service staff to wash their hands more frequently and requiring them to distribute more items directly (while wearing gloves) instead of allowing diners to serve themselves; adding more hand sanitizer stations on both campuses; and adding signage to aid in awareness of prevention methods. In some cases we are also adding distance between chairs in chapel and in classrooms and, in Florida, taking classes outside when possible.
Students, staff, and faculty should not attend class or work if sick. Students who are sick and must miss work or class should communicate with professors/supervisors immediately. This is for both traditional campuses in Tennessee and Florida and online.
COVID-19 continues to spread to countries around the world and can present challenges to travelers. Recommendations and restrictions for international travel are constantly changing. Please check the CDC website for the most updated information regarding travel to various areas and countries. Faculty, staff, and students planning personal travel (either domestically or internationally) should carefully watch the US Department of State and CDC guidance on COVID-19 and prepare for the possibility of rapidly changing travel restrictions. Remember that other countries affected by COVID-19 are implementing their own travel restrictions that are subject to change without notice.
Any university faculty, staff, or student returning from travel abroad may be required to quarantine, at their own expense, as determined by the Tennessee/Florida Department of Health.
Johnson University does not currently have any students studying abroad in countries that have declared travel bans. There are no University-sponsored spring break trips and the residency trip to Israel has been canceled. Our deans are developing contingency plans for internship students who had been planning international internships this summer.
Representatives from the Tennessee and Florida campuses are communicating with the county and state health agencies in each location. We will make the decision to suspend face-to-face classes if we receive guidance to do so from these local health departments. Faculty are developing plans to complete current courses with online instruction, if necessary. We are listening to guidance from the CDC and local health departments and preparing to follow their instructions if it becomes necessary.
We join with you in prayer for the many who will be affected by this virus around the country and in our communities in the coming weeks, and we will continue to keep you updated as the situation develops.